Ancient Mythology: East and West, Week 1 Notes
Ancient Mythology: East and West, Week 1 Notes CLT 3378
Popular in Ancient Myth: East and Wes
Popular in Ancient Mythology
This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alexa Amaris on Sunday September 11, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLT 3378 at Florida State University taught by David Branscome in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Ancient Myth: East and Wes in Ancient Mythology at Florida State University.
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Date Created: 09/11/16
CLT 3378: Ancient Mythology: East and West Fall 2016 Lecture Outline: Introduction to Myth I. Myth a) myth/s and mythology 1. mythology = the study of myths (where “log” means “the study of”) 2. mythology = a culture’s myths as a whole b) myth as “untrue” story = NOT in this course c) myths are true II. Comparative Mythology a) in this course, compare/contrast myths b) compare/contrast myths within same culture c) compare/contrast myths between different cultures III. Definition of myth a) provisional definition: “A myth is a story about gods.” b) fuller definition: “A myth is a traditional story that usually involves gods or other powerful supernatural beings.” c) traditional story = handed down from one generation to the next (often orally); if you know, definitively, who created a myth, it is not a myth, because you know where it came from IV. Types of traditional story a) myth 1. gods 2. remote past b) legend 1. heroes—sometimes part divine, part human, or all human (i.e. Heracles) 2. recent past c) folktale 1. lesser supernatural figures (witches, giants) or ordinary people 2. no set time (“Once upon a time . . .”) V. Approaches to myth a) modern theoretical approaches: “Why do people create/think in terms of myths?” 1. All great cultures in the world have myths b) our approach: “Why does a specific culture (or literary author) tell a particular myth?” VI. Gods, Heroes, Tricksters a) gods/goddesses = powerful, important supernatural beings; think 12 Greek gods/goddesses b) heroes = figures in whom the gods take a special interest; again, Heracles, Perseus, Achilles, etc.; Heracles is a good example of a hero who gained negative attention from a god/goddess (Hera) c) tricksters = amoral (not necessarily immoral), shapeshifting deceivers (Loki); instigators—think poltergeists (like Peeves from Harry Potter), or Bugs Bunny; heroes can sometimes always be tricksters, as well as gods, like Odysseus or Hermes (both from Greek mythology) 1. (sometimes) culture heroes are tricksters—for example, Prometheus, a titan from Greek mythology, tricked the Greek gods in order to give humans fire—therefore, he is a cultural hero who is a trickster VII. Versions of myths a) “original” version of a myth b) different tellers = different versions of a myth c) literary versions of a myth—ex. Homer w/ The Odyssey and The Iliad VIII. Types of Myths (that we will study) Literary works often consist of a combination of different types of myth, including (but not limited to) the nine types below. a) creation myth = how the universe (gods, humans, earth, sky, etc.) came into being b) succession myth = how one god succeeds to the kingship of gods (usually by deposing other god/s) c) combat myth = how a god (often the storm god) or a hero battles/defeats a monstrous enemy; think Zeus battling against the titan, Typhon, in Greek mythology d) divine council myth = how two or more gods meet to discuss the fate of one or more humans (i.e., whether the gods will help or harm that human) e) apocalyptic myth = how gods level destruction on humans because one or more humans have offended the gods; Sodom and Gomorrah in Christianity f) flood myth = how one god, angry at humans, sends a flood to destroy all life on earth; the Great Flood (in Greek and Christian mythology) g) heroic quest myth = how a hero makes a journey to gain experiences and achieve fame (especially through battle); Heracles again h) katabasis myth = how a hero makes a descent (a katabasis) to the underworld and returns to earth alive; Orpheus in Greek mythology i) trickster myth = how tricksters transform either themselves or the world around them (often through trickery); always ask if they’re culture heroes IX. Important Concepts a) polytheism = “belief in and worship of many (poly) gods (the)” b) anthropomorphism = conception of gods “in shape (morph) of [or with character/emotions of] human beings (anthropo)” c) binaturalism = conception of gods with “two natures” 1. binatural = physical space + god (e.g., Sky, Earth, Sea); Gaia (titan, aka Mother Earth) and Uranus (titan, aka the sky) in Greek mythology 2. binatural = abstract concept + god (e.g., Love, Victory, Envy) 3. binatural = thing + god (e.g., Vedic gods Agni [= fire] and Soma [= sacred drink]) d) syncretism = adaptation of one culture’s mythic beliefs by another culture (sync=together, tism=to mix) 1. Sumerian Inanna = Akkadian Ishtar 2. Greek Zeus = Roman Jupiter—literally all of the Roman gods/goddesses e) spheres of influence = areas with which gods are associated/have power 1. Ishtar = goddess of sexual desire, war, morning/evening star (Venus) 2) Zeus = god of rain, lightning, kingship, hospitality f) primordial waters 1. waters that exist at beginning of or even before creation 2. in many creation myths 3. usually precedes sea (and other bodies of water) g) aetiology (pronounced: eedeeology) 1. “explanation” 2. many myths are aetiological 3. explain aspects of world/society; ex. the story of Adam and Eve, how Eve was created from Adam’s rib X. Dating system for course a) BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) b) instead of, BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) XI. Cf. a) cf. = abbreviation for Latin confer 1.Means “compare” XII. Ca. a) ca. = from Latin circa = “around/about” b) ca. 1000 BCE (= “around 1000 BCE”) XIII. Ancient Near East (= *ANE) a) Mesopotamia (= modern day Iraq and Syria) b) Canaan (= modern day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel) c) Israel d) Anatolia/Asia Minor (= modern day Turkey) *Note that NEITHER Egypt NOR ancient Greece are properly part of ANE.
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