FLASHCARDS FOR UNIT 2
• Hercules, or Herakles, was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. He was one of the
most famous heroes of Greek mythology.
• When he was an infant, he strangled snakes sent by Hera to kill him and
defeats many monsters in the subsequent years.
• He was of an aristocratic lineage.
• According to the myths, he was impetuous, violent, vain and often drunk.
His arrogant and cruel mannerisms only seem to elevate his status, as
heroes were expected to be aware of their greatness.
• Herakles is driven to madness by Hera and kills his first wife and children.
To purify himself, he is forced to undergo twelve labors.
• After his death, Herakles is elevated to a god and marries Hebe, goddess of
What is a hero?
• In ancient Greece, heroes were generally descendants of gods or goddesses.
• They were also usually from aristocratic backgrounds.
• Heroes were defined by their achievements, which were generally on the
battlefield and involved military glory. Hence, women were rarely
• Death was also an important aspect for heroes; although they lived as
mortals, heroes became spirits after they died, and existed somewhere
between gods and mortals.
• Some heroes, like Hercules, became gods after their death.
• Heroes helped communities come together and work through their idea of a
community through their tombs, called heroons.
• Most heroes had specific city associations, while a few were pan-hellenistic.
• Homer is the mysterious figure (or figures) credited with writing the great
epic poems of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the Homeric hymns
• According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Homer was born around 850
BCE, and was from the coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).
• Homer might have been blind.
• The Homeric question addresses the uncertainty regarding whether the
epic poems were written by one person or were compilations by many
• Epic poetry during the ancient times was generally characterized by a sense
of grandness and magnificence.
• They were large, and organized around a single theme of sufficient
magnitude, like the Trojan War in the Iliad
• These poems also consist of elevated style, with grand speeches and
• They are written in dactylic hexameter, which is a meter of poetry that
lends it a particular unique rhythm.
• The Iliad is entirely focused on Achilles and his divine rage, first against
Agamemnon, and later against prince Hector of Troy.
• Achilles was the son of Peleus and the goddess Thetis. He was a great hero
and a fearsome fighter and was recruited to help the Greeks during the
battle of Troy.
• In the ninth year of battle Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek army,
demanded Achilles war prize Briseis as compensation for the loss of his
prize, Khryseis. Achilles, offended at the loss of his honor, refused to fight
for the Greeks any longer. Moreover, he asks his mother Thetis to ensure
the Greeks defeat by seeking help from Zeus.
• Achilles is depicted as a vibrant, fearless hero, but we also see that he is
arrogant and petulant.
The quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon
• During the ninth year of the war Agamemnon takes a young girl called
Khryseis as his war prize. Her father, a priest of Apollo called Khryses, tries
to ransom her but Agamemnon refuses to return her.
• In retaliation, Apollo calls a plague upon the Greek army. To prevent more
Greek deaths, Achilles consults Kalkhas, a prophet, who says that Apollo’s
anger will only be appeased if Agamemnon returns the girl to her father and
perform sacrifices to the god.
• Agamemnon, although reluctant, agrees to return Khryseis, but demands a
prize in return. Achilles insults the king, and so Agamemnon takes his war
prize Briseis as compensation for the girl he was forced to give up.
• Achilles, offended at the loss of his honor, withdraws from the war and asks
his mother to speak to Zeus and ensure the defeat of the Greeks.
Honor and status in the Iliad
• In the Iliad, a person’s honor (timē) refers to the social worth that accrues
to the individual. It forms a hierarchy with the King at the top and the
common soldiers at the bottom.
• This honor is linked to their rewards (geras). The more honor a person is
associated with, the greater his rewards.
• Honor can also be won through prowess in battle, which is related to their
kleos, or fame. Fame can be gained through either brute strength on the
battlefield or through war strategies and speeches.
• Achilles and Agamemnon argue over who is entitled to more respect—the
king, as head of the army, or the soldier who has fought and won the most
renown in the war.
Iliad book 6
• Book 6 of the Iliad is the first to introduce us to the defenders of the city of
Troy, the sons of Priam and their allies.
• This is unique, as Homer shows us both sides of the war and does not say
that one side is better than the other.
• We get a sense of the community within the walls of the city, while the war
continues to rage around them.
Hercules: hercules, or herakles, was the son of zeus and alcmene. His arrogant and cruel mannerisms only seem to elevate his status, as heroes were expected to be aware of their greatness: herakles is driven to madness by hera and kills his first wife and children. To purify himself, he is forced to undergo twelve labors: after his death, herakles is elevated to a god and marries hebe, goddess of youth. In ancient greece, heroes were generally descendants of gods or goddesses: they were also usually from aristocratic backgrounds, heroes were defined by their achievements, which were generally on the battlefield and involved military glory. Homer: homer is the mysterious figure (or figures) credited with writing the great epic poems of the iliad and the odyssey, and the homeric hymns, according to the greek historian herodotus, homer was born around 850. Achilles: the iliad is entirely focused on achilles and his divine rage, first against.