What is myth Schoolhistory co nz

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       What is a myth?
•Muthos means ‘utterance’ or
something which is told.
•Often includes legends – which are
based in fact
•Edges often blurred
•Many myths contain elements of folk
• Some myths are strongly religious
• Passed on through the generations
• Explain the origins of the world
• Explain natural phenomena - day/night,
  seasons, storms etc
• May explain or support existing customs or
  rituals: birth, marriage, status of women,
  crop fertility etc
• Reflect human dreams and wishes e.g
  do tales of heroes reflect men’s desire to be
    Where do myths come from?
• Usually found in most cultures
• From a time before writing generally used
• A time of genuine belief in the gods
• A time lacking in scientific explanation
• A time when people believed all events had a
  divine origin
• Verbal communication allowed myths to
              Greek Myths
• Earliest reference from Homer and Hesiod in
  the eighth century BC
• Originated between 2000-1000BC
              Ancient Greece
                               Thessaly and Macedonia

                                            Asia Minor
Attica and


              Important places
•   Coast of Asia Minor to the right
•   Cycladic Islands
•   Crete
•   Mainland Greece:
                     Peloponnese (south)
                     Attica and Boetia (central)
                     Thessaly and Macedonia
Background to Greece
     Stone Age Aegean pre 3000BC
•   Similar types of people in these areas
•   Possibly from modern Iraq
•   Farming and domesticated animals
•   Worshipped fertility spirits – mainly female
•   Placated male spirits - destructive
   Early Bronze Age 3000-2000BC
• Bronze used over whole area
• Civilization flourished
• Worship of fertility goddesses
• 2000BC upheaval on Asia mainland caused
  people to arrive
• These people brought wheel pottery
• Greek mainland invaded by several waves of
  less cultured people from the north
• They were warlike
• Patriarchal
• Worshipped mainly male deities who lived
  on mountain tops and ruled the skies
• Homer called them Achaeans
• They looted and killed and eventually settled
 Middle Bronze Age 2000-1450BC
• Crete appears to have escaped the invaders
  and their civilisation continued
• Around 2000BC it had a surge in trade and
• Largest palace was Knossos
• May have had a powerful fleet
• It is called Minoan Civilisation after King
• Minoans worshipped a mother goddess
• The bull was an important symbol
• Crete was the most advanced civilisation in
  the area
• Minoans may have demanded ‘tribute’ from
  other areas
•   They lived on mainland Greece
•   Main centre was Mycenae
•   This civilisation was called Mycenaeans
•   Each state had a fort and a warrior king
•   Endemic fighting
•   Because of trade with Crete Mycenaeans
    began to worship earth goddess as well as
    sky god
• Eventually civilisation on Crete collapsed
• May be linked to Thera – volcano
• Mycenaeans took opportunity to seize
  control of Crete around 1450BC
• They burned and looted and by 1380BC the
  Palace of Knossos was destroyed
   Late Bronze Age 1450-1100BC
• Mycenaeans now dominated in the
• Peaked around 1300BC
• Had unstable parasitic nobility who survived
  by seizing the wealth of others in war
• Describing a Greek hero as a ‘sacker of cities’
  (Homer) was a compliment
• May have been a battle to eliminate trade
  competition or to get scarce metals
• Troy fell 1250BC
• Within a century all major sites on the
  mainland Greece fell
• Except Athens
     The Dark Ages 1100-800 BC
• General destruction had occurred which was
  disastrous for the Greek world
• Loss of centralised control led to lawlessness,
  population decline, simpler life ensued
               The Dorians
• The Dorians took advantage and moved
  south down through the Greek peninsula and
  settled in the Peloponnese and Crete
• Many Greeks moved to the coast of Asia
  Minor to escape
• The Dorians were even less ‘civilised’ and set
  progress back even further
        Creation of Mythology
• At this time the art of writing was lost and
  oral tradition flourished
• Storytellers knitted together tales from a
  wide area
• In later Classical times Sparta and Athens
  changed details of myths to suit themselves
 Archaic Period and Classical Age
• Between the end of the Dark Ages and the
  Persian Invasion which led to the Classical
• The Classical Age ends with the death of
  Alexander in 323BC
• Rome then dominated the Mediterranean

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