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Lecture

January 12 Lecture

3 Pages
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Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA204H1
Professor
D.Sells

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CLA204H1 January 12, 2010 Lecture
1
What is Myth?
-traditional tale or story, comes from Greek muthos meaning authoritative speech, story or plot
-mythology, muthos, story and logos account = study of myth
-structure; beginning, middle conflict, end
-characters: gods, goddesses and other supernatural beings, humans, animals
-settings: never in present or recent past, always in distant past or outside of human chronology; possibly
a city or other known place, sometimes in an obscure place
-evidence: literature, drama, pottery, dance, sculpture
Function of Myth
-traditional; from Latin word trado, meaning give order or transmit
-oral; memorized and recited before written form (unstable)
-communal; important for its community preserves wisdom, concerns, laws, values of a culture
-anonymous; no authors of originals, literary authors take myths and present a specific version (e.g.
Homer, Sophocles present different versions of the same myth)
-truth: Greeks thought myths were accounts of history
Genre: classification of literary works on the basis of content, form or technique
Three main genres of traditional tale
1.Divine Myth
2.Legend
3.Folktale
Divine Myth
-prose narratives considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past
-characters: gods and heroes, superior to normal humans
-conflicts are on large scale, oceans, sky, land
-setting: world before/outside of present order, Olympus (e.g. Zeus, and Olympians vs. Titans)
-basis of religion: but not the same as religion
-etiological accounts (form Greek aitios): explains world as it is in non-scientific way
-origins of world, humankind, death or origins of relationship between gods/humans
-social institutions: agriculture, making of wine, oracles
-origins of Aetna (Zeus vs. Typhoeus)
- For example, Mt. Etna was formed when Zeus defeated fire-breathing monster Typhoeus (with wings
and tentacles) and buried him there. Explains Etna and why it erupts.
Legend
-like history, tries to answer what happened in human past
-setting; less remote, our own world but distant past, still features gods and the supernatural
-characters; tend to be human, heroes and heroines, more beautiful, stronger less gods/goddesses but
still supernatural elements
-topics: migrations, wars and victories, deeds of past heroes, chiefs and kings and succession in ruling
dynasties
-element of truth: sometimes reflects major events confirmed by archaeological record (e.g. Trojan war,
Minos)
-local tales: buried treasure, ghosts, fairies and saints
Folktale
-fiction makes no claim to truth or history
-characters: ordinary men, women, children of lower social status
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Description
CLA204H1 January 12, 2010 Lecture 1 What is Myth? -traditional tale or story, comes from Greek muthos meaning authoritative speech, story or plot -mythology, muthos, story and logos account = study of myth -structure; beginning, middle conflict, end -characters: gods, goddesses and other supernatural beings, humans, animals -settings: never in present or recent past, always in distant past or outside of human chronology; possibly a city or other known place, sometimes in an obscure place -evidence: literature, drama, pottery, dance, sculpture Function of Myth -traditional; from Latin word trado, meaning give order or transmit -oral; memorized and recited before written form (unstable) -communal; important for its community preserves wisdom, concerns, laws, values of a culture -anonymous; no authors of originals, literary authors take myths and present a specific version (e.g. Homer, Sophocles present different versions of the same myth) -truth: Greeks thought myths were accounts of history Genre: classification of literary works on the basis of content, form or technique Three main genres of traditional tale 1. Divine Myth 2. Legend 3. Folktale Divine Myth -prose narratives considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past -characters: gods and heroes, superior to
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