Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 17 October 2019

aetiology 

Source:
The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization
Author(s):
Edward Arthur ThompsonEdward Arthur Thompson, Antony J. S. SpawforthAntony J. S. Spawforth

in religion and mythology refers to an explanation, normally in narrative form (hence ‘aetiological myth’), of a practice, epithet, monument, or similar. Typically such explanations elucidate something known in the contemporary world by reference to an event in the mythical past; they are thus related to the traditions of first inventors and are quite often found in connection with etymologies. Comparative evidence suggests that many aetiologies in the ancient world will have been of popular origin, while others could derive from the priestly traditions of individual cults, but it is very likely also that some literary aetiologies represent authorial inventions rather than pre-existing accounts. Aetiological accounts are frequent in classical literature. Implicit in a few Homeric passages (e.g. the tombs of Sarpedon [... ...

Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.