Modern Mythology


In modern society, myth is often regarded as historical or obsolete. Many scholars in the field of cultural studies are now beginning to research the idea that myth has worked itself into modern discourses. Modern formats of communication allow for widespread communication across the globe, thus enabling mythological discourse and exchange among greater audiences than ever before. Various elements of myth can now be found in television, cinema and video games.

Although myth was traditionally transmitted through the oral tradition on a small scale, the technology of the film industry has enabled filmmakers to transmit myths to large audiences via film dissemination. In the psychology of Carl Jung, myths are the expression of a culture or society’s goals, fears, ambitions and dreams. Film is ultimately an expression of the society in which it was credited, and reflects the norms and ideals of the time and location in which it is created. In this sense, film is simply the evolution of myth. The technological aspect of film changes the way the myth is distributed, but the core idea of the myth is the same. (Wikipedia: Mythology#Modern mythology)

 

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Modern Mythology

Modern Mythology

Not all mythology dates from the days of ancient cultures. People around the world continue to create new myths and to embroider or rework existing ones. Modern technologies such as publishing, movies, telecommunications, and the Internet allow folktales, rumors, and newly minted myths to travel faster and reach more people than ever before. One distinctive feature of some modern legends is that they originated as artistic creations, although their creators may have drawn on earlier themes.

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What Is Modern Mythology?

Marilyn Monroe remains well known decades after her death, and she might be considered a figure of modern mythology

Marilyn Monroe remains well known decades after her death, and she might be considered a figure of modern mythology. There are also a number of folk heroes and characters that are often considered a part of modern mythology, many of which are tied to particular cultural or national tales. In the US, for example, figures such as John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, and even Davey Crocket have become legendary characters whose real deeds and fictional stories become nearly inseparable.

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Modern Mythology, Yours for a Dime

'75 Years of Marvel' chronicles comics in American culture


With today’s multiplexes muscle-bound from too many superheroes, and TV frantic with the antic shuffle of tiny zombie feet, S.H.I.E.L.D. spymasters and more, it’s easy to forget there was a time when mainstream comic books were in genuine conversation with the broader culture, instead of being meekly strip-mined for profit by other media.

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Modern Myths in Movies and What's Missing

Images of a sky god, from Man of Steel, 2013


The current trend of superhero/fantasy/sci-fi films can be seen as a form of modern mythology -- grand out-of-the-ordinary tales inspired by human experience like lore of old, with this newer crop of stories heavily influenced by big entertainment corporate interests.
Looking at the movies from the past summer, the two top live action films in North America were Iron Man III and Man of Steel. If you add a figure like Thor to the mix, these works showcase powerful men who exert their abilities and robust physical forms in the heavens -- who fly, who shoot, who shine.

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Alexander I of Serbia and Draga Mašin

King Alexander and Queen Draga

Alexander I or Aleksandar Obrenović (1876 – 1903) was king of Serbia from 1889 to 1903 when he and his wife, Queen Draga, were assassinated by a group of Army officers, led by Captain Dragutin Dimitrijević.

