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CLA204H1 - November 20

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University of Toronto St. George
Lee Sawchuk

Introduction to Classical Mythology Troy and the Trojans - could have historical basis - very important text for Greeks - "good old days" of heroes - "end of mythology" House of Atreus - refers to descendants of Atreus - bad things happen to them (especially Agamemnon) - their problems start far in the past, with Tantalus • Tantalus – Ruler of Lydia (in Eastern area) - ruled at a time when mortals and gods were in direct communication – Father of Pelops and Niobe – Tested the gods - invite them to a feast - test is to see if they can figure out his trick - takes Pelops, cuts him up, boils him, and serves him to the gods - the gods recognize the trick, and normally they don't eat the meal - Demeter is distraught because of Persephone, so she eats some of the meal (shoulder) – Punished - Zeus is upset - sends him down to Tartarus - one of very few mortals there - his punishment is that he is standing in a pool of water with good hanging above; whenever he reaches for food it rises up and whenever he reaches for water it recedes (tantalize = Tantalus) - Zeus tells Hermes to put the pieces of Pelops back in the pot and boil him again; he is restored - Hephaestus makes him a new shoulder out of ivory • Pelops – Peloponnesus (this area gets named after him) – Oenomaus (king) and Hippodamia (daughter) - falls in love with the daughter • King of Pisa refuses him, unless he can beat him in a chariot race • Chariot race competition - king has special race of horses - king kills people when he catches up to them (has killed 12 already) - Pelops decides to cheat - bribes Myrtilus to rig the king's chariot so he will lose - Pelops offers up his future bride to Myrtilus on the first night - chariot falls apart and the king loses/is killed - Pelops marries Hippodamia, and they flee with Myrtilus - Myrtilus tries to sleep with Hippodamia and Pelops throws him off a cliff – Curse of Myrtilus - curses Pelops and all of his descendants - blood-guilt from this murder will make Pelops's descendants have a bad time - popular with Zeus; worshipped; involved in Olympian games - Pelops becomes king of Pisa and rules • Atreus and Thyestes are his two sons – Oracle: Pelops’ son to rule Mycenae (because the current rulers have died out) - who will get to rule? – decide that they need tokens of recognition to decide who rules • Atreus has a golden fleece - supposed to sacrifice it, but keeps it instead - they decide that whoever can produce a golden fleece can win - Atreus's wife gave it to Thyestes, so he now has it • Zeus and the sun - decide that they need another sign - if Zeus makes the sun go the other way, Atreus will be king - Zeus does this, Atreus is proclaimed king of Mycenae - Atreus in charge, Thyestes banished (though in some versions Thyestes rules) – Atreus’ revenge for his wife cheating on him - invites him to Mycenae claiming to want reconciliation - Thyestes arrives with his family and goes to Atreus's for dinner - Atreus kills the children of Thyestes and serves them for dinner - Thyestes eats them and then Atreus reveals - Thyestes runs away • Curse of Thyestes - Thyestes curses Atreus and his family - some people point to this as the reason for all the trouble - some people say it is Myrtilus's curse - some people say it is because of Tantalus – Thyestes’ revenge - Oracle: must sleep with his daughter - rapes a woman and leaves his sword behind when he flees - the woman becomes pregnant; she was his long-lost daughter - still trying to get revenge; Atreus also wants more revenge - Atreus gets his sons to find Thyestes - Atreus falls in love with Thyestes's daughter and marries her - he thinks that the child is his own, but really it is Thyestes's - + Pelopia -> Aegisthus (Thyestes's son) - Atreus raises Aegisthus as his own - the sons find Thyestes and bring him back - Aegisthus goes to kill him, recognizes the sword that he left, and they realize that he is his son (Pelopia confirms it) - family reunion - Pelopia kills herself because she found out that her father raped her - Aegisthus is loyal to Thyestes - tells Atreus that he killed Thyestes, who really escaped - Aegisthus kills Atreus – Thyestes rules Mycenae - proper heirs to the throne of Mycenae (sons of Atreus) flee to Sparta House of Tyndareüs • Agamemnon and Menelaus (proper rules) (Atreïdae = "sons of Atreus") – Flee to Spartan king Tyndareüs, who wants to help them - nobody likes that Thyestes is ruling • Leda’s Descendents (she is married to Tyndareus) – Zeus the Swan rapes her on the same night that Tyndareus sleeps with her – 4 children • From Zeus: Polydeuces and Helen (immortal) • From Tyndareüs: Castor and Clytemnestra (mortal) • OR: lays 2 eggs • Agamemnon marries Clytemnestra • other daughter Helen is said to be the most beautiful woman in the world • Oath of Tyndareüs – Helen attracts many suitors (she is so beautiful) • Odysseus, Diomedes, Ajax (son of Telamon), Philoctetes, Patroclus, Menelaus, many others... – Tyndareüs worried--so many powerful men want his daughter; his decision - worried that those he doesn't pick will be upset • Odysseus offers to help--has a solution to prevent that from happening - he does this as long as he can marry Penelope (Tyndareus's niece) - she is the perfect wife – All suitors swear oath to be civil regardless of decision, punish uncivil – Menelaus is chosen based on the gifts that he offers • Hermione is the child of Menelaus and Helen • Rules in Sparta afterwards (next in line for throne; Tyndareus steps aside) • Oath of Tyndareüs “But of all who came for the maid's sake, the lord Tyndareus sent none away, nor yet received the gift of any, but asked of all the suitors sure oaths, and bade them swear and vow with unmixed libations that no one else henceforth should do aught apart from him as touching the marriage of the maid with shapely arms; but if any man should cast off fear and reverence and take her by force, he bade all the others together follow after and make
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