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Midterm

GRST209 Midterm: GRST 209 MidTerm Study Guide


Department
Greek and Roman Studies
Course Code
GRST 209
Professor
Bryan Natali
Study Guide
Midterm

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GRST 209 MIDTERM STUDY GUIDE
TYPES OF MYTH
Divine Myth
- Stories in which the main characters are supernatural beings;
these stories generally explain why the world, or some aspect of
it, is the way it is.
-> Creation myths of the ancient Greeks (i.e.) Zeus
Nyx (Night): in Greek myth is the abstract concept of night given a few human
characteristics. The union of Nyx and Erebus (darkness) produced their opposites,
aether ‘radiance’, and hemera ‘day’.
Legends (Sagas)
- Stories of the great deeds of human (or semi-divine) heroes
- Legends narrate the events of the human past.
-> Stories of the Trojan War and the exploits of Achilles are such examples.
Troy & Legend
- Heinrich Schliemann believed that Homer’s stories about Troy
(Iliad & Odyssey) were based on historical truth
Folktales
- Stories whose characters are ordinary people or animals
- Serve both to entertain the audience and to teach or justify
customary patterns of behavior.
- An example is Hesiod’s tale of the Hawk and the Nightingale.
(moral fable)
Motif

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- The regular appearance of certain identi2able narrative patterns
in a story.
- In modern novels we might see the motif of water or light, which
consistently comes up in the story, and serves as a kind of thread
running throughout.
-> Single motifs: doubles (twins, doppelgangers); dragons
THEORIES OF MYTH
Allegory
- “to say something di4erently.” – Greek (Similar to symbolism)
Physical Allegory
- Theagenes 2rst to use allegory to interpret myth
(Said that myths about the battles between gods really represented con7ict
among natural forces)
False etymologies
- Etymology simply means getting to the root of a word.
(E.g.)
Cronus (father of Zeus)
Greeks tried to relate Cronus with Cronos (time).
When Cronus eats his children, it means ‘time devours everything’
Historical Allegory: Euhemerism
- A type of interpretation created by Euhemerus
- As opposed to physical allegory, Euhemerism says myth tells us
historical truths, not philosophical truths.
- The gods are historical 2gures, human kings who ruled long ago
and who eventually were transformed by story into gods.

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- Related to Euhemerism and false etymologies is the idea that
myths are formed from a misunderstanding.
(An example is Actaeon; not torn apart by his dogs, but ruined by spending
all his money on hunting dogs)
CULTURAL CONTEXT
Periods of Greek History
- Paleolithic (‘Old Stone’ Age)
- Neolithic (‘New Stone’ Age)
- Early/Middle Bronze Age
- Mycenaean Age (Late Bronze Age)
- Dark Age
- Archaic Period
- Classical Period
- Hellenistic Period
- Roman Rule
The Minoans
- A bronze age civilization which arose on the island of Crete
- Had elaborate palaces, signi2cant wealth and technology
- Bull was an important religious symbol (another one is double-ax
-> labrys -> labyrinth, maze-like place built to keep the Minotaur)
- Worshipped female fertility goddess
(Not much violence/weaponry, Minoans didn’t fortify their cities)
- Didn’t have defensive structures, and they were master of the
sea they could take down anything on water
- Were Non Indo-Europeans
(They used a non-Greek language, Linear A script which was no deciphered)
-> Thera : It’s a rich Minoan culture that was destroyed by an
earthquake and volcanic eruption
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