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Rationalizing Myth in Antiquity$
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Greta Hawes

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672776.001.0001

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Palaephatus. Peri Apiston

Palaephatus. Peri Apiston

(p.37) 1 Palaephatus. Peri Apiston
Rationalizing Myth in Antiquity

Greta Hawes

Oxford University Press

Palaephatus’ Peri Apiston is a key text for our understanding of ancient myth interpretation, but its usefulness has been largely overlooked in previous discussions. This chapter highlights the unusual qualities of this work – its philosophically dense preface, repetitious style, hermeneutic consistency, and canonical sense of ‘myth’, and looks in detail at the mechanics of this kind of interpretation and its concern with misunderstood language. It argues that, in spite of his uniqueness, Palaephatus is nonetheless a product of his time and his text reflects a number of issues current in highly-literate circles in Athens in the late fourth century, including the application of Aristotelian biological principles, a changing concept of myth, the replacement of localized stories with literary ones, and attempts to categorize stories according to various standards of plausibility.

Keywords:   Greek myth, rationalization, Palaephatus, concept of myth, Aristotelian biology, rejection of myth

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