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Chapter 1

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University of Toronto St. George
Claesson Welsh

Sep 15 2010 Theories of Mythology - Surrealist sculpture: Retrospective Bust of a Woman “…absolutely useless and created wholly for the purpose of materializing in a fetishistic way, with maximum tanible reality, ideas and fantasies of a delirious character.” Dali, 1931 - Rationalist vs metaphorical interpretations - Rationalist tries to connect myths w/ specific events for precise and logical origins of myth; contrasted to Eliade’s ‘sacred timelessness’ o Euhemerus (300BC): The Sacred Record Gods originally human kings on island, deified b/c of good deeds o Justifies myth by rooting it in history - Metaphorical interpretations: myths don’t come out of human experiences but out of universal truths, natural phenomena, collective/shared exp. - (Friedrich) Max Muller o Student of Sanskrit o 1840s to 1860s in Britain, studied Indian texts and culture; also the Indo-europeans (Aryas): “Shiny Happy People” o Found uncomfortable similarities b/w mythology of “savage” races and the early Europeans (ie Greeks); in terms of beliefs; that the Greeks’ ‘perfection’ could be so similar to savagery o Paradox of: that the advanced Greeks had ‘silly’ beliefs and mythology o Tried to explain this by rationalizing Greek mythology Unscientific approach, w/ single goal of ‘exonerating’ the Greeks o Linguistic observation of “Zeus” > “Dyeus” = “Father Sky” o He believed the indo-europeans were in a golden time, honourable, free of crises; that they were original poets Had a limited number of words to express ideas, therefore became poets to express Ie “the sun is setting” would allegedly = “the burning one sits down on his golden throne” - Muller’s Solar Mythology: so how does mythology develop? - According to his theory, words and meanings change over time o ‘but soft, what light through yonder window breaks?’ = ‘someone named Light broke a window at Yonder’s house’ o Problems not everything is not about the sun Muller’s shiny happy poets are self-contradictory; they can’t make up a new language o Original linguistic core is not wrong; Zeus, Dyeus, do connect back to older ideas about gods o Have to understand metaphorical approach; myth doesn’t have to explain the god, but also to explain the things around us - Myth and psychology: Sigmund Freud o Freud first seriously explored the unconscious life of mind and created the earliest articulation of its importance to consciousness o Didn’t pay much attention to mythology, most was done by followers later o Myth based on personal, not external society o Dreams: everyday reality transforms into symbols that occur in our dreams Condensation • Several things get fused together into one item or event Displacement • Something in dream stands for something very different in the real world Representation • Items in real w
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