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Lecture 2

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University of Toronto St. George

Lecture 2 - Homer the Hippie Thursday, Jan. 17/2013 Stories Within Stories There are several instances where Homer’s characters recount “myths” are several key points in the Iliad and the Odyssey at key points These episodes of “story within the story” she light on Homer’s view of the context and function of myth-telling Book 6 The first of these occurs in Book 6 of the iliad. Homer shows an exchange of stories marking a pause in the relentless warfare on the battlefield outside Troy Interrupting the aristeia (display of valor) by the Greek warrior Diomedes He encounter Glaucus and asks who he is about to kill This leads to an exchange of stories that are a pause in the violence Myth vs.Action And the content of these “myths” seem designed to encourage peaceful conflict resolution Do they serve a didactic function? Diomedes says that he will harm anyone, so long as they are not immortal He continues with a story of Dionysus and Lycurgus as a reason for why he does not want to fight against the gods Diomedes internalized the story in a way that makes him respect the gods: Kill everyone except the gods Glucose tells the long story of his grandfather, the hero Bellerophon King Proetus wifeAnteia spurned by Bellerophon accuses him of attempted rape and incites her husband to murder him But Proetus shrinks from direct violence against his suppliant and guest (protected by xenia) So he dispatches Bellerophon to his (Proetus’) father-in-law Iobates With a sealed tabled containing written instructions to kill the bearer But Bellerophon is entertained as a guest for nine days before he sees the message Bellerophon is a bit of a hot-potato Iobates sends him on a series of fantastic, suicidal missions (E.g., Chimera) Bellerophon succeeds in them all, and Iobates recognizes his worth and gives his daughter in marriage as an alliance This validates Glaucus’own worth as his descendant And many Greek myths were created and told in an effort to justify the descendants Glucose story leads Diomedes to recognize a relationship of hereditary guest-friendship between himself and his antagonist through Glaucus’grandfather Bellerophon and Diomedes grandfather Oeneus The story also reinforces the importance of honoring the ties of hospitality, imposing an end to violence through negotiation Diomedes responds by offering a pact of friendship, they exchange their armor The exchange is similar to Iobates and Bellerophon: negotiation is part of myth Book 9 Achilles withdraws whenAgamemnon insults him by stealing his prize An embassy is sent toAchilles in order to reconcile Lecture 2 - Homer the Hippie Thursday, Jan. 17/2013 Three “ambassadors” make speeches toAchilles, urging him to reconcile withAgamemnon, accept the princely gifts and return to the fight Odysseus, Phoenix,Ajax Phoenix is an old mentor who is meant to guideAchilles That teaching takes form in part of a myth from the distant past In addition to an allegory about personified Prayers and Blindness The story of a war between the Curetes and theAeolians, with an obvious moral forAchilles The goal is conflict resolution The warrior Meleager stopped fighting in defense of theAeolians in a fit of pique Withdrew to sulk like achilles has done His people begged him to return and offered him gifts and honors In the end things get so bad that it seems like the city will wall He is driven by the extremity of the situation and fights, but doesn’t get the gifts Basically, achilles should accept gifts now and join, because later he’ll probably feel compelled to fight You want to get the gifts/honors Myth vs Allegory The story Phoenix tells can be seen as an allegory forAchilles: Artemis =Apollo Aeolians = Greeks Curetes = Trojans Meleager =Achilles Meleager’s mother =Agamemnon Aeolian elders = embassy toAchilles Gifts = gifts Failure of the Moral According to Phoenix interoperation of his story is thatAchilles wants honor ButAchilles is sick of honor It’s all for a prize, which can be taken away so easily (as Briseis was) with no one to intervene What is the point of honor if it is a fickle thing? If all he stands to lose by persisting his sulk is honor and trinkets why come back? What is missed is thatAchilles does have something to lose His companion Patroclus That is what brings him back It’sAchilles sulk that brings about Patroclus death In the story Phoenix tells there is an element of affection causing honor Meleager comes back because his wife begged him Achilles does because of Patroclus death Meleager comes back for fear of losing his wife, not honor, which Phoenix andAchilles do not pick up on Contrasting Outcomes Phoenix myth fails, Glaucus myth succeeds Paradigm Shift Lecture 2 - Homer