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Intro to Myths
Transcript of Intro to Myths
What are myths, and how to think about them?
So are Myths true?
How have myths been used?
Lasting Theories and Methods of interpreting myths (what the big wig scholars say)
Myths are ostensibly true! When we talk about these myths, there will be truth and value to them. However, with many of these myths, the cultures that invented them no longer exist.
Used as power over people
Validate fundamental social distinctions
Allegories or Metaphors, they help illustrate life
Explain natural phenomena
Symbols to describe important truths
They provide reasons for why we do thing and give purpose
Explain universal tendencies
Way of communicating and helping people work together
Myths convey information
Euhemerist Theory: Gods were originally men, known for some great historical feat, important social, or cultural advancement. Later, they are raised to godhood.
Aetiological – Andrew Lang: Explains the way something works or causation
Explanation of Ritual – Sir. Robert Frazer: That Myths explained rituals. The narratives of myths was what was left long after the rituals were forgotten.
The English word “myth” is derived from the Greek mythos, meaning story or word.
We also have personal mythologies. Since myths are stories, our mythology is comprised of the stories we believe about the world around us.
*A good working definition for this class would be: ”Traditional stories a society tells itself that encode or represent the world-view, beliefs, principles, and often fears of that society.” - Elizabeth Vandiver
Do not use our culture's connotation of the word myth (e.g. a myth means a falsehood)
These theories are helpful in trying to understand what myth are and what they can do for people. (e.g. Campbell says all myths are the same myth. If you think about this then the stories all have meaning for anyone who hears them. They can speak to anyone.)
Joseph Campbell: Says that all the gods are the same gods. All the myths are the same myths, and we have to recognize this. Mythologies are public dreams, and dreams are private mythologies.
Freud - Myths are the expression of desire and subconscious fears
Jung - Mythology and dreams represent the expression of the collective unconscious
What is not a myth?
Characteristics of a Myth
Originally, passed along by word of mouth
The origin of the story is in Primordial Times
Characters are supernatural - gods, deities, spirits, mythological creatures
Aetiological - having to do with causation
Having to do with the gods and their rites
Having to do with beliefs
* A legend cannot be a myth, but a myth can be a legend (e.g. King Arthur)
Once Upon a Time
Involve animals or clever but not extraordinary humans
Where do Myths come from?
*Myth are more prominent in pre-literate societies. Highly literate societies have additional way of explain phenomenon examples: theology, psychology, ethics, history, etc, so we don’t focus on Myths for explanation or incorporate myths into our daily lives consciously; however, they do factor into our personal mythology.
Psychological Theory - Part 2