CLASSIC 45B Lecture 9: Quest Heroes & Perseus
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Department
Classics
Course
CLASSIC 45B
Professor
Andromache Karanika
Semester
Winter

Description
Class: Classics 45B Topic: Quest Hero & Perseus Date: 2-15-17 Quest Hero ● W.H. Auden (1907-1971, poet and critic) distills factors of a heroic quest as part of defining hero ● Precious object or person to be found (or in case or person) to marry ● Long journey ● Tests and trials ● “Guardians of the Object” who test the hero or who may be “malignant” ● Human or animal helpers who offer the hero knowledge, magic, or other assistance Examples of Auden’s ● Jason associated with journey to Colchis in the Black Sea to get the categories Golden Fleece ● Also associated with princess, Medea ● Perseus is best known for his quest to get the head of MEDUSA ○ Associated with Andromeda ● Bellerophon known for his quest for CHIMERA ● Odysseus- quest for his own home ● Villains or helpers- folktale motifs Background in myth of ● Goddess Hera-association of ARGOS, KING PHORONEUS Pegasus ● City of ARGOS: center for the worship of goddess Hera ● Argive Heraion, hill where Hera’s sanctuary stood ● Phoroneus, first of men in Argive saga, establishes the kingdom of Argos ● Contest between Poseidon and Hera for patronage Ancient Sources ● PINDAR- lyrics poet-composed songs for victory of athletic games ○ Born in Boeotia in 522 BCE, died in Argos in 433 BCE ● Most of his writings VICTORY ODES for winners of athletic games ● His poems survived and take their name based on the games in which the celebrated winner had competed: Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemea odes ● Pindar- a great source for mythology ○ Association of athletes with heroes Perseus ● Danae and Acrisius ● Abas (great-grandfather)--> Proetus and Acrisius ● Acrisius, king of Argos, father of Danae, had no sons ● Proetus, king of Tiryns ● Oracle about Danae’s son that he would kill Acrisius ● Imprisonment of Danae in brazen chamber ● Zeus as shower of gold lay with Danae ● Birth of Perseus ● Acrisius refused to believe that Zeus was the father ● Danae and Perseus put in chest and set adrift ● Arrival of the chest at the island of Seriphos and the fisherman Dictys(=net) rescued them 1 Class: Classics 45B Polydectes ● Polydectes, brother of Dictys and king of Seriphos ● Desire for Danae who refused Polydectes ● Banquet and Perseus’ ill-considered offer of the Gorgon’s head in boasting ○ 3 gorgons, the most terrifying one is Medusa ● Polydectes eager to get Perseus out of the way took him at his word and ordered him to perform the task and bring Gorgon’s head ● Aid promised by Hermes and Athena The Graeae ● 3 daughters of Phorcys ● Have knowledge of location of 3 nymphs, who had magic objects necessary for hero to complete his task ● Share one eye and one tooth between them ○ Perseus took and returned after GRaeae had told him way to the Nymphs ● Nymphs possessed magical objects: ○ Cap of invisibility, pair of winged sandals, bag/kibisis ○ Hermes’ gift of the scimitar The Three Gorgons ● At the edge of the word; usually North Africa ● Pindar’s Pythian Ode 10: Perseus’ journey to the north and the Hyperboreans ● One mortal Gorgon: Medusa ○ Power to turn men to stone ○ Guided by Athena, Perseus only looked at reflection of Gorgon in his shield ○ Beheaded Medusa ○ As she was beheaded, birth of Chrysaor (“he of the golden
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