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Ancient Mythology Study Guide for FINAL.docx

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CLT 3378
Kevin Oliver

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Ancient Mythology Study Guide  England: Beowulf o Plot-  King Hrothgar of Denmark builds a great mead-hall, called Heorot, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by the scops, or bards. But the jubilant noise from Heorot angers Grendel, a horrible demon who lives in the swamplands of Hrothgar’s kingdom. Grendel terrorizes the Danes every night, killing them and defeating their efforts to fight back. The Danes suffer many years of fear, danger, and death at the hands of Grendel. Eventually, a young Geatish warrior named Beowulf hears of Hrothgar’s plight. Inspired by the challenge, Beowulf sails to Denmark with a small company of men, determined to defeat Grendel.  Hrothgar, who had once done a great favor for Beowulf’s father Ecgtheow, accepts Beowulf’s offer to fight Grendel and holds a feast in the hero’s honor. During the feast, an envious Dane named Unferth taunts Beowulf and accuses him of being unworthy of his reputation. Beowulf responds with a boastful description of some of his past accomplishments. His confidence cheers the Danish warriors, and the feast lasts merrily into the night. At last, however, Grendel arrives. Beowulf fights him unarmed, proving himself stronger than the demon, who is terrified. As Grendel struggles to escape, Beowulf tears the monster’s arm off. Mortally wounded, Grendel slinks back into the swamp to die. The severed arm is hung high in the mead-hall as a trophy of victory.  Overjoyed, Hrothgar showers Beowulf with gifts and treasure at a feast in his honor. But another threat is approaching. Grendel’s mother, a swamp-hag who lives in a desolate lake, comes to Heorot seeking revenge for her son’s death. She murders Aeschere, one of Hrothgar’s most trusted advisers, before slinking away. To avenge Aeschere’s death, the company travels to the murky swamp, where Beowulf dives into the water and fights Grendel’s mother in her underwater lair. He kills her with a sword forged for a giant, then, finding Grendel’s corpse, decapitates it and brings the head as a prize to Hrothgar. The Danish countryside is now purged of its treacherous monsters.  The Danes are again overjoyed, and Beowulf’s fame spreads across the kingdom. Beowulf departs after a sorrowful goodbye to Hrothgar, who has treated him like a son. He returns to Geatland, where he and his men are reunited with their king and queen, Hygelac and Hygd, to whom Beowulf recounts his adventures in Denmark. Beowulf then hands over most of his treasure to Hygelac, who, in turn, rewards him.  In time, Hygelac is killed in a war against the Shylfings, and, after Hygelac’s son dies, Beowulf ascends to the throne of the Geats. He rules wisely for fifty years, bringing prosperity to Geatland. When Beowulf is an old man, however, a thief disturbs a barrow, or mound, where a great dragon lies guarding a horde of treasure. Enraged, the dragon emerges from the barrow and begins unleashing fiery destruction upon the Geats. Sensing his own death approaching, Beowulf goes to fight the dragon. With the aid of Wiglaf, he succeeds in killing the beast, but at a heavy cost. The dragon bites Beowulf in the neck, and its fiery venom kills him moments after their encounter. The Geats fear that their enemies will attack them now that Beowulf is dead. According to Beowulf’s wishes, they burn their departed king’s body on a huge funeral pyre and then bury him with a massive treasure in a barrow overlooking the sea. o KEY TERMS:  Beowulf- The protagonist of the poem. Beowulf is a hero who fights the monster Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a fire-breathing dragon. Beowulf’s exploits prove him to be the strongest, ablest warrior of his time. In his youth, he personifies the values of the heroic culture. In his old age, he proves a wise and effective ruler.  Dragon- An ancient, powerful serpent that guards a horde of treasure. Beowulf fights the dragon in the third and final part of the epic.  Grendel- A demon descended from Cain. Grendel preys on Hrothgar’s warriors in the king’s mead-hall, Heorot. Because Grendel’s ruthless and miserable existence is part of the retribution exacted by God for Cain’s murder of Abel, Grendel fits solidly within the ethos of vengeance that governs the world of the poem.  Grendel’s mother- A demon even more monstrous than Grendel. Grendel’s mother seeks revenge on Hrothgar’s men for the death of her son. Beowulf journeys to her magical, creature- filled lair beneath the swamp in order to defeat her.  Heorot- The city that was under attack by Grendel and Grendel’s mother.  