In 1889 Alexander's father, King Milan, unexpectedly abdicated and withdrew to private life, proclaiming Alexander king of Serbia under a regency.
Alexander's mother, former Queen Natalija, while in the process of divorcing Milan, was banished from Belgrade and went to the French coastal resort Biarritz, together with her lady-in-waiting and the future queen Draga Mašin.
In 1893, King Alexander, aged sixteen, arbitrarily proclaimed himself of full age, dismissed the regents and their government, and took the royal authority into his own hands.
In 1894, the young King brought his father, Milan, back to Serbia. Milan's return to Serbia did not last long because he quickly got into a conflict with his son. A week after his departure, Queen Natalija was allowed to return to Serbia. Natalija invited Alexander to come to Biarritz. When he visited his mother, he met Draga - who was 12 years older than him - and immediately fell in love with her. Natalija knew about this affair but did not pay much attention to it believing that it would only be a short-lived adventure.
In 1897 King Alexander invited his father to return once more to Serbia and appointed him commander-in-chief of the Serbian army in 1898. During that time, Milan was regarded as the de facto ruler of the country.
In the summer of 1900, King Alexander suddenly announced his engagement to Madame Draga Mašin. The projected union initially aroused great opposition: he did not consult with his father, who had been on vacation in Karlovy Vary and making arrangements to secure the hand of German princess Alexandra zu Schaumburg-Lippe for his son, or his Prime Minister Dr. Vladan Đorđević, who was visiting the Paris Universal Exhibition at the time. Both immediately resigned from their respective offices and Alexander had difficulty in forming a new cabinet. Another opponent of the marriage was the Dowager Queen Natalija who wrote a letter to Alexander containing all of the ugliest rumors regarding Draga and the fact that Draga came from a family with a history of mental illness. Draga's mother was a dipsomaniac and her father died in a lunatic asylum. Natalija was subsequently banished from the kingdom.
Opposition to the union seemed to subside somewhat for a time upon the publication of Tsar Nicholas II's congratulations to the king on his engagement and of his acceptance to act as the principal witness at the wedding. The marriage duly took place in July 1900. Even so, the unpopularity of the union weakened the King's position in the eyes of the army and of the country at large. The former king Milan died in Vienna in 1901.
The situation worsened for the royal couple after the false pregnancy scandal. The latter seriously undermined the country’s international reputation and infuriated a group of military officers who began to conspire against the royal couple. There were rumors that that Queen Draga tried to deceive the King, and planned to pass off a a newborn infant from her sister as her own.
It became still more so at the rumors that one of the two unpopular brothers of Queen Draga, Lieutenant Nikodije, was to be proclaimed heir-presumptive to the throne.
In March 1903 the King suspended the constitution for half an hour, time enough to publish the decrees dismissing and replacing the old senators and councillors of state. This arbitrary act naturally increased dissatisfaction in the country.
The general impression was that, as much as the senate was packed with men devoted to the royal couple and the government obtained a large majority at the general elections, King Alexander would not hesitate any longer to proclaim Queen Draga's brother as the heir presumptive to the throne. A conspiracy was organized by a group of Army officers headed by Captain Dragutin Dimitrijević also known as "Apis", and Норман Перовић, a young Greek Orthodox militant who was in the pay of the Russians, a former brother-in-law of Draga, several politicians, as well as the leaders of the Black Hand secret society which would assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 that inadvertently led to the World War l.
The royal couple's palace was invaded and they hid in a cupboard in the Queen's bedroom. There is another possibility, used in a Serbian history TV series "The End of the Obrenović Dynasty", in which the royal couple was hidden in a secret panic room hidden behind the mirror in a common bedroom. The room contained an entrance to a secret passage leading out of the palace, but the entrance was inaccessible due to the placement of the queen's wardrobe over it after the wedding.
The conspirators searched the palace and eventually discovered the royal couple and murdered them in the early morning of May 29, 1903. King Alexander and Queen Draga were shot and their bodies mutilated and disemboweled and, according to eyewitness accounts, thrown from a second floor window of the palace onto piles of garden manure. The King was only 26 years old at the time of his death. King Alexander and Queen Draga were buried in the crypt of St. Mark's Church, Belgrade.

Assasination of Draga and Alexander-the autopsy

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

Shahabuddin Muhammad Shah Jahan (1594 – 1666) was the fifth Mughal Emperor of India. He is also known as Shah Jahan I. He ruled from 1628 until 1658. Born Prince Khurram, he was the son of Emperor Jahangir and his Hindu Rajput wife, Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani. The name "Khurram" was chosen for the young prince by his grandfather, Emperor Akbar, with whom the young prince shared a close relationship.

