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Ancient Myths in the Making of Culture

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Malgorzata Budzowska and Jadwiga Czerwinska

The reception of Mediterranean Antiquity heritage is one of the dominant research areas in contemporary classical studies. This issue has constituted the scope of the conference Reception of Ancient Myths in Ancient, Modern and Postmodern Culture, which took place at the University of Łódź (Poland) in November 2013. The volume consists of the selected articles based on the conference papers. They are divided into the main chapters: Literature, Visual and Performing Arts and Philosophy as well as Anthropology. The authors consider different methods of reception of ancient myths focusing on various cultural phenomena: literature, fine arts, theatre, cinema and pop culture.
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Narcissus – from Myth to Treatise. André Gide’s Theory of Symbol

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In 1891 André Gide published ‘The Treatise of Narcissus’ (‘Le Traité du Narcisse. Théorie du symbole’). This piece of poetic prose, dedicated to P. Valery, brings together the myth of Narcissus and the Biblical story of Adam’s Paradise. Only a short note published along with the main text is of a theoretical nature, suitable for a treatise. In the note, Gide lays out ‘the rules of ethics and aesthetics’. Gide’s Narcissus ‘remains a symbol that is growing ever more powerful’. The protagonist is aware of his role – he performs the function of a symbol. He is the ‘representative of an Idea’ that he is merely supposed to ‘properly embody’. What is more, Narcissus appears as an abstract sign, separated from the myth’s reality. In my text, this belated manifesto of symbolism constitutes the starting point for reflections on the changeability of meanings and interpretations, but also on the visual aspect of a motif. I will also discuss the representations of Narcissus in visual arts. Early illustrators of Ovid’s Metamorphoses as well as modern artists are inspired not by the metamorphosis itself but also by the problem of a mirror likeness or copy, of illusion and truth, and eventually, of identity and narcissism.

In 1891 André Gide published ‘The Treatise of Narcissus’ (‘Le Traité du Narcisse. Théorie du symbole’). This piece of poetic prose, dedicated to P. Valery, brings together the myth of Narcissus and the Biblical story of Adam’s Paradise. Only a short note...

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