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The Shadow of the ParthenonStudies in Ancient History and Literature$
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Peter Green

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520255074

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520255074.001.0001

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Myths and Symbols

Myths and Symbols

(p.126) Myths and Symbols
The Shadow of the Parthenon

Peter Green

University of California Press

This chapter examines Thomas Mann's definition of myth as the foundation of life, a timeless pattern, and the religious formula to which life shapes itself, and opines that the statement alone is enough to show how radical a change the general attitude to myths and mythology has undergone during the past half-century. It notes that myth represented an early, pre-logical mode of human thought, which, as Professor Grimal once remarked, “saw the world as a stage for a dramatic conflict between capricious wills—to study myths, it was believed, was to review the errors and follies of man”. The chapter also explores Euhemerism and its fallacy, which assumes its own universal applicability, and notes that both Euhemerists and symbolists tend to be bedevilled by their own intellectual sophistication, and to project it on to the society they are studying.

Keywords:   Thomas Mann, myth, life, mythology, human thought, Professor Grimal, Euhemerism, symbolists

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