The Human Heart of Myth
It is very easy to think of myths as stories full of magic and fantasy and should not be taken as serious in their thought, or must be considered beneath serious writing. The reaction against myth by Greek historians such as Thucydides and Polybius as being the subject matter of ‘speech writers’ (logographoi) has only fuelled this dismissive attitude. If Greeks looked down on their own myths, how can our own ‘advanced’ (or so-called) age do anything but laugh at them?
In this new series, I will be looking at different myths, not just those of the Greeks and Romans and arguing that they show not only a quest for explanation and understanding, but also that they contain important lessons about what it is to be human, not just in terms of the story and its content, but the fact that a particular myth exists at all. Why do we create myths? What does this tell us about ourselves? A myth might be completely wrong in the explanation it seeks to give, but that does not mean it is without significance. What does it tell us about a particular culture or its habitat and how a certain people responded to their surroundings? But above all, humans appear at their best and at their worst in numerous paradigms from myths across the world. Analysis from the perspective of what lies behind the act of myth-creation illuminates key aspects of what it means to be human. Even the most fantastical myths are fundamentally about us.
In this new series on BloggusClassicus, I shall consider the following aspects of myths and myth-creation that particularly exemplify human nature:
· The search for explanation from the origins of the world to natural phenomena.
· Human beings’ interaction with and relationship to the world around them, including
· The portrayal of human beings and their behaviour.
· The quest for the better.
I will also be asking the following recurring question: can myths be regarded as an early form of philosophy in terms of their aim and focus?