Friday, November 18, 2022


Language and Myth

Stephanie W. Jamison, The Ravenous Hyenas and the Wounded Sun: Myth and Ritual in Ancient India (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), p. 39:
I assume that the language in which a myth is told is an integral part of the telling, not a gauzy verbal garment that can be removed without damage to the real meaning of the myth. The clues to contemporary understanding of myth often lie in its vocabulary and phraseology, which have complex and suggestive relationships with similar vocabulary and phraseology elsewhere. Examining other instances of the same words and phrases will often allow us to see these associations.

I think this is probably true of all mythology: that the verbal expression is of major importance and that abstracting themes or archetypes or patterns from their verbal expression does violence to the 'meaning' of the myth.

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