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CLA204H1 Lecture 1 May 16
What is mythology?
x 1) deconstruct what the textbook suggests
x Base of the word mythology muthos (utterance, story, imaginary, not
provable) and logos (rational construction, study) so the study of things that
are not provable. It is sort of an oxymoron.
x Muthos corresponds to the latin fabula
1) Divine myth a story with supernatural actors. Traditional story with
collective importance (passed on for generations, means something for a
group of people)
x Difference between myth and religious observance
x Course of action following belief is called ritual
x Myth is not ritual. Myth is a story
x But the line is blurry, because if we go to a festival celebrating Athena,
x Ancient myth is either in the distant past or in time outside of
x Golden age humans interact with divine, gods came down to earth
and spoke to humans
x Iron age = classical age, man has to work to eat, men are greedy
x Arachne boasted about weaving skills, so Athena challenged her,
turned Arachne into a spider so we learn to not brag and compare
outselves to the gods > myths give us a model of behaviour
x Myths are anonymous
x Myths are changeablei9
x The function of myth is to explain why things are the way they are
x Etiology: explains the origin or cause of a phenomenon an etiological
myth ex: Arachne
x Etymology: the origin of a word ex: Arachne, tells us the origin of
2) Legend
x The great deeds of aristocratic heroes and heroines in the human past
ex: Trojan War
x Mythology = science, explaining phenomena
x Legend = history, answers what happened in the human past
3) Folktale
x Actors are ordinary human beings or animals
x Folk = from German word volk, stories about people
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