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Lecture 1

CLAS 1100 Lecture 1: Greek Mythology Exam 1
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Department
Classics
Course Code
CLAS 1100
Professor
Edwin Lansford

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Chapter 1: The Nature of Myth
Myth: a traditional (anonymous) story with collective importance
Handed over orally
Different narrator different translations/motives, therefore are constantly changing
Greek Literature is our main source of information about the Greek myths
Greek Art is one of our main sources of how Greeks pictured their Gods
Types of myths:
1. Divine Myths: stories in which supernatural beings/Gods are the main actors
Generally explain why the world the way it is
Events take place outside of human time
Hesiod’s Theogony: the origin of the Gods
2. Legends: stories if the great deeds of human hero’s/heroines
Narrate the events of the human past
Homer’s Odyssey: Odysseus homeward journey from the Trojan War
3. Folktales: stories whose actors are ordinary people/animals
Teach/justify patterns of behavior
Cautionary tales or adventures
Not historical meant to entertain
Tale of Perseus: obtained magical weapons, beheaded Medusa, and fought the
sea monster (son of Zeus)
a) Folktale types: There are several folktale types. One type that may be familiar is
the "Cinderella type." A story in which an abused younger sister, assisted by a spirit,
appears in a fancy dress at a ball, disappears from the prince's admiring glance, then is
recognized and marries the prince
b) Folktale motifs: Folktale types are made up of smaller elements called folktale
motifs that can be recombined in endless variety. Folktales generally have several
motifs. They are the cells that make up the body of a tale.
4. Etiological tale: Explains the causes that brought the world into existence.
For example, an etiological myth explained the origin of Mt. Etna, a
dangerous volcano in Sicily
Chapter 2: The Cultural Context
Greece has rugged/mountainous land with a small range of isolated plains for
agriculture/
Difficult to farm but can grow: Grapes (Dionysia), Wheat (Demeter), and Olive
(Athena)
Aegean Sea: Greatest Greek natural resource (Poseidon)
o Isolated Greek communities and provided avenue of
communication/trade: exported: Wine, Olive Oil, Pottery
Hades: God of the Underworld
The Persian Empire: Darius the Great was the lord of light “Ahura Mazda”
Early/Middle Bronze Age:
1st Appearance of civilization
Indo-Europeans brought linguistic/cultural traditions to Greece
Knossos: the language and culture were pre-Greek
Cyclades Culture: know nothing about their culture or language except for clay
statues of woman. Perhaps fertility Goddesses?
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Minoan Culture: Economic/social centers, the dominant deity seems to have
been female
Bulls important figure/Sports/religion
Labrys (double axe) used for sacred sacrifice
Late Bronze Age (Mycenaean Age):
Rise of Mycenaean civilization
Birth of Greek mythology
The age of the Trojan War (city of Troy): All the Greeks gathered in Euboea
sailed for Troy besieged the city for ten years and finally captured it by a ruse
Hittites had a problem with Achaeans
Named for stone citadel of Mycenae in Peloponnesus
Mycenaean Religion: palaces/power and religion hand in hand, worshipped
female goddesses
Powerful Kings/ Richness and importance of city was clear through tombs
“Achaeans”: word Homer used for “Greeks”
Linear B: only written documentation found
Gods that appear:
oZeus (king of all the gods), Hera (wife/queen of all gods), Poseidon (son
of Zeus/lord of sea), Athena, Artemis (great huntress), Potnia (Lady lord),
Hermes (messenger/trickster), and Dionysus
Greek Legends originated in this time
The Olympian’s: mythological scenes begin to appear in vase painting, Iliad and Homer
The Dark Age: the destruction of the Mycenaean world thought to be from the invasion
of the Dorian’s
Ionia: refugees took possession
The Archaic Period: introduction of Greek Alphabet
Polis: politically independent city-state, concept of citizenship
The Heroes: “demi-god” - divine lineage
Tomb of Achilles: Bronze Age tombs were identified as heroes graves and became
places of worship - attracted legends
Heroes: mortals who has skipped death and become a god
The Classical Period: Persians invade and Greece defeats the Persians
Democracy in Athens/Age of polis
Persian army discovered explosive power of the new form of government when they
invaded Greece
