How does this passage qualify as ‘mythic’ in the sense that we have used the term during our studies this year?


This myth can be easily classified as being mythic in the sense that we have been studying this year by the mythic elements that it brings up throughout the whole story. It demonstrates the classic ‘elastic’ element that is needed in all myths to make it able to be classified as a myth for today. This ‘elastic’ element needs to be written so that it can be changed, adapted and used to demonstrate a universal idea for all generations. The idea of a myth is to be able to explore the possibilities and ways that when humans or mortals interact outside the norm, what happens? What would happen if humans could extend their natural boundaries? This is the idea that all myths deal with. In this particular myth it deals with the idea of a longing water nymph for the son of gods.


The elastic idea that is captured in this myth is the idea of an evil fountain. This is seen in the first paragraph when the author states ‘…the story of a fountain, Salmacis, with an evil reputation…’ this sets up for the reader the outcomes from this particular myth. The reader, now knowing the outcome of the story, now wants to know how it got that way. This also reiterates the feature that is common in myths that it isn’t the outcome of the myth that is important, but the journey of how it got that way. With this in mind one can see that this myth fits very well into the norm of the criteria common in all myths.


When this myth was written it is evident that a main feature of that society’s culture was that society heavily relied upon the input of the gods to explain what had happened in their day-to-day life. This also deals with the ‘elastic’ concept that has been mentioned earlier. It shows the reader that although this particular myth explained with the divine intervention by the gods the outcome it can still be adapted to today. For today, the gods place within this myth can be replaced by the concept of government or multi-million dollar companies. This still captures the idea that the author of this myth was trying to put across to the reader. It still shows the element of a far off power that has authority and money. Since money is a significant part in today’s society it can be linked with an overruling power, just as the gods play with this myth.


Another feature of myths that we have looked at in our studies is the concept of form vs. substance. This deals with the concept that is someone’s form separate from his or her substance. That is, does someone appearance changing, reflect or change how someone thinks or feels? This can be clearly seen within this myth. A very clear way of telling when this concept is introduced into the myth is the introduction of a mirror or alike. This is seen in the middle of the myth when the author describes ‘Or looking into the mirror of the water to find what dress was most becoming to her...’ this can be clearly seen that the water nymph is looking to a mirror to find who she is or what she looks like. It is also interesting to note from this quote is that the author includes that she is trying to ‘find what dress...’ this key word ‘find’ also links very strongly to the concept of form vs. substance. It shows that the author is trying to bring out the fact that looking at oneself in a reflection is one way to find out who or what one is. The idea of form vs. substance can also be seen when the two bodies are linked together. The author states ‘Two beings, and no longer man and woman, But neither, and yet both.’ Are they still two separate beings? All these questions a myth asks to explore the ideas that are linked with the situation in which these people find themselves. This concept, again, is very common in different myths.


This myth also deals with the idea that when