Myths and Arts Myths in the classical sense - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

1 / 27
About This Presentation

Myths and Arts Myths in the classical sense


'A traditional story, typically involving supernatural ... Myth opposed to logos (rational discourse) ... Only few (Parmenide) were famous and inspired by gods ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:130
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 28
Provided by: hels


Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: Myths and Arts Myths in the classical sense

Myths and ArtsMyths in the classical sense
  • Vesa Matteo Piludu

Department of Comparative Religion University of
Whats a myth?
  • Myth is derived from the Greek word µ???? -
    mythos, which simply means story, speech,
    tale, discourse about divinities and heroes
  • "A traditional story, typically involving
    supernatural beings or forces or creatures, which
    embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology,
    or justification for something such as the early
    history of a society, a religious belief or
    ritual, or a natural phenomenon (Oxford English
  • refers to a body of narratives that a particular
    culture believes to be true and that often use
    the supernatural to interpret natural events and
    to explain the nature of the universe and

Myths true stories before history
  • Myths often are said to take place before
    recorded history begins
  • Myth is a sacred narrative, what is meant is that
    a myth is believed to be true by people who
    attach religious or spiritual significance to it

Legends - Folk tales Fairy tales
  • ?

  • Not all traditional stories are myths in
    contrast to legends or folktales, myths are
    narratives involving the sacred, either gods or
  • legends are stories about the (usually more
    recent) past, which generally include, or are
    based on, some historical events are generally
    focused on human heroes
  • folktales/fairytales (or Märchen, the German word
    for such tales) are stories which lack any
    definite historical setting and often include
    such things as fairies, witches, a fairy guide
    and animal characters
  • Myths are not the same as fables, legends,
    folktales, fairy tales, anecdotes or fiction, but
    the concepts may overlap

J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Writer, philologist, and religious thinker J.R.R.
    Tolkien expressed a the opinion "I believe that
    legends and myths are largely made of 'truth',
    and indeed present aspects of truth that can only
    be received in this mode."

Active characters in myths
  • The active characters in myths are generally ?

Active characters in myths
  • Divinities
  • Heroes
  • guardian spirits
  • Spirits of the dead
  • nymphs
  • elements, forces
  • sacred animals, normal animals
  • cultural heroes
  • tricksters
  • monsters, hybrids
  • fantastic animals
  • kings, princes, princess
  • skilled warriors
  • enemies and villains
  • Personifications
  • Avatars

  • Classical semi-divine beings
  • Founders
  • Models (Aeneas, pius)
  • Or model and anti-model (Siegfried, Achilles)
  • Problem of hybris
  • Fall caused by excess
  • Heracles-Romulus model transfiguration in gods

  • Ritual myths
  • Origin myths
  • Creation myths
  • Eschatological myths
  • Social myths

Myths and rituals
  • ritual is a set of actions, often thought to have
    symbolic value, the performance of which is
    usually prescribed by a religion or by the
    traditions of a community.
  • Rituals are based on myths, are re-enactment of
  • Rituals are historical, conservatives but dynamic
  • Ritual are often connected to passages,
    boundaries and changes
  • Van Gennep
  • Previous status liminarity new status

Myths in oral cultures
  • Myths in oral culture has local variations and
    individual variations
  • The myths arent dogmatic at all
  • Myths are often ambiguous also in their
    significance they need to be interpreted they
    call for an interpretation are object of
    discussions and philosophical speculations

Greimas and Courtés (Semiticians)
  • The myths hit light the deep-lying aspects of
    existence (Wheelwright)
  • Are metaphorical narrative
  • According to Greimas and Courtés there is
  • A practical level of myths narratives about
    actions of mythical agents
  • And a deep level of myths existential
    questions regarding man and cosmos
  • Origin of humanity and cosmos
  • Myths are often cosmological
  • Myths are often aetiological

Myths drama, passion, (im)morality
  • Myths have linear or circular narrative
  • Are full of adventures, battles, struggles
    pathos, emotion, drama
  • They could express moral elements, or indicate
    immoral behaviours
  • Myths are morally ambiguous a hero or a god
    could be sometimes moral and other times
    absolutely immoral
  • Myths arent politically correct

Multiple meanings
  • myth is a sacred story involving symbols that are
    usually capable of multiple meanings (cf. the
    works of Claude Levi-Strauss, Ernst Cassirer,
    Mircea Eliade, Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and
    Northrup Frye)

