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Chapter 6

CLA204H5 Chapter 6: Classical Mythology Reading Notes Chapter 6

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Lisa Trentin

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Classical Mythology Reading Notes
Chapter 6- Meet the Olympians pages 134-154
Children of Coronus and Rhea: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia and Hades
They all lived on Mount Olympus; the tallest mountain in Greece except for Hades
Zeus, Hera and their 6 children, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia and Aphrodite are the
Page 135 has a chart of lineage
The Twelve Olympians
6th century BC, The Greeks recognized 12 Olympians
gods and goddesses had an altar built for them in Athens known as “the Twelve”
The 12 Olympians made up the divine family with Zeus as the head “father of gods and
men”; Poseidon rules the sea, Hera presides over the family
Hestia watches the fire, Demeter brings fertility to the earth
Hephaestus inspires the craftsmen, workers in metal, Ares is war
Hades does not reside on earth so therefore he is not an Olympian
Athena is known for practical knowledge including the art of war
Aphrodite has the power of sexual attraction
Apollo is the god of prophecy and healing also called Phoebus often inseparable from
Artemis (Roman name being Diana) goddess of wild animals and the hunt
Hermes the trickster, god of open spaces, master of deception, lies and commerce
Organization of the Greek family and tensions between the sexes are reflected in the
family of the gods
While Zeus pursues both women and boys, Hera takes revenge against the women he
Athena and Artemis were celibate, Demeter had no known husband and Aphrodite like
sexual urges, was violent
Zeus, Lord of the Sky
Zeus derived from Indo-European root di -meaning “shine” or “sky”
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Germanic God Tiu means “sky” hence Tuesday means “Day of Tiu”
Roman God Jupiter also identified with Zeus which means “father sky”
Zeus is more particular with weather; he caused it to rain, which Homer calls him “the
cloud gatherer” the Greeks thought also his home was on Greece’s highest mountain
(Olympus) although Mount Ida was also special
Zeus’ outstanding attribute is his irresistible strength and the aegis: “goat skin” was his
emblem of power
Thunderbolt was his weapon of choice, the bull was his animal of choice because of its
power and fecundity and he was also associated with the eagle and where lightning
struck, the Greeks would erect a shrine to Zeus “Zeus who descends”
Athena often is dressed with a breastplate
Zeus, God of Justice
Presided over law and justice and upheld customary ways of Greek society
Dikê “to point out” (as in digit, “finger”) meant Justice
Plato’s The Republic tries to define what is meant by justice
Those who acted illegally or unjust (against dikê) also acted against Zeus
Zeus protected xenia: “formal institution of friendship” (xenos means “guest”)
Xenia allowed Greeks safe travel to faraway lands where other Greeks lived
A relationship was established when you received a wanderer into your household, you
entertained him and gave him a gift
Violation of Xenia of a host’s behalf would be if they robbed or killed the guest
Guest violated if they stole or seduced the host’s wife
In legend, Paris seduced Helen which was a violation of Xenia to Menelaus which was a
cause of the Trojan War
Homer’s Odyssey is a study in the observation and violation of the customs of Xenia
The Seduction of Zeus by Hera
Zeus was celebrated for his numerous consorts or wives and his many affairs with
mortal women -115 of them
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