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CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Ruby Sparks, Semonides Of Amorgos, Misogyny

Course Code
Regina Höschele

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Lecture 2 (09/18/12):
Praise and Blame
- Pandora is the bringer of all evil into the world and the first woman in the world
- Woman was created as revenge (and punishment) for Prometheus stealing fire from
Zeus for mankind
- Pandora is given to Epimetheus (brother of Prometheus) who only has the after sight to
realize it was a mistake to take her
- Prometheus is punished by being tied to a rock and having his liver eaten out by an
eagle every day
- Pandora means 'All Gifts' could be because she was given a gift from each of the gods
as she was created or because she released all the evils into the world
- The context of the myth is the Works and Days (Hesiod), which explains why life is
hard and why mankind has to work and why there is disease
- The jar is symbolic of the womb, the storage in which evil is kept
- Hope was left in the jar, there is much debate about what that actually means (is it
good or bad?)
- Woman as something bad, connected with the evils of the world
- According to Hesiod you can't live with women (they're horrible) and you can't live
without them (you'd be childless)
- Marriage is not the romantic ideal of love for all time in antiquity, more of an economic
- Helen is the most beautiful woman in the world and happened to start the Trojan war
- She is the Daughter of Zeus (Swan) and Leto, her siblings are Clytemnestra, Castor
and Pollux
- Castor and Clytemnestra were the mortal children of Leto and Tyndareus, Helen and
Pollux the semi-divine children of Zeus and Leto
- Ab Ovo: from the egg, to start a story from the very beginning, something Homer
doesn't do
- Paris judges the goddesses and declares Aphrodite the winner, she gives him Helen as
a prize but she is married to Menelaus
- Agamemnon and the Achaeans then go to Troy to take Helen back and destroy the city
- The scene with Helen and Priam on the city walls is an introduction to the reader /
listener, from the narrative prospective this should have happened 10 years earlier
- Outstanding beauty is considered threatening and dangerous (the old men of Troy)
- Long tradition in Epic to blame Helen completely for the Trojan war (not Paris)
- Palinode: an 'Again song', a song used to recant from a previous song (Stesichorus)
- Encomium: A song of praise to a human being, as opposed to a hymn to the gods
- People also defend Helen, such as Gorgias in his speech
- Helen herself was never in Troy, just a spectre of her, the real Helen was living
peacefully in Egypt until Menelaus wrecks there
- This is done in the play by Euripides
- There are set events with the mythology but how you get there depends
- Helen and Menelaus always end up back together but there are different ways classic
authors get them to that point
- Penelope is considered the exemplary wife / woman, always chaste and loyal
- Nobody knows whether Odysseus is dead or alive so suitors are pursuing Penelope
- Clytemnestra is the opposite of Penelope, the bad wife that takes the power and kills
her husband
- Weaving is something that symbolizes chastity, they are indoors doing women's work
and not getting into any trouble
- Medea is threatening because of the sorcery
- Argonautica: The stories about Jason and the Argonauts and his quest for the golden
fleece, chronologically before the Trojan war
- She is also the barbarian other, the daughter of the Colchian king
- Medea helps Jason complete the tasks set to him by her father (betraying him), she
leaves with Jason as his wife
- Jason wants to marry a Greek princess and so Medea kills their children and the
- The deaths of her children hurt Medea as well but all she wants is revenge
- In the Euripides play she has trouble deciding whether to kill the children or not
- Murder only takes place offstage in Greek plays
- She is considered an active (as opposed to passive) female and that is definitely a bad
- She is also portrayed as an innocent young girl who fell in love with a prince
- Hellenistic poetry is very refined and has much broader topics than the poetry of
previous eras
- Apollonius of Rhodes portrays Medea as innocent but Euripides comes before so the
end of the story is common knowledge to the Hellenistic audience
- Lucretia (who Romans considered historical), from the story of how the Romans got rid
of the monarchy
- Lucretia commits suicide after being raped by a Tarquin (the son of the current king)
- She gives in to the rape at the threat of dishonour (adultery), she tells her father and
husband what happened then killed herself to preserve her honour
- Lucretia's body is then taken into the square and the Romans rebel and overthrow the
- Semonides is an iambic poet who writes an invective against women, they are all
horrible except for the one type (there are a lot of other types though)
- Another author thinks that women are the worst thing that Zeus ever did but
unfortunately men are stuck with them
- Just the standard take on women by men (for men) in a misogynistic time
- These are poems written by men for a male audience and they are meant to be
- There may have been female centred poetry and writing but none of these are
preserved (Sappho being the exception)
- Euripides was known as a misogynist in antiquity
- Biographers extrapolated how a man was like based on his fictional writings
- Hippolytus denies Aphrodite and is punished by having his stepmother fall in love with
him, she turns around and says he tried to rape her and he is killed by his father in
- Potiphar's Wife Motif: The idea of a women turning around and saying a man tried to
rape her when he denies her advances
- The nurse is always used in a play to carry messages and help the people that they
raised (to bad results)
- Again the idea that women are useless and life would be better without them and if it
was just men
- Some of Euripides writing shows he presents women in a somewhat good light, may
not have been especially misogynistic for the time
- Juvenal, a Roman writer of satire, has a tirade against women
- Portrays educated women as bossy and dangerous, they shouldn't be allowed to be
intellectual superiors to men
- Have to listen to someone who is educated, you can easily dismiss the ideas of the
- Anxiety in antiquity about women not being domesticated, when women are praised
they are praised for things that are convenient to men
- Pygmalion (Metamorphoses) who created the perfect woman to combat what he
believed to be horrible, horrible women
- You can see the idea today, like Ruby Sparks and My Fair Lady, the man in pursuit of
the perfect woman
- Barbarian: Someone who is not Greek, often considered uncivilized and exactly the
opposite of what they should be
- Comedy: Type of play, characterized as light hearted and funny
- Didactic: Something that explains something else or how something came to be
- Epic: Genre of poetry characterized by length and metre, often to do with heroes and
heroic pursuits'
- Tragedy: Type of play, considered higher than comedy, characterized by the tragic fall
of a hero