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Lecture 3

CLA230- Week 3 Readings- Ch 6 +7+8.docx

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Ephraim Lytle

CLA230H1S The Greeks History, Culture and Society Textbook Notes Week 3 Chapters 6, 7,8 Ch6- Homer • Homer became the basis for Greek education and is our best source for how the Greeks thought during the 8th C BC. • Homeric Question- who was Homer? When did he live? Was there one author? When were his works written down? • Oldest surviving texts of Iliad and Odyssey date back to around AD. 1100, separated from the poet by nearly 2,000 years. • Pieces of ancient Homeric texts survived in Egypt, but only small parts- as Greek speakers who settled in Egypt after the conquest of Alexander the Great in 333BC loved to read Homer. • More papyrus fragments of Homer survive than of any other poet, and are remarkably similar to the full texts later discovered. • We have no primary source for Homer's life, who he was, where he lived etc. Scholars believe he may have been Ionian, someone from Asia Minor- but we don't know. Friedrich August Wolf • Homer was a mystery even to those in the ancient world. • 1795- Wolf published his "Introduction to Homer"- written in Latin by Wolf, a German scholar who was deeply inspired by the bible, where it came from, how old is it, who wrote it? • Wolf realized there were inconsistencies within the bible, proof that Hebrew scholars, in 6th C BC had evidently combined once independent written accounts to fashion something like the bible that has come down to us, according to modern biblical scholarship. • Homer too contains similar inconsistencies, leading to theory they were combined accounts. • Wolf argued Homer lived in an age in which writing wasn't invented yet, if he didn't write- how did he write his poems down? The "Pisistratean Recension" • Many authors (beginning with Plato 4th C BC) connected the Athenian tyrant Pisistratus to the performance and shape of Homeric poems. • rhapsode= a "staff singer", a professional reciter who would memorize the Homeric texts, among others, and perform them at the Athenian fesitval of the Great Panathenaea held every 4 years. Pisistratus used this festival to further his cultural program and enhance his political status- therefore leading to the spread of Homeric poetry. • Wolf concluded that the illiteracy of Homer's world, combined with the oral traditions and performance at the festival in 6th C BC Athens led to edits of the poems, influenced by Athenian culture at the time. Scholars call Wolf's explanation the "theory of the Pisistratean Recension". • Cicero 1st C BC, (700 years after Homer) even remarks that Pisistratus assembled the books of Homer together as one- as they had been scattered. This supports Wolf's theory. • Wolf believes they were separate songs, combined to make up the poems we know today. There was no Homer, as an individual. • Homer= can mean "he who fits things together". • Homer is just a name applied to the texts fitted together by unknown editors, probably in the 6th C BC, at least 200 years after Homer. • **Most scholars have accepted Wolf's theory, dividing the poems into "early" and "late" portions in an attempt to identify where one original song ended and another began** • Wolfgang von Goethe- believed one writer was responsible for all the texts- this idea dismissed. Milman Parry and Oral Poetry • Milman Perry- died young, Greek scholar noticed the style of Homeric poetry • each line consists of 6 units, each of which contains the three beats long-short- short or the two beats long-long= a meter called Dictylic Hexameter. The end of every line ends with a long-long fixed phrase like "swift-footed Achilles" or "Hector of the shining helm" • These fixed phrases are distinctive of Homeric style and are used not to clarify or exaggerate a dramatic situation, but to fill in the beats in a poetic line. Eg. Odysseus is called "godlike" to fill the last 5 beats, "much-knowing" to fill the last 7 beats etc. • This formula became a defining feature of oral poetry and a major discovery in the history of literary criticism. • Above all, Perry discovered there is no such thing as a fixed text- every time a poet sings the "same song" it is different, because nothing has been memorized- the oral poet has listened to the song and remembered the basic plot and themes (which are often highly stylized). The oral poet would know certain useful formulas by heart and use them at convenient points in the "line" and improvise the rest to create the basic story. • The poet composes as he goes, in a special language, responding to the audience (who can be attentive or distracted). • The average length of an oral poem was around 700 lines= a couple hours of performance- the Iliad is around 16,000 lines long. • writing down the oral poems preserves the words, but doesn't preserve the intonation, music, gestures or