CLA204H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Demigod, Mycenaean Greece, Trado

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30 Jul 2016
CLA204- Chapter 1: The Nature of Myth
What is a Myth?
Mythos: authoritative speech, story or plot
Myth: a traditional story w. collective importance
Character: comes from a Greek word meaning “a certain mental imprint”
oEg. Hamlet can’t make up his mind
oCharacter is the sum of the choices one makes
oIn myths, they may be gods, goddesses, or other supernatural beings but may also be human beings or animals that
talk and act in manner of humans
Beliefs in the existence of a god, observance of a ritual in a god’s honor, and religious symbols are NOT myths
Another element of a myth is its setting
oTime and place in which the action of the story unfolds
oMyths are never set in the present or recent past
Myths, like all other stories, have plot, characters and setting but it is not any story but a certain kind that is described as
oTraditional: from Latin trado meaning “hand over” and a traditional story is one that has been “handed over” orally
from one storyteller to another w/o intervention of writing
oBecause myths are traditional, they are also anonymous and never have identifiable authors
Myths hold meaning for the group not just individual known as “collective importance”
oDescribe patterns of behaviour that serve as models for members of a society, specially in a time of crisis
Logos: account
oTeller of these takes responsibility for the truth of what is said
oIt’s a reasoned explanation of something that emphasizes a continuing casual sequence
oLogy still used to indicate a reasoned inquiry into a topic
Teller of a mythos (story) doesn’t claim personal responsibility for what is said
Types of Myth
Divine myths: stories in which supernatural beings are the main actors
oExplain why the world, or some aspect of it, is the way it is
Legends: stories of the great deeds of human heroes or heroines
oNarrate events of human past
oWord comes from latin legenda meaning “things that should be read” originally morally lifting stories about
christian saints
Folktales: stories whose actors are ordinary people or animals
oEntertain audience and teach or justify customary patterns of behaviour
Divine Myth
Characters are depicted as superior to humans in power and splendor
Characters control awesome forces of nature: thunder, storm, rain, fire, earthquake, or fecundity (being really fertile)
Conflict among them can take place on immense scale and involve whole continents, high mountains and vast seas
Eg. Zeus is more than a personification of the sky; he is depicted as a powerful father, and often unfaithful husband and
upholder of justice in human communities
Events usually take place in a world before or outside the present order where time and space often have different meanings
from those familiar to human beings
Small g in gods means you’re talking about one of many divine powers  demigod is the offspring of a god and a human;
sometimes a demigod becomes a god at death  deity refers to God or gods
Myths are traditional stories; religion is belief and the course of action that follows from belief (what you accept w or w/o
proof as a basis of action)
oMyths often justify a religious practice or a form of religious behaviour but we can retell a myth w/o engaging in
religious behaviour
oMyth= traditional story w collective importance vs religion= set of beliefs that motivates a course of action
Etiological tale: eg a creation myth  explains origin
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