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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Women in Myth; Praise and Blame

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Regina Höschele

CLA219: Women inAntiquity Tuesday Sept 18, 2012 Lecture 2 - Women in Myth: Praise and Blame (TO BE READ TOGETHER WITHACCOMPANYING READING NOTES) • Pandora told in Hesiod Told twice • • Hesiod’s Theogony is an epic about the genesis and birth of the god • Pandora appears there (without a name) as ‘female wickedness’as an act of revenge for what Prometheus has done • Prometheus = Titan • Titan’s and gods always at odds • Prometheus is always on side of the humans • Zeus takes fire away and Prometheus steals it back • Zeus is angry, creates along with the other gods, this figure called Pandora • Prometheus is badly punished (tied to rock to have his liver eaten by eagle [iconographic of zeus] which regrows every day) • Pandora (meaning all-gifted) is perfect and gorgeous endowed with gifts form the gods • Can also be understood as she who gives all the evils He sends Pandora to brother Epimetheus (brother of Prometheus) • • Prometheus = forethought • Epimetheus = afterthought • Epimetheus takes in Pandora • She is entrusted with the a jar of all evils • Box is not proper translation • Pithos = jar (the original text) • Works and Days = didactic epos • Didactic = teaching; a genre of teaching • Works and Days primarily addressed to Hesiod’s brother Perses • Teaches Perses how to be good and work for his livelihood • We have diseases and troubles because of Pandora • Very strong misogynist position • Jar = the female vagina • That is where evil resides • This idea is encountered again and again in ancient thought • The troubling passage here is about hope • Why does hope rest in jar? • Are women the keeper of hope? Or is there no hope left for mankind? • Hope resembling offspring (jar as vagina motif) • Is she being manipulative? Giving illusion of a better time • Hope in the jar as motivation - it doesn’t disappear but stays there • Is hope the expectation of further evils? • Hope can be expectation in greek • Spared premonition The female as being bad and associated/connect with evils • CLA219: Women inAntiquity Tuesday Sept 18, 2012 Lecture 2 - Women in Myth: Praise and Blame • If you’re a man you’re screwed: married to an annoying woman OR die alone (Hesiod Theogony) • 6th century poet Hipponax (in readings) • Marriage not permanent bliss • Helen is known as the most beautiful woman on Earth, but she also caused one of the worst wars in Greek myth (I.e., the Trojan War) • Helen is child of Zeus and raped Leda, the wife of Spartan King He came to her in shape of swan • • Zeus likes to wear animal disguises • She then lays and egg and gives birth to four children • 2 are descended from Zeus; 2 from mortal husband Tyndarius Helen’s sister is Clytemnestra and brothers are Castor and Pollux • • Starting ab ovo ** (on test) • Ab ovo means from the egg • If you start a story form the very beginning and go all the way down to the story you want to tell • Homer doesn’t do this - he starts the lIliad in the tenth year of the Trojan war. He goes right into it • Later Greek writer asserts that even in the 2nd centuryAD the shells of an egg still remain in Spartan temple • Paris, the Trojan prince, judgesAphrodite the most beautiful who promises the most beautiful woman • She gives him Helen, who is already married to Menelaus • Agamemnon is brother to Menelaus and is married to Clytemnestra • Helen joins Paris in going to Troy and Greeks want revenge for that • They fight in front of Troy for 10 years • Only in the 10th year do they capture city • 10th book features Helen looking across Greek camp that lies below walls of Troy • Talks to Priam and tells him who the Greeks are • This scene has an introductory function within the lIliad • We as the readers/listeners get to know the protagonists • Logically this scene would be at the beginning of the war but he transposes it to the 10th year to suit his purposes • Teichoskopia scene = Teichos means wall, kopia to look • The old men of troy look at her and marvel at her beauty and say no wonder they fight this war cause she’s beautiful, but take her and go or she will breed sorrow for us and for our children after (can this related to hope = offspring?) • Great beauty = danger • Long tradition in classical literature puts blame on Helen • Horus the latin poet of 1st century BC says “For before Helen a cunt was the most terrible cause of war” in his Satires • She is (and the great work she is featured in has been) reduced to a cunt • The Greek poet Stesichorus composed a song in which he blamed Helen for Trojan war, loses eyesight for slandering poem (by her brothers) He then recants a song saying “Helen is not to be blamed” • CLA219: Women inAntiquity Tuesday Sept 18, 2012 Lecture 2 - Women in Myth: Praise and Blame • This is a Palinode ** (On test) • Palin = again; ode = song. So, the again song. Or take it back and do it again song This is part of a tradition to take the blame way from Helen which you see in Gorgis (read on- • line) • These are the philosopher figures that Plato doesn’t like because they take money for teaching rhetoric and oratory. You can argue anything if you have the right words • Written in tradition ofAthenian political speeches (but this is an imaginary speech) Encomium = a praise • • It is the mortal version of a hymn (song of praise of anthropos) • Takes blame from Helen because there are four possibilities: • If she followed Paris by divine will we can’t blame her; a mere mortal is powerless in this case (and blameless) • If she was kidnapped by Paris we cannot blame the victim • If Helen was persuaded by Paris speech (oratory skill) then she fell for rhetorical tricks and is blameless • If she fell in love by Eros then we cannot blame her Rhetorical showpiece to be admired for technique of persuasion • • Paris never gives her back - if she were to run he wouldn’t let her. So is he to blame instead? • Afragment we have says that the Trojan war was started because of overpopulation • Peleus and Thetis (parents ofAchilles) don’t invite Eres and she throws the apple into the wed- ding party • There is an alternate version which says she was never in Troy, only an image of her. He was fooled to take her, and the real her was taken to Egypt by the gods where she was blameless. Menelaus ends up there in a shipwreck and they reunite • This was in a play by Euripides • Atragedy doesn’t necessarily have to have a bad ending - just needs serious subject matter • They escape from the king of Egypt who wanted to marry Helen herself • Myths have basic skeletons and the details vary • Penelope - the enduring patien
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