Peloponnesian War: Athens vs. Sparta (two most powerful), Political division, Sparta
won
Greece would never recover
Macedon was new power
Alexander the Great conquered most of Greece/Persian Empire
Religion is a function of the state- sacred and secular is inextricably mingled - political
religion
The Hellenistic Period: Period that began with the death of Alexander The Great
Empire broke up into separate hostile kingdoms
Rome gradually conquers territory
Greek Religion:
1. No revelation/religious texts - orthopraxis: the correct performance of prescribed
rituals
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2. Every aspect of life- birth, coming of age, death, agriculture- part of religious
rituals/procedures
3. There was no founder sent by gods - the founder of a city is the founder of its
cults - religious authority was shared by elected priests
4. The only real requirement was correct observance of ritual - allowed to think
about the gods/world in whatever way they wanted
5. Greek religion was inherently social, determined by membership in a group not
by choice - religious duties came by birth
6. There was a religious aspect to every communal activity and a communal aspect
to every religious activity
7. No moral code - same codes of behavior were applicable in a religious context as
in any other social context
8. The aim of religion was to promote prosperity of community - not for individual
Greek Men:
Trained to be soldiers
Highly “agonistic” - competitive
Symposium - men would get together - area of social competition
Homoeroticism - older men courted younger men
Greek Woman:
Secluded - married off - couldn’t leave house without escort
Slaves: economies depended on - had no rights
Hercules sold as slave to foreign queen to serve as her sexual playmate
Narcissus: fell and drowned looking at reflection - his body was changed into a flower -
“self-love”
Greek Gods:
The Olympians: group of 12 gods who ruled after the overthrow of the Titans:
Zeus: God of sky and thunder - king of all gods - Zeus and the roman god Jupiter
descended from same Indo-European word which meant “shine”/sky god - lives on
mount Olympus
Symbols: Thunder, eagle, bull
Hera: Goddess of women and marriage - wife and one of three sisters of Zeus
Symbols: Peacock, feather, lotus
Poseidon: God of the sea - “Earth-shaker”
Symbols: Trident, fish, horse
Demeter: Goddess of crops and fruit/wheat/fertility of the earth
Symbols: Cornucopia, wheat, torch
Athena: Goddess of wisdom/many crafts including olives/
courage/inspiration/civilization/law and justice/mathematics/strength/war strategy/the
arts
Symbol: Olive, Owls, armor,
Apollo: God of light and sun/music/truth/prophecy/healing/the sun and
light/plague/poetry, Archer
Symbols: wreath, bow and arrows
Artemis: Mistress of animals
Symbols: bows, arrows, hunting dog
Ares: God of war (physical or violent and untamed aspect of war)
Symbols: spear, helmet, and chariot
Aphrodite: Goddess of love
Symbol: Rose, dove
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Description
Chapter 1: The Nature of Myth Myth: a traditional (anonymous) story with collective importance Handed over orally  Different narrator different translations/motives, therefore are constantly changing  Greek Literature is our main source of information about the Greek myths  Greek Art is one of our main sources of how Greeks pictured their Gods Types of myths: 1. Divine Myths: stories in which supernatural beings/Gods are the main actors  Generally explain why the world the way it is  Events take place outside of human time  Hesiod’s Theogony: the origin of the Gods 2. Legends: stories if the great deeds of human hero’s/heroines Narrate the events of the human past  Homer’s Odyssey: Odysseus homeward journey from the Trojan War 3. Folktales: stories whose actors are ordinary people/animals Teach/justify patterns of behavior Cautionary tales or adventures Not historical meant to entertain  Tale of Perseus: obtained magical weapons, beheaded Medusa, and fought the sea monster (son of Zeus) a) Folktale types: There are several folktale types. One type that may be familiar is the "Cinderella type." A story in which an abused younger sister, assisted by a spirit, appears in a fancy dress at a ball, disappears from the prince's admiring glance, then is recognized and marries the prince b) Folktale motifs: Folktale types are made up of smaller elements called folktale motifs that can be recombined in endless variety. Folktales generally have several motifs. They are the cells that make up the body of a tale. 4. Etiological tale: Explains the causes that brought the world into existence.  