the Hippie Thursday, Jan. 17/2013 Glaucus story lifts his hearer’s imagination out of the parameters of the current bloody conflict, to a world of scheming, nymphomaniacs, exotic quests and complex binding social protocols He takes him out to a wider world Allows Diomedes to conceive of himself not just as a warrior but within the network of xenia Dangers of Myth-Interpretation Phoenix story also has (a limited) potential to liftAchilles out of his current obsession with his wounded pride, with an emotional appeal instead to his affection for his comrades and loved ones (Patroclus) But Phoenix interpretation reduces his myth to a simple allegory about honor denied vs honor achieved So no paradigm shift can occur forAchilles Achilles rages on Can the Iliad be used to Greeks to reconcile and reach happier conclusions? Sir James George Frazer Magic, Myth, and Ritual in the Golden Bough In the 1880s he discovered the world of comparative anthropology Realized that the customs, beliefs and myth of “primitive” people could be used to shed light on the customs, beliefs and myths of the Greeks and Romans Greece and Rome were not unique Mere Humanity Belief system was primitive and could not have been purely Greek - they were too rational to come up with this Must be a contamination from the east He challenges the belief that it was a contamination He says it is the effect of similar causes acting alike on the similar constitution of the human mind in different countries The Greek ha don need to journey into far countries to learn things about the world He regards the idea of decay and rebirth as a universal experience He challenges the fundamental divide of the turn of the century Greco-Roman customs comparable to and explicable through Near Eastern customs But also comparable to and explicable through the customs of all pre-modern peoples around the world But he is comparing the “primitive people” to an ancient We all as individuals basically want/need the same things and pass through the same stages in effort to obtain them Frazers association of related rituals and myths from all the cultures of the world, in the effort to elucidate biarre customs Frazer’s identification of the association of related objects/individuals as crucial to primitive magic, ritual and myth (sympathetic magic) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Self-actualizing - morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts Lecture 2 - Homer the Hippie Thursday, Jan. 17/2013 Esteem - self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of other and by others Love/Belonging Safety Physiological Csapo does not seem to like this Says that Frazer projected the Victorian bourgeois gentleman’s obsession with material accumulation - a materialist Trying to paint the “pure noble savages” with the same brush Csapo says that behind a rain dance there ay be psychological, social or historical causes which make the rain dancer’s declared or implicit intentions of limited explanatory value Frazers Stages Magic -> Religion -> Science Magic: attempts to control the natural world directly, through rituals, assuming the operation of fixed natural laws There are two sorts of magic: Imitative/homeopathic Magic: by acting on a like object you act upon your victim/subject Contagious Magic: by acting upon something once belonging or connected some object/person it is possible to affect that object/person In modernity, law requires real-estate agents to disclose recent murders/suicides to potential buyers of property Religion: attempts to control the natural world indirectly, by propitiating deities (who control the natural world directly) Accounts for failures in a way magic does not Science:Attempts to control the natural world directly, through technology depending upon the operation of fixed laws But all of these systems are fundamental rational, identifying patterns (whether true or false) of correlation, cause and effect, in observation of the natural universe Compare lucretius on the early development of the human race and of human superstition The Golden Bough Frazer fascinated by a bizarre custom governing succession to the priesthood of Diana in a sacred grove and temple at Nemi, by the town ofAricia in the vicinity of Rome Strabo’s geography has a fantastical tale of the cult: The temple of theArician Diana is a copy of that of Tauropolos Barbaric and Scythian element predominates in the sacred usages The priest is a runaway slave guilty of killing his master Pausanias gives an etiological myth to explain the grove When Hippolytus was killed then resurrected Violent death and resurrection is at the heart of the golden bough In his new life he came to theAricians and became king and devoted a precinct to Artemis Vergil’s Golden Bough Aeneas
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