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Lecture

April 6 Lecture

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CLA204H1
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D.Sells

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CLA204 April 6, 2011 Interpretations of Myth
Lecture 11
A.Allegorical Interpretations
Attacks against Homer
-Heraclitus of Ephesus, Xenophanes of Colophon (6th/5th BCE) criticized anthropomorphism of Greek
pantheon in Homer
-Xenophanes: Homer and Hesiod attributed to the gods everything that among men is cause for reproach
and blame: thieving, adultery, deceiving one another.
-pre-Socratic thinkers had problems with the ways the gods were portrayed in a moderate, civil society
Theagenes (525 BCE)
-characters, places, actions of myth mean something else
-gods are allegories of conflicting natural forces (hot vs cold, dry vs. wet)
-Apollo/Helios vs. Poseidon/Scamander = celestial fire vs. water
-Artemis = Moon, Hera = Air
Heraclitus (The Allegorist)
-1st century AD
-Homeric problems responded to Pre-Socratic criticisms of Homer
-allegory: saying (agoreuein) different things (alla) but meaning something other than what is said
-Odyssey BK8: Homer recognizing Empedoclean philosophy in story of Ares/Aphrodite (strife/Love)
-Ares and Aphrodite caught in bed, Hephaestus ties chains around them and the other gods laugh at
them; shows love is conquering strife, something is being reconciled: brought together; product is
Harmonia, harmony; his interpretation
-Hephaestus succeeds in trapping a mightier male divinity
Alcaeus of Mytilene
-I cannot figure out the winds direction. A wave rolls in on this side, then on that. And here we are in the
middle, tossed about on our dark ship, hard-pressed by the great storm. The bilge-water is up over the
mast-hole; the sail is now all tattered and there are huge holes in it; the anchors are coming loose.
describes strife in Mytilene
Archilochos of Paros (7th century BCE)
-Lord Glaucos! The sea is now troubled, its waves high. Around Cape Gyrai theres a vertical cloud, sign
of the storm. Fears gotten to me, and I didnt expect it. expressing fear through an allegorical way
-there is ample evidence for using allegorical expression, says Heraclitus
Herodorus (5th-4th BCE)
-allegory of punishment of Prometheus:
-Prometheus was king of Scythians, punished by his people because of the river Aetos (eagle)
-Heracles diverted the river into the sea and released Prometheus from his chains different
interpretation of the tale of Prometheus being punished by Zeus
B. Rationalizing Myth: Herodotus (5th century BCE)
-prologue of Histories (Inquiries): myth as explanation of east vs. west and how their strife began through
snatching
-Phoenicians took Io (princess of Argos, stolen by Zeus as a cloud, she turns into a cow, sets horsefly on
cow forever until she gives birth), Cretans took Europa from Tyra, Greeks took Medea from Colchis, Paris
took Helen from Sparta
-myth becomes history
Helen in Egypt?
-Histories 2: Paris and Helen stranded in Egypt, Helen held by King Proetus, Paris expelled
-Trojans deny possession of Helen, Troy besieged, Greeks cant find Helen
-Menelaus goes to Egypt, Topic of Palinode (Recantation) of Stesichorus (6th century BCE)
-Topic of Euripedes Helen (412BCE)
www.notesolution.com
Thucydides (460-400BCE)
-Minos was king of Crete, a naval power; Minos established colonies, rid sea of piracy
-Agamemnon could only have commanded the Greek fleet with a strong navy
-Greeks at Troy couldnt have used ful army: some had to track down rations
Euhemerus of Messene (300BCE)
-went on a journey into the Indian ocean and visited prosperous islands
-wrote Sacred Scripture
-found golden column with history of reigns of gods as early kings, early history of Greeks
-Cronus and wife Hestia gave birth to Titans and Cronus
-Titanomachy/Gigantomachy were palace intrigues
-Zeus traveled teaching civilized institutions, banning cannibalism, teaching worship of gods, lived in
Crete
-deification of Zeus for great deeds; civilizer, like his son Heracles who killed monsters and civilized world
-tendency to deify rulers
Lucretius (1st century BCE)
-wrote De Rerum Natura (On the Workings of the Universe)
-adherent of Epicurianism (Epicurus 341-270BCE)
-purpose of life was peace and tranquility (ataraxia), enjoy little things, philosophize
-gods dont punish or reward humans, change is result of atoms
-Fundamental principles of Lucretius: 1. World made up of atoms, 2. Gods are indifferent to mortals
-opening hymn to Venus; love as source of creation; removes anthropomorphism of Aphrodite, very
abstract sense, creates attractions between all things, fertility goddess that masters strife (Ares)
-False myth of Mother Earth (BK2)
-earth is great mother because it produces all life
-worshippers of Cybele, Galli, blood, cacophonous music
B. Middle Ages Christian Allegory
-allegorical interpretations of myth appealed to early Christians
-Fulgentius (6th century AD) Mythologies- collection of investigation of morals of stories
-Story of Liber (Dionysus) moral tale against drunkenness; too much wine, forgetfulness, lust, madness
(maenads)
-Ino (Greek oinos, latin vinum); sister of Agave, derives from Greek word for wine
C. Modern Interpretations
-enlightenment (18th century); shift towards reason, objectivity, classification, analysis
-new disciplines: anthropology, cultural history, psychology, sociology, religious studies
-applied towards the interpretation of myth
Evolutionary Approach
-myth is response to nature and reality, originates from early phase when humanitys thought was
concrete
-Vico, New Science (1725); classifies history in cyclic terms, writes of evolutionary approach to myth
-divinities represent natural phenomena (e.g. Zeus is thunder, lightning, rain etc.)
-ancients thought nature was display of anger by god (divine myth)
Max Muller (1823-1900)
-solar mythology; sun is at the heart of all myth
-language of myth is misinterpreted by ancients
-story of Selene (moon) and Endymion (diver)- phenomenon of the sun setting in the ocean and the moon
rising from it
-Selenes embrace of Endymion is primitive expression of the setting sun, rising moon
Ritual Theory
-ritual; religious or quasi-religious ceremony with a prescribed series of actions; done according to
formula, patterns
www.notesolution.com

