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First Class

Course Code
Claesson Welsh

of 1
Sep 13 2010
Intro to Classical Mythology
-Classical world = history, culture of ancient Greeks and Romans: entire Mediterranean region
oHistorical stories
- Myth: deals w/ things fantastical; ie Ethiopia; just off the map
-Bronze age to late Antiquity
-Reception: survival of Greek and Roman heritage in later cultures
- Myth: stories widely accepted but ultimately false?
- Myth actually comes from muthos = speech, tale, story, word, though, narrative, fable,
myth > aim to entertain
- Muthos can refer to true narratives as well
- Muthos vs logos > spoken account, to speak, account, argument, debate, thesis, hypothesis > aims
to persuade
- Myth: broad term about stories connected w/ gods, and how humans interact w/ them: gods include
semi-gods, ie nymphs
-Saga/legend: relationship with human history
-Folktale/fairytale: involves fantastic beings, ie ppl w/ magical powers, deals more w/ people
- Myth not really have to deal w/ truth/fiction
oThe ancients never really stopped to think whether myth were true/false
oCreates reality fragmented from the world: to put order on the world
oTo explain world in a lively and entertaining way, aetiology, justification (Oxford Eng
Dictionary, 2nd ed.)
- “myth traditional tale w/ secondary, impartial reference to something of collective importance
Walter Burkert
oTraditional? Collective importance?
-Relationship b/w myth and religion
oMircea Eliade
oThe Sacred and the Profane: two realms; myth bridges the gap of the two
oMyth exists b/c humans want orientation in sacred timelessness
Can only be satisfied w/ stories of beginning and origin
oMyth is for providing release from historical time
Relate present exp w/ timeless and holy existence
oAetiology, from aitia
Causes, reasons
Idea that myth should be interpreted narrowly as explanation of custom, fact, event
But some things cant be explained