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University of Toronto Mississauga
Lisa Trentin

CLA204 Lecture 1 Notes What is myth? - mthos (ancient Greek) story, plot of a narrative - myth a traditional story of collective (social) importance character, plot, temporal and special setting - mthos (story) + logos (account) = study of myth, mythology - set in distant past or time so long ago when humans did not exist - mythical place ie. garden paradise, world of the dead, etc. Circulation of Myth: oral (Orpheus, Homer, Hesiod) literary (Ovid, Euripides) artistic media (sculptures, paint) dance versions (ballet, tragedy, musical/opera) - storytellers vs. authors Orpheus (traditional, mythical) Homer (Greek, 8 thc. BCE) Hesiod (~700 BCE) Euripides (Athenian, 5 tc. BCE) changes the emphasis of myths to speak to audience Ovid (Roman, 43 BCE - 17 CE) universe story is very different from Hesiods Apollodorus (Greek, 1 sor 2ndc. CE) Hyginus (Roman, 2 ndc. CE) - catasterism transformation into a star become a constellation (heroes, etc.) - theodicy divine justice Ovid (March, 43 BCE) - aristocrat father wanted him to become a politician - wanted to be a poet served as judge, retired at 20 - Metamorphoses autumn of 8 CE - banished to edge of Roman Empire due to witness of/involvement in scandal involving Augustus - over 250 myths in Metamorphoses most involving some form of transformation - human transformation into god apotheosis - god transformation to human (disguise) - human transformation into animals, plants, features of the land/sea/sky - transformation to stars, constellation catasterism Apollodorus (1 s, ndc. CE) - Greek scholar - wrote the Library in attempt to systemize all Greek myth - summarizes (uncritically) all myth Hyginus (2 nc. CE) - Roman author - handbook of myth written in Latin but from Greek sources - traditional storied by Greeks - many myths show divine justice, theodicy - punishments, by gods - Hesiod and Ovid have very different views on the justice of the gods - wide range of approaches to the myth Types of Myth divine myths -about the gods , myths proper -anthropomorphic vs. personifications -anthropomorphic Zeus, Hades, etc. -personifications victory (Nike), Eos (discord), etc. -often etiological explain cause, origin -scientific myths divine -why gods are worthy of worship -wide array of gods in divine myth -often occur outside of human time, in a time humanity cannot grasp, and in locations too far away or too hard to get to (Underworld, Mt. Olympos) heroic myths/legends -about heroes -Achilles, Menelaus, Hector (Trojan War), Daedalus, Jason, Theseus -analogous to history to the Greeks -historical myths legend -seem to have records of what happened in human past central characters are human beings (opposed to divine) -heroes, heroines often of aristocracy -by definition, important to human time frame said to be ancestors of Greek people, long lineages -set in distant past of history -slay beasts, fearsome creatures, waged wars, founded cities early human history -modern archaeology proves legends may have distant base to truth Mediterranean cities in Greek myth were very central cities excavations as proof -Troy is sometimes believed to be true city excavations of wealthy city destroyed ~1250 BCE legendary Trojan War has truth in it -linear B tablet associated with Bronze Age brought to light names of Trojan War, Greek myth (Achilles, Hector, Daedalus, Theseus, etc.) folktales -ordinary folk -mostly concerned with ordinary people as central characters -fairy tales, fables, folktale types -may be ordinary character to begin with, often go through reversal in which they discover talent, wealth, fortune, etc. in order to triumph -scholars of classical myth identify folktale motifs/types, which are pervasive in myth -motifs: abused younger son/daughter, fairy godmother helper, marriage to prince/princess, cap of invisibility, magic flight, far away land, dragon guarding fountain/garden -most famous in Greek myth quest -quest: male must go in search of treasure, and overcome monster, etc., with help of a god or special token, monster is at first seen to defeat her, but hero prevails, escapes with prize (gold, princess, etc.) -Greek heroes Jason, Perseus, Herakles (Latin, Hercules) Italy, Greek Peninsulas - connect through water and land - dry, barren - mountains dominate landscape Attica (Athens) - hero Theseus Boeotia (Thebes) - Oedipus Corinth - located on the isthmus connecting Peloponnese to mainland Mycenae - Agamemnon Argos - Herakles - Perseus Laconia (Sparta) - Menelaus (brother of Agamemnon, husband of Helen Trojan War) Historical Periods Old Stone Age (Paleolithic), before 6000 BCE -almost no material survived New Stone Age (Neolithic), 6000 - 3000 BCE -pottery, stone tools -grave burials Bronze Age (3000 - 1150 BCE) -Early Bronze Age (3000 - 2100 BCE) -Middle Bronze Age ( 2100 - 1600 BCE) -Late Bronze Age/Mycenaean Period (1600 - 1150 BCE) Minoan Culture (2200 - 1400 BCE) -Crete -named after King Minos -Cnossos -labrys = double axe (labyrinth comes from Greek word double axe) -worshipped fertility goddess (perhaps) Mycenaean Period (1600 - 1100 BCE) -worshipped fertility goddess (unknown for certain, if true identity unknown) -Mycenae, Pylos, Thebes -linear B tablets (earliest known writings) -Mycenae taken over by Greek speakers in ~1600 BCE -Michael B Ventris (deciphered linear B) -Martin P Nilsson, The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology (1932) postulated that most Greek myth originated in Mycenaean age -area destroyed, linear B lost (writing culture vanished) in 1150, Dark Age began Dark Age (1150 - 800 BCE) -Dorians invaded (considered to be children of Herakles - descendants) -Athens only city that survived invasion westward migration -re-established culture in Ionia, western coast of Asia Minor, Aeolis -island of Euboea retained Near Eastern connections kept Mycenaean culture intact crucial to formation of Greek myth Archaic Age (800 - 480 BCE) -invention of Greek alphabet, ~800 BCE -colonization -Euboea sent colonies westward -polis city state -commerce and competition, trade revived, expanded (new sea routes) -coinage invented -interstate warfare -plays, tragedies - theatre -stories spread around Mediterranean -culture revival -Homer, Iliad and Odyssey -Hesiod, Theogony, Mt. Helicon in Boeotia (in Works and Days, tells of life during time period, of fathers life) Hesiods encounter with the Muses -encounter with the divine = epiphany -face to face -Mt. Helicon Muses appear, call him by name, infuse him with power of song (in beginning of Theogony) Class Stratification -slave labour -aristocracy -traders (despised by aristocracy) -sea farers (also despised by aristocracy) -upstarts Tyrants single strong man that took over especially hated by the aristocrats (gave the word tyrant its negative connotation) Age of Tyrants (650 - 500 BCE) -democracy in Athens (508 BCE) -rise of Persia kings shaped Persia into power, absorbed Greek areas, eventually travelled to mainland Greece -Athens and Sparta joined (all Greece) to push Persia back -Battle of Marathon (490 BCE) -Battle of Salamis (480 BCE) -gave way to classical period Classical Age (480 - 323 BCE) -Athens (democracy) vs. Sparta (oligarchy) -at beginning of Persia War, Athens had become democracy -Sparta had no central city state (polis) -Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 BCE) -Athens and Sparta competed for cultural hegemony and turned to war, result in Spartas defeat of Athens and allies -classical age is golden age of Greece -Athens arts (especially literary arts) thrived -tragedy: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides -history: Herodotus, Thucydides -oratory: Demosthenes -philosophy: Plato, Aristotle -architecture, painting, culture, etc. -authors able to reflect on inherited stock of stories (myth) most famous versions are of this period -Corinth, Thebes, Argos, strong competition -states fought among themselves until Macedon (high power) took over
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