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Simon Fraser University
HUM 102W
David Mirhady

Types of Myths and Their FunctionsDivine mythsstories focusing primarily on the often conflicting gods who are beings superior to humansThe gods may be aspects of nature like Sky or Earth or take form of abstractions like Justice or MemoryAnthropomorphismgods who take the form of natureabstractions tend to play roles secondary to gods that have human formProvides an etiology or explanation of some aspect of nature ie why the world came into existenceoEtiology is derived from the Greek word aition meaning causeLegendssagasanalogous to history because they purport to describe incidents that happened to specific peopleplaces at specific timesGreatest legend of ancient worldTrojan War which Greeks thought happened hundreds of years before their own timePeople from all over the Greek world participated and eventually Troy was destroyedPrinciple charactersheroes who are mortal and come from the nobilityLegendto be read in LatinAlso refers to a story of a saint whose life or actions the readers were supposed to emulateAlso a sort of pseudohistory for earlier periods of Greek culture which Greeks imagined were more heroic than their timesFolktaledescribe ordinary people and are told for the sake of entertainment or the moral instruction of childrenHum 102W doesnt treat any folktales per se but folktale motifs do appear in our mythsOften involve magic or monstersTheories of Myth and their TerminologyScholars last 200 years have tried to formulate a theory about the function of myth but none received universal acceptanceThey assume myths are allegorical that they are saying something other than what is on the surfaceHum 102Ws approach will loosely use different parts of these theories at different pointsWhen a myth is etiological we mean it explains the cause or origin of some fact or customThe Greek Theagenes thought myths represented conflicts among natural forcesStoic philosophers thought myths contained profound truths about the universes originSome myths seem to give a mythological justification and definition for an activity like the way sacrifices are performed or the privileges exercised by kings
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