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 Myths.  archaic sense: G. S. Kirk: “a traditional oral narrative”  Alan Dundes: “a sacred narrative explaining how the world and man came to be in.

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Presentation on theme: " Myths.  archaic sense: G. S. Kirk: “a traditional oral narrative”  Alan Dundes: “a sacred narrative explaining how the world and man came to be in."— Presentation transcript:

1  Myths

2  archaic sense: G. S. Kirk: “a traditional oral narrative”  Alan Dundes: “a sacred narrative explaining how the world and man came to be in their present form”  Eleazar Meletynsky: “The basic purpose of mythology is the ordering of chaos into cosmos, and cosmos does, from the very beginning, contain aspects of morality and value.”  world model: completeness; vertical - horizontal models (cosmos - chaos; centre - periphery; axis mundi)  modern sense (cultural myth): a common belief, an ideological construct

3  1. Cognitive - Symbolic (Ernst Cassirer)  2. Ritualistic (James G. Frazer: The Golden Bough); search for a key myth (myth of the dying and reborn god/king/hero); rites of passage  3. Functional (Emile Durkheim, Bronislaw Malinowski) Malinowski: “Myth fulfills in primitive culture an indispensable function; it expresses, enhances and codifies belief’ it vouches for their efficiency and contains practical rules for the guidance of man.”  4. Structuralist (Claude Lévi-Strauss: “I do not aim to show how men think in myths, but how myth thinks in men, unbeknownst to them.”)  5. Psychological (Carl Gustav Jung: collective unconscious: “a potentiality handed down to us from ancient times in the specific form of memory images” 3/3/14

4  an archetype; the collective unconscious of mankind  archetype: a residuum, “a figure that constantly recurs in the course of history and appears wherever creative fantasy is freely expressed. Essentially, therefore, it is a mythological figure.”  Italo Calvino: “Myth is the hidden part of every story, the underground part, the zone still unexplored because there are still no words to take us there … Myth feeds on silence as much as on the spoken word.” 3/3/14

5  Semiotic systems, always already interpretation/representation – further reinterpreted by later cultures/ages  Not given, but constructed  Its „truth” (relevance): as a system of representation with multiple layers  Codifiers of human behaviour  Discursive practices in the formation of subjectivity 3/3/14

6  Their own history/genealogy  Changes: reflect social/historical changes  Archetypes: mental concepts 3/3/14

7  Chaos → Gea: earth Goddess, mother of all  Uranus: sky God; son and husband (twelve children)  Cronus: youngest; castrating the father with a sickle given to him by the mother 3/3/14

8  Cronus’s son: Zeus – takes over (ten years’ struggle → Cronus to Tartaros)  Olympian Gods  Main God: Zeus: whole, omnipotent  Other gods, incl. Goddesses: partial:  Hera  Aphrodite (Venus)  Demeter  Persephone (Proserpine)  Artemis (Diana)  Pallas Athene  Hestia (Vesta)  diversification and fragmentation: wholeness of the Great Goddess is lost  Symptomatic of the gendered codification of culture

9  Sacred text: holy word  Historical conglomerate of texts  Canonisation  Codification in the anthropological meaning of myth  Basic patterns of behaviour, perception, thinking, evaluations, morality, etc. 3/3/14

10  1. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  2. 7 And the L ORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became the living soul.  2. 8 And the L ORD God planted a garden eastward of Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  2. 15 And the L ORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  2. 16 And the L ORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  2. 17 But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 3/3/14

11  2. 18 And the L ORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  2. 21 And the L ORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;  2. 22 And the rib, which the L ORD God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  2. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.  2. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  2. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. 3/3/14

12  3. Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the L ORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath god said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  3. 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  3. 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of, neither shall you touch it, lest ye die.  3. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  3. 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  3. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 3/3/14

13  3. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.  3. 8. And they heard the voice of the L ORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the L ORD God amongst the trees of the garden.  3. 9 And the L ORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  3. 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.  3. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?  3. 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  3. 13 And the L ORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 3/3/14

14  3. 14 And the L ORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou has done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:  3. 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  3. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  3. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;  3. 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shall eat the herb of the field; 3/3/14

15  3. 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.  3. 20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was mother of all living.  3. 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the L ORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.  3. 22 And the L ORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:  3. 23 Therefore the L ORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  3. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.  4. And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the L ORD.  4.1 I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shalt be unto thy husband. 3/3/14

