ClassicalStudies Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Classical Studies
Jessica Higgins

October 25 , 2011 Definiton of Hero: From the Greek "ἥρως" (heros), "hero”, “warrior”, also “protector”. – Aname given to men of superhuman strength, courage, or ability, favoured by the gods – At a later time regarded as intermediate between gods and men, or demigods. – Aman distinguished by extraordinary valour and martial achievements; one who does brave things. Arete (ἀρετή) – The ancient Greek concept of hero emphasizes individuality, individual prowess and achievement – Arete is the most characteristic ideal of the hero. It can be translated as “virtue”, “excellence”, even “self-fulfillment” – Heroes are “aristoi” (“aristocrats”) who perform deeds called “aristeia”, or outstanding exploits. – Competition versus cooperation. Balance between existence and annihilation was precarious in Greek society. So competitive spirit encouraged. When does theAge of Heroes Happen? Answer: Gold Age (Cronus rules) Silver Age (Zeus rules and destroys) BronzeAge (Zeus rules destroys) Age of Heroes (includes events of Iliad and Odyssey) IronAge (Current ‘Historical’Time. This is when Homer writes his epics) Chronology of Heroic Legends The legends of Heracles, Perseus, Theseus and the Argonauts take place before the events recounted in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (Trojan war and Odysseus’return to Ithaca). Perseus was Heracle’s great grandfather. ________ and _______ were also members of Jason’sArgonauts. These heroes were all ‘dead’by the time the events in the Iliad begin. The Hero Quest • Hero quests are challenges that span into the supernatural world and therefore invite symbolic interpretations. • The hero demonstrates his extraordinary courage through prodigious feats against man-eating monsters, wily magicians, evil sorceresses and magical objects. • The reward can be a hand in marriage, a returned kingdom, immortality, or lasting recognition in verse and myth. PERSEUS HERCULES JASON THESEUS Parentage Zeus + Danae Zeus +Alcmena Aeson +Alcimede Poseidon+Aethra Conception Zeus showers Zeus ---------- Aethra wades into the sea on golden rain onto impersonates wedding night and is impregnated the imprisoned Amphitryon and by Poseidon Danae sleeps with Alcmena Antagonist Acrisius Eurystheus Pelias Minos Polydectes Achieveme Kills Medusa Twelve Labours Golden Fleece Kills Minotaur nts Supporting Athena + Athena + Hermes Hera Poseidon God(s) Hermes Opposing --------------- Hera Zeus Aphrodite God(s) Manner of -------------- Dons shirt with Prow of Argo Pushed or falls off cliff. Death Nessus’blood. collapses onto him. Hero Legends … The Formula One of the hero’s parents may be divine. The hero’s birth is miraculous or unusual, and little is known of his childhood. The hero has great strength. The hero’s truest companion is another male. The hero falls under an enemy’s power and is compelled to perform impossible labours. The hero breaks a taboo and a terrible price is demanded. The hero resists the temptations of an enticing but dangerous woman. Hero Legends … The Formula The hero is responsible for the death of a companion. The hero goes on a quest, even to the underworld. He may have the help from gods, spirits, or magical objects. The hero returns home, atones for his crimes and accepts his limitations. The hero is rewarded with something of great value. At his death, the hero receives a magnificent funeral and may become a god. Perseus: Story Outline Perseus’father, Acrisius of Argos, imprisons his daughter Danae to prevent her from having children. Zeus impregnates Danae through a shower of gold.Acrisius discovers the child and has Danae and Perseus cast into the sea where they are found by Dictys who saves them. Dictys’evil brother, Polydectes, covets Danae and attempts to rid himself of Perseus by challenging him to find a rare gift. Perseus promises that he will return with the head of the Gorgon Medusa. Perseus finds the Gorgon’s rock cut off the Medusa’s head. He places it in a pouch to use against adversaries later on. Perseus encounters the beautiful Andromeda, chained to a rock on a shoreline. He uses the Medusa head to kill the sea monster and free her. They marry. Perseus returns to the court of Polydectes and turns its members to stone. He leaves with his wife and mother Danae and returns toArgos. At an athletic competition inArgos, Perseus throws a disc and accidentally kills his grandfather, fulfilling the oracle that originally promptedAcrisius to imprison his daughter. Heracles: Story Outline Zeus appears to Heracle’s mother,Alcmena, in the form of her husbandAmphytrion and conceives Heracles. Amphytrion also conceives a child withAlcmena around the same time. Heracles and Iphicles (twins) are born. Hera is an ongoing