A Short Introduction to Classical Myth by Barry B. Powell

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By Barry B. Powell

An important reference for somebody drawn to gaining a deeper knowing and appreciation of classical mythology, this special consultant deals unique resource fabric at the social and old heritage, 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 deals clean and unique interpretations in accordance with the most recent scholarship, and is derived equipped into 3 special components: I: Definitions and Interpretations (devoted to theoretical issues); II: history (to fill in info necessary to figuring out myth); and III: subject matters (chapters directed towards particular subject matters within the research of myth). For normal readers of English literature and/or classical mythology.

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Euhemerus wrote a book describing a journey to three fabulously wealthy islands in the Indian Ocean. On the main island, Panchaea (modeled after Plato's Atlantis), Euhemerus said that he had found a golden column on which was inscribed the history of the reigns of early human kings. This alleged history suggested a very different interpretation of Greek myth. First to rule, according to Euhemerus' story, was Uranus, so called because he was learned in the study of the heavens. From union with his human wife, Hestia, Uranus begot the Titans and Cronus.

His theory is yet another that connects the mythical with the primitive and the irrational, an approach common since the Enlightenment. A Freudian reading of myth is allegory in yet another guise, translating mythical patterns and events into psychological patterns and events. But like Max Muller, and unlike earlier interpreters, Freud explained not merely how, but also why, shifts occur from one meaning to another. 6 The notion that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" (the development of the individual goes through the same stages as that of the race) was developed by embryologist August Weissman (1834-1914) some time before Freud.

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. Drunkenness, obviously, is to be avoided at all costs.

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