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Department
Classics
Course
CLA204H1
Professor
Lee Souchuck
Semester
Winter

Description
Feb. 26, 2013 - The Greek Heroes Perseus, Jason  Keep in mind to compare these heroes with Heracles: what do they do, stand for, what do they want to achieve and what do they achieve?  There’s all different definitions and molds for a hero Perseus  Stories of Perseus involve the Argyle Plain (around Argos)  There is lots of confusion about this area in Greek myth – how were these cities founded? Etc  Mycenae = big Bronze Age culture with a huge palace o After the Bronze Age, it’s in ruins  Argos and Tiryns = coastal regions o Heracles associated with Tiryns o Argos – main city of this area  Often used to refer to the whole area  Agamemnon was said to be ruling Argos, actually the ruler of Mycenae  Lots of confusion to where the myths take place  Mycenae and Argos are therefore virtually interchangeable  Distant Relatives to Perseus o Descendants of Io – Io is responsible for descendants for many areas of the known world  Danaüs – Danaë + Zeus = Perseus (Argos)  Cadmus – Agave – Penthus (Thebes) – Major family descended from Io  Europa + Zeus – Minos – Phaedra (Crete) o Crimes of the Danaïds  Revolves around what happens with Danaüs, how they get to Argos, etc.  Danaüs = son of Ruler of Egypt (has twin brother Aegyptus), their father gives them each a section to rule, both become local kings  Danaüs – 50 daughters (with different women)  Aegyptus – 50 sons (with different women) o Aegyptus proposes his sons marry Danaüs’ daughters, Danaüs suspects Aegyptus just wants land, but agrees – then he and his daughters escape on a ship to Argos before the marriage – Argos the home of his ancestor Io  49 murders – the sons arrive in pursuit and some versions there is a battle and Danaüs gives in, he tells his daughters to bring daggers on marriage night to kill their husbands and 49 of them do o Hypermnestra + Lynceus  Hypermnestra was the only woman who didn’t murder her husband – Danaüs gets angry and throws her in prison then releases her later – Lynceus had refused to sleep with her which was honorable so she didn’t kill him o Danaüs gives the other daughters away in competitions, and he goes on to rule Argos and Lynceus rules when he dies  Birth of Perseus o Lynceus + Hypermnestra – Acrisius + Proteus are their two sons always fought even in the womb they divide rule in the area  Proteus rules Tiryns  Acrisius rules Argos  Acrisius’ Oracle - Sires Danaë a daughter but wanted a son and asks an oracle the chances of getting one – the oracle says he’ll get a male heir through Danaë but it will kill him – wants to stop this and tries to keep his daughter from getting pregnant so she’s locked in a bronze chamber o Danaë + Zeus – Perseus (destroyer)  Danaë Locked in the Bronze Chamber o While in the chamber, she catches the eye of Zeus who wants to sleep with her – he turns into rain/gold material and seeps through the cracks – he either falls through, becomes “human” and they have sex or he stays as the rain and falls in her lap and she becomes pregnant o Acrisius hears toddler noises – what happened? Acrisius doesn’t believe her Zeus story so he wants to get rid of the child o Perseus is part divine part mortal – he has a strange birth story like Heracles which is a common motif with heroes  Youth of Perseus o Wooden Box  Acrisius tries to prevent the oracle again, he puts Danaë and Perseus in a wooden box because he doesn’t want to kill them directly and he throws them in the sea but they don’t die  Semonides 543 and Lucian Dialogue of the Sea Gods  Semonides gives a very different description of the myth  Gives Danae’s perspective and uses lyric poetry  Lucian does a similar thing but writes much later and makes a dialogue between people who see the box floating by o Danae and Perseus on Seriphos  Box makes its way to Seriphos an island off the coast of Greece  Dictys (net-man) pulls the box out of the water he is a fisherman – his name is to show what his profession is, common in folklore  Polydectes (much-receiver) – King of Seriphos – much-receiver is also an epithet of death and might indicate Polydectes’ role in the myth of trying to impede/kill the hero whenever he can  Wedding Gift – Horses or Gorgon’s Head  Polydectes wants Danae as his mistress but she refuses and