Robert Graves’s The Greek Myths
This chapter presents a fresh perspective on Graves’s The Greek Myths, which in its presentation of Greek myth aims to serve as both a work of reference and literature. This ambiguity, coupled with inconsistencies in his use of sources and his creative imagination, created a tense relationship between the academy and Graves. Graves’s methodology combined compilation, organization, and interpretation to produce a corrective to previous scholarship. He wanted to establish a historical and archaeological basis of Greek mythology and reorient it at the centre of the study of early European history. The White Goddess conveys Graves’s idea of a ‘universal pre-history of humankind’, and takes an anthropological approach where myths are evidence of historical events which can be demonstrated once they are interpreted. Myths were puzzles to be solved which required linguistic skills to unlock the ‘prehistoric mentalité’, and he believed in iconotropy, where mythographers’ misinterpretations distorted matters—it would be Graves who would correct these distortions.
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