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Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979: The Mythologists of the City. M. Detienne. Pp. 355-374.. Psychoanal Q., 53:144.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979: The Mythologists of the City. M. Detienne. Pp. 355-374.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:144

Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979: The Mythologists of the City. M. Detienne. Pp. 355-374.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Detienne considers the history of the study of myths as well as the present state of mythology after the high tide of structuralist studies has passed. There are two main divisions of mythology: the science of mythology which began about 1850; and the use the Greeks and Plato made of myths. Plato occupies a strategic position in the study of myth for many reasons, including semantic ones. He was the first to use the term "mythology." In his work he denounced the old myths as fictions and as against the logos of philosophy. He undertook to tell his own myths in his dialogues. This political use of myth went along with a break in the traditions about the old myths. A rampant incredulity developed about the older myths, and society then became separated from its most fundamental beliefs. Plato attempted to rethink tradition and to define the politics of mythology in the Republic and in the Laws. He was distrustful of the "archaeological" sophists who told myths about the founding of cities in their search for identity through some access to the past. In the Republic myths are created by the lawmakers and are used for political purposes, as a sort of necessary lie. For Plato, a true mythology was not to be found in Homer's epics or in the adventures of gods or heroes, but rather in the secret traditions of proverbs and anonymous sayings, this background noise of social memory, beyond any voluntary inquiry or research into the past. Yet mythology and politics go along together, and there can be no new city without a new politics of mythology.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979. Psychoanal. Q., 53:144

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