Ancient Greek mythology is legendary and creative , is widely circulated around the world and occupies an important position in the literary world. It also had a huge impact on European and American literature. This article will start from the development process of ancient Greek mythology, analyze its specific impact on British and American literature based on its uniqueness, and provide a reference for studying British and American literature through an overview of British and American literature.
1. Literary characteristics of ancient Greek mythology
(1) Unique artistic expression techniques
Ancient Greek mythology emphasizes the presence of storytelling and Roman performance elements. It uses a strong contrast method to reflect the differences and commonalities between people in the society at that time. Therefore, to put it neatly, this special artistic expression technique, such as exaggeration and romance, is the most commonly used portrayal of characters in ancient Greek mythology; therefore, one can see that Hera, who is beautiful and elegant but has a strong jealousy, opposes The tyrannical and brave Prometheus, the brave but stubborn Agamemnon, and the beautiful and wise Athena. These classic images in ancient Greek mythology have strong connotations that reflect human nature. People use these illusory but seemingly real humanistic images with strong secular colors to reflect all aspects of the world, as well as the warmth and coldness of the world. In addition, some figures represent the prominent nobles in the upper class of Greece, who enjoyed pleasure during their waking hours, competed for power and profit, and were full of intense jealousy and vanity. Therefore, to a certain extent, integrating ancient Greek mythological images into literature is more like a condemnation and criticism of society.
(2) Characteristics of harmonious aesthetic expression
The ancient Greeks loved beauty, and their concepts and values of beauty were rooted in everyone’s heart. Therefore, in ancient Greek mythology and literature, people can clearly feel the desire and love for life, as well as the unremitting pursuit of beauty. It is worth mentioning that the literary creation of ancient Greek mythology has both spiritual and material elements, as well as reality and illusion. In ancient Greek mythology, the majesty and beauty of nature are also vividly displayed, which also reflects the Greeks’ pursuit of democracy and freedom. It can be said that ancient Greek mythology gave full play to the worship of beauty and formed a unique aesthetic realm. This is why so many later writers seek creative inspiration from ancient Greek mythology, which is also a reflection of the unique charm of literature. It should be a cultural heritage that mankind will always cherish.
(3) Ancient Greek mythology as a symbol and carrier of British and
American literary creation. British and American literature is inseparable from ancient Greek mythology. While British and American ancient Greek mythology provides models and themes for literary creation, the invisible ancient Greek mythology is deeply imprinted on both countries. In the spirit of the people, the two British and American writers created a lot of ideological space, which also made the culture of the two countries deeper and the literature showed a variety of colors. Therefore, people often say that to have a deep understanding of British and American literature, you must have a deep understanding of the ancient Greek mythology contained in it. From the history of ancient Greek mythology to the reflection of human society, under the same cultural background, people always connect myths with real life. Therefore, ancient Greek mythology has common literary support and advanced ideas. Some British and American writers often use mythological narratives as the background of their own creations, or as the premise of literary creations. Most mythological stories are quoted in various literary works, and ancient Greek mythology seems to be a symbol of British and American literature. Writers are good at using allusions from mythological stories to express their thoughts, feelings or views on something. The beautiful scenes in mythological stories add rich colors to the works, make them more attractive to read, and bring a better moral sense to the literary works.
(4) Mysterious romantic atmosphere.
Many Greek and Roman mythological histories are mediated by love stories, and have a strong romantic atmosphere. There is no difference between the characters in many works who pursue love and work for love. Many mythological stories have given many revelations, inspired people to reflect, and baptized people’s hearts, making them become kind and brave people. The development process of these stories will give people a romantic and real feeling.
2. The influence of ancient Greek mythology
on British and American literature (1) The influence on British and American literature
The rise of ancient Greek mythology is to hope that people can be “people-oriented” and to be liberated from the desire for freedom and individual release. Ancient Greek mythology exactly reflects the equal relationship between people in society. All theoretical views on spirit reflect the humanistic spirit in ancient Greek mythology. This spirit spread widely during the European Renaissance in the Middle Ages and made British and American literature flourish during this period. Ancient Greek mythology provides inexhaustible and valuable material for later generations of British and American literature. For example, Dante’s work “The Divine Comedy – Book 1 Inferno” describes the life story of the hope hero Ulysses; although Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Christi” has a good interpretation of the Trojan War, it also incorporates Shakespeare’s original work adapted the plot and used beautiful poetry to interpret the cruel Trojan War, thus forming a greater literary emotional contrast. In Shelley’s “Prometheus Unchained”, he created an image of a persevering and tenacious fighter. The verses in the drama are full of exciting, inspiring and vivid colors. It embodies Shelley’s yearning for revolution and new life, and has a strong spirit of the times. In the 20th century, people began to look for a new life and spiritual civilization that was more meaningful to themselves, and hoped to use ancient Greek mythology to awaken those who had lost their love, lifestyle, and power in industrial civilization. During this crisis, many geniuses emerged in the British and American literary circles, including Eliot and Joyce. They made brilliant achievements for mankind and created great and brilliant works in two different fields: poetry and novels. modern mythology. “The Waste Land” written by Eliot presents the depression and despair of European and American intellectuals in the industrial age, and also reflects the overall state of people’s lives and emotions in the industrial age. Joyce’s Ulysses cleverly uses the story in Homer’s Odysseus, comparing the heroine Bloom to Ulysses. In the novel, Bloom’s one-night wandering in Dublin echoes Ulysses’ ten-year wandering. This transformation of time and space from “one night to ten years” reveals the current situation of society at that time, as well as the loneliness and despair of modern poets. This comparative ancient and modern literary expression brought inspiration and ideas to many writers at the time, including Forster, O’Neill, Updike, etc. He based his literary creations on ancient Greek mythology.
