Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Epics and Ethics

'BioDun J. Ogundayo.

Epics across human cultures have always functioned as proto-history. Literary studies seem to have either relegated these epics to mere expressions of folklore and primitivism; or ceded their discussion to cultural anthropology.

As sacred texts epics address issues of origins and the ends of humanity. As the infrastructure of mythologies (which Althusser describes as both allusion and illusion), ideologies and belief systems, they encompass entire cosmogonies. As the fabric of our collective unconscious (Jung), their capacity to influence, shape and motivate our dreams, aspirations, and even our most mundane life choices is so overwhelming. Modernity and postmodernity, despite the denial of rationalist epistemologies, is undergirded by these epics--as expressed through myth and mythmaking.

The African, and Yoruba, epic of Ifa is examined in the context of Plato's Ethics and Theory of Forms. Issues of free will, choice, community, beauty, citizenship are discussed to underscore a universal ethics relevant for 21st century humanity.


'BioDun J. Ogundayo  (United States)
Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Literature
Humanities Division
University of Pittsburgh

Since January 2001, I am Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Literature. My areas of specialization (teaching and research) are French, French and Francophone Literature, African Literature and Spirituality, Comparative Mythology... I am also a translator.

I had my education in Nigeria, France, Canada and the United States of America. I have presented papers at conferences in Australia, Egypt, Morocco and the United States. I am currently editing a volume on the expressions of spirituality across human cultures.

  • African spirituality
  • Epics
  • Ethics
  • Ifa
  • Platonian ethics
Person as Subject
  • Orunmila

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)