Hrothgar- The king of the Danes. Hrothgar enjoys military success and prosperity until Grendel comes to terrorize his realm. Hrothgar is a wise and aged ruler, and he represents a different kind of leadership from that exhibited by the youthful warrior Beowulf. He is a father figure to Beowulf and a model for the kind of king that Beowulf becomes.  Hrunting- Unferth's sword, that he lent to Beowulf to fight Grendel's mother  Hygelac- Beowulf’s uncle, king of the Geats, and husband of Hygd. Hygelac heartily welcomes Beowulf upon his return from Denmark.  Wiglaf- A young kinsman and retainer of Beowulf. Wiglaf helps Beowulf in the fight against the dragon after the other warriors run away. Wiglaf adheres to the heroic code, thereby proving himself a suitable successor to Beowulf.  Scandinavia: Prose Edda (IV.6) o Plot-  Gylfaginning- The Gylfaginning tells the story of Gylfi, a king of "the land that men now call Sweden", who after being tricked by one of the goddesses of the Æsir, wonders if all Æsir use magic and tricks for their will to be done. This is why he journeys to Asgard, but on the way he is tricked by the gods and arrives in some other place, where he finds a great palace. Inside the palace he encounters a man who asks Gylfi's name and so king Gylfi introduces himself as Gangleri. Gangleri then is taken to the king of the palace and comes upon three men; High, Just-As-High, and Third. Gangleri is then challenged to show his wisdom by asking questions, as is the custom in many Norse sagas. Each question made to High, Just-As-High, and Third is about an aspect of the Norse mythology or its gods, and also about the creation and destruction of the world (Ragnarök). In the end all the palace and its people just vanish and Gylfi is left standing on empty ground. It is then implied that as Gylfi returns to his nation, he retells the tales he was told. It can be argued that Snorri used this narrative device as a means of being able to safely document a vanishing and largely oral tradition within a Christian context. o KEY TERMS:  Asgard- One of the Nine Worlds and home to the gods of the Æsir. It is surrounded by an incomplete wall attributed to a Hrimthurs riding the stallion Svaðilfari, according to Gylfaginning. Odin and his wife, Frigg, are the rulers of Asgard. “Troy”  Ask & Embla- Shaped men out of trees (male form was Ask; the female form was embla) First they gave them spirit and life, then wit and feeling, the form, speech, hearing and sight.  Audumla- A cow, Audumla, nourished him with her milk. Audumla was herself nourished by licking salty, rime-covered stones. She licked the stones into the shape of a man. She sprang up from where the frost melted.  Awful Winter- the first thing to occur before the destruction of the world is this; the snow shall drive from all quarters and the frosts shall be great then with winds sharp; no virtue in the sun. there will be 3 winters in a row without any summer or sun. mightly battles and brothers will slay each other for greed’s sake and none shall spare father or son in manslaughter or incest.  Baldr- The son of the chief god Odin and his wife Frigg. Beautiful and just, he was the favourite of the gods. Most legends about him concern his death. Icelandic stories tell how the gods amused themselves by throwing objects at him, knowing that he was immune from harm. The blind god Höd, deceived by the evil Loki, killed Balder by hurling mistletoe, the only thing that could hurt him. After Balder’s funeral, the giantess Thökk, probably Loki in disguise, refused to weep the tears that would release Balder from death.  Bergelmir- Only surviving frost-giant after they all were slaughtered by the sons of Borr (Odin, Vili and Ve) He escaped with his housefhold, went on his ship with his wife and they were safe there. From them are come the races of the Frost giants (pg 195)  Burning- surt will burn the world and that will be the end  Fenrir-Wolf – A monstrous wolf of Norse mythology. He was the son of the demoniac god Loki and a giantess, Angerboda. Fearing Fenrir’s strength and knowing that only evil could be expected of him, the gods bound him with a magical chain made of the sound of a cat’s footsteps, the beard of a woman, the breath of fish, and other occult elements. When the chain was placed upon him, Fenrir bit off the hand of the god Tyr. He was gagged with a sword and was destined to lie bound to a rock.  Fire-giants – In Norse mythology, a hot, bright, glowing land in the south, guarded by Surt, the fire giant. In the beginning, according to one tradition, the warm air from this region melted the ice of the opposite region, Niflheim, thus giving form to Ymir, the father of the evil giants. Sparks from Muspelheim became the Sun, Moon, and stars. At the doom of the gods (Ragnarök), the sons of Muspelheim, led by Surt, will destroy the world by fire.  