emphasis the oral poet had as well. • *oral poems are never passed on word for word, they are composed afresh every time** The Oral Poet in Homer • Greeks called oral poets = aoidoi= "singers" • The Odyssey tells of how after a banquet the guests would be amused by a singer who would sing a poem accompanied by his lyre- reflects a real 8th C BC Greek custom. Heinrich Schliemann and the Trojan War • 1860's scholars had convinced academics that "Homer" was an amalgam of different poets and that the Trojan War was just fiction. • German Schliemann determined to prove them wrong. • Hill called Hissarlik in NW Turkey- found Bronze Age treasure, was rough with his excavations. • At Troy he found great walls surrounding a citadel on a hill overlooking the plain and the Hellespont, just as Homer had described= Schliemann + others concluded the Trojan War was real afterall. • We know know the city of Hissarlik was in fact violently destroyed (whether by war or earthquake- we're not sure) around 1200 BC, just when Troy supposedly fell. • Hittite tablets refer to a place called "wilusa", which may be the equivalent to "ilion" the Greek name for Troy. Another tablet makes reference to "Alexander" another name for the Trojan prince Paris. *other parallels have been found in Hittite accounts and named in the Greek tradition* • Probably there was a great seige at Troy, (there had to be some reason why stories clustered around this one particular city)- but Homer's account may have little (if anything) to do with an actual war, although classical education was based off Homers account, and educated men and woman took the poems very seriously. The Tragic Iliad • Iliad takes place over 53 days in the 10th year of the Trojan War. • Only 5 days pass between books 2 and 22 (out of 24 books). • The first word of the poem is "anger", Homer sets out to explain to us that the Iliad is about the wrath of an angry Achilles. The topic being anger, a life- preserving force on the field of battle (enhancing courage in combat) but within a group, and to the individual anger brings about destruction. TimÉ and Geras • Moral systems can be ranged along a spectrum from shame cultures to guilt cultures. • Homeric society= shame culture. Shame comes from falling short of an ideal pattern of social conduct, if your companions think less of you, you have "lost face/honor". If you lose enough, you may feel like your life has lost meaning. • Guilt, is the consequence of transgression against internalized norms, often understood as the laws of God. • The sanctions of shame are external, physical and tangible while the sanctions of guilt are internal, feelings of remorse when the individual behaves "badly". • "timÉ"= translates to honor, respect, value, price. Every warrior strove for "timÉ" • The external sign of having honor was "geras" or "prize"- mainly a material object. • A man couldn't have honor without a prize, one implied the other. • Homer doesn't calls the besiegers of Troy Greeks, he calls them "Achaeans/Danaans/Argives". • Half of Homers poetry is in direct speech, in which is characters argue and interact with one another. The Iliad Summary • Iliad starts with Chryses (a Trojan priest of Apollo) going into the Greek camp and begging Agamemnon for his daughter Chryseis back who has been taken in a raid. The assembled Greeks agree the girl should be returned to avoid conflict with the dangerous prophet, but Agamemnon, the man basileus in charge of all other basileus who have come to fight as the "Greeks" together had won the girl as his concubine in a division of spoils after the raid. She was his geras "prize" and to lose her would be to lose his time "honor", his reason to strive for achievement in life- so he refuses to return her. Chryses prays to Apollo in anger, and a plague is sent to the Greek camp in retaliation by the God, killing the Achaeans in large numbers. • Achilles (another basileis) speaks before a second assembly urging they consult a prophet to seek and end to this plague. Calchas (a prophet) declares it has come about because of Agamemnons refusal to surrender his geras, the girl to her father. Agamemnon announces he will give up the girl by taking someone elses geras to replace the one he is losing. (Because it would be unseemly for the head basileus to be seen without "time" (honor) because he is giving up his gift.) He chooses a woman that has been gifted to Achilles, who although he has less political power than Agamemnon, deserves the same amount of "time" because of his amazing achievements in battle. Achilles is angered by Agamemnon taking away his girl, therefore dishonoring him- and draws his sword to attack and kill him. The goddess Athena intervenes, promising him 3X the "time" in the future if he restrains himself. Achilles prays to his mother, the goddess Thetis asking her to beg Zeus to make the Greeks lose the battle while he refuses to fight with them