First Class

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Published on 7 Feb 2011
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Classical Mythology 22:26
January 11, 2011
Defining Myth
Muthos (ancient Greek) authoritative speech; a word, speech, or tale; the
“story or plot of a narrative
Myth (English) a traditional story of collective (social) importance
Character, plot, temporal and spatial setting (Troy, Rome, ancient)
Mythology <muthos (“story) + logos (account) = “study of myth (Powell)
Used interchangeably with myth in common time
Circulation of Myth
Oral tradition
Literary versions
Artistic media (painting, sculpture, etc)
Dance versions (tragedy, ballet)
Musical versions (opera) Canadian Opera company
Euripides Bacchae: Trinity College Drama Society Production, 27-29 January
2011, Ignatieff Theatre
Story-tellers vs Authors
Orpheus (traditional/mythical)
Homer (Greek, 8th c. BCE), Hesiod (?700 BCE)
Euripides (Athenian, 5th c. BCE)
Ovid (Roman, 43 BCE 17 CE)
Catasterism (transformation into a star)
Theodicy, divine justice
Apollodorus (Greek, 1st or 2nd c. BCE)
Hyginus (Roman, 2nd c. CE)
Ovid, born in Central Italy, 20th of March, aristocratic lineage, ambitious father
secured for him an older brother and himself the very best education possible. So
wealthy that he sent them to school in room before they were 12 years old,
studied art, math etc they were supposed to be politicians
Ovids father forbade him to produce poetry and verse but Ovid did
His brother died when he was 18 and he assumed minor political role but decided
at that point to be a private citizen to pursue poetry (age 22)
8 CE Ovid is 50 working on the Meta witnessed something bad and out of fear
ran away to Alba but an imperial messenger tracked him down to face Emperors
for Ovids error. Emperor held a trail and delivered sentence and exiled him to
Tomas in Romania announced this in public edict his poetry was banned
from Romes 3 public libraries
The art of Love poem was what exiled him? (even though it was published by 2
Reached Tomas the following summer, publically, privately, wrote the Emperor
poems, but died in exile.
Includes over 250 myths human transformations are not transferable but Gods
are Gods are almost never moral
Apollodorus—borrowed from famous Greek scholar to lend his study of Greek
mythology authority, uncritical summary of Greek mythology
Hyginus—handbook compiled from Greek sources but written in Latin
Types of Myth
Divine Myth: about the Gods
Anthropomorphic vs personifications (Chastity and Victory)
Represent elemental forces of nature
Before human beings were created
Often occur where humans do not dwell
Often etiological explaining the cause/origin < Greek aition
Heroic Myths/Legends about heroes
Men and women of aristocratic worth and extreme power
At the beginning of human time when they preformed great deeds
Raging huge wars, forming cities (Rome, Thebes)
Archeological remains and myths coincides
Troy discovered, evidence of destruction 12 BCE
like Achilles, Menelaus, Hector (Trojan War)
Daedalus, Jason, Theseus
Folktales about ordinary folk
Features elements of magic, good wins over evil
Concerned with ordinary folk, fairytales and animal fables
Folktales types: quest
Folktale motifs: abused younger son/daughter, fairy godmother helper, marriage
to the prince/princess
Cap of invisibility, magic flight, fabulous far away land, dragon who guards a
garden or fountain
Greek heroes Jason, Perseus and Herakles/Hercules
Assistance of God and/or mystical device
Beats the evil against all odds and returns home to receive the princess and
Map of Known World
Greek and Italy are peninsula, lots of mountains
Rich river valleys of Egypt and Mesopotamia
Greece Thessaly, Macedonia, Peloponnese connected to land by narrow strip
Resourceful sailors, olive oil and wine, beautiful pottery
Traded in Asia Minor and within Greece and Italy, founded colonies all around
the Mediterranean
Italy had problems with sea, land based people at beginning
Etruscans and Romans found Greek myth fascinating, adopting it wholesale into
their own culture and art
Historical Periods
Old Stone Age (Paleolithic) before 6000 BCE hardly anything survived
New Stone Age (Neolithic) 6000-3000 BCE agricultural age
Bronze Age (3000-1150 BCE)
Early Bronze Age (Minoan Culture)
2200-1400 CE
King Minos
Labrys = double axe for killing bulls
Fertility worship
Middle Bronze Age (Mycenean Period)
Destroyed indigenous culture
1600-1150 BCE
Mycenae, Pylos, Thebes
Linear B Tablets
Michael B. Ventris
Martin P. Nilsson, The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology. Berkeley 1932.
demonstrated that their centers of power were centers for Greek myth
Dark Age (1150-800 BCE)
Invasion of the Dorians/Children of Herakles
Westward migration of mainland Greeks
Exception of Athens only ones to successfully resist
Ionia Asia Minor (turkey) were knowledgeable Greek fled
Aeolis escaped there too
Island of Euboea retained Near Eastern connections
Archaic Age (800-480)
Invention of the Greek alphabet
Colonization (Sicily)
City State (polis) male citizenship and competition
Commerce weights portable weights (coins!) coinage
Homer, Iliad and the Odyssey
Hesiod, Theogony, Mt Helicon in Boeotia
Singer of traditional stories after meeting muses they appeared to him and
addressed him by name
Social Conditions
Dark Age vs. Mycenaean
Tablets convey palace authorities but nothing about family life
Tribal monarchy with a warrior democracy, centered around petty kings and
nobles with best land and flocks of sheep and goats and cattle, raids and local
wars were frequent
Noble household, King judge, law giver and commander in war
Code of honor by which nobles lived, sacrifice to the Gods, table fellowship, guest
fellowship but no written laws
Glimpse of women 2 main rolls, priestess or skilled workers clothing, textiles
and weaving, palace attendeds (drawing bath), most unnamed and most
occupation have no male counter points, majority of workers were women
War was dominate men were always fighting

Document Summary

Muthos (ancient greek) authoritative speech ; a word, speech, or tale ; the. Myth (english) a traditional story of collective (social) importance . Character, plot, temporal and spatial setting (troy, rome, ancient) Mythology