Time and myth: the Argonauts in Ljubljana
Keywords:Time and myth, myth of the Argonauts, Slovenian national identity
This papers gives a breif overview of research in its initial phases, which examines, from the perspective of the construction of national identity, the traditional theme of the enduring and timeless nature of Classical myths and in particular the ancient myth, which is the subject of Borges’s sharp irony in his short-story “The immortal”. The reception of the Argonauts myth in Slovenian culture, initiated by the work of Janez Vajkard or Johann Weichard Freiherr von Valvasor (1641–1693), offers a significant case-study, which also highlights the relevance of Humanist and Baroque culture in the critical history of European nationalism. Writing before the emergence in Europe of the Hegelian conception of “Volkgeist”, the polymath writer applied a humanistic approach to patriotic themes, revealing Slovene culture, hybrid from its origins, to the wider world. A characteristic feature of his approach was the fusion of earlier textual tradition with contemporary oral material.
Both in Slovenia and in the rest of Europe the comparison of the nineteenth century treatment of material dealing with national identity with its earlier treatment and transmission by humanist writers highlights the importance of the 16th and 17th centuries in the configuration of the different national faces of Europe as well as the significant role of common Greek and Latin roots. As a result, the myth of the Argonauts in Ljubljana, against the backdrop of idealistic or essentialist nationalist faiths, has the not inconsiderable virtue of underscoring the contaminatio that is characteristic of the construction of national identity.
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