Folklore & Fairytales discussion

Greek/Roman Mythology

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I thought some of you might be interested in a thread like this for random discussion about Greek and Roman mythology.

--It's Greek/Roman mythology rather than one or the other since it is so hard to separate the two (for me, at least)!

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I started reading Bulfinch's Mythology, as someone recommended. (Was it Stephanie?) It canvases a broad range of mythology and its influence on literature, so it's not very in-depth, but I've found it very interesting. Some of it seems peculiar, however. For example, the author maintains that Persephone's story is a metaphor for seeds, how they go into the earth and spring out again. From what I remember, other books say her mother's grief over Persephone's yearly stay in Hades and joy over her return cause the changing of the seasons. No mention is made of seeds, as I recall. Does anyone know more about this?

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Indeed. Thanks for the reminder about putting the versions in their authors' cultural contexts. Stories like this develop many interesting versions, but it is harder to learn about the original culture's telling and intentions.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Speaking of retellings, I noticed that the latter part of Cupid and Psyche's story seemed to resemble East of the Sun, West of the Moon and a few other stories. The gist: Psyche goes to a strange mansion, which has invisible servants, to marry a mysterious man who only comes at night, in the dark. When her sisters visit, they advise her to hide a lamp and knife nearby and look on him. She does so, and Cupid flees, distressed that she broke her word. The mansion disappears, and she must search for her beloved. During her search, she finds Ceres's temple and organizes the contents, earning herself the aid of that goddess. Venus has her fulfill three difficult tasks (which she does with the help of various gods), and Cupid beseeches Jupiter. Finally, Venus allows them to be together and Psyche is allowed to drink the gods' ambrosia.

I'm curious: does anyone know if the similarities are a coincidence or if the stories really are related? What resource would one use to find out such things?

Oscar (qwallath) | 5 comments Mod
The most recent version is ATU [Antti Aarne, Stith Thompson, Hans-Jörg Uther).

I don't have it myself, but we do have the three volumes of ATU at the institute, so I could look things up if needed.

You often see similar themes and plots cropping up in tales from different areas. I think it depends indeed on each individual tale, and also on which scholar you'd ask.

In Europe it might very well be the case that the written fairytale tradition has a stronger influence on oral tales than presumed by some. Willem de Blécourt, for example, takes the extreme position that all current/(pre-)modern fairytales are ultimately derived from a written source or single author.

Jim (JimMacLachlan) Men used to give away daughters for alliances or had them taken. Daughters were scared, didn't know the guy. Then they got to know him & things worked out OK. That seems to be a basic plot to a bunch of myths. Lots of folks around that could come up with similar stories to tell their kids or around a fire on a boring evening.

Spider Robinson wrote a short storyMelancholy Elephants about copyright-derivation law, back when they were changing it. It was a protest against making them last too long & expanding the scope of derivation because he said all stories were derivative, in the final analysis, & he showed a world where art was suffocated by this law.

I'm not sure of the exact details, but copyright had been 50 years & some folks like Louis L'Amour were having their works republished legally without getting a dime. Congress contemplated making copyright last forever.

Harlan Ellison is well known for suing very fast for anything that smacks of derivation on his works. He had written "The Man with the Glass Hand" an Outer Limits episode where a robot traveled to the past & the Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Forever" where McCoy changes the future by saving a nice girl's life & Kirk has to fix things by letting her die. So the movie "Terminator" gave him credit even though he had nothing to do with it. They figured it was easier than a lawsuit, or so I read.

Using the above as a yardstick, an easy case can be made for folklore being derivative, but considering how tough travel was, I still think a lot probably was just exaggerations of common life.

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 12 comments For those of us in the US, the History Channel has a show on Monday nights at 10 I think (maybe 9?) called Clash of the Gods about a different person each week. I caught part of the one on Hercules and this past Monday's was on Medusa and Perseus. I really enjoyed it and learned some new things. I thought you guys might be interested if you hadn't already heard about it. :)

message 8: by Bronwyn (last edited Sep 10, 2009 09:42PM) (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 12 comments As I'm sure you found out it wasn't on on Monday. They ran a two hour program on Manson and the Tate/LaBianca murders instead. Hopefully this coming Monday. :) Here's the website: You can watch videos online.

Serena | 3 comments Hiya, just a heads up that 'The Song of Achilles' by Madeline Miller is available for Kindle @ $1.99 on Amazon.

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