For example, an etiological myth explained the origin of Mt. Etna, a dangerous volcano in Sicily Chapter 2: The Cultural Context  Greece has rugged/mountainous land with a small range of isolated plains for agriculture/  Difficult to farm but can grow: Grapes (Dionysia), Wheat (Demeter), and Olive (Athena)  Aegean Sea: Greatest Greek natural resource (Poseidon) o Isolated Greek communities and provided avenue of communication/trade: exported: Wine, Olive Oil, Pottery Hades: God of the Underworld The Persian Empire: Darius the Great was the lord of light “Ahura Mazda” Early/Middle Bronze Age: st  1 Appearance of civilization  Indo-Europeans brought linguistic/cultural traditions to Greece  Knossos: the language and culture were pre-Greek  Cyclades Culture: know nothing about their culture or language except for clay statues of woman. Perhaps fertility Goddesses?  Minoan Culture: Economic/social centers, the dominant deity seems to have been female  Bulls important figure/Sports/religion  Labrys (double axe) used for sacred sacrifice Late Bronze Age (Mycenaean Age):  Rise of Mycenaean civilization  Birth of Greek mythology  The age of the Trojan War (city of Troy): All the Greeks gathered in Euboea sailed for Troy besieged the city for ten years and finally captured it by a ruse  Hittites had a problem with Achaeans  Named for stone citadel of Mycenae in Peloponnesus  Mycenaean Religion: palaces/power and religion hand in hand, worshipped female goddesses  Powerful Kings/ Richness and importance of city was clear through tombs  “Achaeans”: word Homer used for “Greeks”  Linear B: only written documentation found  Gods that appear: o Zeus (king of all the gods), Hera (wife/queen of all gods), Poseidon (son of Zeus/lord of sea), Athena, Artemis (great huntress), Potnia (Lady lord), Hermes (messenger/trickster), and Dionysus  Greek Legends originated in this time The Olympian’s: mythological scenes begin to appear in vase painting, Iliad and Homer The Dark Age: the destruction of the Mycenaean world thought to be from the invasion of the Dorian’s Ionia: refugees took possession The Archaic Period: introduction of Greek Alphabet Polis: politically independent city-state, concept of citizenship The Heroes: “demi-god” - divine lineage Tomb of Achilles: Bronze Age tombs were identified as heroes graves and became places of worship - attracted legends Heroes: mortals who has skipped death and become a god The Classical Period: Persians invade and Greece defeats the Persians Democracy in Athens/Age of polis Persian army discovered explosive power of the new form of government when they invaded Greece Peloponnesian War: Athens vs. Sparta (two most powerful), Political division, Sparta won Greece would never recover Macedon was new power Alexander the Great conquered most of Greece/Persian Empire Religion is a function of the state- sacred and secular is inextricably mingled - political religion The Hellenistic Period: Period that began with the death of Alexander The Great Empire broke up into separate hostile kingdoms Rome gradually conquers territory Greek Religion: 1. No revelation/religious texts - orthopraxis: the correct performance of prescribed rituals 2. Every aspect of life- birth, coming of age, death, agriculture- part of religious rituals/procedures 3. There was no founder sent by gods - the founder of a city is the founder of its cults - religious authority was shared by elected priests 4. The only real requirement was correct observance of ritual - allowed to think about the gods/world in whatever way they wanted 5. Greek religion was inherently social, determined by membership in a group not by choice - religious duties came by birth 6. There was a religious aspect to every communal activity and a communal aspect to every religious activity 7. No moral code - same codes of behavior were applicable in a religious context as in any other social context 8. The aim of religion was to promote prosperity of community - not for individual Greek Men: Trained to be soldiers Highly “agonistic” - competitive Symposium - men would get together - area of social competition Homoeroticism - older men courted younger men Greek Woman: Secluded - married off - couldn’t leave house without escort Slaves: economies depended on - had no rights Hercules sold as slave to foreign queen to serve as her sexual playmate Narcissus: fell and drowned looking at reflection - his body was changed into a flower - “self-love” Greek Gods: The Olympians: group of 12 gods who ruled after