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Lecture 4

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CLAS 203
Margaret Palczynski

CLAS203 Lecture 4 Notes Religion:  Polytheistic (believed by Greeks: many gods); anthropomorphic (in the eyes/shape of human begins)  gods do not create world; dwell within  No god is powerful: each has own sphere of influence  gods exhibit humanlike behaviour: love, hate, ambition, greed, etc.  gods can communicate with mortals by oracles (oracles were way will of god to communicate his/her will through a prophecy)  Sacrifices are rituals that is associated with myth or myth associated with sacrifices  Myth reveals early Greek beliefs: o Belief in magic: manipulation of outside world by rituals and spells o Belief in curses: words embody power o Belief in spirits: ghosts of the dead o Belief in miasma (pollution): blood guilt of murderers affects those around them  Myth shows overlap of human and natural worlds: o Animals with human qualities (i.e. speech) o Birth of humans from nonhumans (i.e. tree) o Metamorphoses of humans into gods, animals, trees, etc. Greece and Rome:  Romans adopted and ‘remade’ Greek myth in their own image (to suit themselves)  Own culture, religious heritage, but few known traditional stories  Differences in society, beliefs evident in ‘reworking’ of myths (i.e. lessened importance of the sea)  Adopted Phoenician alphabet circa 600 B.C.  Passed alphabet and classical tradition to following generations Development of Classical Myth:  Greek myth begins in primordial times: untraceable  Comparative archaeology and comparative linguistics aim at reconstructing myth transmission before writing (have language and artifacts as evidence)  Early figurines (6500-5700 B.C.) of females emphasizing fertility found in graves o Magical power of woman to produce new life always in focus o Hard to determine on basis of archaeological remains which details in myth are old/new  Reconstruction of Indo European: had words for religious concepts o Name of ‘sky god’ preserved in many IE languages o Deyw-o- god, i.e. ‘shining’ o Luppiter comes
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