Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

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Book Chapter

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Antike Mythen - Medien, Transformationen und Konstruktionen

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It is commonly understood that the Greek term mythos means something entirely different from the modern definitions of 'myth'. Liddell and Scott tells the most authoritative version of the story: in Homer the term is a rather generic word for speech, and by the classical period it comes to mean something like a tall tale, usually a false and absurd one. Plato in the Gorgias opposes a mythos to a logos (a rational account) and to speaking truthfully: "Listen, then, as they say, to a beautiful story, which you will consider a myth, I think, but which I consider an actual accont (logon); for the things which I am about to tell, I will tell as the truth" (Plat. Gorg. 523a). Aristotle later coins it to mean the plot of a tragedy, and there the story seems to end. Though I have of course streamlined a bit, there are no other major developments. The ancient traditions of mythography do very little to challenge this narrative, since they display mostly antiquarian interest, where the concern for any truth-value is bracketed.

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Originally published in Antike Mythen - Medien, Transformationen und Konstruktionen © 2009 DeGruyter.



Date Posted: 22 December 2017