CLAA05H3 Lecture Notes - Northrop Frye, Dragon'S Blood, Harpocrates
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Myth is not something that is untrue. It is a story, and they are reflective of the beliefs and
realities of the people who created them; foundation of religious practices and moral
Star Trek Clip (Darmok)
The idea that they cannot speak to these alien forms because they do not understand
language. But you soon discover that the language is mythology, and stories etc. End it off
with his own story of Gilgamesh.
Understanding our own mythologies and then understanding other’s mythology, helps us
understand other people.
Key Words, Paradigms and Quotes
Urban Legends – we have the implication that those of others, who are not Western in the
21st century, that these myths are ficticious. We place a value judgement on their valuation.
Star Trek’s Jean Luc Piccard used an ancient myth of Gilgamesh and even current pop-
culture uses references to such myths.
Myth and religion is linked, worked together. The study of religion involves more than
just the chronological order of events, but the reason of such events; and study such events
(study religion) at phenomena and thus the history of humanity.
It’s important to understand the context when that religion came to be.
Smart’s 6 Dimensions of Religion:
Doctrinal – tend to give religions some sense of clarify. Theology (discussion of the
divine) uses myth to create doctrines. They attempt to present the total picture,
whereas myths are not totally clear.
Mythological – myth is simply story of what was said and what was believed at a
Joseph Campbell – developed this idea that there is a complex of universe and symbols:
Myth is “humanity’s one great story… or, as it says in the Vedas of India, Truth is one, the
sages speak of it by many names.” Joseph Campbell The Power of Myth
His critics argued that he overlooked the differences and only focused on the similarities.
However, as long as we acknowledge that the context is different, looking at similarities is
As human beings, we all share these innate commonalities; we have reoccurring characters
that come up – linked to psychology – the tyrant and the hero figure.
Comparative Religion (religious studies). Religion is viewed as a worldwide culture, it
needs to be understood before it can be explained.
(Introduction to Myth – article) – he was a proponent to make others understand religion,
and understand the expression of religion in different cultures – as it redefines and shapes
Religious language is mythic language. Mircea Eliade – believed that religion expresses
itself from myth, it grants meanings to things by seeing them through mythic prototypes
and that mythic language is participatory (it connects individuals to a social order (is key)
and that it offers stories and teachings and images about the purpose of life and providing
guidelines, laws of living life.
However, everything: ideas, focal ideas, are deemed to be sacred, dowed by a supernatural
Not only does it guide them, it also asks things of the participants and mythical stories do
The stories are not right or wrong, they represent experiences back in day that were
observables to the human beings. And it is because we are Human, we experience the
world in religious terms.
Sitz im Leben – historical context, political context, geological context etc.
we have to be aware of both our own “Sitz im Leben” but also the “Sitz im Leben” of
William Paden – ARTICLE
He talks about myths as stories for entertainment, but also for story-telling. Myths suggest
real time, real places and were intended to represent the actual world at that time. He then
talks about: Ideology: something that tells us why the things are the way they are.
Something that gives us insight as to why it is they way it is
He talks about the prototypical events; foundational events. The myths have a two way
character, linking language in the world. Describes myths as a sacred, world, constitruting
Mythic Time – contains characters that are bigger than history, and talks about future
times, the espitology, the “end of time” myths.
The idea of the seasons, a cyclical nature of the world, what comes to be a world view:
that time started somewhere and ending in the near future.
He also talks about the interconnectivity of myth and time. These characters in myths help
structure time. (things are good, then flood, things are good, then hurricane etc...)
Talks about Gods as super-manifestation of man. The inclusion of Jewish and Christian
text within myths.
He also focuses on the idea of the origination of the world. Cosmology: the study of the
world, the universe and how it came to be. Anthropology as well the beginning of man
and also the “reason why things are the way they are”.
Myths – the organizer of time, space and history.
Rights of passage, holy days (participatory aspect).
Myth addresses and resolves conflicts (pg. 90) and that along with myth, we alos get
mediators of the myths (religious specialists, interpreters who then create
doctrine, create rituals)
INTRODUCTION TO MYTHS
The purposes of a myth is usually outside the purposes of scientific ideologies. They offer
the content of the urban legend. They use the example of “alligators in the sewers”: stories
are reflective of the concerns/fears of the contributing society.
They offer examples of myths can be studies, such as the Trojan War. All of these different
insights, (pg 13 chart is a good model) – used for examining primary texts.
Helps us give an idea of what such cultures strive for. Their relationships and limitations –
why are we mortal?
The struggles of humans to become useful in human societies – formation of the social
Who studies myth and why?
Scientists study myths
Constantly re-examining the understanding the way the universe works
Myths can inform various scientific myths
oSuch as the star (in Jesus’s story – maybe was a early visitation of
oPharmaceuticals will go to aboriginal nations to discuss methodologies,
cures for things
Past events, trying to reconstruct what might have happened to groups of
peoples, individuals, countries
oBased on accounts written down by people, their laws, commercial
Use archaeological findings – maybe to find out what kind of food, what type
Myths aid historians to understand the mindset of the people they are
studying, the characters, the exemplars, the heros.
oParticular cultures, rituals, ceremonies
There are two ways of telling a story:
The ideas are presented with no logical connections. However, the
audience wasn’t looking for apparent contradictions. These texts were
not written down for comparison. The audience is listening for the