CLA204 - Lecture 1.docx

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12 Apr 2012
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January 12, 2011
CLA204H1 Lecture 1 Introduction
What is myth?
- Traditional tale or story
- Comes from Greek word” muthos” which means story
- Structure: beginning, middle and end
- Characters: gods, goddesses, supernatural beings, and animals
- Setting: always in distant past or outside human chronology
- Evidence: literature, drama, pottery, dance, sculpture
Function of Myth
- Traditional: from Latin word “trado” meaning to give or transmit
- Oral: memorized and reflected before written form
- Communal: important for its community preserves wisdom, concerns, laws,
values of a culture
- Anonymous: no author of originals (literary authors take myths and represent
them in a certain way)
- Truth: Greeks thought myths were accounts of history
Genres of Myth
- Genre: classification of literary works
- Three main genres of the traditional tale: divine myth, legend and folktale
Devine 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 ou present order, Olympus
- Basis of Religion: but not the same as religion
- Etiological Accounts: explains world as it is in a non-scientific way
Legend
- Like history, tries to answer what happened in human past
- Setting: less remote, our own world but distant past
- Characters: tend to be human, heroes and heroines, supernatural elements
- Topics: migrations, wars and victories, deeds of past heroes, chiefs and kings
succession in dynasties
- Element of Truth: sometimes reflects major events confirmed by archeological
record
- Local Tales: buried treasure, ghosts, fairies, and saints
Folktale
- Fiction makes no claim to be true
- Characters: ordinary men, women, children of lower social status
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