New PDF release: A Short Introduction to Classical Myth

By Barry B. Powell

ISBN-10: 0130258393

ISBN-13: 9780130258397

A necessary reference for someone drawn to gaining a deeper figuring out and appreciation of classical mythology, this distinct advisor deals unique resource fabric at the social and old history, interpretation, and statement on significant literary books on Greek myth—such as Homer, Hesiod, the tragedians, the historians, Ovid, Vergil, and in Greek paintings. Written in a transparent and lucid demeanour, the booklet bargains clean and unique interpretations in accordance with the most recent scholarship, and is derived prepared into 3 special components: I: Definitions and Interpretations (devoted to theoretical issues); II: history (to fill in details necessary to realizing myth); and III: topics (chapters directed towards particular issues within the research of myth). For normal readers of English literature and/or classical mythology.

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Extra resources for A Short Introduction to Classical Myth

Sample text

The mythical conflict of the two gods is the allegorical expression of a basic cosmological principle concerning the opposition of fire and 2o DÉFINITIONS AND INTERPRETATION water. Other allegorists did not hesitate to apply allegory in psychological interpretations as well, making Athena personify rational thought; Ares, irrational violence; Aphrodite, desire; and Hermes, reason. During the Hellenistic Period, the Stoic philosophers refined physical allegory into a powerful tool that could be applied to any myth.

On reading his account of some god, the reader would find a succinct entry that included both the facts of the story and a moral based on an allegorical interpretation. 3 For example, the story of Liber (the Latin equivalent of the Greek wine-god Dionysus) was understood to be an allegory in which Semelê, the mother of Dionysus, and her three sisters represent four stages of intoxication: (1) too much wine, (2) the forgetfulness it causes, (3) lust, and (4) sheer madness. The interpretation is supported with typical etymological explanations: the first sister (and first stage of drunkenness) is Ino, linked to vinum and oinos, the Latin and Greek words for "wine"; Autonoë is fancifully said to mean in Greek "ignorant of herself; Semelê is explained as a combination of soma = "body" and luein = "release"—a "release from bodily inhibitions, hence lust"; Agave is insanity because she cut off her son's head, which only an insane person would do.

The cave, he argues, represents the universe because it is generated from matter and is natural; the nymphs, as spirits of water, represent the ceaseless flow of events within time; the looms of stone on which they weave represent souls descending to incarnation, as the flesh is woven on the bones (the stones of the body). The moral truths are obvious: The material world, including our bodies, is an illusion and unworthy of our aspiration. The increasing interest of neoplatonists in such allegories reflects an effort to rehabilitate myth and to establish its value for revealing higher truths in face of the growing threat from Christianity.

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A Short Introduction to Classical Myth by Barry B. Powell


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