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The Significance (Or Insignificance) Of Blackness In Mythological Names

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Chapter Summary

The aim of this chapter is to examine certain mythological names involving the component melas. In order to set this enquiry into context, however, it first looks at the general opposition between melas and leukos in Greek thought. The chapter draws three conclusions: (1) In relation to cult and ritual melas is usually negative and leukos positive; but there are genuine exceptions; (2) In the perceptions of everyday life we find a still more complex picture, with an even less tidy match between melas and positive, leukos and negative; (3) It follows that we must always specify the context in which melas and leukos appear, before reaching conclusions about their signification. It addresses two questions relating to names involving melas. First: is the component melas significant in a particular name in a particular context? Second: if it is significant, what might it signify?.

Keywords: leukos; melas; mythological names



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