By Marcel Detienne
The human race is all too pre-disposed to imagine when it comes to us and them. Europeans have continually laid declare to the traditional Greeks they're our Greeks, our ancestors yet their legacy reaches extra than shall we ever think. Their effect stretches from the japanese to the Cossacks, from historical Rome to Indonesia.
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Additional resources for The Greeks and Us: A Comparative Anthropology of Ancient Greece
Here too, myth and language are seemingly inseparable: they constitute two modalities of one and the same impulse towards symbolic expression. Myth is language, but also religion: mythology encom passes the original qualities of both speaking and believing. In the belief that provides the basis for the unity of its experience, mythology is religious thought, or at least potential religion. In mythical experience, religion is already totally present. Mythology, concomitant in language and religion, finds itself assigned a central function in theory regarding the human mind.
It falls to anthropologists to observe it on the African continent, in the Americas, wherever they can encounter 'savage' peoples - that is to say representatives of the human race who are still 'at the stage of creating myths'. The basic assumption is that in the beginning the human mind 'mythologizes' spontaneously. Myth and language evolve contem poraneously, testifying to a first stage of thought that has an auton omy of its own and that needs to be observed and analysed. Tylor postulated the existence of thought of a mythical kind, with char acteristics sufficiently specific to enable historians and anthropol ogists alike to recognize it immediately wherever it appears, either directly or indirectly.
Phonetics and the study of sounds. Sounds, syllables and roots, lib erated from the letters that happened to transcribe them, are so many formal elements, whose modifications are governed by the laws of phonetics. Meanwhile, there emerged the idea of language as the speech of the people, the sonorous shifts of which testify to the constant activity that seems inseparable from movement and history. A speech of the people and the nation was thus discovered. At a deeper level, at the origins of the human race revealed by the Sanskrit of the Vedas, primitive language seemed to consist of both speech and song.
The Greeks and Us: A Comparative Anthropology of Ancient Greece by Marcel Detienne