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Who is the woman in this image?. 32. 28. Penelope Athena Sisyphus’ Wife Faustina. 0. Mean = 1.2857. The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub- nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair?. 34. Xenophanes of Colophon Theagenes of Rhegium Aeschylus

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Who is the woman in this image?



  • Penelope

  • Athena

  • Sisyphus’ Wife

  • Faustina


Mean = 1.2857

The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub- nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair?


  • Xenophanes of Colophon

  • Theagenes of Rhegium

  • Aeschylus

  • Euripides

  • Plato



Mean = 2.9643

The poets pretend to know all sorts of things, but they really know nothing at all.


  • Xenophanes of Colophon

  • Theagenes of Rhegium

  • Aeschylus

  • Euripides

  • Plato



Mean = 4.8148

Paradeigms = Myths are


  • false

  • instructive models

  • venerable tradition

  • dangerous



Mean = 2.3571

Ways of Interpreting Myth:Tricksters


Modern Interpretations of Myth

  • Two modern meanings of “mythology”:

  • a system or set of myths

  • the methodological analysis of myths

A monolithic theory of myth vs. the multifunctionalism of myth

The autonomy of myth

See: Some Theories of Myth

Externalist Theories: Myths as Products of the Environment

Internalist Theories: Myths as Products of the Mind

Externalist Theories:Myths as Products of the Environment

Myths as Aetiology

Comparative Mythology

Nature Myths

Myths as Rituals

Charter Myths

Myths as Aetiology

  • myth as explanation of the origin of things

  • myth as primitive science

    • myth as primitive science

    • What aetiologies are in Trickster Myths?

F. Max MüllerNature Myths

Founder of the social scientific study of religion

Comparative approach:

Study of Vedic peoples of ancient India applied to myths of other cultures (Greece and Rome)

For Müller, the culture of the Vedic peoples represented a form of nature worship, an idea clearly influenced by Romanticism

Max Müller


Zeus as the Sky

  • Dyaus pitrSanskrit

    • Dyaus = “he who shines”

    • pitr = father

  • Zeus pater Greek

  • Jupiter Latin

  • Tiu Vater Teutonic (German)


Myths as Ritual

  • Sir James Frazer’ The Golden Bough (1890-1915)

    • myths as by products of ritual enactments

    • stories to explain religious ceremonies

    • The Golden Bough On-Line:

    • http://www.bartleby.com/196/

Charter Myths

belief-systems set up to authorize and validate current social customs and institutions.

Bronsilaw Malinowski


Selected Bibliography:


Internalist Theories: Myths as Products of the Mind

Individual Mind

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Collective Mind

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

Mircea Eliade (1907-1986)

Eliade's analysis of religion assumes the existence of "the sacred" as the object of worship of religious humanity.

Myths reflect a creative era, a sacred time, a vanished epoch of unique holiness.

More on Eliade: http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/bodhidharma/mircea.html


Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-)

Jean-Paul Vernant

Pierre Vidal-Naquet

Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-)

  • myth reflect the mind's binary organization

  • humans tend to see world as reflection of their own physical and cerebral structure ( two hands, eyes, legs, etc.)

  • Left/right, raw,/cooked, pleasure/pain

  • Myth deals with the perception and reconciliation of these opposites

  • mediation of contradictions

How does a trickster mediate contradictions?

For more on Levi-Strauss see http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/klmno/levi-strauss_claude.html


Vlaimir Propp (1895-1970)

Propp argued that all fairy tales were constructed of certain plot elements, which he called functions, and that these elements consistently occurred in a uniform sequence. Based on a study of one hundred folk tales, Propp devised a list of thirty-one generic functions, proposing that they encompassed all of the plot components from which fairy tales were constructed.

Feminist Approaches to Myth

Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994)

Marija Gimbutas was an archaeologist with a scholarly background in folklore and linguistics, making her uniquely qualified to synthesize information from science and myth into a controversial theory of a Goddess-based culture in prehistoric Europe. Joseph Campbell said that, if her work had been available to him, he would have held very different views about the archetypes of the female Divine in world mythology.

Primacy of Matriarchy

Johann Jakob Bachofen(1815 – 1887) 

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