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Lecture 2

CLST 203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Georgics, Pharmakos, Aeneid


Department
Classical Studies
Course Code
CLST 203
Professor
Graeme Ward
Lecture
2

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CLST203
W1L2-The Nature of Myths
4 Main Aspects
Fantastical/supernatural content
Removed from present (must be passed down)
Explains origins of a name, thing, or practice
Relationship with ritual/religion (heavily tied-almost necessity)
Linguistically
Mythos (Greek): story, speech, meaning, word
story = main translation
mythos vs. logos (truthful account)
study of myth vs. rational
Plato drew distinction- sa th as appeal to eotio… thus of loe
order than logos (reasoned inquiry)
Europeans drew another distinction between oral mythos and civilized
logos (b/c written = proper, advanced, accounted for)
myths = not part of reality, degraded as fanciful, untrue, not
sophisticated
Mary Midgley: the Myths we Live By
Myth as center of science and knowledge
Knowledge and science have a limit
E.g. eioet does’t defie itself i este ultue.. it has o
ights / its ot alie ad a’t thik, huas doiate it… s. fist
nations seeing earth as alive… hage thi taditio hages ho
we see the environment
Conceptual
Categories
Myth: sacred story
Some religious element
Sacred = belong to the divine
Religion = any practice/action having something to do with gods and
goddesses
Legend (saga):
Unlike myth, viewed as historical
Becomes myth when things are added onto the story over time
Folktale
Fictional (magical animals) , no concrete time, place, secular (no gods)
Problems
Form
poet, paitig… do these out as stoies?
painting may capture several moments @ a time
Content
Do myths have to be supernatural in nature?
o Most of the Iliad deals with mortals
Ho Distat is the distat past? “upefiial ut-offs
Function
Does it have to explain cults and religions? What about ethics, names,
people and cities?
Context
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How stories interact with and underpin social relationships is different
e.g. aials see as fale ol to este ultues… i east, aials
often are used in myths)
Context of
myths
myths exist in a corpus (body), network
Corpus = same characters, references
Network = changes occur through cultural exchange/migration
Symbolic qualities
Myths may mean different things to diff people (coded), we may not
udestad the eaig / e do’t elog i thei ultue
Give a window into society- political & societal values
Explanatory power
Ases to toulig uestios- security blanket to questions we
have no answers to (e.g. death)
Helps us understand our own experience (e.g. pregnancy)
The greek world
Area of greek speakers with same religious and social practices, but not a
nation state
Balkan Peninsula: northern Greece (Thrace, Macedon, Thessaly)
Southern Greece
Boetia: Thebes, near Delphi (most important religious site)
Attica: Athens
Peloponnesus: Sparta, Corinth, Argos, Olympia, Mycenae
Aegean Islands & Crete
Western Turkey: Miletus, Smyrna
Mediterranean location: crossroad between Europe and asia
Influenced by trade and myths (e.g. Egypt, Syria)
Periodization
Bronze Age (3000-1100)
Aka. Age of Heroes
Time period that myths talked about
Special people that descended from gods/ goddesses
o Agamemnon, ajax, Achilles
Bronze important for trade and weaponry
Dark Age (1100-800)
Occupation, recession
Dark age b/c no surviving historical evidence
Age of Homer: when home first wrote Iliad and Odyssey
o First to write down oral traditions
Archaic Ag (800-480)
Hesiod: first historical person to comment on tradition
480: Persian invasion, Greeks defeat Persia
Classical Age (480-323)
Tragedians: Athenian playwrights (E.g. Euripides)
323- death of alexander
Mths do’t stop deeloping over time
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