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Page history last edited by Abney 3 months, 4 weeks ago


  • e.g. (exemplī grātiā) = for example
  • monolithic = overly large and rigid; used of the various overarching approaches to myth, which tend to crush every bit of opposition 
  • etiological (< aitia = reason, cause) = focusing on the origins of something, a custom, a practice, an animal, a natural phenomenon
  • c./ca. ("circā") = when we know the approximate, but not exact dates, more specific than the preceding term.
  • deified = made into a god 
  • hieros gamos ("sacred marriage") = the mythically recurring union of the sky god (or his representative) and the earth mother (or her representative)
  • ex nihilō ("from nothing") = with reference to traditions in which some creator god brings forth the universe out of nothing, in opposition to the Greco-Roman tradition, which begins with a preexistent, but ill defined, chaos.
  • magnum opus ("great work") = someone's masterpiece
  • dō ut dēs ("I give so that you give") = regarding Greek religion as a set of business transactions between the people and their gods (Jane Harrison)
  • apotropaic ("turning away evil") = regarding the purpose of Greek religion as originally to keep people save from evil spirits (Jane Harrison)
  • matriarchy ("rule by the mother") = social structure centered on women (Graves says this was the original power structure in Europe.)
  • patriarchy ("rule by the father") = social structure centered on men (Graves says this came later.)
  • coition = sexual intercourse
  • morphology ("study of form") = an approach to traditional tales focusing on the functions (actions) and roles (agents) beneath the surface while paying no attention to specific details (Propp)
  • i.e. (id est) = that is
  • langue = the deep structure of language, common across the infinitely many surface utterances it generates (Lévi-Strauss says myths work like this; it is always possible to recognize any myth from any culture because of its underlying structure.)
  • parole = the surface utterances of languages that appear unique or different, but are simply transformations of an underlying structure (Lévi-Strauss says poetry works like this; it is unique and untranslatable.)
  • mytheme = a component element of a myth, perhaps even a meaningful name (Lévi-Strauss breaks myths down into mythemes and then considers how the elements relate to each other.)
  • diachronic ("through time") = following a story in chronological order (Lévi-Strauss)
  • synchronic (roughly, "at the same time") = examining all the elements of a story at once because what matters is their relationships to each other, not the order in which they occur (Lévi-Strauss)
  • dialectic (Hegel developed, used by Marx and Lévi-Strauss)
    • the ever-transforming triangle of thesis (proposal) and antithesis (counterproposal) that results in a synthesis
  • analogy = viewing how relationships between things are parallel, not the surface things themselves
    • big is to little as happy is to sad
  • autochthonous ("born from the earth") = many mythological beings spring spontaneously from the earth, which is a mytheme Lévi-Strauss finds significant in the myth of Oedipus
  • fl. ("flōruit") = s/he flourished (was active) around this broad time period, less specific than the term that follows.


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