Class 2

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Class 2

  1. 1. Introductions to Myths
  2. 2. 2 Misconceptions about myths: 1. Myth = falsehood. Example: It’s a myth that if you masturbate too much you’ll go blind. 2. Myths are stories that only very primitive cultures used for entertainment before TV and radio. • In actuality, the word myth comes from the Greek mythos which means word, story, saying. Myths were not created as falsehoods but instead as ways to explain truths. Myths are humans’ attempts (both centuries ago and today) to explain phenomena that could not easily be explained otherwise
  3. 3.  Told by word of mouth (oral tradition)  Exist in multiple versions  Vary by details  Are/were believed by the originating cultures  Are explanations of things that cannot be easily explained otherwise  Express the values/belief/fears of the originating culture
  4. 4.        Folklorists study the motifs in myths and the way the motifs are woven together as building blocks for all myths. Vladimir Propp: whom we shall be studying later found 31 elements common to all folklore. Alan Dundes: contemporary Berkeley professor. Compiled a study of the Cinderella stories across culture, which we will see a part of Max Muller: all myths produced by Indo-Europeans could be understood as originating from symbolic stories, such as Persephone, representing seasons.
  5. 5. Claude Levi-Strauss: Believes that myths explain dualism, conflict between opposing forces.. J.G. Frazer: published a 12 volume mythological study, The Golden Bough, which brought together all the mythical kingships of the world to explain that natural order is for the old king to make way for the new -- or the social order within tribes is reflected in its origin myths.
  6. 6. Sigmund Freud: posited the Oedipus hero, who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother, reflects the inner desire of the son to kill the father so that he can have the mother all to himself. Carl Jung: believed the principal characters in myths embody archetypes, such as the wise old man, or the nurturing mother Bruno Bettelheim: believed that myths serve as models for human behavior and give meaning and value to life.
  7. 7. Joseph Campbell: is the most well- known. He reads myths symbolically, sees them as attempts to show latent sides of personalities. But he believes that myths work only when they are conscious. • Most mythologists believe that myths are a collection of symbols. Symbolism is an important part of the way all scholars view myths. Signs: finite, practical, unambiguous representations, such as the sign for stop Symbols have more complex, ambiguous meanings. Graphic lines of shapes, words, or ritual actions can be symbols.
  8. 8. Creation of the world and the people in it • Structure of the universe Elements/ Heavenly Bodies • Causes of life and death • Supernatural beings Destroyers, preservers, divine specialties • Cosmic disasters flood, drought, famine • Heroes and Tricksters agents of change • Animals and Plants Creation and Kinship • Body and Soul Spirit and the Afterlife • Marriage and Kinship • Social Mores and Taboos
  9. 9. Creation of Titan and the Gods Emptiness = Chaos > Gaea (Mother Earth) Tartarus (Underworld ruler) Eros (Love)
  10. 10. and their first children were the 3 Hundred- handed giants and the Cyclops. Uranus hurled them into the earth.
  11. 11. Gaea was angry and wanted her kids. So after she had the 13 Titans Helios (god of the sun) Selene (goddess of the moon) Oceanus (god of the river) Themis (goddess of prophecy at Delphi) Cronus Rhea (parents of the Greek gods) Atlas Prometheus (created man out of clay and water) Epimetheus
  12. 12. Gaea got Cronus to emasculate Uranus, who could not die but suffered great agony. From his severed pieces in the ocean and a white foam (significance?) … Aphrodite is born.
  13. 13. And Then  Cronus kept the giants imprisoned in Tartarus and had more children. Fearing the prophecy that his child would disempower him, he swallowed them when they were infants.  Rhea was desperate so she asked Gaea, who told her to hide Zeus, her next child in a tree so he wouldn’t be on earth, in water or in the air, and had him swallow a stone, which he mistook for the baby.
  14. 14.  Zeus grew up, gave Cronus a drink and he vomited up all of his fully grown children. After they fought for ten years with the Titans, Gaea told Zeus about the Giants and Cyclops and he freed them. They gave the presents and the Greek gods used them, won and imprisoned the titans, with the Hundred-handed giants to guard them.
  15. 15.  From a psychoanalytic standpoint:  Sons unconsciously harbor a desire to kill fathers and sleep with mothers. ….what else?
  16. 16.  It is healthy to provide the opportunity for the old leaders to make way for the new. If they will not, it is natural for the son to free the society from the tyrannical or useless father.  What else? (Remember, we are brainstorming here. Come up with an idea about how this myth shows how humans interact as groups or individually.
  17. 17.  Uranus’s cut off genitals became sea foam from which was born Aphrodite. Symbol of insemination of the sea?  Thunder: divine right, chastisement, and judgment. Sounded word of god. Impregnation.     Lightning: Linked with fire, water, wrath, weapons, male power, phallus, creation and destruction. Helmet of Invisibility: Invisible power, thought, ability to escape dangerous situations.
  18. 18.  In groups, discuss Demeter and Persephone:  Find the themes that apply (from the pink handout)  And then discuss psychological and sociological perspectives as well as symbols. Each group should have several examples. You may use your phones or computers to look up symbolism.
  19. 19.  Go to Website under myths heading at the top, click on The Odyssey, and print up). Then read the following pages:  Printout: pp. 45 – 47 The Birth of Paris, The Judgement of Paris, The Marriage of Helen, The Preparation for War  pp. 75 – 85 The Odyssey

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