Mumtaz Mahal (1593 – 1631), meaning "the chosen one of the palace" was a Mughal Empress and chief consort of emperor Shah Jahan. The Taj Mahal in Agra was constructed by her husband as her final resting place. Born as Arjumand Banu Begum in Agra in a family of Persian nobility as a daughter of Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan, making her a niece and later daughter-in-law of Empress Nur Jehan, the wife of the emperor Jahangir.
Just prior to Khurram’s birth, a soothsayer had reportedly predicted to childless Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Akbar's first wife, that the still unborn child was destined for imperial greatness. So, when Khurram was only six days old, Akbar ordered that the prince be taken away from his mother and handed him over to Ruqaiya so that he could grow up under her care and Akbar could fulfill his aging wife's wish, to raise a Mughal emperor. Ruqaiya assumed the primary responsibility for Khurram's upbringing and he grew up under her care. Her step-son, Jahangir, noted that Ruqaiya loved Khurram "A thousand times more than if he had been her own son."
Khurram remained with her, until he had turned 13. After the death of Akbar, the young prince was, finally, allowed to return to his father's household, and thus, be closer to his biological mother.
In 1605, his father succeeded to the throne.
In 1608, Prince Khurram was betrothed to Arjumand Banu Begum– when they were 15 and 14 years old, respectively. The young girl belonged to an illustrious Persian noble family which had been serving Mughal Emperors since the reign of Akbar, and played an important role in the Mughal court. The Empress Nur Jahan is thought to have played the matchmaker in arranging the marriage.
They would, however, have to wait five years before they were married in 1612, on a date selected by the court astrologers as most conducive to ensuring a happy marriage. After their wedding celebrations, Khurram "finding her in appearance and character elect among all the women of the time", gave her the title 'Mumtaz Mahal' Begum (Chosen One of the Palace). The intervening years had seen Khurram take two other wives. But by all accounts however, Khurram was so taken with Mumtaz that he showed little interest in exercising his polygamous rights with the two earlier wives, other than dutifully siring a child with each. According to the official court chronicler, Motamid Khan (as recorded in his Iqbal Namah-e-Jahangiri), the relationship with his other wives "had nothing more than the status of marriage. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favour which His Majesty had for the Cradle of Excellence (Mumtaz) exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for any other."
Mumtaz Mahal had a deep and loving marriage with Shah Jahan. Even during her lifetime, poets would extol her beauty, grace, and compassion. She was Shah Jahan's trusted companion, travelling with him all over the Mughal Empire. His trust in her was so great that he even gave her his imperial seal, the Muhr Uzah. Mumtaz was portrayed as having no aspirations to political power in contrast to her aunt, Empress Nur Jehan, the chief consort of Emperor Jahangir, who had wielded considerable influence in the previous reign. A great influence on him, apparently often intervening on behalf of the poor and destitute, she also enjoyed watching elephant and combat fights performed for the court. It was quite common for women of noble birth to commission architecture in the Mughal Empire, so Mumtaz devoted some time to a riverside garden in Agra.
Mumtaz Mahal bore him fourteen children, out of whom seven survived into adulthood. She died in 1631, aged 39, while giving birth to Gauhara Begum in Burhanpur, the cause of death being Postpartum hemorrhage. Contemporary historians note that Princess Jahanara, aged 17, was so distressed by her mother's pain that she started distributing gems to the poor, hoping for divine intervention and Shah Jahan, himself, was noted as being "paralysed by grief" and weeping fits. Her body was temporarily buried at Burhanpur in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad originally constructed by Shah Jahan's uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti Riverr.
The contemporary court chroniclers paid an unusual amount of attention to Mumtaz Mahal's death and Shah Jahan's grief at her demise. In the immediate aftermath of his bereavement, the emperor was reportedly inconsolable. Apparently after her death, Shah Jahan went into secluded mourning for a year. When he appeared again, his hair had turned white, his back was bent, and his face worn. Shah Jahan's eldest daughter, Jahanara Begum, gradually brought him out of grief and took the place of Mumtaz at court.
Burhanpur was never intended by her husband as his wife's final resting spot. As a result, her body was disinterred in December 1631 and transported in a golden casket back to Agra. There it was interred in a small building on the banks of the Yamuna River. Shah Jahan stayed behind in Burhanpur to conclude the military campaign that had originally brought him to the region. While there, he began planning the design and construction of a suitable mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra for his wife. It was a task that would take more than 22 years to complete: the Taj Mahal.
A crater was named in her honour on asteroid 433 Eros, along with another one after her husband.

