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CLAS100 Lecture Notes - Minos

Classical Studies
Course Code
Leonard Curchin

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Part 1
Class notes
Part 2
Chapter readings/ notes
Part 3
Exam aids
The Classical Hero
Hero myths
Greek Myths
Heroes are mortal
Exciting plots people are able to relate more to people to heroes that are more real
They have more entertaining plots than myths about gods
Why they are credible (more so than gods)
Human (or half human)
Linked to historical events i.e. the Trojan war, or the search for the golden fleece
Characteristics of the hero
He is human in form, and super human in his abilities and his exploits
He is a warrior, lover, and ruler: and each character had certain traits or character flaws
He is larger than life and lager than any type of classification than we can label
Although the similarities are flows
Male: though they are women not as great (macho, he-man) as men, he must reach his goal
Saved( from death), exiled as a child
Cleaver/wise (has to use this characteristic to overcome their challenges)
Pious ( means to give honor to the gods, and to his elders) hero usually had the support of a
patron god or goddess [ has to stay in good terms, and sometimes is partly a descended from a
god and has a divinity about them]
Proud (hubris: if you are too proud, then you are divinely punished) Greeks saw that being
proud was not a bad thing, as long as it is done within reason, and Greeks believed if you were
not proud you had something to hide, sometimes they exceed what is proper behavior for a
human and then they are punished
Noble: noble in character, and is of noble birth, frequency the son of someone high in status (i.e.
king or queen), might be an illegitimate son, but still noble ancestry
Handsome: he is also a good lover, and ultimate person in bed
Temperamental have busts of temper, and sometimes cannot control their emotions
Characteristics of hero myths
Quest: it is what the hero has to achieve, might not be a material quest (i.e. search for truth),
but has trials and tribulations that the hero has to overcome, does not take place in an ordinary
world it is an ideal world
Historical context: all of the stories are have to have taken place at a certain time, all take place
in the Mycenaean age between1600-1150 B.C

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Geographic variety: travels to many lands, either real or imaginary, might even go to the
underworld, the poet has to describe the exotic character of the different geographical places,
By him doing this it amplifies the hero and the story
Tricks/weapons: in achieve his quest he has to be able to use tricks (sneaky), or has a weapon,
because along the way he is either challenged, and has to overcome his opponents
Contact with death: he comes up against creatures who are constantly trying to kill him, where
the hero has to bypass them, people are always dying (either people around him, i.e. his friend)
Conflicts with others: he might over place a king, i.e. might be in conflict with his family,
sometimes accidently kill a friend or family member, the hero might be killed in the end, sent
into exile
Complicated love life: may have to avoid the charms of a woman, may have to rescue a fair
maiden, he might betray a girlfriend/ wife
Oedipus (was a prince)
o Born in Corinth flees to Thebes
Flees because he is told by an oracle that he is going to:
o Kills father ( he ends up getting into a fight with a man who he kills but it was his father), marries
o Answers the riddles of the Sphinx (known as a monster)
o The gods sends a plague: because of the crimes of the city
o He is exiled by his children
o Quest: find criminal (=himself)
Jason and the Argonauts
o Quest: golden fleece (guarded by a dragon in a garden at the east end of the black sea)
He calls all heroes to come with him, and sail on a ship called the Argos
o Voyage to black sea
o Love affair with the king’s daughter: he takes the girl back to Greece, to make her his wife, but
eventually leaves her
o Son of Agamemnon (general who attacked Troy)
o Agamemnon is killed by Clytemnestra (his wife) for sacrificing their daughter
o Orestes (he loves his father but hates his mother) kills Clytemnestra, he is then punished by the
o Pursued by Furies, eventually rescued by the gods
o Invulnerable (dipped in Styx: magic river in the underworld except his heel was not dipped in it)
o Quarrels with Agamemnon
o Best friend is killed by Hector
o Kills Hector, but shot in the heal with an arrow
Odysseus (one with the ship and wax in his ear)
o Invents the Trojan horse
o Ten- year voyage home
o Kills the suitors (men who are seeking the wife, and this Odysseus is dead), with the help of his
son kills them all
o Strong, because the son of Zeus (god), but mad (gets mad and then kills his children)
o Twelve labors because he killed all his children, has to bring back the 3- headed god that guards
the underworld
o Becomes a god

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o Athenian hero
o Fights monsters,
o Kills the minotaur: falls in love with the king’s daughter and dumps her
o Sent to kill Medusa
o Special weapons (invisibility cap, winged shoes)
o Rescues a princess from a monster
o Rejects queen
o Quest: to kill chimera
o Uses flying horse
Early Christianity
Must know
Origin in Judaism
Single, absolute creator
o monotheism
“God’s chosen people”
o Political implications
o Development of the idea of “Messiah
Religious savior
Political savior
Military savior
Oldest images
o Mandylion of Edessa
Legend: 30-40 AD
o 1st mention of legend: Eusebius, ca. 325
o First mention of object: 525
Catacombs under Rome
o Late 3RD early 4th century
Early Christianity: sources
Oldest historical testimony: Paul’s letters
o 2-3 decades after Jesus’ death
o Paul not one of Jesus’ original followers
Suetonius on Nero
4 “Gospels”
o Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
All proclamations of faith not historical records
o Consequence:
“objective” history of earliest Christianity (i.e., Jesus’ life) impossible
Issues of Perceptions
Self perception:
o Earliest “Christians”= Jews
Conversion to Judaism necessary
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