May 24, 2013
CLA204 Classical Mythology Week 5
Greek Concepts of Death
Demeter, Persephone, Hades
Hades and Persephone
Greeks though god of the dead were totally different set of gods cuz rituals were
completely different, if sacrificing to gods of underworld would sacrifice black
animals instead of white, ritual sacrifice would dig a pit and put altar down there
instead of on a mountain. Hades gets to control the underworld; earth shared in
common, Poseidon get sea, Zeus the sky. Bad luck to use the name “Hades” didn’t
want to draw attention to them or associate them with underworld so euphemism
“the unseen one” is what they called him or sometimes “Pluto” which literally meant
Thanatos (Death) and Hypnos (Sleep)
They were twin brother gods, when someone dies death and sleep attend them, vase
painting literal on wither side of dead body. Hermes in the center, conveyor of the
soul, his job is to take u from living to world of the dead its so difficult to cross that
you need divine help cuz barrier is so strongly reinforced. They don’t cause death,
when u worship death you’re not worshipping who will cause you to die, Greeks
believed moment u die has to do with fate. Thanatos would be kind to you and help
you to reach underworld if u worshiped him. Greeks didn’t think them as evil
actively bring to harm you but just did important function at end of your life.
Zeus thinks about preventing his son from dying, Hera convinces him not to says
Do as you wish. But we other gods will not all agree with you. And I’ll
tell you something else—make sure you remember it. If you send
Sarpedon home alive, take care some other god does not desire to
send his dear son from the killing zone. Around Priam’s great city,
many men, sons of the immortals, are now fighting. You’ll enrage
those gods and make them bitter. But if Sarpedon’s dear to you, if
your heart feels pity for him, then let him be killed in a fierce combat
at Patroclus’ hands, son of Menoetius.
Zeus has power to go beyond powers of fate but Hera reminds him that everyone
has a fated death, Zeus knows son is going to die but doesn’t intervene, if Zeus can
save his son then other god would save there sons and the balance of things would
Prosthesis, Ekphora, Burial
Cuz death was strange thing didn’t know what would happen on the other side,
Greeks had a lot of diff ritual activities to make it easier for this transition to happen.
Dead person hasn’t fully made transition to the dead and pp mourning also in
liminal state not doing normal stuff their grieving, meant to help ppl get back to
were they were suppose to be. Women screaming tearing out their hair. May 24, 2013
2 step the Ekphora the carrying out, take corpse to place were its going to be
buried carried on a stretcher or wagon, eventually all Trojan heroes are burned.
Offerings, pour wine libations, fruit, honey sometimes animal would be sacrificed
ritual moment marked. Maybe once a year or more could repeat offerings, leave
ribbons, flowers and cakes, tangible that shows you are facilitating transition of
living to dead. Didn’t have to provide for an entire life for this person in the afterlife
like the Egyptians. If you don’t provide proper rituals, then difficult, person could
have poor life or be prevented from arriving in underworld, stuck in between.
Odysseus goes down to the underworld to ask ghost of Tiresias how he could go
back home. Odysseus doesn’t enter underworld but goes to the edge and sacrifices a
black animal, all the ghosts come and want to drink pool of blood, he has
conversation with Tiresias and figures out how he’s going to go home. He meats a
sailor who wasn’t buried and the ghost begs Odysseus to perform death ritual for
him, he goes back to island and buries the sailor.
Illiad-Achilles has a beloved friend, he is so sad that he ceases to function doesn’t
burry Patroclus, then in a dream he says he’s stuck cant cross over underworld then
he feels guilty and theirs a giant funeral goes overboard cuz he feels guilty.
1 when u die, if you come to the river styx this is were if u haven’t had proper
burial you cant go across, has to hop in boat to cross. Charon spends life eternally
rowing ppl across styx, others say you have to pay, origin burying ppl with money so
they can pay the faerie man and get across.
If you were not actually dead and had crossed you’d encounter the 3 headed dog,
guarded boundary to prevent wrong ppl from being in wrong place. –Cerbereus
Rhadamanthys, Minos, Aeacus
Then when they know your dead for sure, you encounter 3 judges, Rhadamanthy,
Minos, and Aeacus, they were known for being fair, their reward if they spend
eternity judging the souls of the dead. Most ppl who end up in underworld, life is
bland; wandering around (limbo?) world is flat undifferentiated. Judges ignore
average person if you are an amazing hero or just person noted by the gods then
they send you to the Elysian Fields (Champs Elysees) –you had to be very far from
average to make it in these fields, everyone is happy no violence. If you get to judges
and average person even if you’re a murderer you don’t go to Tartarus, you’d have
to commit an extreme crime then they would create a punishment just for you
Standing in pool of water every time Tantalus bends down to drink the water it
recedes he also has ripe fruit in front of him but when he reaches for the fruit it
recedes. Punished because > When gods visit him, Tantalus decides to test them to
see if they are as godly as they are said to be, he cooks his own son and serves him
to the gods, they know immediately, they are furious abt this, one goddess doesn’t May 24, 2013
notice and accidently takes a bite (Demeter) cuz she is in so much grief over her
daughter (Persephone) that she doesn’t notice. Tantalus is sent to underworld
Tartarus. Tantalus’ son (who was killed) is resurrected by the gods and is given an
ivory shoulder since Demeter ate it.
Ixion was punished for conceiving passion for Hera which is greatest ironies, Zeus is
upset someone is showing Hera so much attention Zeus sends a fake cloud of Hera
to Ixion, Ixion tries to have sex with the cloud and is send to the underworld for that.
Punishment-perpetually having his liver plucked out by birds and there was a rock
positioned above his head which could fall but never does. Crime >Tityus tried to
rape Leto mother of Apollo and Artemis, while she was pregnant with the twins.
This was completely heinous in the eyes of the gods and thus Tityus is punished.
Punishment > The Danaids have to fill up cauldron, when they go to well to get
water cauldron is empty again. Crime>Their were 50 Danaids, and had 50 cousins
which say they will get married, sisters hatch a plot which is to kill their husbands
on their wedding night 49 of them do this, except for one cuz she actually loves her
husband/cousin. Women going against men who should have power.
Punishment > Forever to be rolling a huge boulder up a hill, then boulder rolls down
the hill when he almost reaches the top. Biggest crime > tries to transgress
boundaries of life and death, when Sisyphus realizes he’s going to die tells wife not
to perform any rituals for him. Sisyphus asks Persephone to take pity on him and let
him go back to life and tell wife how to burry him and perform proper ritual
Persephone grants him position to go back to world of living and refuses to go back
to underworld again and this is unacceptable, doesn’t work, need to be kept
separate he is dragged back down by gods of underworld and is punished.
Katabasis is the epic convention of the hero's trip into the underworld Odysseus
does this and then he comes back up again only heroes are able to do this. He goes to
very edge of underworld doesn’t cross border. Inius? In the course of his travels
trying to figure out were his ppl are going to settle he goes to Kumi meets prophesy
who says needs to go to underworld and talk to his father and then he’ll know
exactly what he needs to do. Knows cant blindly just walk to Hades, so he plucks a
golden branch off of a tree, It’s a sign that only ppl who are worthy are able to pull
branch off the tree but cuz he’s a hero and exceptional kind of human kind of like the
gods he gets permission to cross over to the underworld his father tells him his
destiny and destiny of Rome which Virgin tells flattering things about Augustus.
Reinforces that Hera and Zeus cant go to Tartarus but Hades could never live in
Olympus 2 are completely separate only Hermes is able to cross boundary. May 24, 2013
Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus goes to underworld to rescue his wife Eurydice who after getting married