Presentation on theme: "Today’s Objectives: To become familiar with the various theories of the origins of myths To differentiate between classical and primitive myths."— Presentation transcript:
Today’s Objectives: To become familiar with the various theories of the origins of myths To differentiate between classical and primitive myths
as historical events that became distorted with the passage of time. from man’s attempt to explain natural occurrences that he could not understand. The five important theories: Euhemerus, Muller, Tylor, Malinowski, and Frazer
Greek Scholar Lived: late 300s and early 200s B.C. Developed one of the oldest known theories His Theory: He Believed all myths are based on historical facts and that scholars had to strip away the supernatural elements in a myth to reach these facts. Example: He felt that Zeus was modeled on an early king of Crete who had such great power that he inspired many supernatural tales. W eakness of the Theory : There isn’t enough historical evidence to determine whether a mythical figure ever existed.
German-born British language scholar of the late 1800s His Theory: Suggested that all gods and mythical heroes were really representations of nature divinities, and heroes were originally a symbol for the sun in one of its phases. Example : The birth of a hero stood for the dawn. The hero’s triumph over obstacles represented the sun at noon (its highest point). The hero’s decline and death expressed the sunset. Today, few scholars take Muller’s main theories seriously. However, he and his followers did influence most later theories about the origins of myths.
English anthropologist of the 1800s His Theory: Believed that myths began through man’s efforts to account for unexplainable occurrences in dreams. The idea that all things in nature have souls is called animism. Tylor considered animism the first step in the development of human thought – and the basis of myths.
Polish-born British anthropologist of the early 1900s He disagreed with Tylor. Instead, his theory emphasized the psychological conditions that lead man to create myths. His Theory: All people recognize that a frontier exists between what man can and cannot explain logically. He said that man creates myths when he reaches this frontier.
Scottish anthropologist of the late 1800s According to Frazer, the theme of a dying and reborn god appears in almost every ancient mythology, either directly or symbolically. Frazer therefore concluded that myths originated from the natural cycle of birth, growth, decay, death, and – most important – rebirth.
Mythology & Society Most of society’s gods, heroes, and myths are really collective representations of the institutions and values of that society or of important parts within it.
Carl Jung – a Swiss psychoanalyst –believed myths reflect the attitudes and behavior of individuals. An individual’s personal unconscious is formed by his experiences in the world as filtered through his senses. An individual’s collective unconscious is inherited and shared by all members of his race. He believed that the collective unconscious is organized into basic patterns and symbols called archetypes. Myths represent one kind of archetype.
Geography, climate, government, and other societal aspects influence the myths of various peoples. Despite differences related to climate or geography or social systems, all mythologies have certain features in common.
Answer: Classical mythology comes from a more civilized time. Thus, the Greeks tended to see pleasant visions while the more primitive peoples saw ugliness and terror lurking everywhere.
Answer: Greek gods were human in form, while the gods of other cultures were part cat or bird or lion. See the picture on page 5 of the text.
Representation or conception of a god with human attributes (question 2)
Since the Greeks believed in human gods, people could be more at ease with them. While the half-human, half-beast gods of the other cultures inspired fear, the Greek gods appeared more friendly/companionable.
Sometimes Greek gods behaved cruelly or indecently. Sometimes traces remained of the older beast-gods in the other partly human creatures.
Edith Hamilton stresses that it is not an account of Greek religion, but rather an explanation of something in nature. However, religion is part of mythology and some myths explain nothing at all.
Mythology grows and develops as a people grow and develop. There may be numerous versions of a single story coming from various times or authors. Homer and Hesiod both describe Zeus as chief of the gods but their views of the character of Zeus differ.