to make Agamemnon sorry for dishonoring him. Agamemnon's men take Achilles girl, Briseis from him. • Losing the battle, thanks to Thetis asking Zeus for help, Agamemnon calls an assembly, and he and the other war-leaders decide to attempt to persuade Achilles to return to battle with the, or they will all die soon. • Odysseus, Ajax and Phoenix (Achilles boyhood tutor) are sent to speak to Achilles. Agamemnon offers Achilles lots of geras (including the hand of his own daughter in marriage upon their arrival home to Greece) if he helps them fight the war. Achilles rejects the offer. • Achilles rejects the system on which heroic culture was built. He has internalized his sense of value, it doesn't matter what the other men think of him, because he receives his "time" from Zeus. By refusing the offer Achilles isolates himself from the other warriors, essentially making himself a tragic hero- progressively isolated and utterly alone in the face of impeding death. • Achilles good companion (in later traditions, his male lover) Patroclus begs Achilles to let him join the battle, Achilles reluctantly agrees to lend him his armor. At first Patroclus kills many men, then under the walls of Troy he is killed and his armor taken by Prince Hector- the main fighting champion on the Trojan side. • When Achilles hears of his good friends death, overwhelmed with grief and rage at Hector he attacks the Trojan forces single-handedly, cornering Hector under the walls of Troy and killing him, binding his corpse to his chariot and dragging it back to the Greek camp. • Achilles accepts Agamemnons gifts after Patroclus's death, but with little interest. Still burning with hate he drags Hectors corpse behind his chariot thinking to himself if he had returned into battle, his friend would still be alive. • Old King Priam of Troy sneaks into the Greek camp accompanied and protected by the God Hermes to beg Achilles for his son's body back. Emotional scene in which Achilles pities this old man who has lost so many of his sons in battle. Achilles invited Priam to eat with him, they admire one another. Achilles accepts Priams ransom. Poem ends with burial of Hector. Achilles is still alive- the city of Troy still stands. • **Achilles abandons his anger against his companions and against his most bitter enemies, essentially rejecting 8th C BC values based on "geras" and "time" by which all others lived. • Homer shows us Achilles finding a common humanity in both King Priam and his own father, united by the terrible suffering that human life brings. Homer and the Invention of Plot • Homer's poems are the oldest surviving examples of Western literature. • In Near Eastern literature, events are strung together one after another, Homer is the first poet who worked with a recognizably modern plot. • Aristotle (4th C BC) was the first to notice that a plot had 3 parts: a beginning, middle and an end, describing plot as a Homeric invention. • Beginning= setup= we learn who the main character is, and what his/her dramatic need is. Also establishes the dramatic context, the backdrop against which the main character functions. • Middle= plot-point= something happens that gets the action/story going. Conflict normally dominates the middle of a story. Midpoint is second plot point of the story 2/3 in, turning the story again in a new direction- towards the resolution conflict. • End= solution. Eg. Iliad first word is anger, poem ends with Achilles being able to give up his anger and forgive those who have wronged him to find inner peace. The Comic Odyssey • First word is "man" describes a man who journey's far, suffers much, then returns to his proper place in society. • Odyssey= pattern of renewal and reintegration into society, comic ( a story ending with harmony and acceptance) • Iliad= progressive alienation, tragic. • Odysseus described for his cleverness, while Achilles is described for his strength in battle. • No episode described in Iliad is repeated in the Odyssey, which provides lots of information about the Trojan War which is left out in the Iliad (including the story of the Trojan horse, funeral of Achilles and return of Helen to Sparta). • Scholars can agree the Odyssey was composed after the Iliad, by a man who knew the Iliad very well. Since there was no writing/libraries or reading public in 8th C BC, this man must have been Homer. The Quest for Truth • Mesopotamian epic "Epic of Gilgamesh"2,000 years old during Homer's time- story of a man who wanders seeking immortality before coming back home. Opening of Gilgamesh Epic similar to opening of the Odyssey. The Odyssey and History • Homer may have inherited the basic outline for the story from Near Eastern tales such as Gilgamesh, but the text is massively influenced by 8th C BC Greek culture. • Colonial movement was an important theme. Between 730-650 B, 30,000 Greeks settled all over Italy and Sicily. Taking the boat was an