CLASSICS 102 Lecture Notes March 6
MORTALS AND DEATH
- early writiers thought it was better to be dead than alive.
- everyone at the mercy of the fates.
HOMERIC VIEW: human condition full of sadness & pity
Achilles, for instance, his life is full of grief and misery.
even complains about being dead.
HERODOTUS VIEW: "call no one happy until he is dead"
> father of history. in one of his tales he says that^
SOLON & CORESUS
tale by Herodotus.
Croesus, a King in Turkey. where the saying rich as croesus
comes from. seen as richest individual at the time.
Solon was the Athenian who rewrote the athenian constitution,
making more democratic. after he wrote it he traveled around.
Croesus gives Solon tour of his palace to show off all teh
wealth. after the tour he asked Solon who he thinks is the
happiest person you've ever seen? Solon doesn't say Croesus, but
TELLUS - an athenian with many children who all survived, had a
prosperous life, died gloriously in battle, athenians buried and
honoured him. so croesus is like, who's the second happiest?:
CLEOBIS & BITON - arviges, very strong individuals. they worke
din teh field all day and came home. they found out their mom
wanted to go to the festival of hera in the city of argos. they
don't have any ox so they put her in a cart and towed their
mother there. they get there and are celebrated. then they go to
the temple and pray to hera, go to bed, and die. solon says that
they were super happy. Croesus was pissed he wasn't the one and solon said you have to
wait till you die to know. but creosus kingdom is overthrown by
the persians and his son Atys is killed and he is made a slave
and he is like, oh, solon was right.
KING OF THE UNDERWORLD
"Zeus Katachthonius" underground zeus
"Polyxenos" host to many
"Polydegmon" receiver of many
*cause everyone goes to hades, and branch off from there
roman version: PLUTO
we will look at three versions of the underworld:
HOMER'S ODYSSEY (the book of the dead) 7C BCE
PLATO'S REPUBLIC, plato invents the myth of Er about a soldier
who dies and comes back to life and describes his experiences.
VIRGIL'S AENEID, the story of aeneus founding rome, goes to the
underworld for a pep talk from his dad. 1C BCE
underworld referred to as:
TARTARUS - can refer to region of torment in hades
EREBUS - can refer to region of torment in hades
ELYSIUM or ELYSIAN FIELDS - region of paradise 3 JUDGES in the underworld:
King MINOS, RHADAMANTHYS, AEACUS
● Styx (river of hate) *
● Lethe (river of forgetfulness) *
● Acheron (of woe)
● Cocytus (of wailing)
● Phlegethon (of fire)
HADES / PLUTO is king
CHARON ferryman of souls
HERMES guides souls to underworld
CERBERUS hound of hell guards entrance to realm of dead, stops
living people from getting in and dead folk from escaping
the importance of a proper burial: if you didnt have a coin to
pay charon to take you across the river styx, you would wander
as one of the RESTLESS DEAD in the world of the living, plaguing
humans. people buried little voodoo dolls with curses written on
the box with people they didn't think would make it, cursing
their neighbours and such. people killed young or violently
(murdered) were thought to probably not make it across the river.
ODYSSEY odysseus is trying to get home after the trojan war
he is staying with witch named CIRCE and needs to go talk to
TIRESIUS in the underworld to know his future. she says go to
the land of Cimmerians, dig a pit, make some sacrifices, pour
some libations to the dead, and after doing so, spirits will
rise from the underworld and you should be able to find
he also brings a chalice of blood, and for the ghosts to have a
conversation with him they need to drink the blood.
he does all this and the souls start swirling out of the pit
he carefully gaurds his cup cause he doesn't wanna waste it on
th eother spirits. as he stands there, he sees a lot of people
he knows. he sees his homie
ELPENOR who recently died so he could speak. he says please go
back and bury me. very concerned he won't make it into the
underworld. bury my body in full armour.
he sees his mom, who he didn't know was dead. ANTICLEA. he tries
to hug her but she passes through him. she doesn't recognize
cause she hasnt drink the blood.
TIRESIAS finally pops up and he gives him the blood. he asks him
how long will it take him to get home. he says 8 years and when
you get back you'll have to kill some people. he instructs
odysseus on his future.
after hearing his future he gives left over blood to his mom who
says she died of a broken heart, AGAMEMNON leader of greeks who
apparently got home from the war and was killed by his wife who
was sleeping with someone else. talks to others, including
ACHILLES - "I should prefer as a slave to serve another man...
than to rule over these dead." he also sees his greek rival,
frenemy, named AJAX who doesn't wanna speak to odysseus. ajax
killed himself. refuses to speak. also sees KING MINOS who is
down there judging the transgressions of the recently
deceased.he sees some of the traditional sufferers: TANTALUS who
killed his son, PELOPS, and served him as a sacrifice meal to
the gods, TITYUS tried to violate leto so he gets liver eaten
everyday, PHANTOM HERACLES the mortal part of heracles, SISYPHUS a corinthian who tried to cheat death saying to wife, Merope
(not the same as step mom of Oedipus, wife of Polybus), please
dont bury me i dont wanna go to hades he tries to trick death,
an old weakened man who must push a rock up a hill eterally to
have it roll back right before the precipice. when he is dead he
gets persephone to let him go to earth to scold his wife for
burying wrong. sysiphus doesn't return. hades goes and drags
sisyphus back to the underworld. to the greeks, whoever tried to
cheat death was a problem, the dead were trying to suck the life
from the living. the boulder is in scorching heat of tartarus.
