LLT 321      .... Comparative Mythology.....                   Spring 2007

Edwin Carawan ----Craig 390A---- Office Hours: 1 M-F.....

phone: 836-4831....ECarawan@missouristate.edu ... http://courses.missouristate.edu/ECarawan

Objectives: This course is an investigation of the common patterns and social causes of myth-making. The guiding theme of our study will be Violence and Order: we focus on the way myth seems to justify the practices of religion and early law as originating in some 'killing-in-exchange' (sacrifice or retribution).

            Readings are divided into two units: (1) Creation and the Cosmos; and (2) the Hero's Quest.  With so wide a scope, we shall have to be selective. For primary material, Greek myth is central because it is so fully preserved. For comparison we focus first upon the most ancient sources, Sumer and Babylon, with a brief look at Egypt; we then turn to the relatively recent but remarkably primitive remains of Norse saga and related Germanic legend. Parallel to this last set of readings we will sample and discuss a representative work of modern mythography: Walter Burkert's Structure and History,  an influential model tracing the roots of mythmaking back to defining violence in early human society.


Reqirements: The course grade will consist of 3 components: (1) Quizzes and in-class exercises (total 40%), (2) essays (2 @ 20 % each) and a Final Exam (20). The quizzes are largely short answer, matching and brief identification (Practice for Quiz 1 linked below).

    Readings should be completed for the assigned date, and basic comprehension will be measured by in-class exercises. The essays reflect upon common and contrasting elements in two or more traditions; 4-5 pages suggested. (Essay guides below).

The Final is largely review: short answer on basic terms, discussion of broader themes.

            Integrity: Any request for make-up or rescheduling of tests should document reasonable need. Any academic dishonesty will be subject to sanctions (as listed in Student Academic Integrity, p.4) proportionate to the work: zero on quiz; course F on essay; XF on Final.      

            Special considerations: We strongly support University policies to accommodate students with disabilities and to prevent or remedy discrimination of any kind. If you have a concern or special need, please advise the instructor.   In regard to disabilities, you may also contact Disability Services (836-4192) http://www.missouristate.edu/disability; regarding discrimination, the Equal Opportunity Officer (836-4252) or go to http://www.missouristate.edu/human/eoaa.htm.


Texts:   Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness (1976 = TD);    

Lombardo, The Essential Homer (2000);   HRE Ellis, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (=MNE)

Burkert, Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual.

(Recommended: J. Byock trans. The Saga of theVolsungs)    Additional materials provided in class and online.


** Schedule changes (from Jan. 22) in Red bold**  Note option:  Quiz 4


Preface: ......sketch of Creation stories

Unit I  Creation and the Cosmos       

 Jan. 23....Intro: Goddess and Shaman  ...

TD  3-25:  Sumerians and discovery of the Sacred

    a very rough timeline for Greece and Near East 

  Uruk Vase (for a closer look)        Mesopotamia

Jan. 25 ...  TD 26-73:  Inanna and Death of Dumuzi ...  

Jan. 30 ... Treasures ch. 3-4 (77-116)  TD 77-91: Gods as Rulers (stele of Naramsin)  Enki World   (AN&Co.)

Feb. 1. . . Treasures ch. 4, cont. TD  95-143:

The Sumerian Pantheon  Rising ...'Enlil and Ninlil'  ..... 'Enki and Ninhursag (in Dilmun)'  Sumerian Creation?

Feb. 6 . . .  TD 146-64, Rise of Personal Religion

Feb. 8 . . . . . .Quiz 1             


Feb. 13 ...TD 167-191 = Enuma Elish      

Hittite and other parallels;    

Hesiod, the Greek Theogony (main text)

Succession Myths compared ...Zeus vs. Typhon

Feb. 15 ...Egyptian Myths of Creation (hndt)          

Feb. 20 ...  Egyptian Cataclysm, Greek  'Ages of Man'  

& Atrahasis (TD 116-21); Parallel Myths of Man's Doom

Lot's Daughters (another Cataclysm survived) 

Feb. 22 .... Review and Perspective    ...Horus vs. Seth

Feb. 27 . . .  Quiz 2.              


Mar. 1 ... Gilgamesh & Co.= TD 195-219 (Guide)

Mar. 6...  Enkidu and the Netherworld

  Egyptian Tale of Two Bros.    Summary of '2 Bros.'

  Jacobsen's Epilogue

  [Mar. 8 ...Essay Outline due]

Mar. 13... Essay 1: Creation-- Violence and Order

 Unit II. The Hero's Quest

Mar.8 ...End of the Iliad (16-24)= Homer 153-240

Mar. 13 ... Odyssey  9-13

Mar. 15 . . .Odyssey 16-18

***Spring Break ***


Mar. 27 ... Odyssey  19-24

Mar. 29  ...  Review and discussion

Apr. 3  ...Quiz 3


Apr. 10- Apr.17... Norse Myth

Apr. 10 ...   Norse Myth I  (NME  chh. 1-2)
 Gylfaginning 1-34  Outline  Otter's Ransom 
Apr. 12 ...   Norse Myth II  (NME  chh.3-4) 
Thor and Thrym ...Thor & Loki  Compared
Apr. 17 ..... Norse Myth III  (NME chh. 6-7)

Gylfaginning 38-50  Siring of Sleipnir, Journey to Utgard, Baldr & Ragnarok    


Apr.19 Volsunga Saga 1-18 (Byock 35-65) Guide

   5th c. Background: Volsungs and Burgundians

 [focus on chh. 11-18:  Volsunga Saga 11-15...16-18 ]

Apr. 24 ... Volsunga Saga 19-32 (Byock 65-92)

Volsunga Saga 19-22...23-27...(Guide2)     28-32


**Apr. 26** ... Quiz 4

OR May 1..Essay 2:  the Journey Beyond

   [Apr. 24....Essay Outline due]


May 1....Burkert ch. 1. Defining Myth 

May 3....Burkert chh. 2-3, Ritual and Scapegoat.

May 8...Burkert chh. 4-5 (6 optional),

Goddesses & their Guys Telepinus & Friends

 May 10 ... Review and Discussion

Final Guide--Summary of Recent Reading

 May 15  (Tues..) ....Final Exam (1:15)