Myths according to the philosophers of
Enghlitenment and the positivists
  • Myth opposed to logos (rational discourse)
  • Myth were synonym of false and irrational, old,
    unfashionable, simple
  • The philosophes such as Voltaire, were interested
    in dispelling myths, not explaining their
    existence or their complexity

Myths according to modern scholars
  • According to Levi-Strauss, Cassirer, Freud, Jung,
    Frye, Cassirer
  • Myths are a constant dimension of human mind
    arent relic of the past

Franz Boas
  • Nothing travels so fast as the fantastic tales
  • Large diffusions of certain myths

Uno Harvas regional phenomenology
  • Phenomena or themes (myths regarding stars,
    forest, spirits of the houses) present in myths
    of different peoples are compared to each others
    in order to find similarities and differences
  • Harvas phenomenology was called regional,
    because the comparison was limited to certain
    peoples sharing some similar cultural patterns
  • Unlimited or Global Phenomenology of Mircea

Functionalist (Malinovski) vs Structuralist
  • Functionalits
  • Myths and Rituals are based on socio-biological
  • Shadows of Marx
  • Dumezil triads (kings, soldiers, productors)
  • Structuralists and symbolists
  • Independence of the mythical thought, inner logic
  • The myth are thinking in us
  • The myths and rituals could be unpractical or not
    necessarily oriented to the satisfaction of a
  • aesthetical level

  • Myths based on a inner narrative code similar to
  • Myths are a forest of symbols
  • Myths like symbolic symphonies
  • Binary oppositions
  • Units of analysis mythems
  • Myths are systems with an inner logic (the savage
  • Critics the Levi-Strauss interpretations are
    sometimes too schematic, the myths seems
  • Levi-Strauss dont express the dynamicity and
    variability of myths, he is interested mostly in
    the narrative patterns

First Juri Lotman interest on oral narratives
  • History is oriented to the effect of an action
  • Myths are oriented to the origins
  • Written culture oriented to the past
  • Oral culture to the future (prediction,
  • The word of oral memory is full of symbols
  • Previous tendency (with Uspenskij) to consider
    Russian folklore (folk tale) as myths
  • Individualism and absence of connections between
    the wonder tales (no system)
  • Decoding the mythological texts is an act
    reconstruction of a puzzle

Juri Lotmans theoric framework the vertical
level of myths and symbols
  • The long memory of symbols and of myths has a
    vertical level
  • The mythological symbol dont live only in a
    cultural synchronic level (only in the present or
    only in the past).
  • The symbol has a vertical, historical,
    chronological level
  • It comes from the past, it is active in the
    present and is projected into the future
  • Every mythological and cultural text isnt
    homogeneous, it is made bay several layers
  • Every mythological symbol is a messenger of
    other cultural eras
  • At the same time the symbol is dynamic, and it
    has an active relation with the present cultural
    context it is transformed by the present
    cultural contexts and could transform some
    aspects of the present cultural context

Lotman and Bachtin dialogical symbolism
  • Myths and culture are created in a dialogic
  • I-he/she
  • I-I
  • We-they
  • The others are necessary to define ourselves and
    our symbols

Ronald Barthes dangerous damned modern myths
  • Modern Myths are icons admired without
    discussion or popular -nationalistic stories
    that are considered to be true without any proof
    of evidence
  • Modern myths are like a stolen language
  • Who manipulates myths use particular statements
    as universal truth
  • Myths part of the Doxa (common sense)
  • Modern myths has hidden ideological meanings
  • Myths are not only narratives, but phenomena of
    everyday life
  • Ethnographic semiotic on the road advertising,
    films, business life, daily food
  • Divas of the cinemas, the myth of Senna
    Gardel as an icon of tango

  • Generally art is a (product of) human activity,
    made with the intention of stimulating the human
    senses as well as the human mind by transmitting
    emotions and/or ideas
  • Arts are connected to decodification and
    rebuilding of myths
  • Traditionally the term art was used to refer to
    any skill or mastery
  • Greek and Romans considered most artist artisans
  • Only few (Parmenide) were famous and inspired by
  • The myth of the artist-genius explodes in
  • Every art and culture develop his own aesthetic
    and goal
Write a Comment
User Comments (0)