5000 Years of Mythology
Sponsored Exclusively By Kronos & Associates
“All the Time in the World”
Editor, Joseph O’Keefe
Featuring this Millennium’s Interview – Epimetheus queried by his brother, Prometheus
Promethues, (Forethought): Mythology is the subject of our 5000 year Review! For the uninitiated, Epimetheus, would you give our reader a brief explanation from your extensive experiences?
Epimetheus, (Afterthought): After all these years and all that has already been written and said about mythology I will try my best to be interesting and informative to your readers, viewers, listeners and callers.
In my view, Mythology is both the literature of origins and the original literature. It is characterized by and with the deeds of the Beautiful and the Beastly and is immensely interesting form of entertainment! Dear Brother, I know you will agree that it is also at times a fanciful family history. YEK the gods!!! The stories of the gods and demigods; goddesses and demigoddesses, be they kind or cruel, have always generated a large following especially among theologians and divinity students who are looking for moral imperatives and ritual antecedents.
I am especially partial to stories dug up by Archeologists who are easy to excite and get worked up about the tales of ordinary men and women whose initial actions over time are exaggerated and overblown. These ordinary beings are frequently elevated into cult heroes, superstars, and occasionally divine status with their depiction in sculpture, painting and all sorts of bric-a-brac and making them famous for more than the 15 minutes allotted to modern man.
I believe modern man looks backward like Janis nostalgically to these early times when the cosmos and cosmology were still young. There seems to be an innocence and naivete to their ancestors’ ontological views and their acceptance of the supernatural. Sometimes I long for the pre-scientific milieu myself. You know, brother, it was all much simpler then. Don’t you agree?
Prometheus: Brother, you have always had a tendency to generalize. Could you try to be a bit more specific and less subjectivetell us more about Mythology and be objective!
Epimetheus: (Seriously) Mythology! Objectively speaking mythology reiterates my initial response: “the literature of origins and the original literary genre dealing with the deeds of the Beastly and Beautiful Gods and Goddesses. Avators and Devas, Heroes and Heroines and my favorite Tricksters and Trickster. Mythology, objectively speaking, is the original source of demonic and heroic allusion. Mythology is the definitive and the defining pro-scientific expository writing about the creation of the universe and natural cosmology. In sum and substance, Prometheus, myth is the history of the initial relationships between the creator and all creations great and small; e.g. The universe or a parade of ants.
Prometheus: What relevance if any does myth have for the modern man?
Epimetheus: Speaking as a historian and sociologist, I believe you would grant me those credentials, mythology is the diverse record of relationships between god and man, man and man, god and beast, man and beast, beastly god and man and beastly man and god. Mythology is a supernatural starting point for divinity students and religious scholars or more accurately scholars of religion to compare and contrast different cultures and their relationships to their gods.
Prometheus: Much has been written and conjectured about the universal or parallel aspects found in myth and the striking similarities you just alluded to. Could you give some reasons for the parallel aspects of myths?
Epimetheus: Contextually speaking there are many interesting theories for the striking similarities on the universality in myths. J.F. Bierlein’s work, Parallel Myths, presents some of these theories. They include: biological, physiological, psychological, sociological, theological; including divine intervention and divine inspiration.
Prometheus: Are these theories contradictory or complimentary, compatible or incompatible?
Epimetheus: Yes and Yes! Some of these theories expand and extend understanding of myth and combine quite easily however others are more rigid and doctrinarian and demand exclusive allegiance. If logic and reason are important foundations in your schema of thinking this could present a problem of irreconcilable difficulty. Some mythic scholars, however, have little or no difficulty employing acts of faith to unify apparent opposites or contradictions. Remember dear brother, in ancient Greece there would have been no church and state argument like there is in America today. That mythic Greek scholar W.K.C. Guthrie writes: “religion and patriotism were the same thing.” The Gods were worshipped at festivals which were state occasions, and participation in them was part of the ordinary duties and activities of a citizen as such.” Perspective or point of view frequently resolve these differences of accident not essence. For further elaboration see structuralism thinking. Especially, Claude Straus.
Prometheus: How unpretentious and scholarly of you to quote noted historians instead of personal recollection.
