Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths?: Essay on the by Paul Veyne

By Paul Veyne

"[Veyne's] current ebook has a few kinship along with his sprightly theoretical paintings Comment on ecrit l'histoire; and he announces that its objective used to be to impress mirrored image at the means our belief of fact is equipped up and alterations over the centuries. . . . the fashion is fabulous and exhilarating."—Jasper Griffin, Times Literary Supplement

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Additional resources for Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths?: Essay on the Constitutive Imagination

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To return from them to the matter of myth itself: incredulity arises from at least two 30 The Social Distribution of Knowledge and the Modalities of Belief sources , an upsurge of intractabil ity in response to the word of another and the formation of professional centers of truth . As will still be the case in the eighteenth century , the Greek aristocracy wavered between two attitudes toward legend : to be pragmatic and participate in the popul ar credulity, for the people believe as doci lely as they obey ; or else to refuse , on their own account , a humiliating submission , which was perceived as a result of na'ivete.

39 4 S ocial Diversity of B eliefs and Mental B alkanization One does not know what one does not have the right to ask ( whence the sincere blindness of so many husbands and parents) , and one does not doubt what others believe , if they are respected . Relationships among truths are rel ationships of force. Th is is the root of what is called bad faith . The Greeks distinguished between two domains: gods and heroes. For they did not understand myth or the mythmaking function in a general way but evaluated myths according to content .

Tricking �- 45 This modality can endure as long as the believer trusts the professionals or until there are no professionals to make laws on the subject . Westerners , at least those among us who are not bacteriologists , believe in germs and increase the sanitary precautions we take for the same reason that the Azande believe in witches and multiply their magical precautions against them: their belief is based on trust . For Pindar's or Homer' s contemporaries , truth was defined either as it related to daily experience or in terms of the speaker' s character: whether it was loyal or treacherous.

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