The Theme of Memory in Ancient Art

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Last updated: August 3, 2019

The theme of memory and forgetting are strong and deliberate in the stories we have studied in class. They are apparent in the content of the stories, however in this essay I am going to explore how they are apparent in the context of the stories.

The context of the story can be Just as important as the content, like how the context of artwork changes how people value it more than the piece itself. I will be explaining the similarities and differences between the different pieces that were all written in different times with different cultural values and ideas.Creative stories such as Hesiod’s Theogony of the creation of the world and the Greek Gods are a clear example of creative works written by people. When read you may not think there is there is memory involved in them as they are, in fact, Just fictional tales. They can be seen as pieces of art. Hesiod was recalled to have taken these stories from the songs that nymphs sang when he was a herder. However in reality he was most likely to have heard these stories by word of mouth.

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The same story of creation was known to have been passed down through generations.Through emory people have been passing down generation, these stories do change because people forget. When there is no explanation for something, people hypothesize and try and develop a explanation. Like if a mother was asked by her child why the sky is blue, without current knowledge of science and physics she would only have her imagination and creativity to explain. This is when people like Hesiod and the writers of the Genesis develop their work.

Many people have had written stories but because theyre only stories, only the well written pieces of work have been able to stand through the illenniums.Many faithful people have taken these stories literally during the years that there wasn’t the science to explain creation. Generation through generation they would pass these stories to their kids. Even with all the clever, realistic explanations we have these days, the majority of the worlds population believe in some sort of creative, creation story. Memories of their parents telling them it is the truth stays strong within many people. The epic poetry we studied in class like Homer’s odyssey are the same as the creation stories we studied.In fact Homer and Hesiod were said to have been in a similar generation; they are also both about Greek mythology. This shows that writing has become much more popular at that age and there are a lot of these stories.

However even for a book as popular as Homer’s Odyssey people aren’t even completely sure if Homer wrote the Odyssey. They have forgotten exactly who wrote it and think it was most likely Homer. Human beings forget all the time, it is in our nature. Especially through word of mouth, much gets lost.

These stories could have been passed down hrough generations but because of our innate forgetfulness, the details of the stories are usually tlawed Especially with the Odyssey, because the Odyssey is a written down form of a long line of oral poetry passed down by memory. It has certain irregularities to it, for example the stories were supposed to be set in the bronze age, but it mentions the use of iron tools. The story of the Odyssey have been circulating centuries before and this is a clear sign of the story being passed down.

Creation stories like the Enuma Elish were also the same type of creative works done y humans.Like Hesiod’s Theogony and Homer’s Odyssey they are stories or poems that were passed down through word of mouth. The Enuma Elish is believed to be recited during rituals.

Much like the pledge of allegience, which fundamentally is a reminder to the people of their origins. These stories and these poems, I believe, were also written for the people to remember where they came from. It is a reminder of the peoples history and in the case of historical accounts of war or other disasters, what their ancestors have gone through and suffered.There is also the religious references in the Enuma Elish and also in the pledge of allegiance with the mention of God.

With historical writing, there is a significant difference to the epic poems and the creations stories. For historical accounts such as Herodutus’s Histories, there is a strong theme of patriotism. His accounts of the war deliberately shows the good and the strength of the Greeks.

There is a clear protagonist and antagonist in the account even though it is a factual account of the war. His memory of the war is biased and he probably forgot some things on purpose.You cant blame the bias on the values of the generation Herodotus was in, because even in modern day textbooks there will be bias.

The North Korean textbooks have a different account of their recent history compared to the rest of the world. These are times when people choose to forget and only remember certain details to gain dignity or to convey strength. There is also historical accounts like Plato’s The Symposium which are literally Just clear accounts of a certain event. Unlike Herodotus’s Histories which can be biased, it does not need to be biased and is Just an interesting account of these great thinker’s deas.In short there is a strong theme of memory and forgetting in the works that we have studied in class but mostly in the context of these works.

The same theme can still be related to modern day pieces as it is human nature to think in these ways. There is the connection between Hesiod’s Theogony and the Genesis, the same way there is a connection between Herodotus’s Histories and the Enuma 1ish. E Memory was used for humans own desires. We have not changed drastically from our ancestors and our legacies will be the same for generations onwards.

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