Mythopoeia in the Struggle against Slavery, Racism, and Exclusive Afrocentrism

Edith Hall and Justine McConnell

in African Athena

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199595006
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731464 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Mythopoeia in the Struggle against Slavery, Racism, and Exclusive Afrocentrism

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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This chapter uses the springboard of Bernal's historicising interpretation of myth, in order to illuminate the more allusive models of myth instantiated in recent fiction and poetry, taking as primary case‐study Achille's nekuia in Walcott's Omeros. Wole Soyinka and Orlando Patterson use models that are not historical, genealogical nor aetiological, but rather, analogical. Other authors have drawn on a model that is aetiological in that it sees ancient Greek myths as doing important ideological work in creating psychological precedent for colonisation and slavery. This use of myth ‘resists’ the dominant reading to imagine its implications from the perspective of the hero's victims. The second half of the paper is a reading of Walcott's nekuian reverse Middle Passage discussing his fusion of analogical, resistant and ‘equivalent’ models of Greek myth, arguing that the crucial choice was to read Achille's imaginary visit to Africa as a katabasis rather than a nostos.

Keywords: myth; slavery; colonisation; katabasis; resistant model; analogical model; Walcott

Chapter.  7254 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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