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CLA204 lecture 1.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Jarrett Welsh

Intro to classical mythology th 13 September Lecture 1 - Classical-history, culture, the world, of ancient Greece and Rome. - Encompasses all of the Mediterranean - Myth-> not historical; things happening beyond this world. - Period of the bronze age to late antiquity - Interested in the continued thriving of the ancient Greek and roman culture; ‘reception’ of the stories in different forms, different places. - Mythology o Widely accepted, but really false. o Comes from Greek work ‘muthos’-> means things like speech, story, rumour, narrative, fable, tale, etc. a story that’s told/sung/thought in any number of ways. -> really really broad category. o ‘Logos’- persuasive spoken account; concerned with financial stuff, sort of; with thesis, speeches, reasons, arguments, discussions, etc. - Kinds of tales  Myth-> concerned with the gods in a timeless way, not to do with human history.  Nothing to do with truth or fiction; not concerned with that; more emphasis on the story. What are these stories doing?  Saga, legend-> stories that have a relationship to human history, however true or false they are.  Folktale, fairy tale-> involves fantastic beings, magic, etc. (humans with special powers) - Myth- a traditional tale with secondary partial reference to something of collective importance- Walter Burkert o Doesn’t separate myth from other types of traditional stories. - A classical myth is a story that, through its classical form, has attained a kind of immortality because its inherent archetypal beauty, profundity, and power have inspired rewarding renewal and transformation by successive generations. – Morford and Lanardon, pg 26 (textbook) o Myth is a complex body of material that spans cultural and temporal divides. o No single definition or theory can simultaneously aspire to precision and universality o Any definition of mythology will not be impartial - Greece- inhospitable, dry. o Few cities, more agricultural villages-> barely self-sufficient. A lot of places developed isolated from the rest of the land. o Geography affected the culture and thus the differentiation of myths o Greek world includes the islands in the Aegean-like Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, etc. as well the western coast of Asia Minor. o Athens- most important city for us - Bronze age culture- most important. Mycenaean ideas are very important - Everything fell apart after the bronze age; abandoned villages and cities, etc. big gap in the record between bronze and archaic age. -> called the dark age. - Archaic age-> everything picks up, renewal, etc. characterized by the emergence of the polis-> politically independent city states. -> gives us individual stories from these independent cities. - Classical period-> high point of the civilization (480BC-320BC). - Greeks imagined the world was flat. Extrapolated it from individual perspectives. - around the land masses of the map of Hecataeus, there was a river called 'ocean'. - features of this world o sky rises like a dome, a roof. touches the ends of the river of ocean, and a fixed boundary. was high up, but not infinitely high. gods imagined living in or even on the sky. but theres imagined to be another way around the sky; theres is something below the land as well, the Underworld, the world of the dead. It’s a place that you ca
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