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Lecture 2

CLA201H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Iron Age, Anthropomorphism, Iambe


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA201H1
Professor
Jody Cundy
Lecture
2

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The Creation of the Cosmos & Hesiod’s Theogony
CITING: Book 2 chapter 53 sections 1-2 (Herodotus Histories 2.53.1-2 no page numbers for
prose) poetry author, book, line number
- History, Greek means asking questions. An explanation narrative for why things are as
they are. Herodotus is writing in the 5th century, earliest preserved historian
- Theogonies: theo god, gony birth. The births of the gods. Hesiod and Homer were the
first to compose Theogonies (according to Herodotus) possibly other poets who have
been earlier. Poets who are practically mythical (Homer, Orpheus, Hesiod)
- Attributes of gods and heroes/adjectives/ characteristics they follow a pattern and they
are descriptive Epithets.
- Time (Greek, e is pronounced a) honor, office, things you are in charge of. Theseus
tells the gods what they are in charge of
Hesiod: 7th century BCE
- Archaic period
- He gives us biographical information from his own poetry
- The muses appeared to him and bestowed poetic talents on him, instructing him to
celebrate… (theogony)
- Works Theogony, Works and Days, Shield. Theogony is an epic poem written in Greek
in dactylic Hexameter. The sequence of the generations provides the structure of the
work. It is a Cosmological poem (Cosmogony) = the birth of the Cosmos
o Telos - goal universe has a purpose
Dactylic Hexameter
- Also known as “heroic hexameter” is a form of rhythmic scheme in poetry (think beat).
Associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in Greek and Latin
- Considered to be the Grand style of classical poetry. Not interested in rhyming but beats
- Dactyl = finger (long short short), Hexameter = six measures (feet), spondee (long long)
- Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid
Theogony 1-10: Invocation of the Muses p.131
- Not beginning at the beginning until line 117 this is called the invocation of the
muses, calling on the muses to help you. Begins with invocation and not the birth of the
gods
- Intro/list of the gods sung by the muses, Epithets Phoebus (shining) Apollo, Kronos his
mind bent (crafty)
Th.23 -25
- Hesiod is a shepherd turned poet muses give him the divine inspiration/info about the
beginning of the cosmos authority for the story (credible)
- The gods can possibly tell lies but they are believable, as a mortal you have no way of
knowing authority of divine speech. Muses don’t think highly of mortals (bellies)
- Muses are the personification of poetry
Lines 78-9: Hesiod gives us their names. Mnemosyne mother of muses, personification of
memory
- Cleio, Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpmene, Tersichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Ourania, Calliope
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Th. 116-136 Birth of the gods
- First chaos: a featureless void. Chaos lack of order and formless, abyss/nothing, no
boundaries or properties/epithets
- Primordial children: Gaia, Tartarus and Eros. Gaia is the name of Earth, daughter of
Chaos
- Tartarus below depths. Eros erotic attraction. Force of attraction in the beginning
- Gaia (huge, broad breasted, sure seat of the gods has shape and a place, more defined
than chaos) gives features/shape. Her first act is to create Uranus (Ouranos) to envelop
her
- Holy marriage hieros gamos
- Night gave birth to day offspring are their opposites or have some of the same qualities.
Earth gives birth to the sky “perfect fit” Uranus doesn’t have a father Parthenogenesis:
self conception ex: virgin birth
Th. 137-147, 177-188: Castration of Ouranos
- Creating space for creation
- Female Principle Gaia will always be on the side of birth change that destabilizes the
cosmos. Always on the side of the younger generation but sometimes changes, keeps
moving in the direction of progress/more birth
- Male Principle Ouranos tries to stop the birth and block the intergenerational change and
instability it brings
- First stage in the succession myth
- Body of god (blood) falls on Gaia and creates more gods
Th.188-206: Aphrodite
- A divine aphrodisiac personification of love and sexual desire
- Etymology: from the foam aphros (Cyprus, Cythera)
- Operation of two cosmic forces Eros which brings things together and Eris who forces
them. Both are necessary for the coming into being of the cosmos
- Aphrodite and the Furies ensure that process of joining and separating will continue
indefinitely. Born from an act of violence (cut of genitals) goddess shaped as a woman
more detailed than Eros
Th.211-232: Children of Night
- Personification of abstract concepts. Share attributes with their parents
The abstract personifications can be divided in to seven broad categories:
- Emotions and states of mind
- The human condition (birth and death, sleep and dreams, ease and toil, fate and
opportunity)
o Death, sleep ease, fate, opportunity born of night and all personified
- Qualities (strength, grace)
- Morality (valor, modesty, moderation)
- Voice (eloquence, persuasion, criticism, lies)
- Actions (force, rivalry, victory, labor, contest, fighting, murder)
- State of society (law and lawlessness, justice and injustice)
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