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.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Exidia on 28-09-14

Really easy way to learn!

What did you like best about this story?

It's not a story, but a series of lectures about how humans have used myths to explain things they couldn't understand. You have to engage brain in order to appreciate it, but it is well worth the effort.

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

He has a lively style and is a good, listenable lecturer.

Any additional comments?

The only reason it didn't get full marks was that the man who introduces each lecture shouts in the most annoying way!!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Finn on 16-06-18

A broad array of myths with provocative analysis

The course achieves a good balance of myth-telling with analysis of those myths. Myths are taken from a generous range of cultures, grouped by theme rather than origin. This is important, as it allows common motifs to be identified across stories of different origin, establishing patterns and typical narrative frameworks.

The lecturer is engaging and fluid: the myths are told warmly, and their significance well-emphasised.

Overall, the course allows an insight into something more than the history of different cultures. It is a window into the minds of the people who held those myths as sacred - how they viewed the world, where they thought their place in it was, and what they valued.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Walter on 29-01-14

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.

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26 of 26 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By KMM on 08-05-14

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!!!

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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