antagonist to Heracles during his life. She prevents him from becoming king of Argos and also causes him to go mad. (But notice the origin of Heracles’name.) In his fit of madness, Heracles murders his wife, Megara, and three children. Heracles embarks on the 12 labours in order to purify himself from the crime. The oracle at Delphi tells him he will be rewarded with immortality when done. The Twelve Labours Kill the Nemean lion and bring back its skin Destroy the Lernean hydra Capture alive the Erymanthian boar Capture alive the Ceryneian stag Kill the Stymphalian birds Clean theAugean stables Bring the Cretan bull alive into Peloponnesus Obtain the horses of Diomedes Steal the girdle of Hippolyta Herd the cattle of Geryon Obtain the apples of Hesperides. Capture Cerberus After Megara’s death Heracles married Deinara (“man killer”). The Centaur Nessus offered to ferry Deinara across the river Evenus but assaulted her. Heracles saw what was happening and shot the Centaur with a poisoned arrow. The poison contained the bile from the dead Hydra. Nessus told Deinara that she could use his blood as a love potion as he died. Deinara placed the potion on a shirt later to control Hercules’infidelities without realising its power to kill. Hercules dies and becomes an immortal. Jason and the Golden Fleece Pelias deposesAeson, king of Iolcos, who sends his son Jason for protection to the wise Centaur, Cheiron. Jason matures and encounters an old woman who he helps cross the riverAnauros. She reveals herself as Hera and becomes his protectress. Jason confronts his uncle Pelias and takes up the challenge of the Golden Fleece. The Golden fleece is a legacy of Phrixus who left it in a sacred grove, guarded by a dragon, after making a sacrifice to Zeus. Jason summons other heroes to join the expedition, including Heracles, Theseus, Peleus (father ofAchilles), Mopsus, Orpheus and Zetes and Calais. Argo departs without Heracles from Cius. Jason encounters Harpies and Symplegades. Jason arrives in Colchis andAeetes challenges him to conquer the fire breathing bulls of Hephaestus and the armed men sowed from dragon’s teeth. With Medea’s (and Hecate’s)help, Jason vanquishes the bronze bulls and armed men. Jason leaves with Medea and encounters Circe and then Scylla and Charybdis. Jason and Medea vanquish Talos. Jason betrays Medea. Theseus Medea flees from Jason (after killing his new love) and she ends up in athens and she ends up marrying King Aegus. His son Theseus reveals himself to him (from his relationship with princess Aethrea from before).Aegus tells Theseus of his brother and sons plans to overthrow him. Theseus leads the battle against those trying to overthrow his father. Mino's daughter falls in love with Theseus and offers to help him kill her brother the Minotaur by giving him a ball of twine to bring with him into the Labryinth so he deosn't ge tlost. In return he must marry her. He agrees and kills the Minotaur. They leave toAthens together, and while sleeping on Naxos, Theseus leaves Ariadne sleeping on the island. Upon leavingAegus gave his son a black flag and a white flag to indicate if he was successful or not.Arriving home Theseus forgets to put up the white flag indicating he won, and his father Aegus commits suicide and jumps into the sea. Theseus later defeats Amazons and marries the queen Hippolyta, who gives birth to Hippolytus.After she dies he marries Phaedra (another daughter of Minos). Aphrodite gets upset b/c Hippolytus does not lust forArtemis, so she makes Phaedra fall in love with him (her stepson). Phaedra kills herself and lies saying that it was Hippolytus who lusted after her, and Theseus believs this. Enraged, he banishes his son, who is killed by Posiden's waves. Later,Artemis tells him what really happens. After Phaedra dies and he meets kind Peirithous, they decide to steal Helen and battle to make her their wife. The loser will get another wife. Theseus wins and they decide to steal Persephone from the underworld. While there, they become trapped on the chair of forgetfulness (Theseus is later saved by Heracles). While there, Helen is rescued by her two brothers, and they take Theseus' mother to be her slave. When he returns, everything is out of order, and he flees from the city, only to be pushed off a cliff by the friend of a rival. th October 27 , 2011 Heracles Objective of Lecture To examine the Theatre of Dionysus in ancientAthens where the plays of Euripides and Aristophanes were performed each March. To explore dramatic renderings of Heracles as a tragic hero in Euripides’Heracles, and as a comic hero in Aristophanes’Birds. The Theatre of Dionysus • The Theatre of Dionysus inAthens could hold up to 15,000 audience members. • Central to the performance of Greek drama was a large dancing area (orchestra) measuring about 70 feet