The Mythology of Greece and Rome

The Mythology of Greece and Rome

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The Mythology of Greece and Rome

The Mythology of Greece and Rome

Read FREE!

Excerpt

While, one may understand allusions to classical myths by the persistent use of a classical dictionary, it is hardly possible to learn their beauty or significance in such piecemeal fashion. In taking up the study of mythology more systematically it is well to ask some preliminary questions: What is a myth? Why are classical myths deemed worthy of study, and other equally large groups of myths left to the antiquary and the anthropologist? What is the relation of the myth to other forms of social expression? We may even ask, How do myths arise, and what are the laws of their development? for such development is not difficult to trace. How are classical myths to be studied? What are the materials at our disposal? And what is to be the final aim of the student? Such are some of the questions to be treated in this introduction.

1. Definition of Myths .--To begin with the simplest and most fundamental question of all, What is a myth? It is plain that mythology does not include all the popular lore created by the imagination to the delight of peoples who do not yet have a proper literature, nor is it essentially a form of theological expression for primitive peoples. Is the myth the same as the allegory? The following definition may serve to indicate the object to be studied:

Myths are stories of the acts of superhuman beings, often improbable to us, but believed to be true by those who related them.

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