Taking Ancient Mythology Economically

Overview

The primary objective of this study is to decipher the 'codes' or polysemous signs of many prominent myths of the Graeco-Roman and Near Eastern worlds and thereby to expose their hidden economic meaning.
The study is highlighted by analyses of the following themes: Birth of Athena from Zeus' Head, Perseus and the Gorgon, and Gilgamesh in the Cedar Forest; Oedipus of Thebes and the biblical myth of the Five Golden Tumors; Semele the daughter of Kadmos; Heroic Twins; Labors of ...

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Overview

The primary objective of this study is to decipher the 'codes' or polysemous signs of many prominent myths of the Graeco-Roman and Near Eastern worlds and thereby to expose their hidden economic meaning.
The study is highlighted by analyses of the following themes: Birth of Athena from Zeus' Head, Perseus and the Gorgon, and Gilgamesh in the Cedar Forest; Oedipus of Thebes and the biblical myth of the Five Golden Tumors; Semele the daughter of Kadmos; Heroic Twins; Labors of Herakles; Cain, Janus, and the Rainbow; Dogs as Merchants and Male Prostitutes; Virgin Priestesses in Treasuries; Danae and the Birth of Perseus and the biblical myth of the 'House of Rahab'; Circuiting Gods; Contest Between Athena and Poseidon for Supremacy in Athens; and Hermes versus Apollo, David and his Lyre at King Saul's Court, and Gilgamesh the Infernal Musician.
A striking result of these studies is the extent to which ancient myths are saturated by economic content, especially commercial idioms and the standardized gestures required of contractors. It becomes quite clear that the ancients were far more aware of and interested in the economy than many contemporary scholars give them credit for.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Es ist eine reizvolle Lektüre. Sie erschließt neue Einblicke uach dem, der seiner These nicht folgen will...'
Walter Beltz, Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte, 1994.
'...the book is well worth reading.'
David I. Owen, Religious Studies Review, 1994.
Booknews
Silver deciphers the codes of mythology, thereby exposing the hidden (from us) economic meaning of many prominent myths of the Greco-Roman and ancient Near-Eastern worlds. Reversing the priorities of the structuralists, Silver analyzes myths within the context of what is known about ancient economic structures, rather than seeking to establish the timeless essence of a myth or to isolate the (supposedly) peculiar ancient mindset. Interpretations are broadened, reinforced, and compared to available nonmythological sources--textual, archaeological, and philological. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789004097063
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Morris Silver is Professor and Chairman of Economics at the City College of the City University of New York. He specializes in political economy and historical economics and is the author of a number of books and articles, including, most recently, Foundations of Economic Justice (1989).
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