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Lecture 2

lecture 2 notes


Department
Classical Studies
Course Code
CLAA06H3
Professor
Anna Walsh
Lecture
2

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Lecture 2
Greek creation myths
2 basic kinds: cosmogony and theology
Cosmology: stories related to birth of the universe; theology: related to birth of the
gods
These two are both different and discrete things which is odd b/c its thought that
gods created the world/universe but the Greeks thought that the gods and the
universe were created separately under different circumstances
Ceiling of Vatican depicts Christian view of creation of the world
Hesiod
Greek oral poet
His date is uncertain latter half of 8th century BC (approx 750 BC): end of
Greek…???
Hesiod and Homer:
Hesiods writings serve as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques,
archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping
Myths had functions (2 kinds):
Cosmogony/theogony = proto-science (divinity and all powerful beings, gods and
such). How the natural phenomenon works
epic = proto-history (how humans works, explaining how man interacted with fellow
man)
Where does it all come from? (how Hesiod said it)
All begins with something called Chaos: a gap, chasm, void, emptiness negative
space. Not chaos (mess, anarchy, disorder); Greeks thought the world started with a
void
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Gaea: Earth; then spontaneously Gaea sprang up in the void. The first thing that
was created was female according to Greeks. They associated earth with being
female because it brings forth life (like females do).
From Gaea comes Tartarus (produces space beneath earth known as Tartarus).
Here is where the Greek myths describe some of the most fundamental parts of the
universe. We have the first dimension of space. spatial definition of the world,
different planes and stuff.
The next being that comes into creation is Eros: sexual love, source of creative
energy, paradoxical being/force. The energy/force that makes the universe run
forward.
Now there are other qualities of the world emerging.
Chaos- Erebus (darkness) from it we get night (Nyx)
Aether (radiance and from there we get day (Hemera)
So now the Greeks have come up with the concepts of space and time. Pretty
advanced for them b/c these are very complex ideas.
What comes out of these stories is the Greek idea of balancing forces
(darkness/lightness; day/night; up/down). The universe was being held by balance of
opposing forces.
Ares (male god of war) was balanced by Athena (female god of war (Ares very
angry; Athena rational, calculating method of war kind of opposites)
Gaeas children
She has them asexually spontaneously giving forth life.
The first thing she gives life to is Uranus (male). Uranus is the sky, the son of Gaea.
Some argue that eros is male but kinda also viewed as a boy so Uranus was the first
male creation.
She then gives birth to the mountains and the sea (Pontus).
Under influence of Eros, there was incest. Gaea + Uranus = titans (Rhea, Cronus,
Oceanus [the body of water surrounding world]), Cyclopes and Hecatonchires.
(Hundred hands and lots of heads)
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These are rough images of the gods. Not really perfected/refined yet
Titans
They were trapped because Uranus the sky held on to Gaea with a strong sexual
force trapping his children in between because he was scared this next generation
would overthrow him so he didnt want earth moving forward
Related to a major theme in Greek mythology: fear of being overthrown by
next generation
Born sexually with Uranus
6 male, 6 female
Important progenitors of the divinities
Cronus and rhea mate and are parents and grandparents of the 12 Olympians
Selene and Endymion
Selene= moon. Insomniac and is sexually attracted to Endymion.
So we can see that Greeks are related to basic elements like the moon
Eos and Tithonus
Eous (winged titan) fell in love with a young mortal tithonus and she pursued him
and wanted to make him her lover and she prayed that he would live forever since
she was immortal and that he would remain her lover
Whenever there is some pressure on the natural world something goes wrong
(this myth lets us value death). Tithonus then does live forever but Eous was
not careful with her prayer so Tithonus did live forever but he aged and aged
and aged till he deteriorated into dust. Since he started to not look good
anymore she discarded him but his voice lived on. A(as a cicada)
Greeks were terrified of aging and valued youth
Cronus and Uranus
These two were in conflict because they are from two generations. And Uranus tried
to control them by tightly controlling mother to stop life from being created
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