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AR201 Study Guide - Sicyon, Greek Mythology, Homeric Hymns


Department
Archaeology and Heritage Studies
Course Code
AR201
Professor
Alexis Young

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The Role of the Trickster God in Greek Mythology
Hades
Example of trickery in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter
Hades abducts Persephone by tricking her with the help of Zeus and Gaea
who produces a narcissus flower
Persephone’s mother Demeter goes on a long search to find her daughter and
eventually discovers what has happened
Zeus sends Hermes to retrieve Persephone from Hades but Hades tricks her
into eating a pomegranate seed, forcing her to return to the underworld
every year
Pomegranates symbolize fertility/marriage so by eating the seed, she
becomes symbolically committed to Hades
The underlying motive of this trick is to capture Persephone as a bride for
Hades in order to unite the world with the underworld
Also explains the changing seasons
Zeus
Transformation was Zeus’s favourite device for tricking and seducing women
Zeus transformed into the image of Alcmene’s husband to seduce her and
they produced Herakles
Zeus appears as a golden shower to seduce Danae and they produce Perseus
Zeus appears as a swan to seduce Leda and they produce Helen and Pollux
The underlying motive of his transformations is to have affairs with mortal
women without facing the wrath of his jealous wife Hera to create semi-
divine heroes
Zeus represents a powerful force using transformations and disguises
Hermes
Archetypal trickster god
As a baby, he stole 50 cattle from Apollo in Pieria and through trickery, he
leads the cattle backwards so that the tracks would look like they were going
the opposite way
His motivation for this was to offer the cattle to the gods for a feast
When Apollo confronts him, Hermes denies taking the cows and reminds
Apollo that he is only a baby
The dispute is taken to Zeus who is impressed by Hermes’ trickery but orders
him to return the cows
Hermes also uses trickery to steal Zeus’ sinews back from Typhon
He is able to slay the monster Argus (guard of Io who was turned into a cow
by Zeus) by using trickery to put him to sleep
He also produces a child, Autolykos, who is the mortal master thief and
trickster
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