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Lecture1 - Nature of Myth.docx

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University of Fraser Valley
ANTH 101
Kim Milnes

Quizzes – short answer, multiple choice Midterm/Final – essays Lecture 1 – The Nature of Myth 1) Myth 2) Divine Myth 3) Legends 4) Folktale 5) The Meaning of Myth  A lot of Greek culture originates from the Near East (Middle East)  8 c. BC (700s) – Phoenicians (inhabitants of modern day Lebanon – our great traders, merchants who transported goods over the Mediterranean; Indirectly resulted in the transport of culture)  The Phoenicians brought writing to Greece  Semeitc script (Israel, Lebanon)  Hyroglyphics; written right to left  They made the alphabet – by implementing vowels (previous Semetic scripts did not have vowels)  Greeks use Semetic script to begin writing literature/myths -------------------------------------  Calendars  Used to mark festival dates (recorded by Priests); the anniversary of myths; Rights of Spring (Persephone is released from the Underworld) MYTH  Mythos: story (speech, plot)  Historia: investigations (into verifiable past events  Logos: account (word, implies truthfulness)  Myth intertwined with (yet distinct from religion) is the heart of all human existence; Humans are social creatures that live in communities and naturally seek to explain things o Myths explain concepts and pass on history to a group (i.e. lessons about and what is important to society & do not exist outside society) o Myth is vehicle for the transmission of one generations thought to another (the values of society, taboos; gives people a sense of their past and their place in time; how to live as a normal person within the collective of society & how to react in times of crisis)  Many myths were in poetic form (e.g. sung) to be performed in front of large groups of people at dinner parties, bars.  Huge shift when myths came to be written down; the recording of myths crystallized them and gave them one form that could not be changed; oral myths would change to adapt to the given society; later myths were recorded by poets and playwrights  Despite this shift, there are rules (e.g. vampires; all humans must die – only the gods are immortal; gods are not omnipotent – they have limitations… gods must answe
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