hades is the one that humans most try to trick and deceive.
there are other versions of why sysiphus is punished.
traditional sufferers often depicted on vases
food and water always just at his fingertips
getting his liver eaten out by a vulture
pushing boulder up the hill
PROBLEMS WITH THE HOMERIC ACCOUNT
is this description the conception of one person or many?
this was probably told around 1200 bce, so 400 years of changes
between when it was finally written down.
probably a combination of ideas
BOOD OF THE DEAD also gives insight into some kind of CULT OF
THE DEAD, used for consulting the dead, maybe wiht the pit and
blood formula. - throughout the description, constant importance of burying the
there are some CONFLICTING parts to this description.
if spirits coming up to see him? how does he see some of the
everyone went to the same place
there was a special location for sinners.
spirits drift aimlessly after you die
if you were good, in the underworld you pursue the same passions
as in life.
darkness apathy depression hopelesness
burials - otheriwse limbo, unrest. no indication how long in
IMAGES OF HADES
often with Persphone
surrounded by sufferers
the greatest of all heroes make it to the underworld while
living and make it back living.
PLATO'S MYTH OF ER
Er - dead soldier, dies in battle
they were preparing to properly bury him.
on the twelvth day he comes back to life and tells everyone
experiences in the underworld.
we get plato's idea of the underworld after you die, everyone goes to a place called the PLAIN OF
JUDGEMENT, where four openings were located: two up and two
down. one like an exit, one like an entrance, for each direction
judges deciding the fate of the newly deceased about whether
they were going up or down.
people were not just going but returning. the ones coming from
below were dirty and grimy and didn't look so good. those
returning from up above were shiny and looking good.
he also overheard the souls comparing with each other how it is
up and down.
1000 years reward (ten times over from every good deed / bad
sins that get you down below to hellish region:
● ENSLAVELEMNT OF CITIES
● BETRAYAL OF ARMIES
● LACK OF RESPECT FOR PARENTS
Pretty indiciative of time plato lived
you can be so bad that you can go to the ETERNAL HELL. gives
example of a tyrant named ARDIAEUS THE GREAT.
description of the hellish region: "roaring mouth" "full of
suffering" guards that reside there to keep you there also SHAME
you constantly, talking about your sins.
then after you serve your time, you return to the plain of
judgement, where you spend seven days. then you head off on another journey, the journey towards the
light. the light that BINDS THE UNIVERSE TOGETHER. er gets to
tag along. when they get there, er sees that this is where the
fates reside, spinning measuring and cutting the wool.
when the souls get to the light, they draw lots. this determines
the number they will get to pick in as the souls are layed out
in front of them with the life they will live. er notices some
people pick wicked lives, some pick good lives. plato is
teaching that there is wisdom in making good choices. plato
believes that those who experienced suffering would make wiser
selections for their next life. SUFFERING TEACHES BETTER, same
with living life.
Those trained in suffering would make better choices for their
once you choose, the Fates ratify the choices.
some examples of the lives chosen:
● odysseus chooses the quiet life of an old man because
during his life he fought troy for ten years then journeyed
home for ten years.
● orpheus chooses the life of a swan. explaining that he did
not want to be born by women cause women kill him.
● he also touches on agamemnon and some other choices.
then they go to Lethe where they get a drink of water, which
causes them to forget their previous life. Er can't drink cause
he needs to report back.
Plato uses this whole thing as an allegory and lesson.
VIRGIL'S AENEID roman version 1st Century BC
ANCHISES AND HIS SON AENEAS
aeneas has to go talk to his dead dad cause he can't find
anywhere that people will let him stay, and he needs to find the
place to establish the new city of troy. the book is somethign of a propaganda peice written for the
first emperor of rome, julius caesar, who claims descent from
aeseas goes to sanctuary site of Cumae to hire a sibyl named
Sibyl to guide him around the underworld.
she says he needs the GOLDEN BOUGH of Persephone (like a
ticket), and you need to properly bury your friend Misenus. then
they can go to underworld.
virgil's description is most detailed
front door: full of evil and monsters
after getting through, sees an elm with empty dreams clinging to
then river acheron, stream of cocytus, marshes of the styx.
when they get to the marshes they run into CHARON, ferryman.
there is a crowd of souls in front of him. those properly buried
are paying their way. those not buried right are stuck there.
Aeneas notices an unproperly buried souls, his friend PALINURUS
who fell overboard, swam to italy, killed by italians. laying on
the beach dead.
stuck in limbo at least a hundred years
they go to charon and he's like i'm sick of living people coming
down here forcing their way across the river, like heracles, and
theseus and pirithous (buddies). they pull out the golden bough
and he is like oh cool hop on board
they run into cerberus, sibyl gives it a drugged cake and it
falls asleep and they go by.
aeneas notices some other souls hanging around the other side of
the marshes: unjustly condemned, babies, young
he then sees judge KING MINOS hearing cases of new dead. after
hearing htem he sends to hell or elysium etc
next he sees an area for people who killed themselves. then they pass the FIELDS OF MOURNIGN, filled with females,
where all the jilted unhappy lovers reside: DIDO, PHAEDRA,
PROCRIS, PASIPHAE. dido is aeneas