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Description
CLA204 April 6, 2011 Interpretations of Myth Lecture 11 A. Allegorical Interpretations Attacks against Homer -Heraclitus of Ephesus, Xenophanes of Colophon (6 5 BCE) criticized anthropomorphism of Greek pantheon in Homer -Xenophanes: Homer and Hesiod attributed to the gods everything that among men is cause for reproach and blame: thieving, adultery, deceiving one another. -pre-Socratic thinkers had problems with the ways the gods were portrayed in a moderate, civil society Theagenes (525 BCE) -characters, places, actions of myth mean something else -gods are allegories of conflicting natural forces (hot vs cold, dry vs. wet) -ApolloHelios vs. PoseidonScamander = celestial fire vs. water -Artemis = Moon, Hera = Air Heraclitus (The Allegorist) -1 century AD -Homeric problems responded to Pre-Socratic criticisms of Homer -allegory: saying (agoreuein) different things (alla) but meaning something other than what is said -Odyssey BK8: Homer recognizing Empedoclean philosophy in story of AresAphrodite (strifeLove) -Ares and Aphrodite caught in bed, Hephaestus ties chains around them and the other gods laugh at them; shows love is conquering strife, something is being reconciled: brought together; product is Harmonia, harmony; his interpretation -Hephaestus succeeds in trapping a mightier male divinity Alcaeus of Mytilene -I cannot figure out the winds direction. A wave rolls in on this side, then on that. And here we are in the middle, tossed about on our dark ship, hard-pressed by the great storm. The bilge-water is up over the mast-hole; the sail is now all tattered and there are huge holes in it; the anchors are coming loose. describes strife in Mytilene Archilochos of Paros (7 century BCE) -Lord Glaucos! The sea is now troubled, its waves high. Around Cape Gyrai theres a vertical cloud, sign of the storm. Fears gotten to me, and I didnt expect it. expressing fear through an allegorical way -there is ample evidence for using allegorical expression, says Heraclitus th th Herodorus (5 -4 BCE) -allegory of punishment of Prometheus: -Prometheus was king of Scythians, punished by his people because of the river Aetos (eagle) -Heracles diverted the river into the sea and released Prometheus from his chains different interpretation of the tale of Prometheus being punished by Zeus B. Rationalizing Myth: Herodotus (5 century BCE) -prologue of Histories (Inquiries): myth as explanation of east vs. west and how their strife began through snatching -Phoenicians took Io (princess of Argos, stolen by Zeus as a cloud, she turns into a cow, sets horsefly on cow forever until she gives birth), Cretans took Europa from Tyra, Greeks took Medea from Colchis, Paris took Helen from Sparta -myth becomes history Helen in Egypt? -Histories 2: Paris and Helen stranded in Egypt, Helen held by King Proetus, Paris expelled -Trojans deny possession of Helen, Troy besieged, Greeks cant find Helen -Menelaus goes to Egypt, Topic of Palinode (Recantation) of Stesichorus (6 century BCE) -Topic of Euripedes Helen (412BCE) www.notesolution.com
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