Fire – rock-  Frigg- Odin’s wife; daughter of Fjorgvinn; from her and odin come the races of the Aesir (divine race)  Frost-giants – Ymir came from the yeast-drops, by the power of that which sent the heat and became a man form. And thence after Ymir was made come the races of the Frost-Giants. (kindred of Ymir all evil) The old frost giant is Ymir.  Ginnungagap- In Norse and Germanic mythology, the void in which the world was created. The story is told, with much variation, in three poems of the Elder Edda, and a synthesis of these is given by Snorri Sturluson in his Prose Edda.  Hel- originally the name of the world of the dead; it later came to mean the goddess of death. Hel was one of the children of the trickster god Loki, and her kingdom was said to lie downward and northward.  Hodr- one of the aesir who is blind. Sufficient strength, but the gods would desire that no occasion should ride of naming this god, for the work of his hands shall long be held in memory among gods and men a thick show. (nearly as strong as Thor) great trust  Jormungandr/Midgard-serpent- Germanic mythology, the evil serpent and chief enemy of Thor. Son of loki  Lif & lifthrasir- means life. Along with Lifthrasir, they hid and were able to survive the fire. one of the humans that survived Ragnarok  Loki- a cunning trickster; Loki was represented as the companion of the great gods Odin and Thor, helping them with his clever plans but sometimes causing embarrassment and difficulty for them and himself. First father of falsehoods; evil in spirit; his wife was sigyn and he caused great hardships. Three stones bound him to not escape vernomous serpent had venom drip unto his face. His wife hold a basket to catch the drop and when it is full she empties it and holds it again. But in the meantime the venom drips on his face. Earthquakes caused from his fighting of the venom to drip on his face and there he lies in bonds till the destruction of the gods.  Midgard- inner earth; a citadel round about the world against the hositility of the giants; a place where they punished and kept the giants  Mistletoe- Hodr shot Baldr blindly with mistletoe thanks to the help of Loki directing him; it successfully kills Baldr to the grown dead  Muspellheim: A realm of firm (one of the nine worlds in norse myth)  Niflheim- the World of Darkness, and appears to have been divided into several sections, one of which was Náströnd, the shore of corpses.  Odin- one of the principal gods in Norse mythology. His exact nature and role, however, are difficult to determine because of the complex picture of him given by the wealth of archaeological and literary sources. The Roman historian Tacitus stated that the Teutons worshiped Mercury; and because dies Mercurii (“Mercury’s day”) was identified with Wednesday (“Woden’s day”), there is little doubt that the god Woden (the earlier form of Odin) was meant. (father of all the gods)  Prose Edda- The Prose Edda was originally referred to as simply the Edda, but was later called the Prose Edda to distinguish it from the Poetic Edda, a collection of anonymous poetry from earlier traditional sources compiled around the same time as the Prose Edda in 13th century Iceland.  Snorri Sturluson- Snorri, a descendant of the great poet and hero of the Egils saga, Egill Skallagrímsson, was brought up at Oddi from the age of three in the home of Jón Loptsson, the most influential chieftain in Iceland. From him Snorri acquired both a deep knowledge of Icelandic tradition and a European breadth of outlook.  Surt- The Fire giant protecting Muspell  Thokk- the giantess Thökk, probably Loki in disguise, refused to weep the tears that would release Baldr from death.  Thor- god of thunder and rain and farming (strong and powerful)  Yggrasil- The holy place of the gods (give judgement everyday)  Ymir- Ymir, in Norse mythology, the first being, a giant who was created from the drops of water that formed when the ice of Niflheim met the heat of Muspelheim. Earth created from his body (his blood was the water, land of his flesh, crags of his bones, gravel and stone from his teeth)  Nyanga: Mwindo Epic (V.2) o Plot-  Never dies, bring all the uncles back to life and takes over the village; journeys to the underworld to find his father; muisa allows him to find his father if he performs tasks for him like: plant a banana grove and make it productive, after muisa tries to kill Mwindo out of anger, Mwindo’s conga-scepter helps him revoer and beat up Master Muisa; then Muisa commands him to secure honey high in a tree and he does it; another battle and Mwindo triumphs and left Muisa for dead after he gets his father and later comes back and resurrects him; reconciles with his father and resuscitated all the villagers who had died; Mwindo becomes chief; lastly he passed laws for his people to not fight each other, pursue each other’s wives, don’t mock the invalid passing in the village, seductions will be punished with death, accept all children and accept and fear the chief. o KEY TERMS:  Muisa- king of the underworld; village of master; tries to trick mwindo by drinking banana beer and eating banana paste.  