in diameter. This area was primarily for the chorus, whose members would dance there while singing their parts. • Located at the back of the orchestra was a building called the skene, perhaps 35-40 feet long, and 12 feet high, with a central double door, where actors could enter and exit. Significance of Chorus • The word chorus in Greek means “dance,” and the chorus’main function was to sing and dance lyric odes in between dramatic episodes. • These odes comment on the action of the current or preceding episode. • The chorus can also express feelings or ideas unacceptable for characters in the play to articulate. • The chorus can echo the audience’s reactions as they watch the performance. Euripides • Euripides, the youngest of the three greatAthenian tragic poets, was born around 480 B.C. • He wrote some ninety plays, of which eighteen have come down to us • It is doubtful that anyone could make a living as a tragic poet, and Euripides’ability to devote so much time to his art suggests that he had independent means: he seems to have produced a tragic tetralogy — three tragedies together with a fourth play, usually a satyr play — roughly every other year. • The plays of Euripides (and Aeschylus and Sophocles) do not actually include stage directions. These directions have been added by later editors. Heracles: Highlights of the Play Euripides’play combines two contrasting depictions of Heracles. First Section • Heracles is away finishing his last labour. But inArgos, his father,Amphitryon, his wife, Megara, and three children are about to be murdered by the usurper Lycus. • The condemned are initially at the altar of Zeus but then resign themselves to death and ask Lycus for permission to dress themselves for burial. • Heracles returns unexpectedly from his last labour, and rescues his family, killing Lycus and restoring order. Second Section • The divinities Iris and Madness (Lyssa) suddenly descend onto Heracles’house, sent there by Hera. • In a fit of madness, Heracles murders his wife and three children, sparing his father only with Athena’s intervention. • Heracles is brought onto stage tied to a pillar and unconscious, the bodies of his family members near him. • Heracles now remembers descending into madness, sees the corpses around him and is gradually made aware of what he did when the fit was on him. Because of the horror of his deed, he announces he will commit suicide. • Theseus, recently saved by Heracles, persuades him to renounce his intention to kill himself and to accept a new home inAthens far from the scene of the murder. What aspect of the Heracles myth has Euripides inverted in his telling of the legend?: Eurpides inverts the order of the murders and the labours in his play. In the traditional myth, Hera provokes Heracles to murder Megara and their children. To purify himself, Heracles embarks on the Twelve Labours. In Euripides’version of the myth, Heracles is returning from the Twelve Labours and is then provoked by Hera to murder Megara and their children. Why is Heracles a “tragedy”? Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy Aristotle’s Interpretation of Tragedy in the Poetics ForAristotle, tragedy is a device for arousing pity and fear in the audience. The basic ingredients in a proper tragic plot are what he calls reversal (peripeteia), discovery or recognition (anagnorisis), and calamity and suffering (pathos), all of which, in his judgment should be bound together tightly. The discovery should bring the reversal that leads to the calamity. What is a Tragedy? The big metaphysical distinction that informs Greek myth is that between the divine and the human. The gods live a life of untroubled ease, being free from both death and old age. By contrast, the human lot is subject not only to death and old age but also to the limitations imposed by ignorance of the future and often of the past and present as well. Greek tragedy illustrates the mutability of human fortunes. Tragedy exemplifies how mortals are at the mercy of gods who, sometimes punish the wicked, but who also show personal hatred against individuals or families. Heracles as Tragic Hero • Heracles suffers several reversals of fortunes in the play. • He recognizes what he has done but his recognition happens too late to prevent the events from happening. • He suffers abjectly for his actions and wants to kill himself. • He experiences existential disorientation, questioning the role of the Gods in human misfortune. • His human rather than superhuman qualities are emphasized. Even having succeeded at the labours, he can suffer extreme calamity. November 1 2011 st Heracles: Modern Interpretations and Readings Objective of Lecture To explore how three modern poets incorporate the figure of Hercules into th
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