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Lecture 9

CLST 203 Lecture 9: CLST 203 Week 9

Classical Studies
Course Code
CLST 203
Graeme Ward

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Week 9 Athens and Theseus
Athens and Attica
- Always at the forefront of Greece
- Capital of Greece
- Largest city
- Growing rapidly
- In ancient world it was one of many cities
- Athens became an empire during the 5th century during the classical age of
Greek history where we had famous playwrights
- Becomes an influential city late
- Referred to as Attica
Hero and the City
- Connection between heroes an locales
- Heracles Thebes, Tiryns, Trachis
- If a hero rules, born, or dies in a place, that city has legitimacy
- Jason Iolcus, Corinth
- Perseus Argon
- Bellerophon Corinth, Lycia (SW Turkey)
- Impact
Political, imperial legitimacy city can claim that great people wwith
kleos have been here, were born here, etc.
History Greeks do not know much about their history. Myth forms
an important part of history, it is how they fill in the gaps and
understand themselves
- Athens late to the game does not have much presence in myths
- Athens needs a narrative when it becomes an important influential city, to
create legitimacy they will do this through Theseus
Athenian Autochthony
- Athens is a very old city
- Athenians have a myth to explain where they come from:
- Autochthonous
Sprung from the Earth
Not descended from invading groups Heraclidae (Sparta)
- Erichthonius/Cecrops
The story they have
Early atenian myth
Hephaestus attempts to rape Athena, Athena resisted and Hephaestus
ejaculates. Athena in digust takes the seman and throws it on the
earth (Attica). Out form the earth comes a half srpant, half man who
becomes Athens first king – this is Erichthonius
From this king came all Athenians
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Shows the important of Athena and Athens, and the idea of coming
form the earth
Serpent often equated with females, and monsters that can come out
of the ground on their own
- Poseidon and Athena
Battle, Athena wins
But Poseidon remains important to the city
- Theseus
He emerges late (in the classical age)
Key figures in Theseus Myth
- Two fathers: Poseidon and Aegeus (mortal, king of Athens)
- Mother = Aethra of Troezen priestess of Poseidon
- Medea appears in this myth can be thought of as the evil step mother
- Pallas evil uncle figure
- Several wives/loves: Ariadne, Antiope (amazon, mother of Hippolytus),
- One male friend: Pirithous, King of the Lapiths
Theseus Birth
- Divine blood in him, fits the heroic mold
- King Aegeus/Poseidon and princess Aethra
- Aegeus is the king of Athens, exiled because his evil brother steals the thrown
- Pittheus, king of Troezen takes him in, gets him drunk and allows him to
have sex with his daughter Aethra
- The same night Poseidon has sex with Aethra same story as Heracles
(common in Greek myth)
- He learns he is allowed to come home, but not be king
- He tells Aethra that if she has a boy, he must be raised without knowing his
fathers name
- When he grows up tell him he has laid his sword under a giant stone. If he
can retrieve the sword, he will be a man and can learn about his father and
come home
- Common hero theme he is not rally at home
Appropriation by Athens
- Theseus earlier linked to Troezen
- Athens later claimed him
- (e is interested into many myths where he wasnt in before
- Appears in Heracles to help him fight the amazons,
- Given similar labours as Heracles
- Legends of Theseus only seen in Athenian artists and playwrights
- Myth making process in which narrative tradition is creative
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- A slow process
The Journey Home and six labours
- Theseus lifts the stone, decides to return home
- Travels by land instead of sea, on the way he will rid the world of evil
- Epidauras
- Also called Corynetes (club man) he clubs people who walk by, he is a
- Thesius arrives, kils him with a club and steals the club
- Isthmus of Corinth
- Also called Pityocamptes (pine-bender) ties different parts of travellers
limbs to trees and releases them like a slingshot, rips them apart Thesues
does this to destroy him, moves on
Crommyon Sow (Megara)
- Crazy female pig on the loose
- He must tame the crommyon sow
- Heracles tame animals, so does Thesues, Heracles defeats bandits at their
own game, so does Theseus
- Eleusis local hero
- Compels travellers to wrestle with him, just like Antaeus from Heracles
- Theseus arrives and defeats him
- Cliffs of Sciron local cult hero
- Forced travellers to wash his feet, then kicked you off the cliff where a sea
turtle monster would eat you
- Theseus kicks him off the cliff and Sciron is eaten by his own monster
- Road outside of Athens
- The stretcher
- He has a bed laid out beside the roadside
- Any traveller that comes by, he forces you to lie down on the bed, if one is too
long for the bed, he cuts your limbs to fit, if too short he totutes you and
stretches you to fit
- Thesues does exactly what eh does to travelers to kill him
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