Classical Studies 2200 Lecture 10: Hermes and Aphrodite

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LAST TIME: APOLLO
APOLLO AND DIVINATION:
o Greeks believed in divination, and thus there were many oracular shrines
- Delphi is the most famous and influential
- Island of Delos (claimed his birth)
o Divine signs knows number of grains of sand on the beach
o Gods are everywhere, but they rarely appear to even the heroes
o More often they are either disguised or invisible
o They know stuff that we’d like to know
o The seer (and the mantis) [man- madness/mania, divine possession] and prophecy
- A mantis reads the signs abound in the world
- Common form occurs during blood sacrifice
o Two main kinds of divination
- Reading the Senata (“signs”)
- Inspiration (meaning breathing into someone, gods could do this with
courage/strength, Greek word enthusiasmos
having a god in you, being
possessed, and that’s what happened to Delphi)
- Apollo spoke through a woman Pythia
DELPHIC ORACLE
o “The lord, whose oracle is at Delphi, neither speaks nor conceals, but gives a sign”
[Heraclitus]
o What is an oracle?
- Cult? Or answer given?
o Delphic ambiguity less direct
o Delphic style of poem you receive when asking Apollo a question
o Importance of Delphi
HE RMES (MERC U RY)
THE NAME: HERMES
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o The Herm, boundary maker
o The Gorge of Samaria, Crete
o A pile of rocks created by many people hiking down the gorge
o Reflect habit of people marking their passage when travelling
o Rock piles were eventually replaced with a new Herm that put
the god more in front and center
ATTIC HERMS
o Introduced during the reign of the Pisistratids (latter part of the 6th century B.C.)
o Set up as half-way markers on the roads between Athens and the Attic townships as
well as cross-roads, in market places, and doorsteps
o A pillar with a bearded head (Hermes)
o A phallos mounted on the pillar
o Possibly connected with the worship of Hermes of the agora (agoraios)
o The new style of herm became popular
o “By the late 5th century the doorstep herm, that cheerfully shameless figure,
must have been much more familiar divine presence in the streets of Athens”
(R. Parker)
o It was frequently portrayed on vases
o It developed strong political associations (cf. the mutilation
of the herms in 415 B.C.)
o Significance?
- Fertilitity symbol?
- Symbol of male aggression or potency?
o Function?
- Marker?
- Message board?
HERMES THE THEIF
o The theft of Apollo’s cattle is part of his birth-myth
o Hermes is portrayed as a thief in the Iliad
o Thieves prayed to Hermes (cf. Hipponax)
o He appears in this role in the myth of slaying Argos
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ARGEIPHONTES
o Zeus seduces Io (a priestess of Hera)
o He is caught red-handed by Hera
o Zeus changes Io into a white cow and swears that he has not lain with her
- The connection between these two actions is not very clear in Apollodorus’ account
o Hera asks Zeus for the cow, and sets Argos to guard it
- Argos has many eyes
o Io then wanders (in some versions driven by a gadfly),
and finally bears Zeus’ son Epaphus in Egypt
o In ordinary Greek life, a bit of luck was called Hermaion
- A Hermes-thing, a piece of Hermes
HERMES THE HERALD OR MESSANGER (KÊRYX OR ANGELOS)
o The divine model of mortal heralds (someone who delivers messages)
o Familiar iconography (staff [symbol of a messenger, and a magic wand to lead the dead
to the next world], winged sandals [carries messages from Olympus to the Underworld])
o Messenger must be protected but also recognizable
PSYCHOPOMP (PSYCHOPOMPOS)
o Conveys the souls of the dead to the next world
o Uses the magic staff (known as the caduceus or kerykeoin)
o Connection between the stone pile and the grave
LYRE
o Hermes apparently invented the instrument with a tortoise ‘
o Gives that lyre to Apollo
o The figure of Hermes is united by a concern with boundaries,
both defining them and transcending them
o R. Mercury = all about business, different side of Hermes
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Document Summary

Apollo and divination: greeks believed in divination, and thus there were many oracular shrines. Delphi is the most famous and influential. A mantis reads the signs abound in the world. Common form occurs during blood sacrifice: two main kinds of divination. Inspiration (meaning breathing into someone, gods could do this with courage/strength, greek word enthusiasmos having a god in you, being possessed, a(cid:374)d that(cid:859)s (cid:449)hat happe(cid:374)ed to delphi(cid:895) Apollo spoke through a woman pythia: (cid:862)the lord, (cid:449)hose ora(cid:272)le is at delphi, (cid:374)either speaks (cid:374)or (cid:272)o(cid:374)(cid:272)eals, (cid:271)ut gi(cid:448)es a sig(cid:374)(cid:863) Or answer given: delphic ambiguity less direct, delphic style of poem you receive when asking apollo a question, importance of delphi. Hermes the theif: the theft of apollo(cid:859)s (cid:272)attle is part of his (cid:271)irth-myth, hermes is portrayed as a thief in the iliad, thieves prayed to hermes (cf. Hipponax: he appears in this role in the myth of slaying argos.

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