adventure, no surprise the Odyssey features many magical sea monsters. • Greeks settled in the west not for adventure, but for profit- reflected in the first book of the Odyssey. • Tiny Island of Ithica where Odysseus was from was on a major trade route the Greeks used on the way to Italy. Many other references in the Odyssey to places the Greeks would travel by boat during exploration or on the quest to trade along the route to Italy. • It would be no surprise if Homer himself had made this journey, as he shows a good familiarity with the island of Ithica, seems to have known it firsthand. The Odyssey and Folktale • As a trickster, Odysseus has parallels in folklore throughout the world. • The poem itself is a type of folktale, following a common pattern: hero, reduced to the lowest social class (a beggar in his own household), overcomes enormous odds (In Odysseus's case over 100 suitors attempting to marry his wife) to become King and marry the Queen. • The Odyssey's inner meaning= a man who went to the other world and returned reborn, is also a folklore motif in which heroes' greatest enemy is Death, who he meets many times in different guises (ogres, Cyclops, monsters). • Poem= study of female types. Those who help him and try and bring him down. • Folklore contains morals about how one should act, and they appeal to the universal instinct that the wicked must be punished/destroyed. • Theme: Mortals are responsible for their own actions and shouldn't not blame the Gods when things go wrong. ( we don't find this in the Iliad, where men are dying daily because the God's have chosen their fate). Telemachus, Son of Odysseus • Telemachus is under siege by the rowdy suitors who wish to marry his mother and become the new basileus. Athena (in disguise) urges him to leave his father's house and go into the world to learn his father's fate. In his travels Telemachus learns nothing about his father's location, but by being thrown into the world he becomes a man, fit to stand at his father's side and to eventually inherit his father's house and power. The Adventures of Odysseus • Odysseus has been imprisoned for 7 years on an island by Calypso. He builds a raft and sails away, but his enemy Poseidon stirs up a big storm- breaking his raft. Odysseus swims for 3 days, finally coming to the island Phaeacia, where King Alcinous rules. The virgin princess Nausicaa meets him on the shore, taking him to the palace. At a banquet someone requests the "aoidos" to sing a song of Troy, and Odysseus beings to weep hearing of the Trojan horse, admitting his identity. • There are more than 20 "recognition" scenes in the Odyssey, a common motif in folklore. There are no recognition scenes in the Iliad. • Odysseus recounts his wanderings at the banquet to all the Phaeacians- his journeys are presented in patterns of three (first two short tales, and then a long one). • After leaving Troy with 20 boats and his men they went to the land of the Thracians (NW of Troy), lost many men in the raid. Caught in a storm, boats driven to Island of Lotus Eaters, a drug in which once eaten you forget your purpose to go home again. Next they stumble across island of Cyclops, imprisoned in a cave sealed by a huge stone. His men are eaten alive, Odysseus tricks the giant by saying his name is "nobody" and blinds him. The other Cyclops yell asking what is wrong and the giant responds "nobody stabbed me" and they leave. Odysseus and some men escape on the giants sheep's underbellies from the cave. After some more random adventures Odysseus comes to island of Circe with only his 1 boat left of the 20 that originally left Troy. The witch Circe turns his men into pigs, Odysseus defeats her with help from Hermes, she releases the men from her spell. They spend a pleasant year on the island, until they decide to leave. Circe warns him he must cross the river Ocean (which surrounds the world), consult the dead prophet Tiresias to learn what else awaits him on his journey. Odysseus sails away to a "misty land" where he does a ritual and speaks to ghosts of the underworld in a pit. Speaks to Agamemnon who warns him about returning home, as woman are untrustworthy. Travelling more they pass the island of the Sirens, who sing and lure sailors to their death. Odysseus stuff's his men's ears with wax to avoid hearing the song and tells himself to the mast to not give in to their temptation- he alone hears their song and survives. He must pass between the monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis, losing 5 men to the monster they escape to island of Helios Hyperion, the Sun. Circe had warned them not to eat the god's cattle that grazed there, they disobey **folklore motif of violated prohibition** While they sail away Zeus blasts their boat for disobeying and Odysseus alone escapes, swept into whirlpool Charybdis and almost killed. At last he comes to island of Calypso, where the poem had began. • Unlike