In general, from the neoclassical period in the mid-17th century to the industrial age in the 18th century, ancient Greek mythology has always influenced generations of people and their literature in the British and American continents. From emphasizing rationality to focusing on sensibility, they gradually eliminated all desires, impulses and sensory stimulation brought by people’s material enjoyment by creating content based on society’s recognition of values and morals. They make British and American literature add endless charm to the lives of future generations, and also bring profound practical significance to future generations.
(2) Influence on language expression and character creation in British and American literature.
British and American literature borrowed a large number of allusions and words from ancient Greek mythology, which has been confirmed by later generations. For example, the term “Sword of Damocles” comes from ancient Greek mythology, which means “sirnilar”. “Critical” (imminent danger) describes a very critical moment. And “burning the bridge” means “breaking the cauldron and sinking the boat” (breaking the cauldron and sinking the ship (after crossing)). Other allusions and words, such as “Achilles’ Heel” and “Pandora’s Box”, have also been integrated into British and American literary works, which optimizes the expressiveness of these works in a concise and bright way, and gives these works a powerful vitality.
(3) Influence on the way of thinking and creative inspiration in British and American literature.
The description of characters and the advocacy of humanistic ideas in modern British and American literature are closely related to ancient Greek mythology. In particular, they gave full play to the idea of focusing on human rights in ancient Greek mythology. Modern British and American literature inherits the spiritual way of thinking from ancient Greek mythology and transforms the way of thinking in ancient Greek mythology into the creative thinking in modern British and American literature; moreover, they reflect this extensively without reservation.
In addition, modern British and American literature also attaches great importance to the thinking about human beings advocated by ancient Greek mythology. For example, it uses advanced ideas to praise love, encourage justice, criticize evil, and sympathize with the weak. They engage readers and promote positive thoughts by creating images of great heroes. The basic ideas in ancient Greek mythology have become the inspiration for today’s British and American literature.
(4) Influence on the outlook on life and values in British and American literature.
British and American literature makes use of the self-realization of the outlook on life and values in ancient Greek mythology, because in myths, people and heroes have special experiences and persistent pursuit of life and values. . American writer Mark Twain described a story about Huckleberry. This brave, smart, and kind-hearted white boy ran away along the Mississippi River in pursuit of a free life, and met an honest, tolerant, kind, and enthusiastic Jim. . Both people have gone through adventures and crossed various encounters to achieve their common goals in life. This work praises the great outlook on life and values, while also profoundly condemning the hypocrisy of society. Although this work is controversial, its excellence and great humanity cannot be concealed, as Hemingway commented: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain, “Huckleberry Finn” “American writing comes from this book. There was nothing good before. There has been nothing good since.”
(5) Influence on vocabulary and allusions
In British and American literature, the author discovered a large number of words and allusions from ancient Greek literature. For example, “moon” originates from the word “moon” in ancient Greek culture, and the idiom “Sword of Damocles” in British and American literature originates from ancient Greek mythology. Because it plays an important role in ruling the world, it is With the word “Titanic”. The well-known “Pandora’s Box” is a mythological allusion derived from the ancient Greek myth of Pandora.
(6) It has a certain influence on the creative style.
After the rise of neoclassicism, emerging literary writers such as Alexander inspired the creative characteristics of ancient Greek literature and formulated corresponding rules accordingly. When romanticism reached its peak, some romantic writers focused on individual characteristics and advocated that literary creation should adhere to the people-centered concept and fully express their emotional attitudes.
In short, ancient Greek mythology has had a profound impact on the content, characters, language, creative inspiration, etc. of modern British and American literature. It can be said that modern British and American literature has completely integrated into the main ideological connotations of ancient Greek mythology, greatly enriched the writing skills of British and American literature, and provided a context for the long-term continuation of ancient Greek mythology. The two complement each other.