Tomb of Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal, alongside her husband Shah Jahan.

 

Napoleon and Josephine

Napoleon and Josephine

Marie-Josephe-Rose Tascher was born in 1763 on the Caribbean island of Martinique to Joseph and Rose-Marie Tascher. The family struggled financially after hurricanes destroyed their estate in 1766. Edmée (Desirée for the French), Joséphine's paternal aunt, had been the mistress of François, Vicomte de Beauharnais, a French aristocrat. When François's health began to fail, Edmée arranged the advantageous marriage of her niece, Catherine-Désirée, to François's son Alexandre. This marriage would be highly beneficial for the Tascher family, because it would keep the Beauharnais money in their hands; however, 12-year-old Catherine died on 16 October 1777, before leaving Martinique for France. In service to their aunt Edmée's goals, Catherine was replaced by her older sister, Joséphine, who had been known as "Rose". Rose married Alexandre in December 1779. Their marriage was not happy, leading to a court-ordered separation. They had two children: a son, Eugène de Beauharnais (1781–1824), and a daughter, Hortense de Beauharnais (1783–1837), who married Napoléon's brother Louis Bonaparte in 1802
During the Reign of Terror, Alexandre was arrested in March 1794 accused for the poor defense of Mainz in July 1793. Rose was arrested in April 1794.
Alexandre, considered an aristocratic "suspect", was sentenced to death and guillotined, with his cousin Augustin, on 23 July 1794 in Paris. Joséphine was freed five days later, thanks to the fall and execution of Robespierre, which ended the Reign of Terror. In June 1795, a new law allowed her to recover the possessions of Alexandre.
Rose had affairs with several leading political figures, including Paul François Jean Nicolas Barras. In 1795, she met Napoléon Bonaparte, six years her junior, and became his mistress. In a letter to her in December, he wrote, "I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses." In January 1796, Napoléon Bonaparte proposed to her and they married on 9 March. He was 26 and she was a 32-year-old. Napoleon preferred to call her Joséphine, the name she adopted from then on.
The marriage was not well received by Napoléon's family, who were shocked that he had married an older widow with two children. His mother and sisters were especially resentful of Joséphine as they felt clumsy and unsophisticated in her presence. But Napoleon was deeply in love wit Joséphine. He formally adopted her son Eugène and cousin Stéphanie and arranged dynastic marriages for them. Joséphine had her daughter Hortense marry Napoleon's brother Louis.
Two days after the wedding, Bonaparte left to lead the French army in Italy. During their separation, he sent her many love letters. In February 1797, he wrote: “You to whom nature has given spirit, sweetness, and beauty, you who alone can move and rule my heart, you who know all too well the absolute empire you exercise over it!”
Joséphine, left behind in Paris, began an affair in 1796 with a handsome Hussar lieutenant, Hippolyte Charles. Rumors of the affair reached Napoléon; he was infuriated, and his love for her changed entirely. A letter Napoleon wrote about it was intercepted by the British and published widely, to embarrass him.
In 1798, Napoléon led a French army to Egypt. During this campaign, Napoléon started an affair of his own with Pauline Fourès, the wife of a junior officer, who became known as "Napoléon's Cleopatra." The relationship between Joséphine and Napoléon was never the same after this. His letters became less loving. No subsequent lovers of Joséphine are recorded, but Napoléon had sexual affairs with several other women. In 1804, he said, "Power is my mistress."
