Exam Study Package: All lecture notes.docx

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25 Apr 2012
Introduction, Invoking the Muse, Creation Myths
“Classical Mythology”
- Greco Roman antiquity
- 4th century BC saw the expansion of the Greek empire (Alexander the Great)
o The Hellenistic Age: Greek cultural influence and power at its zenith and ended with the
- Ended with the Roman Empire. Beginning of the Imperial Age (Augustus)
What is a Myth?
- Mythos vs. Logos
o Mythos: Word, speech, conversation, tale, story, narrative (can be true or false)
o Logos: Word, speech, meaning, argument, reason, rationality (associated with true)
- Orally transmitted through decades and have no specific authors
- All myths have a function. But they aren‟t written to be applied to a particular context (fable).
Rather, they are made and then are applied
- They are concerned with general phenomena, something that people want to know (e.g. origin of
the cosmos). They are told about family, Gods, mortals, origin of the cosmos, heroes, animals and
all explain the world
- There are many different versions of the same myth. Versions told today may be the “true”
version. They can change depending on the author (e.g. an author that reveres Apollo might
praise Apollo more in his story)
- Sexuality is very embraced
“Inventing the Gods”
- Homer and Hesiod‟s works were one of the first things that were written down
- “Theogony” the birth of the gods comes fromtheos” gods and “gony” origin
The Twelve Olympians
- Called Olympians because they were told to be living on Mount Olympus
o The mountain is a real, physical place (the tallest mountain in Greece)
o Sort of like a “heaven”
The Muses
- The tales of the Muses have influenced countless art
- They are the daughters of Mnemosyne (personified memory)
o They are responsible for remembering performance, art, poetry etc.
Homer‟s Iliad
- The Iliad is centered around the anger of Achilles
o Agamemnon takes Achilles‟ slave girl (Briseis) insulting Achilles (as a hero, not as a
lover). Achilles withdraws from the battle and the Greeks being to lose. He later returns
because of Patroklos
o Importance of honour
- At the beginning, there is an introduction of all the Greek heroes and their ships, the Catalogue of
Hesiod‟s Heliconian Muses
- His book begins with the Muses
- Hesiod‟s poetic investiture (how he became a poet)
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o He is tending to his sheep at Mount Helikon and the Muses come to him. They insult
him, saying he is only concerned with food and the lowly things of life. Then, they give
him the power of telling the very beginning of everything
- Hymn to the Muses
o “Hymn”: Song of praise to gods (not humans). They were attached to a book to introduce
it and tell what will happen in it
- Revival of classical literature in works by authors who call upon the Muses in their works
o John Milton‟s Paradise Lost
“Sing, Heavenly Muse”
“That Shepherd” refers back to Hesiod
o Walt Witman‟s “Song of the Exposition” from Leaves of Grass
“Come, Muse. Migrate from Greece and Ionia
Bringing the Muses from Greece to America (forget Europe, American is better)
Zeus & the Succession Myth, Zeus & the Human Race, Prometheus & the
Origins of Humankind
- The Theogony begins with the creation of the cosmos. Followed by genealogies and then
succession (how Zeus came to be) and how the world was created
- Focus on families one God sleeps with siblings, has children, children kills father etc.
o Personifications of phenomena (E.g. “Night” is a goddess)
- Theogony moves from the undefined to the increasingly defined
- “There was nothing but Chaos”. It starts with chaos, a big gaping emptiness of nothing
o Then something came from the nothing: Gaia. Gaia is earth, defines space
o Then comes Eros, the power of new generation, procreation
Not the cupid we normally think of. That is from another story
- Four primordial beings
o Chaos: yawning emptiness
Engenders Erebos+Night from which come Aither+Hemera (beginning of time)
o Gaia: terra firma, first defined space, “unshakeable foundation”
Without consort has Uranus, Mountains (and nymphs), and Pontus
With Uranus has 12 Titans, 3 Cyclopes, and 3 Hecatonchires
With Tartarus has Typhoeus
o Tartarus: below earth
o Eros: productive power, later becomes subordinate to Aphrodite
The Castration of Uranus
- This story symbolizes the male vs. female conflict
o Female provides change. Gaia is always in favour of the younger overthrowing the older
- Uranus imprisons Gaia‟s youngest children in Tartarus. She is angry and asks her sons to castrate
him with a sickle. Only Kronos, the youngest and most ambitious Titan is willing. He castrates
him and casts the severed genitals into the sea
o Aphrodite rises out of the foam created by Uranus‟ genitals
Anadyomene” or “Rising out of the water”
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o Other various texts tell Aphrodite as Zeus‟ daughter and Eros‟ mother
- Uranus‟ blood falls to the Earth and brings forth the Giants, the Erinyes (the furies), and the
Meliae (ash-tree nymphs)
- Kronos is afraid of being overthrown by his children so he eats them. Rheia is the mother and she
asks Kronos‟ parents (Uranus and Gaia) for help
o Gaia helps her because she always supports the younger generation. She takes Rheia
away where she gives birth to Zeus who is hidden in the earth
The Omphalos (meaning the Navel of the Earth) at Delphi is the stone that
Kronos swallowed
o Rheia gives Kronos a rock wrapped in baby cloth which he swallos
- Zeus sets the cyclopes free and they create the thunderbolt for him. He then becomes the King of
the immortals and mortals
- Unlike Kronos and Uranus before him, he is able to remain in power because he is smart
- Two important goddesses who pose a threat to Zeus
o Styx: Has powerful children (victory, power, force). She is one of the first to join Zeus in
his battle against the Titans
o Hecate: Goddess of boundaries and associated with the Night and the Moon. If she has a
legitimate offspring, he could overpower Zeus. Zeus gains her support
- Hecate‟s (who supports Zeus) story comes right before Zeus and his ascension and right after the
story of Prometheus (who revolts against Zeus)
o Hesiod‟s ordering makes sense and is structured
Greek and Hittite Succession Myth
- There are many parallels and similarities between the Greek and Hittite succession myths. Greek
myths were somehow influenced by Near-Eastern mythology
- Similarities
o Heaven rules as king (Anu/Uranus)
o Kumarbi/Kronos rises against him and castrates him
o Kumarbi/Kronos swallows what is a threat to him but can‟t hold what he has swallowed
o Kumarbi/Kronos is defeated and displaced by the storm-god/Zeus
- “Machy” meaning battle
- The previous generation, the Titans, want to overthrow Zeus so they attack Mount Olympus. Zeus
hears that the Hecatonchires (100 armed giants) will help him so he sets them free
- Zeus isn‟t as strong as the Titans but with the Hecatonchires on his side, he is able to protects his
regime (similar to how he frees the Cyclopes
o Both these stories frame the binding of Prometheus
- Gigantomachy
o Not mentioned in the Hesiod. *Not to be confused with the Titanomachy
- Prometheus: One who plans and does things
- Epimetheus: One who does stupid things and realizes it afterwards
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