Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ancient Myths in Modern Movies

By Dr. Cora Angier Sowa. Here's her summary:
Ancient and mediaeval epic tales like the Iliad and Odyssey, Gilgamesh, and the Chanson de Roland had plots made up of modular elements taken from traditional themes or story lines. Among these themes were The Hero's Life, The Journey, The Marriage of the Fertility Goddess, The Epiphany of a God, and Invention of Technology. These same themes, with the same panoply of elements, as outlined in the following essay, have persisted through many civilizations, and can be found in our own movies. Such survivals appear not just in self-conscious imitations of Greek and other myth like O Brother Where Art Thou (which purposely adapted plot elements from the Odyssey) but in movies like The Godfather, Jaws, The Phantom of the Opera, and even Lassie Come Home. The same characters also recur in the stories, like The Goddess Across the Water, the Two Helpers, The Substitute Who Dies, and The Trickster-Inventor. We act out the plots of our myths, too, as can be seen in some poignant moments from our space program.
Full text at her website, Minerva Systems (she's also a computer programmer).


  1. "It is the way of mythic stories to combine more than one myth"

    An amusing debate among t.v critics and at least one classical academic who find a recent t.v series Atlantis (filling the B.B.C Dr Who family slot), perplexing (academic) disgusting, or in some way cheating (critic) as it is mixing and matching classical myths.

    Its a reasonable well put together and amusing piece of storytelling you can watch as a family but it is this element that seems to draw the ire of the limited crits. Ive read.

    1. LOL! As if the Homeric Committee for the Preservation of Ancient Tales and Lore gave a crap about where the stories ultimately came from.

      H = Honorable
      O = Organization (of)
      M = Mythmongers
      E = Expositors (and)
      R = Rhymers