Class: Classics 45B
Topic: Introduction to Classical Mythology
Meaning of Myth ● mythos=utterance, speech
● Involves a story that is told and heard by people,product of storyteller by
tradition from person to person
● Primarily concerned with gods and mortals
● Myth cognates with the word mythos in ancient Greek
● Mythos synonymous with logos and epos
● Terms like saga or legend have a more specific relationship to history
and the making of history(as in family legend, local legend). Folktale.
Are all non-historical narratives classed as myth?
Where does myth come ● Origins of Greek mythology in oral tradition
from? ● Influence by other traditions of the East( Egypt, Mesopotamia)
● The oldest surviving myths as they appear in the narrative of Homer
and Hesiod, epics in a crystallized form that spring from a rich oral
Early attempts to ● Intersections between myth and religion. The problem of study of
interpret myths ancient ritual with mythological narratives. Etiological approaches
● Metaphor, allegory, symbolism. Euphemisms( from Euhemerus)
○ Euhemerus thought that some gods were eternal and
imperishable but others were initially kinds who were deified
● Allegory (such as nature myths)
What does the scientific ● The use of myth to understand modernity. From astrophysics to
study of myth have to archaeology and art history, politics to sociology.
offer to us today? ● Structuralism (binary oppositions)
○ First generation (Freud, emphasis on sexuality).
○ Second generation Myths as the ‘collective unconscious’ (Jung)
Basic Sources of ● Ancient Greek Lit
Classical Mythology ● Latin Lit
● Archaeological Evidence
Myth and Literature ● Literature the most important source of myth.
● A myth transcends literature
● Doesn't coincide with a particular text or literary genre
● We will often investigate the same myth due to the traditional through a
variety of sources looking at diff versions character in the
transmission of myth, and the absence of an