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Bears, Gates, and Solstices

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Myth and Meteorology in Homer and Apollonius

image of Mnemosyne

After a short discussion of selected approaches to myth it is maintained that, rather than representing allegories or encoded scientific truths, myths can best be understood as incorporating narrative models accounting for specific phenomena in objective reality. In consequence, the existence of a class of myths that include considerations of astronomical/meteorological phenomena is recognised. The paper analyses two such mythic narratives, Homer’s Laestrygonian episode from the Odyssey and Apollonius’ Cyzicus episode from the Argonautica, and interprets them in terms of mythic astronomy or cosmology. A mythic island in the north, associated with the solstices and either the always visible or fixed arctic circle, is recognised as the cosmological location of both narratives. This is also interpreted as the myth’s secondary reference to a phenomenon of common reality and collective importance verbalized by the application of a traditional tale. Finally, both narratives are associated with a pre-Homeric Argonautic tradition.

Affiliations: 1: Archaeological Museum in ZagrebCroatia tbilic@amz.hr

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2017-01-20
2017-11-18

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