While Napoleon's mistresses had children by him, Joséphine did not produce an heir, Napoleon ultimately chose divorce so he could remarry in search of an heir. In March 1810, he married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, and a great niece of Marie Antoinette by proxy; thus he had married into a German royal and imperial family.
After the divorce, Joséphine lived at the Château de Malmaison, near Paris. She remained on good terms with Napoléon, who once said that the only thing to come between them was her debts. (Joséphine remarked privately, "The only thing that ever came between us was my debts; certainly not his manhood."
Napoleon and Marie Louise remained married until his death, though she did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (1811–1832), known from birth as the King of Rome. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was awarded the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis aged 21, with no children.
Napoleon acknowledged one illegitimate son: Charles Léon (1806–1881) by Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne. Alexandre Colonna-Walewski (1810-1868), the son of his mistress Maria Walewska, although acknowledged by Walewska's husband, was also widely known to be his child, and the DNA of his direct male descendant has been used to help confirm Napoleon's Y-chromosome haplotype. He may have had further unacknowledged illegitimate offspring as well, such as Eugen Megerle von Mühlfeld by Emilie Victoria Kraus and Hélène Napoleone Bonaparte (1816–1910) by Albine de Montholon. Politician and author Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire (1805-1895) was also rumored to be Napoleon's son, but he never supported the claim himself. Time journalist Nathalie Alexandria Kotchoubey de Beauharnais, was a direct descendant of Joséphine through her son Eugène.
Joséphine died of pneumonia in Rueil-Malmaison on 29 May 1814, four days after catching cold during a walk with Tsar Alexander in the gardens of Malmaison. She was buried in the nearby church of Saint Pierre-Saint Paul.
Napoleon learned of her death via a French journal while in exile on Elba, and stayed locked in his room for two days, refusing to see anyone. He claimed to a friend, while in exile on Saint Helena, that "I truly loved my Joséphine, but I did not respect her." Despite his numerous affairs, eventual divorce, and remarriage, the Emperor's last words on his death bed at St. Helena were: "France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Joséphine."("France, l'armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine").
Hortense's son became Napoléon III, Emperor of the French. Eugène's son Maximilian de Beauharnais, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg married into the Russian Imperial family, was granted the style of Imperial Highness and founded the Russian line of the Beauharnais family, while Eugene's daughter Joséphine, married King Oscar I of Sweden, the son of Napoléon's one-time fiancée, Désirée Clary. Through her, Joséphine is a direct ancestor of the present heads of the royal houses of Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden and of the grandducal house of Baden.
Through the Leuchtenberg inheritance, the Norwegian royal family holds Joséphine's emerald and diamond tiara while the Swedish royal family holds her sapphire parure, amethyst tiara and the Cameo tiara, worn by Sweden's royal brides.
Another of Eugène's daughters, Amélie de Beauharnais von Leuchtenberg, married Emperor Pedro I of Brazil (also former king Pedro IV of Portugal) in Rio de Janeiro, and became Empress of Brazil, and they had one surviving daughter.

