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Classical Mythology 2.2.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Lisa Trentin

Creation Myths - Answer the questions of how the world began, and how its inhabitants (supernatural and mortal) came into existence - These types of myths are found in virtually all traditions but are culturally specific - In the Classical world, creation myths focus on the origin of the gods (theogany) and the origin of mortals - Our primary source for classical creation myths is Hesiod (other sources: Apollodorus, Ovid) Hesiod (c. 700 BC) - One of the oldest known Greek poets - An important source on Greek mythology - A number of poems are (anciently) attributed to him, but only three have survived completely - His most famous poems are: o Theogany: origin and genealogies of the gods and the events that led to the kingship of Zeus o Works and Days: works gives advice for living a life of honest work and days is an almanac of days in the month that are (un)favorable for different operations The Origins of the Gods - Chaos then Gaea (earth), then Tartarus (place below earth), then Eros (sexual love) o Hesiod doesn’t say where Chaos comes from o Gaea, Tartarus, and Eros do not come from Chaos; each are independent o There is a deliberate vagueness, mystery in the early origins of the gods - The Children/Lovers of Gaea o Uranus, mountains, Pontus - Uranus was a very mean and vicious father/husband - Gaea (earth) + Uranus (sky) o Titans: Oceanus, Coeus, Crus, Cronus, Hyperion, Iaetus, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, and Tethys (there are 6 boys and 6 girls) o Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes, Arges – one-eye in middle of forehead o Hechatonchires: Cottus, Briareus, Gyes – hundred arms, fifty heads - Cronus and Gaea planned to kill Uranus, so Cronus cuts off Uranus’ genitals - Gaea +blood of Uranus o Erinyes – the Furies – ferocious female haunting spirits o Giants – beings of enormous strength and unbridled violence - Cronus throws the genitals into the sea - Gaea +genitals of Uranus o Aphrodite – goddess of sexual love The Birth of Aphrodite - Aphrodite comes from the Greek word aphros for foam – virginal sweet-talk, lovers’ smiles and deceits, and all of the gentle pleasures of sex - Unlikely of Greek origin – Eastern goddess of fertility – Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte - Other versions: Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Diodorus Siculus, Pausanius, Orphic Hymn, Ovid, Nonnus - A divergent myth told by Homer makes Aphrodite a daughter of Zeus and Dione (Oceanid? Titan?) - The Furies and the Giants were vicious creatures because they were born from a violent act, so even though Aphrodite is the goddess of love, she is still very “vicious” (jealous, relationships fall and crumble when she’s around) The Origins of the Gods - Gaea (earth) + Pontus (sea) o Nereus – Nereids (Thetis) o Ceto (Graeae, Gorgons (Medusa) o Thaumas – Iris, Harpies - The descendents of Gaea + Pontus o Pegasus: horse with wings o Geryon: the ferry boat guy who takes people across the river stinxs o Cerberus: three headed dog o Hydria: water-serpent-seven heads o Chimera: she-goat-lion with snake’s tail and goat’s head o Sphinx: female human-headed lion with wings The Titans - Cronus castrates Uranus – slices genitals - Cronus overthrows Uranus and becom
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