Iliad that moves forwards in plot, the Odyssey moves in spirals. Important Themes in the Adventures of Odysseus • symbolism of rebirth governs the narrative of the Odyssey. The Iliad, by contrast, never tells a story through action that has symbolic meaning. • Sea+ Poseidon= Death, Sleep + Lotus= also stop him from going home • Cyclops- customary in real Greek society to welcome a stranger of the proper social class with courtesy and food, a custom called Xenia. The Cyclops reject this custom. Odysseus and Homer • After returning home to Ithica, Odysseus plans the revenge of the basileus, the resolution of the conflict that has been brewing since the beginning of the poem. • First reveals himself to a swineherd, then his son, then is recognized by his old dog, then his nurse, the suitors recognize him after he strings a poweful bow, (an act Penelope declared she would choose her next husband from). • Using this bow he kills them all, Penelope gratefully offers him his old bed to sleep in, the request is a trick as Odysseus built the bed himself out of a tree growing out of the ground and it cannot be moved. They are reunited. • Order is restored to the oikos and to the world, a comic version of optimism/ affirmation. Triumph of right over wrong, relieves the bleak uncertainty of the Iliad. Ch7- Religion and Myth • understanding religion is fundamental to understanding the Greeks • Greeks generally refused to believe that anyone had privileged access to the supernatural, giving them the right to rule human society. • Classical Greek religion seems to have taken shape largely 8th C BC. • Myth= mythos, "thoughts", could mean a saying, plot. Definitions of Religion and Myth • religion + myth= forms of symbolic thought, expressed through speech, music, dance, art, ritual • religion= a set of practiced based on belief in supernatural beings, implying acceptance of the reality of non-human, usually invisible beings. • 5th C BC intellectuals had begun to distinguish history- the rational search for truth about the past, from myth- a story without rational claims to the truth. • Thucydides (400 BC) = first author to describe false stories as "mythical" as he critizes Herodotus's "Histories", which had appeared a couple years earlier and contained many fanciful tales. • Myths may contain historical elements but are not concerned with the truth about the past as such. • religion= a set of practices based on belief in invisible non-humans • myth=a story that matters within a community, and is retold for that reason(sometimes about "gods", sometimes not) • 3 types of myth 1-Divine- stories in which gods are important, creating the universe, establishing it's rules 2-Legends- (sagas) stories about heroes and the human past, analogous to our history 3-Folktale- recognized as fictional, though they may contain moral advice. • Religion and myth are inextricably intertwined. Hesiod's Myth of the Origin of the Gods- Theogony- created circa 700 BC • Hesiod distinguishes between true and false stories, because he wishes to emphasize his own story is true, inspired by the Gods. He describes how Zeus came to power and established the customs that make up the world as we know it. • First there was "Chaos" (gap,chasm), out came "Gaea" (Earth), under which "Tartarus" also sprang from "Chaos". "Eros" (sexual desire that creates living things) came from "Chaos" as well. Gaea produced Uranus (sky) (male sky god + female earth goddess= common theme). Gaea + Uranus= Titans. Uranus kept the children beneath Gaea, wouldn't let them out. Gaea fashioned a sickle out of steel and Cronus castrated his father, freeing himself and his siblings from beneath their mother. • Uranus's blood + Gaea= " Furies" or Erinyes, angry persecuting spirits who haunted those who killed their own family members. + Giants also born- a bloodthirsty race who would one day oppose Zeus in the Gigantomachy. • Aphrodite (sexual attraction) born from the foam of Uranu's genitals cast out to sea. Danger of sexual attraction and women, who uses sexual attraction as a weapon against the male **Central theme in Greek myth and culture** • Cronus becomes a bad father like his was. Swallowing his children to avoid them getting strong enough to take his power. Rhea saved her last child, Zeus and gave Cronus a stone to eat instead of the child. (2 Titans) = Zeus, Hera, Hestia, Demeter, Poseidon, Hades. • Zeus raised on island of Crete in a secret cave, came into power by overthrowing his father, and freeing his siblings. • Greek religion= polytheistic "having many gods" and anthropomorphic "imagining gods in the form of humans". • There are 2 broad categories of religion Evolutionary and Revealed • Evolutionary= embraces the totality of things feared by a social group at any one time and has no specific origin, always polytheistic, though not always anthropomorphic. Evolve
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