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Lecture

CLA204H1 Lecture Notes - Thyestes, Myrtilus, Atreus


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA204H1
Professor
Lee Sawchuk

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Introduction to Classical Mythology!
!
Troy and the Trojans!
- could have historical basis!
- very important text for Greeks!
- "good old days" of heroes!
- "end of mythology"!!
House of Atreus!
- refers to descendants of Atreus !
- bad things happen to them (especially Agamemnon)!
- their problems start far in the past, with Tantalus!
• Tantalus!
!– Ruler of Lydia (in Eastern area)!
! ! - ruled at a time when mortals and gods were in direct communication!
!– Father of Pelops and Niobe !
!– Tested the gods!
! ! - invite them to a feast!
! ! - test is to see if they can figure out his trick!
! ! - takes Pelops, cuts him up, boils him, and serves him to the gods !
! ! - the gods recognize the trick, and normally they don't eat the meal!
! ! - Demeter is distraught because of Persephone, so she eats some of the meal
(shoulder)!
!– Punished!
! ! - Zeus is upset!
! ! - sends him down to Tartarus!
! ! - one of very few mortals there!
! ! - his punishment is that he is standing in a pool of water with good hanging
above; whenever he reaches for food it rises up and whenever he reaches for water
it recedes (tantalize = Tantalus)!
!- Zeus tells Hermes to put the pieces of Pelops back in the pot and boil him again;
he is restored!
! ! - Hephaestus makes him a new shoulder out of ivory!
• Pelops!
!– Peloponnesus (this area gets named after him)!
!– Oenomaus (king) and Hippodamia (daughter)!
! ! - falls in love with the daughter !
! ! • King of Pisa refuses him, unless he can beat him in a chariot race!
! ! • Chariot race competition !
! ! ! - king has special race of horses!

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! ! ! - king kills people when he catches up to them (has killed 12 already)!
! ! ! - Pelops decides to cheat !
! ! ! - bribes Myrtilus to rig the king's chariot so he will lose!
! ! ! - Pelops offers up his future bride to Myrtilus on the first night !
! ! ! - chariot falls apart and the king loses/is killed!
! ! - Pelops marries Hippodamia, and they flee with Myrtilus!
! ! - Myrtilus tries to sleep with Hippodamia and Pelops throws him off a cliff !
!– Curse of Myrtilus!
! ! - curses Pelops and all of his descendants!
! ! - blood-guilt from this murder will make Pelops's descendants have a bad time!
!- popular with Zeus; worshipped; involved in Olympian games!
- Pelops becomes king of Pisa and rules!
Atreus and Thyestes are his two sons!
!– Oracle: Pelops’ son to rule Mycenae (because the current rulers have died out)!
!- who will get to rule?!
!– decide that they need tokens of recognition to decide who rules!
! ! Atreus has a golden fleece!
! ! ! - supposed to sacrifice it, but keeps it instead!
! ! ! - they decide that whoever can produce a golden fleece can win!
! ! ! - Atreus's wife gave it to Thyestes, so he now has it!
! ! • Zeus and the sun!
! ! ! - decide that they need another sign!
! ! ! - if Zeus makes the sun go the other way, Atreus will be king!
! ! ! - Zeus does this, Atreus is proclaimed king of Mycenae!
!- Atreus in charge, Thyestes banished (though in some versions Thyestes rules)!
!Atreus’ revenge for his wife cheating on him!
! ! - invites him to Mycenae claiming to want reconciliation!
! ! - Thyestes arrives with his family and goes to Atreus's for dinner!
! ! - Atreus kills the children of Thyestes and serves them for dinner!
! ! - Thyestes eats them and then Atreus reveals!
! ! - Thyestes runs away!
! ! • Curse of Thyestes!
! ! ! - Thyestes curses Atreus and his family!
! ! ! - some people point to this as the reason for all the trouble!
! ! ! - some people say it is Myrtilus's curse!
! ! ! - some people say it is because of Tantalus!
!– Thyestes’ revenge!
! ! - Oracle: must sleep with his daughter!
! ! - rapes a woman and leaves his sword behind when he flees!
! ! - the woman becomes pregnant; she was his long-lost daughter!
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! ! - still trying to get revenge; Atreus also wants more revenge!
! ! - Atreus gets his sons to find Thyestes!
! ! - Atreus falls in love with Thyestes's daughter and marries her!
! ! ! - he thinks that the child is his own, but really it is Thyestes's!
! ! - + Pelopia -> Aegisthus (Thyestes's son)!
! ! - Atreus raises Aegisthus as his own!
! ! - the sons find Thyestes and bring him back!
! ! - Aegisthus goes to kill him, recognizes the sword that he left, and they realize
that he is his son (Pelopia confirms it)!
! ! ! - family reunion!
! ! ! - Pelopia kills herself because she found out that her father raped her!
! ! - Aegisthus is loyal to Thyestes!
! ! ! - tells Atreus that he killed Thyestes, who really escaped!
! ! - Aegisthus kills Atreus!
!– Thyestes rules Mycenae!
!- proper heirs to the throne of Mycenae (sons of Atreus) flee to Sparta!
!
House of Tyndareüs!
Agamemnon and Menelaus (proper rules) (Atreïdae = "sons of Atreus")!
!– Flee to Spartan king Tyndareüs, who wants to help them!
!- nobody likes that Thyestes is ruling!
• Leda’s Descendents (she is married to Tyndareus)!
!– Zeus the Swan rapes her on the same night that Tyndareus sleeps with her!
!– 4 children!
! ! • From Zeus: Polydeuces and Helen (immortal)!
! ! • From Tyndareüs: Castor and Clytemnestra (mortal)!
! ! • OR: lays 2 eggs!
Agamemnon marries Clytemnestra!
other daughter Helen is said to be the most beautiful woman in the world!
• Oath of Tyndareüs!
!– Helen attracts many suitors (she is so beautiful)!
! ! • Odysseus, Diomedes, Ajax (son of Telamon), Philoctetes, Patroclus, Menelaus,
many others... !
!– Tyndareüs worried--so many powerful men want his daughter; his decision!
! ! - worried that those he doesn't pick will be upset!
! ! • Odysseus offers to help--has a solution to prevent that from happening!
! ! ! - he does this as long as he can marry Penelope (Tyndareus's niece)!
! ! ! - she is the perfect wife!
!All suitors swear oath to be civil regardless of decision, punish uncivil!
!– Menelaus is chosen based on the gifts that he offers!
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