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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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The Dark Phoenix: Rewriting An Ancient Myth in Today’s Popular Culture

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Françoise Lecocq

The Dark Phoenix Rewriting An Ancient Myth in Today’s Popular Culture1

The classical phoenix is red and gold, positively connoting the heathen sign of the renewal of times, and the Christian sign of the resurrection. The bird’s symbolism has grown from the Middle Ages to our century: it can embody different values, but always positive, like love or femininity. The modern Media have renewed the legend and its iconography in everyday life, from East to West: commercial advertisements, the press, and in popular literature: science fiction, thrillers, or fantasy novels, books for children, comic strips, cartoons, and mangas. The bird often becomes dark and malefic, sometimes in tandem with another creature of fire: the dragon (usually associated in Chinese mythology with the feng huang, who has been compared to the phoenix). This misinterpretation - or this opposite - of the traditional bird is a figure of the re-creation of the myth by the inversion of the original values according to the well-known process of invention. It becomes the antithesis of what defined it: solar, pure, solitary, harmless. Antiquity contained the germs of this metamorphosis of the phoenix: the comparison with the predatory eagle, its imperial character, and the destructive flames of its pyre. So appears for the phoenix the “dark side of the force”: literally the shadow of itself. Its avatars, fantastic creatures or characters named Phoenix, are monstrous birds, tyrannical masters, criminal arsonists. Its new colour is black. Its...

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