Living Myths: How Myth Gives Meaning to Human Experience (Paperback)

How Myth Gives Meaning to Human Experience

By J. F. Bierlein

Ballantine Books, 9780345422071, 256pp.

Publication Date: April 6, 1999

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Description

An intriguing exploration of the enduring significance of the world's great myths--from the dawn of time to the present day

As ancient as speech, as essential as law, myths are the stories we tell to find our identity in the cosmos. It is through mythology that we attempt to unravel not only the meaning of our actions and impulses but the significance of human existence itself. Now in Living Myths, classical scholar J. F. Bierlein explores the enduring patterns and messages of myths from every culture.

Myths, writes Bierlein, are "the eternal mirror in which we see ourselves." Living Myths delves behind the mirror and brings to light the imperishable and transcendent forces common to the myths of the world. Juxtaposing myths of fathers and sons--the Greek myth of Athamas and Phrixus, the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, the Algonquin tale of Grandfather, Father, and Son--Bierlein uncovers essential lessons about human nature and divine will. In the Indian story of Nala and Damayanti, the Greek legends of Aphrodite, and the haunting Irish tale of Etain, Bierlein examines the transforming mystery of romantic love. Here too are tales of the world's great heroes--the Greek Theseus, the Irish Cuchulainn, and the Mexican Quetzalcoatl--and their common desire to break through the masks of appearances.

Steeped in wisdom, brimming with insights into human nature and behavior, Living Myths is a luminous exploration of the meaning of mythology through the ages and today in each of our lives.


About the Author

The author of Parallel Myths and The Book of Ages, J. F. Bierlein teaches in the Washington Semester and World Capitals Program at American University in Washington, and also works for a social sciences consulting firm. Multilingual, he is deeply interested in theology, existentialism, art, opera, and the study of classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Hebrew, as well as other languages. Professor Bierlein and his wife, Heather Diehl, live in northern Virginia.
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