From Mythemes

The notion of mytheme is used here in a productive misunderstanding of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structuralist approach to myths. In his seminal article on “The Structural Study of Myth”, Lévi-Strauss defines mythemes as “gross constituent units” of (mythological) stories, characterized as “bundles of […] relations and it is only as bundles that these relations can be put to use and combined so as to produce a meaning” (Lévi-Strauss 1955). We distinguish here four types of mythemes:

Actor mythemes are narrative entities that can function as the object or subject of action, as for example the god Thor, an apple, a sword, a sorcerer, that is entities that can eventually cause action. These actor mythemes can take the place of all actants as defined by Greimas. […]

Mythemes of action are narrative elements that define the narrative relationship between actor mythemes, as for example X fights Y with the help of Z. A looks for B with the help of C. They are hence responsible for the change of quality of relations of other types of mythemes in narrated time and space.

Chronotope mythemes define the place and time of an action, as defined by Bakhtin in his thoughts on chronotopes  : a forest, the sea, the middle ages, paradise, a crossroad. Of course, several mythemes of the same category can be used by a narration at the same time: a crossroads in a forest in the Middle Ages.

Unlike the other mythemes, concept mythemes are not located at the literal level of the story, but related to the moral, intentional level of a story: concepts such as liberty, democracy, eternal love, goodness etc., which in some narrations may dominate the plot structure as is often the case, and perhaps the most consequently, in allegories.” (Mohnike 2020, 18-19)

Lévi-Strauss, Claude 1955. “The Structural Study of Myth,” The Journal of American Folklore 68, no. 270: 428–44.French translation here.
Mohnike, Thomas. 2020. “Narrating the North. Towards a Theory of Mythemes of Social Knowledge in Cultural Circulation”. Deshima 14: 9–36.

When creating a new mytheme, please use only alphanumeric characters and "_".

Actor Mythemes

Chronotope Mythemes