Magic rope- when he journeyed to the underworld asked Iyangura (his aunt) to hold onto it as long as he was in the underworld if she couldn’t feel life then she would know he was dead.  Conga-scepter- u sed to bring all the uncles back to life and take over the village after Nkuba sent 7 bolts of lighting to destroy the village.  Mwindo- Nyamwindo and Shemwindo’s first son; protagonist; Born laughing and talking, carried a conga-sceptor, an axe, and a bag of good fortune containing a magic rope  Nkuba- lightning god that sent 7 lightning bolts and destroyed the village trying to kill Mwindo.  Nyamwindo- favorite of all the 7 wives and the only to give birth to a boy (Mwindo); Mwindo born from her middle finger of the right hand  Shemwindo- king of the Village of Tubondo; father of mwindo; had 7 wives and only wanted a girl; tried to have his son killed  Tubondo- village that shemwindo and nyamwindo ruled  Hausa: The Ant’s Burden o Plot-  Kweku Anansi- trickster figure who is portrayed as a spider and sometimes a man  Kweku tsin- Anansi’s son (farmers)  STORY: No rain had fallen for more than a month and they needed rain for their seeds. A tiny dwarf promised to help Tsin to bring rain to the farm and had him fetch two small sticks and tap him lightly on the hump while singing a tune. He did it and it rained. Anansi asked him how he did it and he being honest told his father. Anansi however, got two big sticks thinking it would do twice as much. Anansi beat the dward so hard he fell down dead. This dwarf happened to be the king’s favorite jester and so he found a way to blame his death on Tsin. Tsin however, realizes what he is trying to do and tricks him back by saying that the king was angry with the dwarf and had promised a bag of money to anyone who would kill him and so he said he would go and get the reward. Anansi said no that he killed him and he would get the reward so Tsin allowed him to go and take the dwarf. The King very angry that he killed his favorite jester punishes Anansi with a great box to carry on his head forever unless he got some other man to put it on his head. One day, Mr.Ant, an honest fellow and always kept his promises believed Anansi when he said he would be back if he held the box and when he gave him the box Anansi ran off. For the rest of Mr.Ant’s life he will have to hold the box on his head and that is why we see ants carrying bundles as they hurry along.  Ghanaian: Why Anansi’s Head Is Small and His Behind is Big o Plot-  Anansi the Spider hears voices throughout the forest and walks to them trying to understand what they were saying. River spirits were there with their heads off and in their hands singing. As they splashed and sang, fish jumped out and they caught and ate them later. Anansi, intrigued wants to join in and they help him take his head off and join them. He was able to catch many fish with his 8 legs and kept getting a pile of fish. The River spirits help him put his head back on and then warn him to never sing the song again when they aren’t there with him because if he does his head will fall off. But Anansi, having a catching tune couldn’t help himself and his head fell right off and he could NOT put it back on. When he reached home, his children made fun of him because he balanced his head on his rear. His children pulled out his eyeballs and put it in the little stump of the neck in thr front and put his nose and mouth in the front too. They couldn’t get the ears off and when they were done. Anansi had a tiny head and a great big behind this explains why spiders look the way they do.  Inca: Viracocha Cosmogony o Plot-  The people that populated the earth didn’t follow the orders so he cursed them, then turned some into rocks or destroyed them and then caused so much rain that it was a flood that wiped everything but the three men that he kept with him to be able to re-populate the earth with his servants helping him. Taguapaca, one of these is punished for not obeying his orders and is bounded head and foot on a boat in Lake Titicaca. The other 2 servants are asked to memorize the nations he drew up to re-populate they do so and go preaching to re-populate. When Viracocha arrives at a town called Cacha the people found his dress and conduct strange and plotted to kill him. Viracocha feeling this causes fire to fall from above a hill after they beg him to stop and for forgiveness he puts out the fire with his staff. Later he continues on his route and walks on water with his 2 servants. Taguapaca eventually returns and starts preacing tha
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