C C 303 Lecture 2: 1/20/17 Notes

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Greek Myth in Context
Using the concept of historical context, what is problematic about the statement “the
Greeks believed X about the myth of X”?
Not everyone have the same interpretations from their perspective
Too broad of a statement in regards to the Greeks (diverse in timeframe,
geographics)
Opinions regarding myths (beliefs) may change over time
Identification is different depending on city-states, timeframe, context, etc
Myth changed based on connotation
“Belief” and “myth” is problematic
What is a myth?
Gods, different types
Different worlds, different timeframe
Relationships between humans and gods
Heros
“Myth is a socially powerful, traditional story”
Subjects of Ancient Greek Myths
Centauromachy on the Southern Metope of the Parthenon (447-432 BC)
War of the centaurs
Heros vs monsters
Gigantomachy on Kylix from the 5th century BC
Belief
In order to believe, it has to be “true”, scientifically, can I prove it in this world,
demonstrate it? Does it tell some sort of aspect of how the world works, in its
essence even though it does not necessarily true factually?
Myth?
Doesn’t mean people believe in it, but like to tell the story
Jesus, has historical truth
For christians, crucifixion of jesus is not a myth, it's reality, beginning of
grace
For others outside the faith, people think it is a myth because it is not
logical
Myth does not equal truth. But it is a socially powerful, traditional story
George Washington
He represents charity, does not tell lies; important to people for
representation
Urban Legend
New York Subway
Alligators as pets washed down sewers
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It tells us that we still have “monsters” today, similar to the Greek’s
monsters
Tells us about our fears
Material Culture and Belief
Vases
Greek myths on them
Coins
Sculptures
wall-paintings/mosaic
Artist-view, not the only way people thought about it
Ancient Text and Belief
Iliad. Book 10. 421-434, 445-460, Papyri, 2nd Century BC
Manuscript of Iliad with scholia, c. 10th century AD
Small sample of myth material, won’t understand everything
Still won’t understand it completely because it depends on the author
Because of geography, won’t be able to piece it all together even if I have all the
texts
Myths are given of that society
We don’t know everything that was being told, only the society knows the
connotation completely
Different perspectives and interpretations
Attitudes of authors may not be representatives of the majority of society’s beliefs
Always a variation of beliefs
“The Greeks” is problematic
“This author says X” or “in this timeframe we can see this” is okay
Geographic area
Very diverse and broad
Going to adapt to different cultures of that area
Timeframe
Archaic (750-500 BC)
Occupied mainland north as far as Macedonia and east
through Thrace to the Hellespont
Greek speakers settled the Aegean islands and the
western seaboard of the Asia Minor
Expanded overseas settlements expanded reach of
Hellenic culture, including its stories
The north African coastal settlement of the Kyrene was a
Greek foundation whose links with the homeland were
expressed through mythology
Classical (500-323 BC)
Hellenistic (323 BC-31 BC)
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