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CLAS 104 - ALL Course Notes (W).docx

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University of Waterloo
Classical Studies
CLAS 104
Ronald Kroeker

MIDTERM 1CLAS 104 Introduction to Mythology1 Theory of Myth ML pp 338 WHAT IS MYTHOLOGYThe variety of traditional tales is matched by the variety of their origins and significance as a result no monolithic theory can succeed in achieving universal applicabilitymythosword speech story taleThe root of mythology produces a very broad definition Mythology is a story that has proved itself worth of becoming traditional a myth may be administered orally given in written form depicted visually through sculpture painting dance or mime or via a combination of media such as drama song opera or film It may explain a societys concernsvalues of the timeESSENCE OF A MYTHTraditional first spread orally then expressed in other media later ie written Homers Odyssey is first literatureResonantUsefulimportantrelevant to a society ie Alexander the Great morals of the dayFlexibleAdaptable can change myths to make them more effectivereflects societys concerns and values at the time ie Oedipus remained King in Homers day but was considered exiled later onMYTHTRUTHAncient Times Greeks were rationalisticquestioned traditional mythsoie Xenophanes criticized anthropomorphic Godsspeculated there was one God that is the greatest and very different from usoie Plato expelled poets who had written older myths from ideal city then made own mythsoAristotle poetry myth is more serious than history bc it gives GENERAL UNIVERSAL TRUTHS HIS FAVOURITE OPINIONPresent doesnt require historical accuracy though importance is in the good morals taught ie Biblical creation mythAristotles view makes it irrelevant whether its based in history or scienceCLASSIFICATION OF MYTHSoverlap occurs between the categoriesTrue MythMyth Propermyths primarily concerned with the Gods protagonists and humankinds relations with them explains nature ie Mount Edna volcanomonster tried to overthrow Zeus and got thrown under the mountain instead Athena vs Poseidon patronage of AthensLegendSaga limited connection to history heroes humans w superpowers aka demiGods explains past ie Trojan War inspires noble behaviourFolktales powerless everyday heroes for entertainment usually optimisticinstructional like PerseusINTERPRETATION OF MYTHSANCIENT Physical Allegory Theogenescurious of beginning of cosmos saw strifeconstant battle in myths opposites like hotcold Apollo firePoseidon waterStoics looked at deeper interpretations ie CronusChronustime devours all things Historical Allegory Euhemerism rationalization movement lead by Euhemerus believed the gods were once mortal men exaggerated for their great deeds ie Gods originated from human Kings Moral Allegory Antirationalists favour metaphorical interpretations believe the traditional tales hide profound meanings and are allegorical sustained metaphor where details of the story are symbols of universal truths ie judgement of Paris whether to be like Herakingship active or Athenascholar contemplative or Aphrodite desireMax Mller founder of influential theory known as Allegorical Nature Myths which believed all myths are nature myths referring to meteorological and cosmological phenomenaNeoplatonists 2 tiers of worldour Imperfect reflection of the perfect world and the Perfect World Etiology Etiologyaitia cause blameSome theorist believe that myth should be defined as an explication of the origin of some fact or custom ie Athena is patron goddess cause she beat Poseidon olive treespringMEDIEVALSimple allegories ie Odysseussirens Church tells you to avoid sinENLIGHTENMENT 16501700sStill allegorical but more complex emphasis is on rationality so myths were seen as primitive analysis of the worldRomantic reaction recognizes the primal instincts within us Myths hold inner truths of soulMODERN Psychological Approach 1FreudoOedipus Complex a males emotions towards his mother love and sexuality and father hatred Electra complex is the female versionoTo protect sleep and relive potential anxiety the mind goes through DreamWorkCondensation of elements they are abbreviated or compressedDisplacement of elements they are changed particularly in terms of allusion and a difference of emphasisRepresentation of elements they are transmitted into imagery or symbols which are often varied and sexualoFreuds discovery of the significance of dream symbols led him to analyze the similarities between dream and myth Freudian interpretations of myth reflect peoples waking effort to systematize the incoherent visions and impulses of their sleep world2JungCollective unconsciousnessmyths reflect commonality in all human societies identifies social issues like rites of passage ie birth death descent into Underworld Anthropological Approach Myths reflect way primitive cultures explained how things arose1Ritual JG Frazer all myth is ritual put into story form ie all early societies have fertility ritual ie Dionysus2Social Charter B Malinowski myths explainjustify the way things are in society ie CadmusBoetians oceans have rite of land Athena is patron goddess of Athens StructuralStructuralism is an attempt to analyze myth in its component partsoLviStrauss sees myth as a mode of communicationex In music it is not the sounds themselves that are important but their structure the relationship of sounds to other sounds In myth the narrative takes the form of sound and the structure of the narrative can be perceived at various levels
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