The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology

The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology

The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology

The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology

Excerpt

The question: How old is Greek mythology? may at first sight seem idle, for Greek mythology is obviously of many different ages. For example, many genealogies and eponymous heroes created for political purposes are late, such inventions having been made through the whole historical age of Greece; yet most of them are earlier than the very late myths like the campaigns of Dionysus, or the great mass of the metamorphoses, especially the catasterisms, which were invented in the Hellenistic age. The great tragic poets reshaped the myths and left their imprint upon them, so that the forms in which the myths are commonly known nowadays often have been given them by tragedy. Similarly, before the tragic poets, the choric lyric poets reshaped them. The cyclical epics also are thought to have exercised a profound influence upon the remodeling of the myths. In Homer we find many well-known myths, often in forms differing, however, from those in which they are related later. Finally, it cannot be doubted that myths existed before Homer.

Our question concerns, however, not the reshaping and remodeling of myths, which often consists only of an imitation of current patterns, but the real creation of myths, especially the creation of the great cycles of myths. From this standpoint, the Hellenistic and many earlier myths may be put to . . .

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