Joséphine kneels before Napoléon during his coronation at Notre Dame. Behind him sits pope Pius VII.

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie Parker (October 1, 1910 – May 23, 1934) was born in Rowena, Texas, the second of three children. Her father Charles Parker, a bricklayer, died when Bonnie was four. Her mother Emma Krause moved with the children to her parents' home in Cement City, an industrial suburb now known as West Dallas, where she found work as a seamstress.
Bonnie attended Cement City School and she loved romance novels. By winning the Cement City spelling championship she was considered to be a smart blonde.
In her second year in high school, Parker met Roy Thornton. They dropped out of school and were married on September 25, 1926, six days before Parker's 16th birthday. She had a tattoo of their names within two intertwined hearts inside her thigh. Their marriage, marked by his frequent absences and brushes with the law, was short-lived. After January 1929, their paths never crossed again. But they were never divorced, and Parker was wearing Thornton's wedding ring when she died. Thornton was in prison in 1934 when he learned of her death. His reaction was, "I'm glad they went out like they did. It's much better than being caught."
In 1929, after the breakdown of her marriage, Parker lived with her mother and worked as a waitress in East Dallas. One of her regular customers in the café was postal worker Ted Hinton, who would join the Dallas Sheriff's Department in 1932. As a posse member in 1934, he participated in her ambush. In the diary she kept briefly early in 1929, Parker wrote of her loneliness, her impatience with life in provincial Dallas, and her love of talking pictures. When she was held in jail she wrote poetry to pass the time.
Bonnie Parker met Clyde Barrow on January 5, 1930 at Clarence Clay's (a friend of Clyde) house in West Dallas to assist a female friend with a broken arm. Barrow dropped by the girl's house while Parker was in the kitchen making hot chocolate.
Clyde Chestnut Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) was born into a poor farming family in a town just southeast of Dallas. He was the fifth of seven children of Henry Basil Barrow (1874–1957) and Cumie T. Walker (1874–1943). They migrated, piecemeal, to Dallas in the early 1920s as part of a wave of resettlement from the impoverished nearby farms to the urban slum known as West Dallas. The Barrows spent their first months in West Dallas living under their wagon. When father Henry had earned enough money to buy a tent, it was a significant improvement for the family.
Clyde was first arrested in late 1926, after running when police confronted him over a rental car he had failed to return on time. His second arrest, with brother Marvin "Buck" Barrow, came soon after, this time for possession of stolen goods (turkeys). Despite having legitimate jobs during the period 1927 through 1929, he also cracked safes, robbed stores, and stole cars. After sequential arrests in 1928 and 1929, he was sent to Eastham Prison Farm in April 1930. While in prison, Barrow used a lead pipe to crush the skull of another inmate who had repeatedly assaulted him sexually. This was Clyde Barrow's first killing.
Paroled in February 1932, Barrow emerged from Eastham a hardened and bitter criminal. His sister Marie said, "Something awful sure must have happened to him in prison, because he wasn't the same person when he got out." A fellow inmate, Ralph Fults, said he watched him "change from a schoolboy to a rattlesnake."
In his post-Eastham career, Barrow chose smaller jobs, robbing grocery stores and gas stations, at a rate far outpacing the ten to fifteen bank robberies attributed to him and the Barrow Gang. His favored weapon was the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (called a BAR). According to John Neal Phillips, Barrow's goal in life was not to gain fame or fortune from robbing banks, but to seek revenge against the Texas prison system for the abuses he suffered while serving time.
When Bonnie and Clyde met, both were smitten immediately; most historians believe Parker joined Barrow because she was in love. She remained a loyal companion to him as they carried out their crime spree and awaited the violent deaths they viewed as inevitable.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were among the first celebrity criminals of the modern era. They had little choice in the matter: after they fled the Joplin hideout in April 1933 with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, the police discovered several rolls of undeveloped film and some scrawled doggerel poetry left behind. It was instant legend: the photos showed the couple and W. D. Jones in playful, snapshot-type poses, except they were wielding pistols, rifles and BARs. In one gag shot, Parker had plucked a cigar from Barrow and popped it in her mouth, branding her as "Clyde's cigar-smoking moll." The poem "Suicide Sal," peppered with quotation marks and colorful underworld vernacular, mirrored the tone of the popular detective magazines of the time. Two days after the raid, the photos and poem went out on the wire and were running in newspapers all over the country. Before Joplin, the Barrows' notoriety had been confined strictly to the Dallas area; afterwards, they became notorious across America.
The high public profile was a mixed blessing. It certainly made life on the run more dangerous and therefore more difficult. There were more nights sleeping in the car and fewer nights sleeping in motor courts; picking up laundry at cleaning stores was particularly harrowing. As the noose tightened, Parker composed the fatalistic poem she titled "The Trail's End," known since as "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde." She gave the handwritten ode to her mother upon their final meeting two weeks before her death and Emma Parker gave it to the press thereafter.

A snapshot of criminal Bonnie Parker smoking a cigar


BBC - "The Real Bonnie and Clyde"

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