Perseus defends her and he marries someone else and asks everyone to bring him a horse as a wedding gift knowing Perseus doesn’t have one to try and get rid of him (some versions he does have a horse though)  Polydectes asks for the Gorgon’s head – in some versions Perseus brings the horse then brags he could get the Gorgon too  IMAGE: Danae in the Bronze Chamber: Zeus in rain form dropping onto her stomach – rain makes sense because he is a storm god  IMAGE: The Wooden Box Being Prepared : Acrisius, Worker, maybe Danae’s mother, Danae and Perseus  Perseus the Gorgon Slayer o Perseus needs a lot of help to do this because he doesn’t know where they are o Gorgons – Stheno, Euryale, Medusa  Depicted as having wide eyes, snakes for hair, sometimes have boar tusks and golden wings and are monsters associated with death – only Medusa is mortal so she is the target o Helped by Deities o Athena – basically tells him what he needs to know – go to the Nymphs to get magic implements to kill Medusa, but first go to the Grey Ones – 3 old hags who share an eye and a tooth – he grabs their eye and holds it ransom and they tell him where the nymphs are o Nymphs  Cap of Hades – makes you invisible, Winged Sandals – allow flight, Leather Pouch – hold the head once cut off o Hermes  Pherycydes has Athena and Hermes follow Perseus the whole journey  Gives him sword/scimitar/sickle he beheads Medusa with  Polished Bronze Shield – use as a mirror to see what’s going on without looking directly at Medusa o Death of Medusa  He uses the shield as a mirror and cuts off her head and shoves it in the pouch, the other 2 Gorgons are sleeping but when they wake up he is invisible and flying away – not that heroic o Pregnant by Poseidon  Medusa pregnant at time of beheading by Poseidon  Chrysaor and Pegasus pop out of her neck – Pegasus is a winged horse that water springs from the ground when he steps – not Perseus’ horse like modern adaptations  IMAGE: Perseus beheads Medusa, wearing the cap of Hades and winged boots, head in the bag, Athena is there  IMAGE: Perseus looks away from Medusa as beheads her, no shield, she is asleep, he has all the gear, Athena is there  Meanwhile on Seriphos… o Danae and Dictys hounded by Polydectes  They don’t think Peresus is coming back  Polydectes tries to make the moves on Danae and they run away and become suppliants to a god in a temple  Perseus returns as Polydectes was having a big party, proves he got the head of Medusa by pulling it out – everyone is turned to stone o Dictys Made King By Perseus o He doesn’t need to be king here, his home is Argos, befriends Dictys, frees mother and leaves for home o Gives Athena Medusa’s Head o Athena puts the head as an image to ward off evil on her shield (or breastplate) and Perseus gives all the other special items back to the Nymphs  Perseus and Andromeda o On his way home he decides to take a side trip through Ethiopia and sees a woman tied to a rock about to be devoured by a sea monster o Cepheus + Cassiopeia = Andromeda, daughter of the king and queen of Ethiopia o Cassiopeia boasted her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids and this angers them so Poseidon floods the area and sends the sea monster Ceto after them o The Oracle tells Cephus he must sacrifice his daughter to Ceto o Perseus Marries Andromeda  Says if he defeats Ceto he gets to marry Andromeda and he battles the monster and wins  Andromeda is already engaged to Phineus who shows up with an army at the wedding in some versions a battle occurs, others Perseus pulls out Medusa’s head to turn them all to stone and he goes home with Andromeda in tow  Perseus Returns to Argos o Because he’s supposed to rule there o Acrisius flees to northern Thessaly thinking Perseus is going to kill him o Perseus enters a discus competition and accidentally hits Acrisius in the foot killing him, Perseus is upset and decides not to rule and gives the rule to Proteus in trade for Tiryns o Perseus gets tired of Tiryns and founds Mycenae o Perseidae  First descendants of Perseus go on to rule Mycenae until Agamemnon’s father takes over o Katasterism  When someone dies and they are made into a star making them immortal  Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cephus, Ceto IMAGE:Andromeda chained to the rock with Cephus beside her, Perseus fighting Ceto – the weird hats on the others