Following is an outline of the chapter along with the main learning objectives. To help coordinate your studies, this outline and the learning objectives are organized to match your textbook. This organization is also utilized in the chapter review section.
Part 1: The Decline and Revival of Classical Mythology
You should be able to discuss the importance of
classical myth to continuing human concerns, providing a cultural resource between
cultures, across boundaries of politics, language, religion and time.
You should be able to discuss the loss of
popularity that mythology suffered in the early Middle Ages, as the culture was
religiously oriented toward Christianity; Virgil's popularity and influence on Christian
writers, such as Dante; and his influence as a canon in the European education tradition.
You should be able to discuss some of the
elements that Dante, in his Commedia ("Divine Comedy", especially in The
Inferno), borrowed from the works of Virgil, including the River Styx, and such creatures
as Charon, Cerebus, Minos and Virgil himself, as the Hero Ulysses' guide in the
You should be aware of the influence of Virgil's Art of Love on later writers, such as the love sonnets of Petrarch and Dante, and their influence on so many others as they also became part of the canon of the European education tradition.
Part 2: The Later Uses of Classical Mythology
You should be aware of the continuing influence
of ancient mythology on our Western culture, in terms of: psychology, sociology,
television, and company logos; in our language such as references to Cupid's arrows.
You should be aware of the widespread effect of
ancient mythology on Western arts and literature.
You should be able to discuss the influence of mythology in terms of its four primary means of transmission:
Translations and revivals of ancient plays or poems, rendering them in modern language and performing them for contemporary audiences.
The constant revisions and adaptations of the ancient myths to "update" them in terms of the changing needs and perspectives of the contemporary culture.
Taking advantage of an audience's familiarity with mythic themes, images, creating a "double-image", simultaneously addressing modern and ancient in contrast or comparison to create a thematic counterpoint.
Using a specific mythic image as an emblem or symbol, such as for an idea an artist wants to explore, to add depth to a given human experiences or event.
Part 3: Myth and Cultural History
You should be able to discuss the cultural
resonance of myth, in terms of continuing adaptations of themes and images (often serving
as their comments on the work and its thematic content) that serve as a gauge of the
contemporary culture's concerns, such as the changing image of the Goddess Venus in its
taste, style and vision.
You should be able to discuss the significance
of the myth of Icarus, for the Greeks a lesson in moderation , but for later times an
attempt to see a higher vision; as a representative of the Renaissance Hero, or fallen
representative of human-oriented obsessions later rebuked by the Baroque perspective (of
the ineffectiveness of human endeavor).
You should be able to discuss the significance of Prometheus, for the Greeks a symbol of the trickster and/or the benefactor of mankind, as the Heroic ideal of the Romantic Age; identified with the creative spirit and rebellion against oppressive authority; adopted as a representative symbol by such figures a Napoleon; connecting the Promethean image to such Romantic Age literary creatures as Mary Shelley's Monster (Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus) and Milton's Satan; even turning the earlier character studies of Faust from an image based on Icarus into one expressive of the Promethean ideals.
Part 4: The Future of Myth
You should be able to discuss the continuing appeal of myth into the future as representative of human spirit, in terms of its ability to compel our attention and its capacity to address myriad concerns and convey complex meanings.
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