Epimetheus: Just trying to stay objective.
Prometheus: Do you have a favorite theory for the parallel and common aspects of myths?
Epimetheus: Yes, I consider myself a dilettante diffusionist.
Prometheus: Are you kidding: Dilettante diffusionist?
Epimetheus: Yes and No!
Prometheus: I think I grasp the dilettante part but diffusionist? Diffusionist? Would you elaborate and be serious.
Epimetheus: Certainly, diffusionists attribute the parallel and similarities between myths throughout the world as a result of sharing the same central starting point. This theory originated with an amateur anthropologist and professional exporter, Leo Frobenius (1873-1938)
Epimetheus: Commercial exports and imports. Frobenius believed that parallel myths were the results of cultural exchanges between ancient peoples. Frobenius called his theory “Kulturkreislere” (the study of cultural circles). He believed there was a central myth-producing region that stretched from West Africa to India, thence through Indonesia and Oceania to the America. The famous Norwegian explorer, Thor (interesting first name) Heyerdahl, give validity to the travel aspect of this theory. In his epic 1947 journey recounted in Kon Tiki. (The balsawood raft trip from Peru to Polynesia.)
Prometheus: Could you compare this raft trip to Jason and Argonauts? Or perhaps the sea chest journey of Oedipus? Or Moses and his bassinet of reeds?
Epimetheus: Brother , I would prefer to compare diffusionists to the psychological school of mythical thought.
Prometheus: OK! OK! You’re the one doing the real thinking. Go ahead.
Epimetheus: This will be my last formal analysis. There was this analyst and student of Sigmund Freud, (father of psychiatry.) This analyst and heir apparent to the god like father of psychiatry dared to disagree and break away from his famous father figure. (sound familiar?) Reoccurring mythic themes? He broke with the old man, coincidentally his name was Jung. This Carl Gustav Jung came up with a new ball game, a more gentile ball game that is less sexually fixated.
Prometheus: Epimetheus? Great Zeus! You have to stop? Great Kronos! You are making me uncomfortable with these ball game illusions. Please focus on myth not psychoanalysis.
Epimetheus: Where one stops and the other starts is a fine line.
Prometheus: Nevertheless please finish with the Jung character and get back to more cultural stuff.
Epimetheus: To sum up Jung and tie up mythology is very easy. Jung’s theory regards and refers to any reoccurring mythic image as an archetype. These archetypes are symbolic representations common in the unconscious mind of all men and women. A similar theory is espoused by Adolph Bastian, who is also discussed in Parallel Myths.
Epimetheus: This gentleman believed that there is a phenomenon known as Elementary Thought – the basic patterns common to all humans that are possibly centered in the brain and People’s Thought – the specific “coloration” of Elementary Thought, by a given ethnic group at a given time.
Epimetheus: (continuing) I find these theories are interesting however the biological/physiological assertions are bunk! Brother remember you and I fashioned man and I don’t remember us affixing or appending myth genes in our prototypes. The only mythic genes I recall were affixed to Cowboys and Cattle Wranglers in the Western Hemisphere of North America – Levi Strauss, I’m sure!
Prometheus: Brother, you know I read Bierlein some. Very interesting! Maybe you could comment on his assertion that modern man’s social problems are a result of his refusal to listen or to hear the voices of the gods?
Epimetheus: Vox Deus! You know how mercurial the god’s are, Brother. You also know first hand of their lustful, vindictive, homicidal, patricidal and infanticide nature. Our forefathers, Yuk! The original Serial Killers- Supernatural Born Killers! (Great title for a movie or not) I think you would agree with me that man’s problem in society today cannot be attributed to ignoring those godlike behaviors Bloody deeds, still shout louder for vengeance than pious words.
To be more honest I don’t believe god or withhold the answers for humanity but I do still like to hear or read the original stories. I do hope that modern societies’ preoccupation with MURDER, SEX and VENGEANCE will prompt serious questing, reviewing and rewriting or our family history. Thanks brother.
Prometheus: Even though there is so little time left would you please summarize and list your favorite trickster tales?
Epimetheus: Only if you end this interview now and start by recounting a few of your favorite tales.
Prometheus: Fair Enough!