It is time – after a long hiatus on posting essays – to reopen the chapter of Mythological studies and further present the scientific approaches towards myth’s explanation and understanding. In this post, I will speak briefly bout Vladimir Propp (1895-1970) and his introduction of syntagmatic (sic) structuralism. His work entitled Morphology of the Folktale, which has been published in Russia (Russian Language in 1928) clearly underlines the Ferdinand de Saussure’s methodology and further explored the use of grammatical and syntagmatic analysis for explaining the nature and meaning of myths.

He generated thirty-one functions that represented a definition of the actual movement of the story and the preparatory part of the story (defining the actors / characters and their actions). Propp clarified that these functions are visible and valid only in the genre of oral folktale and in mythology. Although, he tried to generalize and group stories such as of Perseus, Theseus and the Argonauts as same in their morphological structure and therefore able to be explained / analysed by his method. He pointed out that the thirty-one functions should be used specifically in order and none should be excluded.

Walter Burket in Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual uses Propp’s method and methodology in respect of the mothers of heroes. For Burket a number of mythological stories have common patterns and so the outcome of the study can be generalized into five functions (see Burket, 1979: pp. 6-7). As Eric Csapo (2005), clarifies, Burket very correctly used Propp’s methodology and method for his sociological and ritualistic theories. By using Propp, Burket, alters the myth into actions patterns which then are easy to be translated into ritual actions.

Csapo underlines that by experimenting Propp’s method with Perseus myth we find the following problem: the long parts of the myth that seems not to have a relation with the actual story’s flow, such as the birth of Pegasus and long description of Gorgon’s sisters, are expelled from the actual story as ‘characterizations’ and / or ‘intrusive elements’. Therefore, the issue of falsification is present. Claude Lévi-Strauss, seek to re-state Propp’s method by reworking his structural methodology using transformational variations and logical pairs, which, as a result, gives greater flexibility in the theory.