indicate he is dealing with foreign Easterners IMAGE: Andromeda with her funny hat <3  Perseus and Folktale o The Girls’ Tragedy (Danae)  Prohibition – forbidden to marry  Seclusion – bronze chamber  Violation of Prohibition – Zeus getting in  Threat of Punishment or Death – placed in box in the sea  Liberation – saved by Dyctis o Motifs in Perseus Myth  Magical or special implements  Accidental killing of a relative  Quest  Oracles o Heroic Quest Themes  Son of royalty and or god  Youth away from home  Quest to discover birth right  Magical aids and subsequent victory over monster  Marriage to royalty – often as reward of quest or side quest  Homecoming to reclaim rule – usually doesn’t last  Often kills father/uncle  Driven from rule again – birthright denied, uneventful death unlike Heracles Jason  The Hero Jason o Origin of the Golden Fleece o King of Boeotia, Athamas – one of the most unlucky men = Phrixus and Helle  He gets bored of his wife and remarries Ino  Stepmothers are dangerous, wants her own children to inherit the throne so Ino plots against her step children to prevent Phrixus from inheriting the throne  Tricks Athamas into marrying an oracle – she mixes the crops with salt so nothing will grow so he has to consult the oracle and Ino bribes the Oracle messenger into saying Athamas must sacrifice his first 2 children to save the kingdom  Out of the blue a Golden Ram saves the children and flies away (in some versions the ram is Zeus)  Helle falls off the Ram into the water in Hellespont (Sea of Helle) a strip of water separating Asia and Europe  The Ram lands in Colchis on the Black Sea – Phrixus is happy to have been saved and sacrifices the ram to Zeus and gives the Golden Fleece to King Aeetes who puts it on a tree protected by a dragon  Youth of Jason o Son of Aeson an Aeolid a rightful ruler in Boetia, descendant of Hellen o Pelias (Aeson’s half brother) rules instead – in one myth he imprisons Aeson and Jason is sent away for his protection and Cheiron a civilized centaur cares for him o Hera is upset by Pelias and choses Medea to kill Pelias for revenge – uses Jason to fetch her o Pelias asks an Oracle who says the one-sandaled will kill him o Jason returns to Iolcus because it is his birthright o He loses his sandal crossing the river when Poseidon made a flood and Jason helps an old woman across the waters – it was Hera in disguise making a reason for Jason to go to Colchis so makes him lose shoe o Pelias asks Jason what he’d do to get rid of someone trying to kill him and Jason says I’d tell him to get the Golden Fleece so Pelias says okay you go do that then  Argo Expedition o Argonauts – sailors of the Argo – the best men of the time – also called the Minyae descendants of Minyas King of Orchomenos o Argus - built the ship with the help of Athena o Heracles – only makes it halfway o Meleagar – becomes hero of Caledonian war hunt o Admetus – Husband of Alchestus, dies in her place o Zetes and Calais, sons of Boreas god of the North Wind o Castor and Pollux to Dioscuri – brothers of Helen of Trot descended from Zeus o Peleus – father of Achilles o Telemon o IMAGE: Gathering of the Argonauts – Heracles but may not be a meeting of the Argonauts  Adventures of the Argo o Women of Lemnos (Queen Hypsipyle)  Island ruled by women because all the men were killed because the queen decided to murder them all after the men took new wives from Thrace (according to some versions the women of Lemnos smelled because they offended Aphrodite so that’s why the men took new wives)  New generation of Lemnians produced from the Argonauts  Hypsipyle and Jason fall in love o King Cyzicus of the Doliones  Friendly people to Jason and the Argonauts  They feasted and were entertained – decide to leave but sail around a peninsula and end up back on the other end of the peninsula and it happens at night so Doliones think they are being attacked and Jason and his men kill them all and realize in the morning they were their friends  IMAGE: King Thoas the father of Hypsipyle who she hid in a box and sent to Thrace according to Hyginus and eventually the Lemnians figure it out and go after Hypsipyle o Hylas and Heracles  Hylas the young boy goes missing and Heracles is left behind  Hylas was grabbed by a river nymph who fell in love with Hylas – Heracles
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