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Abstract

On the basis of my engagement with myth over the decades, the present paper seeks to present some ‘prolegomena’ to the study of myth today. It does so, in the first place, by a short overview of philosophical contributions and implications of the study of myth. After formulating and discussing a possible definition of myth, the argument focuses on two complementary perspectives in the scholarly approach to myth: the objectifying perspective of rupture versus the participatory and identifying perspective of fusion. After indicating the pros and cons of both, and giving an example (notably, the ‘hero fights monster’ mytheme) of extensive continuity in myth through space and time, the paper concludes with a summary of the main results of the author's current long-range comparative research into leopard and leopard-skin symbolism, which is informed by loosely interlocking mythical complexes extending all across the Old World and part of the New World, over a time span from the Upper Palaeolithic to the present.