This week we have focused our attention on mythology as one of the root sources
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This week we have focused our attention on mythology as one of the root sources of the humanities. If the humanities represent our collective, creative attempts to come to an understanding of this often challenging, maddening world, the storytelling at the heart of myths surely reflect our first impulse as a species to make sense of our lives. For our conversation this week, I want us to try our hand at classifying and interpreting a myth in such a way that we might get a sense of how myths (and, clearly, the modern stories we tell) serve as vehicles for continued and productive contemplation. Let’s focus on the famous Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus, a story well-known to the ancient Greek, but one not fully recorded in the historical record until Ovid (1st century Roman poet) did so in his famous Metamorphoses .
Step1: Read “Icarus and daedalus.” (Link: http://www.auburn.edu/allynbaconanthology/documents/Icarus%20and%20Daedalus.pdf) Then, read “Ways to interpreting Myth”. (Link: https://faculty.gvsu.edu/websterm/ways.htm#waylink). Step 2: As you read the myth, think about and answer the following :
1). Where does the myth fall in the typology provided by Kessler in the assigned reading? What type of myth is it?
2). What types of functions do you see in the myth? Are they latent or manifest ?
3). Take a look at the painting below. It’s called Landscape with the Fall of Icarus ” ( 1558?) by the famous artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525 – 1569) . Can you find Icarus ? If not, why not? If it takes you awhile, why do you think Bruegel makes Icarus so hard to find , and why doesn’t the farmer bother to look up? What does this say about how later cultures have interpreted this myth ?
4). Think about your own personal reaction to the myth. The previous unit presented Leonardo da Vinci as a model of the ” Infinite Person ,” our prototypical ” Renaissance Man .” Does our myth of Daedalus and Icarus seem to support the quest to become an Infinite Person ? Does it push back on it? Can we think of examples from popular culture of people who ” burn hot and bright ” in the pursuit of excellence and creativity but ultimately pay the price? Is it a price worth paying?