CLAS104 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Mount Helicon, Creation Myth, Erebus

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Myths of Creation
Creation
INTRO: There were alternate accounts (cf. Homer’s) but Hesiod’s Theogony was the most
important
Hesiod is one of earliest writer is roughly the same time as Homer
Theogony – means the birth of the Gods, uses them to explain creation of the world
Homer thought the world was created by two water deities
A) Background Issues
i) Hesiod had divine inspiration by the muses to write this story
o“They, the Muses, once taught Hesiod beautiful song, while he was shepherding his flocks
on holy Mount Helicon; these goddesses of Olympus, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus,
first of all spoke this word to me...Thus they spoke, the fluent daughters of great Zeus.
Plucking a branch, to me they gave a staff of laurel, a wondrous thing, and into me they
breathed a divine voice, so that I might celebrate both the things that are to be and the
things that were before; and they ordered me to honor, in my song, the race of the
blessed gods who exist forever, but always to sing of them themselves, the Muses, both
first and last. (22-31)” – Hesiod wrote this and was obsessed with muses
This is the truth compared to other versions of the creation story:
oThey , the Muses, once taught Hesiod beautiful song, while he was shepherding his flocks
on holy Mount Helicon; these goddesses of Olympus, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus,
first of all spoke this word to me, Oh, you shepherds of the fields, base and lowly things,
little more than bellies, we know how to tell many falsehoods that seem like truths but
we also know, when we so desire, how to utter the absolute truth.” (22-28)
Inspiration is the only source of knowledge in the past  how you know what the person is saying
is true
o“But what is my business round tree or rock? Come now, from the Muses let us begin,
who with their singing delight the great mind of Zeus the father in Olympus, as they tell
of what is and what shall be and what was aforetime, voices in unison. “
omythological way of thinking didn’t think of time as linear  reality can come crashing in
on us at different points in life especially during religious rituals (look up)
ii) Purpose: a) to explain the origins of the world
b) praise gods, esp. Zeus
obecause Greeks believed Zeus was in control of the universe
ocreation story was in accordance w Zeus being in control at end
oHe is king in heaven: his is the thunder and the smoking bolt, since he defeated his
father Kronos by strength. He has appointed their ordinances to the immortals,
well in each detail, and assigned them their privileges  talking about Zeus had
structured the universe with Gods
c) justify political realities?
oat the end of Theogony, Hesiod talks about who the Gods mated with and how
they produced the heroes  reinforcing political reality because in the time Heisod
was writing there were aristocratic families that dominated the city states in
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