Mythology and The Human Experience
As part of the Greek and Roman Mythology course that I have been following for the last 10 weeks, our teacher Dr. Peter Struck has been drawing out a number of “universal human laws” from the myths.
We read of Odysseus, of Aeneas, of gods, of monsters. We read material from 7,000 years ago up to 2000 years ago, the poet Ovid in 40AD. What is it that is held in these stories? What are the authors communicating to us?
As we explored the stories using various “toolboxes”: Psychoanalysis, Myth and Ritual, Functionalism, and Structuralism. Each of the “toolboxes” is a different way of interpreting the meaning behind a myth.
Functionalism explains human society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions, and institutions. A functionalist reading of myths might extract the universal human laws.
Here is the list of the Universal Human Laws:
The Universal Human Laws
- Nostalgia is the most powerful force in the universe.
- If you want to persuade people you should know your audience.
- It’s not good to be food.
- A leadership decision means choosing between two bad options.
- When you tell a lie, you should keep close to the truth.
- Secrecy creates intimacy.
- A deep connection with the land is a common human expression.
- People at the top of the power structure and people at the bottom of the power structure tend to embrace the idea of teleology (destiny, universe is moving towards a natural order of things).
What do you think of these 8 universal laws? What strikes you about these 8? What seems to be missing?