the overthrow of the Titans: Zeus: God of sky and thunder - king of all gods - Zeus and the roman god Jupiter descended from same Indo-European word which meant “shine”/sky god - lives on mount Olympus Symbols: Thunder, eagle, bull Hera: Goddess of women and marriage - wife and one of three sisters of Zeus Symbols: Peacock, feather, lotus Poseidon: God of the sea - “Earth-shaker” Symbols: Trident, fish, horse Demeter: Goddess of crops and fruit/wheat/fertility of the earth Symbols: Cornucopia, wheat, torch Athena: Goddess of wisdom/many crafts including olives/ courage/inspiration/civilization/law and justice/mathematics/strength/war strategy/the arts Symbol: Olive, Owls, armor, Apollo: God of light and sun/music/truth/prophecy/healing/the sun and light/plague/poetry, Archer Symbols: wreath, bow and arrows Artemis: Mistress of animals Symbols: bows, arrows, hunting dog Ares: God of war (physical or violent and untamed aspect of war) Symbols: spear, helmet, and chariot Aphrodite: Goddess of love Symbol: Rose, dove Hephaestus: blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes Symbol: hammer Hermes: transitions and boundaries, worlds of mortal and divine, trickster Dionysus: God of wine Symbol: grapevine, cheetah Chapter 3: The Development of Classical Myth Aoidoi: “oral poet”/singers - myth makers of early Greece Catal Huyuk: oldest known agricultural community in the world - cycladic influence - statue of goddess giving birth Potnia Theron: "Lady of beasts," whose role in Greek religion was to promote an abundance of game. Associated with Artemis - often used to describe female divinities associated with animals. Phoenicians: great power to Greek civilizations - Ba’al (lord) storm gods Mesopotamia: Known as the "land between rivers," which occupies the region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern day Iraq. Many Greek myths are Mesopotamian in origin (battle of the gods) Most of what we know is from the Old Testament Clay tablets with cuneiform - found Babylonian story of creation → borrowed stories too much later Genesis Sumerians: They are of unknown racial stock, which spoke a language unrelated to any other known language. They lived close to the Persian Gulf near the estuary of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. 1st city-state: times of prosperity brought slaves, gold, animals, exotic clothing and spices 1st true writing: cuneiform writing, most widespread form of writing before Greek alphabet Gods: An: "Sky," was a god of the infinite expanse of the dome above us, across which the sun travels and from which the rain falls. He was originally the supreme authority, the source of order in the worlds of gods above and humans below. Just like Greek god Zeus. Inanna: "Queen of heaven," was goddess of sexual love, and curiously, war. She is similar to Aphrodite in Greek myth. (Said to be An’s daughter) Enlil: "Lord of the storm," embodied force, power, the unruly violence of a thunderstorm. But he was also a king. Son of Anu. Enlil's position was similar to that of Zeus in Greek myth. Enki: "Lord of the earth," was so named because he ruled the sweet ground water found beneath the soil. Enki has much in common with Hermes but also shares features with Hephaestus, Prometheus, Poseidon, and Dionysus. Ki: Mother Earth - similar to Greek Demeter Semites: Semi Nomadic peoples who inhabited the steppe at the fringes of the Arabian Desert and pushed constantly against the river cultures of Mesopotamia. Akkadians: Named after their capital, Akkad, whose ruins have never been found. took over the southern Sumerian cities and adopted Sumerian culture. Hebrews: Best known of the Semitic people, who traced their ancestry back to Abraham (ca. 2000 BCE), who came from "Ur of the Chaldees" in southern Mesopotamia, that is, from Sumer. Abraham: migrated to Canaan (Israel) after Yahweh promised that he would become father of a mighty nation - descendants became slaves to pharaoh in Egypt Moses: led Hebrews out of Egypt and gave them 10 commandments (in Sinai peninsula) Writing: Phoenician alphabet Babylonians: Uranus → Cronus → Zeus, creation story Marduk: Creator God, like Zeus as a thunder god Israel: Yahweh is storm god - the Promised Land by Yahweh Moses raised up by god to save people insists that pharaoh should let people go - split red sea and drowns Egyptian army Epiphany on Mount Sinai: Elijah vs. Prophets of Ba’al: competition of gods - god who sends fire - Yahweh sends fire - proved to be true god Hittites: One of the most powerful and important peoples of the