A Short Introduction to Classical Myth by Barry B. Powell

By Barry B. Powell

A vital reference for an individual attracted to gaining a deeper realizing and appreciation of classical mythology, this detailed consultant deals unique resource fabric at the social and old history, interpretation, and observation on significant literary books on Greek myth—such as Homer, Hesiod, the tragedians, the historians, Ovid, Vergil, and in Greek artwork. Written in a transparent and lucid demeanour, the ebook deals clean and unique interpretations in accordance with the newest scholarship, and is derived equipped into 3 detailed components: I: Definitions and Interpretations (devoted to theoretical issues); II: historical past (to fill in details necessary to knowing myth); and III: issues (chapters directed towards particular subject matters within the learn of myth). For normal readers of English literature and/or classical mythology.

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Atalanta was identified with "volatile" mercury, which "flees," and Hippomenes, the suitor whom she allowed to outrun her, is the sulfur that overcomes her, that is, effects a chemical reaction. The golden apples that Hippomenes cast to slow Atalanta's flight are another ingredient retarding the process. Together with such specialized esoteric texts, handbooks continued to provide basic information along with interpretations for artists or writers. Myth had virtually become a language for talking about timeless truths, and in the seventeenth century the theory that pagan myth was a distorted version of biblical history reemerged with vigor.

From this story, Sigmund Freud developed his notion that adult male psychology arises from the infant boy's sexual attraction to his mother and his hostility and jealousy toward his father, even as Oedipus married his mother and killed his father. Freud did not seek the origins of the legend in social history, as had the Soviet folklorist Vladimir Propp, but in the incest dreams of his patients, which he took to represent suppressed desires of childhood. The son wishes sexual contact with his mother, from whose CHAPTER 3 T H E MEANING OF MYTH II 39 breasts he feeds and in whose warm body he is daily encompassed.

Faced with examples of what seemed to be ethical monotheism among "savages," Lang argued that monotheism must in some cases have actually preceded animism and polytheistic myth, into which it subsequently degenerated. To most scholars, then, myth was explicable essentially as reflecting an early, clumsy effort to do what science later did better—explain why things are the way they are. Sir James Frazer, a classical scholar and one of the founders of modern anthropology, accepted the validity of social evolution as an explanation with universal application.

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