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Myth in Human History | [The Great Courses]

Myth in Human History

Myths provide the keys to truly grasping the ways that principles, rituals, codes, and taboos are woven into the fabric of a particular society or civilization. It's through myths that we can answer these and other fundamental questions: How was the universe created, and why? What is the purpose of evil? Why is society organized the way it is? How did natural features like rivers, mountains, and oceans emerge?This entertaining and illuminating course plunges you into the world's greatest myths.
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Publisher's Summary

Myths provide the keys to truly grasping the ways that principles, rituals, codes, and taboos are woven into the fabric of a particular society or civilization.

It's through myths that we can answer these and other fundamental questions: How was the universe created, and why? What is the purpose of evil? Why is society organized the way it is? How did natural features like rivers, mountains, and oceans emerge?

This entertaining and illuminating course plunges you into the world's greatest myths. Taking you from ancient Greece and Japan to North America and Africa to New Zealand and Great Britain, these 36 lectures reveal mythology's profound importance in shaping nearly every aspect of culture. You'll also discover the hidden connections between them - a comparative approach that emphasizes the universality of myths across cultures.

Along with the stories themselves, you'll encounter fascinating characters, including Herakles, the ancient Greek hero whose life illustrates the idea that all heroic stories have a similar structure; Loki, the shape-shifting trickster who introduces the concept of time into the Norse realm of Asgard; and King Arthur, the Celtic lord and founder of the Knights of the Round Table.

Myths, according to Professor Voth, are "gifts from the ancestors to be cherished." His enchanting lectures are the perfect way for you to celebrate these cherished gifts, inviting you to develop your own interpretations of these age-old tales, as well as to ponder the role that myths - both ancient and everyday - play in your own life.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (48 )
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4.2 (43 )
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  •  
    Walter Shoreview, MN, United States 01-29-14
    Walter Shoreview, MN, United States 01-29-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Five stars, with some caveats"

    This course is an excellent introduction and overview of world mythology. It covers a lot of ground, and does it well. While I would recommend it to anyone, I need to add the following caveats:

    Because it covers so much ground, it moves as a very brisk speed, and in some cases I would have preferred to get more depth (for example, more detail on some of the hero myths, and more discussion of the psychological interpretation of myth, a la Rank, Jung and Campbell). Dr. Voth did a really good job of covering the material, but there's enough here for two or even three lecture series.

    Second, I found my interest waning slightly in during the latter part of the course. This may have been because (while he never says so) Prof. Voth seems to be suggesting a kind of monomyth for trickster myths (similar to the monomyth of the hero). While I thought the argument and evidence presented for the hero monomyth was compelling, it seemed that the trickster myths were much more diverse (hard to see an parallel between the Norse Loki and the African Anansi as presented here, for example).

    Still, the course material was very engaging, and I will definitely be broadening my study of mythology as a result.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela United States 10-29-13
    Angela United States 10-29-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Good introduction to world mythology"

    This is an eclectically organized analysis of myths from around the world, focusing on patterns which come up in all myths, regardless of location. Voth speaks about creation myths, tricksters, heroes and heroines, destruction myths, and how we can look at all these patterns to see some basic truths about ourselves as humans.

    I learned a great deal from this series of lectures, though it left me feeling a bit frustrated. Voth, by focusing on the analytical side and on the patterns of myth, did not have time to tell the myths in their entirety. As such, I am ready to devour books upon books telling the actual stories that he merely touched upon.

    I definitely do recommend this course for anyone who knows little of world mythology and is curious to learn more, or wants some direction to go for their research.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Esmaeil Khaksari Weston, MA United States 11-24-13
    Esmaeil Khaksari Weston, MA United States 11-24-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great idea, good lecturer, missing materials"
    Any additional comments?

    This book refers to lecture notes etc., that should be available with the recording. They are not provided and it's hard to follow what Prof both is referring to. Majorly disappointed in audible here.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen M Boston, MA 05-08-14
    Karen M Boston, MA 05-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent overview of myths!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I was initially looking for a place to start my research into Greek and Roman myth, and this series turned out to be the perfect place. It introduced me to so much more than I set out to discover. It not only touched on individual myths from across the globe, but it also explored the many types/categories of myths and the reasons for their existence. I feel that if I had focused on Greek and Roman mythology without first listening to this series, I would have missed out on so much foundational knowledge. Having a stronger understanding of mythology now will enhance my exploration of ancient cultures and their myths in the future.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love that I walked away from this lecture series with a greater sense that myths from across the globe and throughout time are both unique/dynamic as well as universal and fundamentally connected. The details of myths may change, but the reason for their existence in human culture is not so different.


    What about Professor Grant L. Voth’s performance did you like?

    Professor Voth was very energetic and enthusiastic about the subject matter, and this was certainly contagious. I would have enjoyed this subject matter either way, but his delivery made it so much more enjoyable and kept my interest the entire time. He also gave great suggestions on further research, which I've already pursued. I was actually very sad when this series ended because the new series I've started is taught by a different professor. This series has been my commute companion for quite some time, and Professor Voth made the ride something I really looked forward to each day!!!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • mr
    west sussex, United Kingdom
    6/2/14
    Overall
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    "Not great"

    A subject that is very interesting, made boring. The stories are great and should be left to speak for them selves, less repition, more variety.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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