Late Bronze Age, who controlled central Anatolia (Asia Minor) from about 1600 to 1200 BCE. Myth: murder of god Osiris and his resurrection through the magic of sister Iris Homer: Homer wrote the earliest forms of Greek literature. Two famous works attributed to Homer are The Odyssey (Odysseus return home after absence of 20 years) and The Iliad (wrath of Achilles). We know nothing concrete about Homer's life. Epic: Homer wrote epics. The Odyssey and the Iliad are two epics, which are long narrative poems celebrating the deeds of heroes. Hesiod: Lived from (ca. 750-700 BCE). He tells us about himself in his surviving poems, the Theogony ("origin of the gods") and Works and Days, a sort of combination of moral treatise and almanac. Homeric Hymns: Like the poems of Hesiod and Homer, the Homeric Hymns were composed orally and, in antiquity, were believed to be by Homer himself. However, we now know that they are from a later date, mostly from the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. Classical Period: Humanism: Ethics and secular law together are at the heart of humanism, which was valued in Western civilization. Choral Song: Choral songs were memorized for public presentation by a group of twelve or more boy or girl dancers (Greek choros="dance.") Tragedy: The origin of tragedy is obscure. The word tragoidia means "goat song." Because the goat was an animal often associated with Dionysus, at whose spring festival in Athens tragedies were staged, the name may be taken from the song sung during the sacrifice of a goat in the god's honor. Aeschylus: Lived ca. 525-456 BCE. He is the earliest tragedian whose works survive. We have seven plays of more than eighty he wrote. Sophocles: Lived ca. 496-406 BCE. His career exactly coincides with the political and cultural dominance of Athens. He was born six years before the Battle of Marathon, he died two years before Athens' humiliation by Sparta at the end of the Peloponnesian War. Of the 123 plays he wrote, only 7 survive. Euripides: Lived ca. 484-406 BCE. More plays survive from Euripides than Aeschylus and Sophocles combined, nineteen from the more than ninety he wrote. Hellenistic Period: Apollonius of Rhodes: From the third century BCE. He wrote an epic poem on Jason in the style of Homer, the Argonautica, our most important treatment of this myth, and the poem on which we base our own account (found in chapter 19--just for your reference). Roman Period: Library of Apollodorus: ca. 120 CE. This is not a work of art, but it is a straightforward account of mythical events from the creation of the world to the death of Odysseus. It's one of our best resources for understanding Greek myth. Vergil: Lived ca. 70-19 BCE. He was the greatest Roman poet, who told the story of Aeneas in the epic the Aeneid. This poem has one of our fullest descriptions of the underworld and our most vivid account of the sack of Troy. Ovid/Metamorphoses: Lived ca. 43 BCE-17 CE. He is a generation younger than Vergil, and is our most important source from the period of the early Roman Empire. Ovid left us many works, but his most famous is his Metamorphoses, which is by far the most substantial and influential repertory of Greek myth that we have Chapter 4: Myths of Creation Genesis: Hesiod tells the origin of the universe through succeeding generations of the gods Genesis, Chapters 1–11 God creates the world/humankind by speaking into the darkness and calling into being light/sky/living creatures over the course of 6 days - God places the two people, Adam and Eve, in the idyllic garden of Eden, encouraging them to procreate and forbidding them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - Serpent convinces them to eat the tree’s forbidden fruit - God curses the serpent and Adam/Eve (Eve will be cursed to suffer painful childbirth and must submit to her husband’s authority and Adam is cursed to toil and work the ground for food) - Generations pass, and humankind becomes more evil - God make plans to destroy humankind - God instructs Noah to build an ark while God sends a great flood to destroy the earth - Rain falls in a deluge for forty days, submerging the earth in water for more than a year - God vows never to destroy the earth again, and he designates the rainbow to be a symbol of his covenant. Generation’s pass and humankind again becomes corrupt. Some attempt to assert their greatness and power by building a large tower that would enable them to reach the heavens. Their arrogance angers God, - sca
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