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CLA204H1 - Lecture 07 - Poseidon.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Vichi Ciocani

CLA204H1 – Lecture 07 – Poseidon Monday, January 21, 2013 1) The nature of gods – continued (myth of Croesus) 2) Poseidon and other sea deities - NB: o Core of the course: the issue of interpretation o Definition of how Greek gods should be seen  Importance of predicting the future in Greek religion - Croesus creation: o As humans, illuminates idea of how future can be predicted  Immortals, who control time, can control the future  Humans = subjected only to chance/luck 1) Herodotus’ account of the encounter between Solon and Croesus - Herodotus: o One of the creators of Athenian law  Met Croesus, king of Lydia  Croesus = richest + heaviest man on earth o Uses historical characters  Solon + Croesus = historical figures implemented in myth ideas  Myth: Croesus asks Solon who the happiest man on earth is o Solon alludes to the question + answers with other characters + references o Solon stresses he doesn’t know if Croesus is happy or not until he dies  Once a person dies, then you can say whether one = happy or not  Demonstrates that gods = outside of these constraints because they know the future + can influence the outcomes o Discusses the nature of human happiness o Defines human being as “completely a thing of chance” o Emphasizes the power of dreams (unintended thoughts) to predict the future o Emphasizes man’s helplessness to control the future - History becomes fiction st - 1 coin to be aware of - Coinage (money) invented in Argos o 1 stamped coins came from Lydia + associated with Croesus Croesus dismisses Solon, “since Croesus was very much of the opinion that a man must be ignorant who sets aside present goods and bids one look to the end of everything.” - Croesus = upset because Solon doesn’t consider him to be the happiest man on earth  Croesus dismisses Solon Adrastus, a fugitive purified and protected by Croesus, inadvertently kills Croesus’ son Atys during a boar hunt - Croesus’ following misfortunes: o Favourite son Atys = accidentally killed in boar hunt by Adrastus  Atys = connected to Greek word Ate (one of the names of the Fates who is blind)  ∴ representation of Atys’ blindness of the future  Adastras associated to Nemesis (goddess of revenge)  Revenge follows a person wherever they go  BUT: there’s too much cohesion between these two names, demonstrating that this event = myth Croesus himself is defeated by the Persian King Cyrus - Historical event: Cyrus condemns Croesus to death, putting Croesus on a pyre of fire - Herodotus recounts Solon’s words of: “Nobody’s happy until they die” - Selon Herodotus, Cyrus realizes that he = subjected to fate + saves Croesus - Important to understand how humanity + gods = exposed in Greek religion 2) Poseidon, sea deities, monsters - Several divinities associated with the sea: o Pontus (Greek word for sea)  Child of Gaia, no father  His birth occurred pre-Eros  Mated with Gaia  children = monsters o Most famous: Medusa, Cerberus, etc. o Oceanus, Tethys, and their daughters, the Oceanids  Oceanus + Tethys = Titans  Don’t confuse Tethys with Thetis, who is also associated with the sea; both = distinct characters o Nereus, the Oceanid Doris and their 50 daughters, the Nereids (most important ones are: Thetis (mother of Achilles), Galatea (pursued by Prometheus (Cyclops)), and Amphitrite (wife of Poseidon))  Nereids = nymphs of sea o Poseidon  God of sea; one of Zeus’ brothers  Sea deities connected to Poseidon/sea  Poseidon = altered image of Zeus Thetis - Zeus arranges Peleus’ marriage with Thetis o Myth: Zeus wanted to have intercourse with Thetis, but knew from Prometheus that if he did, Thetis would give birth to a son that would overpower him. Instead, Zeus abstained himself and arranged the marriage between Thetis and Peleus (mortal)  offspring: Achilles (demi-god)  Demonstrates one of the encounters between gods(-esses) + mortals  Thetis wasn’t willing to be with Peleus + shape-shifted many times: serpent, lion, etc.  o Peleus restrains Thetis by holding her body o Changing shapes = one of the features of sea  Their wedding (goddess + mortal  also shows up in myth)  Instance of rape? o Greek wedding: maiden unable to give consent because she isn’t sexually experienced o Whenever one encounters a god, can’t consent, but become merely overwhelmed - Thetis’ and Peleus’ son is Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War Galatea and the Cyclops Polyphemus - Galatea: Greek word “milk”  she’s the “milky one” - Myth told by Ovid, Metamorphoses o Polyphemus loves Galatea, b
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