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Lecture 1 - Goddesses in Ancient Myth

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Regina Höschele

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CLA219: Women inAntiquity Tuesday Sept 11, 2012 Lecture 1 - Goddesses inAncient Myth • Antiquity = western ancient culture centered on the mediterranean • How do we know anything about women? Archaeological/material evidence • • Epigraphy • Artifacts • Literature • We don’t have immediate access, only through remains • In most cases we get a male perspective Historical Periods • Ancient Greece • Archaic ca. 750 - 500 BC • Classical ca. 500 - 323 BC • Hellenistic ca. 323 - 30 BC • Imperial ca. 146 BC • Rome (founded in 753 BC) • Roman Republic ca. 500 - mid 1st cent. BC • Roman Empire ca. 30 BC - 3rd cent.AD • LateAntiquity ca 4th - 6th cent.AD • Archaic period was the age of Sappho and other lyric poets • During this time the lIliad and the Odyssey were first written down • Classical Greece centered onAthens • Athens vs. Sparta - the role of women very different between the two • “Classic” refers to something timeless - so great that it is still relevant (for example, we still read the Odyssey). Meaning exemplary, or the height of high culture • People tend to think that after classical period there is nothing of great value, or that things diminish but this is not so • Hellenistic period focuses on the split ofAlexander’s empire into separate monarchs • This period ends with the battle ofActium • Greece becomes a Roman province in 16 BC • Rome is founded in 753BC • In the beginnings of ROme there was a monarchy of 7 kings, they were then replaced with the re- public Roman Empire -Augustus Printemps and the start of the emperors • • Many previous civil wars led up to the battle ofActium • Romans were a great military power; the Greeks were a great intellectual power Geography Polis sends out people to colonize • • Greek colonies in asia minor and Italy • Colonies have links back to their mother city • Parthenon - height of Classical architecture in PorcelainAge (5th century) In course of the 5th centuryAthens and Sparta fought against each other in the Peloponnesian • war and athens loses political power CLA219: Women inAntiquity Tuesday Sept 11, 2012 Lecture 1 - Goddesses inAncient Myth • Romulus and Remus found Rome Women Status of women not the same everywhere, nor at the same time • • Most cases we have a patriarchal society where females are responsible for the house and have only few public roles available to them • Misogyny - “hatred of women” • Athens is associated with birth of democracy where decisions are made by the public. But the public consisted only of free men. The Olympians • The 12 Olympians consist of Zeus (Jupiter), Hera (Juno), Demeter (Ceres), Poseidon (Neptune), Hestia (Vesta), and their offspring or progenies: Aphrodite (Venus),Athena (Minerva),Ares (Mars),Apollo,Artemis (Diana), Hephaestus (Vul- • can) Aphrodite/Venus • Goddess of love and beauty - embodiment of lust and beauty • Epithets include Kypris (Homer), Kythereia (Hesiod), Philomedea (the one who smiles; derived from the Greek word for penis),Anadyomene (meaning rising up [of the water]) • Over the centuries artists have been particularly fascinated with the latter epithet as it allows them to portray the female body as nude, which is often taboo • Born from Uranus genitals; or the daughter of Zeus and Dione • Wife of Hephaestus • Aphrodite is really not made for marriages (as we’ll find out below) • Mother of Eros (Cupid) • Mistress ofAres • Fed up with his wife’s running about Hephaestus fashions an invisible net and stretches it above the lovers’bed. When nextAphrodite cheats withAres the net falls and entangles them. Hephaestus calls to the other gods to witness the lovers’shame. • Hephaestus says she is fair but not honest and asks for the price he paid for her to be repaid • Mortal lovers includeAnchises from whom she has sonAeneas, andAdonis • Ancient religion differs because the gods can experience human emotions and trials such as lust and shame and dwell in immorality • Caesar claims to be descended from Julus, son ofAeneas • During the Judgement of Paris the three goddessesAphrodite,Athena and Hera all promised dif- ferent things in order to be judged the fairest goddess. Hera offers him position where he may rule the known world;Athena offers martial knowledge; andAphrodite offers the fairest woman to love • Helen is already married toAgamemnon, and her philandering starts the Trojan War • Her beauty is “too great” and is consequently threatening Artemis/Diana • Sister ofApollo, daughter of Leto • Virgin goddess of the hunt; hunting was often equated with chastity CLA219: Women inAntiquity Tuesday Sept 11, 2012 Lecture 1 - Goddesses inAncient Myth • If you are lost in love go hunting! • Associated with crucial aspect of maidenhood through to womanhood Transformation from maiden, to woman, to mother (childbirth) • • Later identified with Selene (the moon) • Symbols include bows and arrows • Actaeon the hunter spottedArtemis bathing. In her wrath at being seen in such an uncompromis- ing position (although it was by accident) she turned him into a stag and his own dogs set upon him • She is famous for her temple at Ephesus which was considered one of the 7 wonders of the world (perhaps in Pausanias?) • One guy then descended to become famous and thought destroying the temple seemed like a good way to achieve his ends Votive artifacts toArtemis are associated with fertility • • Many breasts/or possible testicles Demeter/Ceres • Daughter of Kronos and Rhea Mother of Persephone • • Goddess of the harvest and agriculture • Epithets include Thesmopho
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