16  Monotheism: rule by Law  Repudiation of female deities  Snake: earlier cultures: Goddesses most potent power symbol  Knowledge as gendered  Meaning of knowledge  Punishment of female curiosity (vs first murder)  Naming as power  Spirituality/carnality (first/second)  Transcendence/immanence 3/3/14

17  First unsplit creature: undifferentiated („earth creature”)  Sexual markers: only after the split  Retrosepctive reading/fallacy: as if the newer versions were fuller versions, not interpretations (Mieke Bal)  Further interpretations: modify even that 3/3/14





22  “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Tim. 2:11–14) 3/3/14

23  Woman’s voice  Subjection and authority  Primary creation as reason/cause  Deception  Knowledge as power  Hierarchical gender relations on account of „teaching” 3/3/14


25  mother of God  mother of the son by god  a virgin impregnated by a divine power  woman mourning her dead  Iconography: ◦ Cybele (imperial palladium) ◦ Aphrodite Uranios (crown of stars and moon as footstool) ◦ Spica Virgo (ear of corn) ◦ Ishtar (dove)  Queen of Heaven (Maria Regina)  Mediator of Grace  the Church herself (Mater Ecclesiae from 1964 on)  the prototype of two kinds of love: ◦ of courtly love: the inaccessibility of the noble feudal lady of medieval courts is modelled on her (see: Our Lady) ◦ of child love, the madonna of humility - a central icon in the representation of motherhood, and comprises an essential aspect of maternal psychology 3/3/14

26  381: Council of Constantinople: Mary is a virgin even after giving birth to Christ  451: Council of Ephesus: Mary is “Aieparthenos”—ever virgin, and instead of mother of man or mother of Christ: mother of God, “Theotokos”.  Counter-Reformation: the Jesuits, giving in to popular pressure, venerated Mary in herself: a share of the maternal proved useful to a certain balance between the two sexes  1854: the Catholic Church canonised the dogma of Immaculate Conception (the idea first surfaced in 1140)  1950: the dogma of Assumption was accepted: Mary’s body and soul rising towards the other world, without death, and without Calvary  Orthodox Church: dogma of Dormition: Mary changes into a little girl in the arms of her son, who thus becomes her father. In this way Mary is mother, daughter and wife to Christ, exemplifying the threefold metamorphosis of woman. Her corporeality vanishes, but she retains her psychological functions 3/3/14

27  translation error: Semitic term: the socio-legal status of a young unmarried woman  into the Greek “parthenos”:virginity as a physiological and psychological condition  physiological virginity in Latin: “intacta”  St Augustine posited Mary’s virginity as the logical precondition of Christ’s chastity  virginity and divine impregnation: uniqueness among women  an absolute lack of her body, sexuality, and activity: a passive receptacle for the Holy Spirit  her virginity: the reflection of the male quest for spiritual rebirth freed from carnal femaleness  repudiates the female as the source of all that pulls him down into bodiliness, sin and death  Mariology: exalts the virginal, bodiless, obedient and passive feminine, and is the manifestation of men’s fears of real women in the flesh 3/3/14

28  the return of the repressed Great Goddess in a monotheistic patriarchal culture  the result of the efforts of a society to reconcile the remnants of matrilineage and the need for a symbolic paternal agency  by depriving her of autonomy and agency 3/3/14


30  “The more remote and unreal the personal feminine is, the more intense is the male’s yearning for a projection of an ‘eternal feminine’ onto the social institutions that assume a maternal character in embracing, protecting, nourishing, approving the individual—from the Alma Mater of the universities to the personification of cities, countries, sciences, ideals and perhaps, most of all, the Church. Thus, in eras and cultures where male power has dominant sway, there is a tendency to romanticise the feminine principle” (Kolbenschlag 201) 3/3/14

31  Exchange goods (commodities and ideas – or ideas as commodities) throughout the symbolic form of the female figure  Living allegory: „other speech”  Plural significations of womens’s bodies  Justice, Liberty, etc.: NOT because flesh and blood women are considered like that  Central paradox: the recognition of a difference between the symbolic order, inhabited by ideal, allegorical figures, and the actual order depends on the unlikelihood of women practising the concepts they represent (Marina Warner)  Presence of female symbolism: does not guarantee the appreciation of women  Flesh and blood women cannot completely fulfill the criteria of the ideal 3/3/14

32  Thank you for your attention!

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