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Lecture 5

CLA204H1 Lecture 5.docx

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A Keith

Feb 8 2012 The Olympian Gods Cont’d Hermes - Divine trixter, seems like God with multiple personalities - Name points to his beginning as a single phenomenon - Herma- pile of stones. Marker of territorial demarcation. In this way territories were claimed and demarcated. Represents the breaking of boundaries to a new social order, breaking of taboos, initiating a new order. - Herm in front of Altar (Nikon painter, 465 BCE) soon everyone in Athens had its own herm (hermes) and festivals took place at these herms - When poetry/epic got hold of the Hermes character, they transformed the herm into an Olympian God. Responsible for founding civilization (Homeric Hymns). And epic role as messenger of the Gods. - Hymn to Hermes. Hermes steals Apollos cattle. As token of reconciliation, Hermes gives Apollo a lyre. Lyre is important. Hermes also invents fire, fire sticks (to make fire) and sacrifice. Reminds of Prometheus so Hermes is a rival to Prometheus. - Hermes domain is thieving, trickery, inventor of musical instruments - Also is the swift messenger of father Zeus - Hermes messenger of Zeus (Attic red-figure lekythos) shows Hermes flying down to earth with his staf and his epiphet is Argos-slayer. - Hermes transgresses the boundaries between the living and the dead- Hermes the leader of souls. They way to and back from underworld is known by Hermes alone.He also fetches Demeter’s daughter from Hades. - Hermes is the patron of herdsman, thieves, graves and heralds. He was born of the nymph Maia. He exhibits his sexual prowess among the nymphs. - Herdsman lead a marginal existence in mountainous border areas with rivals at border . Cattle and sheep-wrestling takes on heroic category because you stole the sheep of your rival, you outsmarted him - Hermes attributes: o Hermes the giver of every good (every lucky find is called a hermaion) o Chthonic (underworld) Hermes, graves under his protection o Because he moves across boundaries, he carries herald’s staff called the kerykeion. It is the imitation of copulating snakes. Can be traced back to the near east. o Caduceus o Praxitiles’ Hermes- god of athletic youth (we get this artistic iconography from 500- 400bce) - Roman counterpart of Hermes is Mercury o Mercury was god of trade and we see statues of him with bag of money Demeter - Name suggests that she is a mother and so does the Homeric hymn to Demeter - Clear that her role revolves around being a mother - Corn and grain is at the centre of her power (staple food stuff) - She invents and shows man agricultural arts - Demeter who fills the barn - Appears in art with a wreath and ears of corn - Described as the blonde goddess who assumes colour of ripened corn. So she stands allegorically for corn and wheat. Same with her daughter Kore (‘girl’) aka Persephone - Daughter and mother very closely associated with eachother. In fact, sometimes referred to as the Demeters. - Corn goddess and Mistress of the Underworld - Epiphets: venerable and awesome. Sense of dread in these epiphets. - Earliest mention of mother and daughter is in Homeric Hymns but Hesiod mentions it in the Theogony as well. Hymn introduces Persephone as a maiden playing in a field with Artemis and Athena (playmates) (Note: ‘playmates’ of Artemis always get raped in myth). Describes them as playing near the edge of the world (closer to underworld?). Virgin initiation and maiden sacrifice – links sex and death which is common theme in myth. - When Persephone kidnapped, Demeter is dangerous in her grief. She stops all agriculture - Myth was Kore is corn (grain that descends into earth so that from death, new seeds may germinate) She comes back in spring (representing when vegetation grows in spring). - To be carried off by Hades became common metaphors for death, especially for girls. To be the bride of Hades is to die before marriage. - Myth establishes double existence between upper and underworld - Katabasis o ‘Descent to the underworld’ o Inanna-Ishtar (Sumerian/Babylonian) o Telepinu (Hittite) o Death vs Marriage o Chthonic (underworld) deities. Demeter also had chthonic aspects. Athenian called the dead “Demetreoi” and sold corn on graves. So Demeter has some share of honour associated with graves. o Thesmophoria, Katagoge (advent) o Mysteria (‘mysteries’) o Demetreoi ‘the dead’ - Art: Bernini statue of rape of Persephone. Dionysus/Bacchus - Wine, ecstasy, intoxication - Madness, mania
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