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Myths and Narratives: The Origin of the Humanities

Myths often communicate the values, lessons, or beliefs of a culture. For example, Narcissus is so self-involved that he falls in love with his own reflection in the water. This leads to his death because he will not leave himself behind. Lot's wife, as noted in the text, perishes, because she does not trust and obey. These stories act as corrective tales to guide behavior.

Popular stories might include folk tales, fairy tales, or fables. For example, in Aesop's "The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf," popularly known as "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," the boy told the same lie three or four times about a wolf killing the sheep. When a wolf did threaten the lives of the sheep, no one believed him. Aesop reminds the reader, "There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth" (Blair, E., Aesop, & Silverman, D. 2004).

Blair, E., Aesop, & Silverman, D. (2004). The boy who cried wolf: a retelling of Aesop's fable. Minneapolis, MN: Picture Window Books.

Think of a story in your life or your culture that is frequently told, or commonly known, and communicates a corrective lesson. Be sure to select a story or narrative, and not a popular slogan, phrase shared in your own family, etc.; the selection must be a story or narrative. Think of stories which you have read, or been told, as a child; even tales such as the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus would be suitable.

This writing work should include the following:

Once you have selected the story or narrative, please provide an explanation of the story. Do not include the entire story; rather, summarize the story in your own words.

Describe the moral or lesson of this particular story. What should the reader/listener learn from this particular narrative? Is this lesson effective in guiding an individual's actions or beliefs?

Explain the value of narratives or storytelling. Why might communicating a lesson in story format (oral or written form) be different than providing a set of rules to follow?

Have fun with this work! Feel free to choose a story or narrative passed down from generation to generation in your own family.

Please include an introductory paragraph which introduces the narrative; supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion to summarize the analysis. Be sure to use and cite concepts from the text in this work.

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I was just working on Ovid's Metamorphoses. The good thing here is that it is a collection of older Greek stories from a time much earlier than his (Ovid, b 43 BC-d 17AD). He strings them together and makes a connected story out of fragmentary accounts. It comes to 15 books, but of course, few have ever read the whole thing and survived.
This is a good, general place to start. Go to the classics.

The Metamorphoses is a set of fables that have a deeply political tone underlying it. Given his dates above, his time was revolutionary. The simple concept is that Rome was now a military empire, rather than a republic. The former was based on the power of the emperor and army, the latter on the oligarchy of the senate.

Several points of this work are essential:
First, he lists the four ages of humanity: the golden age of innocence (knowledge was intuited, not grasped through concepts), the silver age of culture and morals (the development of conceptual thinking), the bronze age of warfare and the iron age of total and constant war at every level. We live in the iron age. Knowledge here is important too: from intuition to concept is a falling away from unity. Conceptual logic alienates and separates us from the world. But in the bronze and iron age, even this has broken down, and soon, it becomes a war of all against all. Here, there are no truths of any kind except life and death.

Second, Ovid's Metamorphoses is a story of constant, radical change. He believed in a theory of evolution. Man came from matter and developed reason. Man also adapts to his environment. These adaptations are aspects of the Metamorphoses symbolized by divine intervention. Remember, most pagans did not believe the stories of the Gods, but rather, saw them as symbols of higher truths that otherwise would be difficult to understand.

Third, because of ...

Solution Summary

The origin of the humanities for Myths and Narratives are given.