BIOA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3-9: Hekatonkheires, Hermaphroditus, Cinyras
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Potnia Thêrôn: Figure of Artemis, “Lady of the beasts” whose role in Greek religion was to promote
abundance of game. Thousands of years old.
Mesopotamia: “land between the rivers”, occupies region of Tigris and Euphrates rivers now known as
Iraq. Greek myth of the origin of the present world-order in a battle of the gods was of Mesopotamia
origin. Vague in physical appearance of gods.
Babylonian story of creation was found here, Genesis, the biblical book of creation was borrowed from
Sumerians: Unknown racial stock, spoke a language unrelated to any other known languages. 4000 BC,
culture appeared suddenly. Perhaps came from Iran (Persia) or India. Had invented irrigation agriculture,
so high food supply. Had used Cuneiform writing (c. 3400 BC). Earliest myths recorded this way. Their
gods resemble humans, all related to one another, have personalities like humans.
•Created first full-fledged city states by 3000 BC with 50000 people. Each city contained
protective deity (lived in temple at centre of city) who protected city’s fortune, and military
winning over other city brought victory to deity.
An: Polytheism culture of Sumerians, had many gods and goddesses. “Sky” god of infinite expanse of the
dome above us. Originally, he was supreme authority, source of order in world of gods and humans below.
Anitu, “Anu-ship”, institution of human kingship that made Mesopotamian civilization possible, came
from sky: Kingship came from heaven. Now An is no longer important.
Inanna: “Queen of heaven”, goddess of sexual love and curiously, war. Lust was insatiable. 120 lovers
couldn’t satisfy her. Similar to Aphrodite in Greek myth and names are related.
Enlil: Divine authority, “lord of the storm”, had force and power, and unruly violence of thunderstorm.
Also a king and An’s agent on Earth and was a part of Earthly events. Had inscribed Tablet of Destiny by
which fates of gods and humans were decreed, in Cuneiform writing). He brought fertilizing rain, but can
dry up flood waters. Similar to Zeus.
Enki: “Lord of Earth”, ruled sweet groundwater beneath soil. Fertilizing principle. Clever crafty god. God
of wisdom and magic whom instructed humankind in arts and crafts. Similar to Hermes but shares
features with Hephaestus, Prometheus, Poseidon and Dionysus. Ki was earth.
Semites: 2300 BC, are seminomadic peoples whom inhabited Arabian Desert and pushed constant against
river cultures of Mesopotamia. Were not united people or race.
Akkadians: Semitic Akkadian, led by great Sargon, named after capital Akkad, ruins have never been
found. They took over southern Sumerian cities and adopted Sumerian culture and made Sumerian gods
into theirs, took myths and refashioned them, and wrote them in cuneiform script on clay tablets.
Hebrews: Best known of the Semitic peoples, traced ancestry back to Abraham (c. 2000 BC?) who came
from “Ur of the Chaldees” in southern Mesopotamia, from Sumer that is. Abraham migrated to Canaan
(Israel and Jordan now) after God promised he would become father of a mighty nation designed to
possess this land. His descendants came into Egypt, became slaves then Pharaoh. Remains today as a
basis for Jewish self-explanation. Moses led Hebrews out of Egypt, and gave them the Ten
Commandments, ethical foundation of Judaism. First was “You shall have no other gods before me”, thus
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Moses made them stop their polytheistic practices of Egypt and Mesopotamia and devote to an all-
powerful God called Yahweh who delivered them from Egyptian bondage. His vision won and story of
creation and universal flood was adapted from Mesopotamian myth. Hebrews invaded Canaan and waged
war for control against Philistines, whom are Mycenaean Greek refugees from Crete. Solomon brought
political power to Hebrews and built temple at Jerusalem. Chaldeans, Babylonian dynasty led by
Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon’s temple and deported Hebrew leaders to
Hitties: Powerful and important people of Bronze Age. They are non-Semitic Hitties and controlled
central Anatolia (Asia Minor) from 1600 to 1200 BC. Myths preserved on clay tablets in cuneiform
writing, but Hittite language. Were Indo-European speakers, inherited cultural tradition from Sumerians
and refined by Sumerians Semitic people. Egyptian language similar to Semitic language but has no
common vocabulary. Afro-Asiatic. Most important myth was about murder of god Osiris and resurrection
by magic by Sister Isis, this is from Greek.
Homer: Earliest Greek literature in poems of Homer, Iliad and Odyssey. Born in Asia Minor, poems show
knowledge of Aegean and Greece. He must have lived just at the moment that the alphabet was introduced
into Greece. Homer’s stories were unaware of the revolutionary effects of alphabetic writing on social
behavior. Absence of description in writing is why he is placed in eight century BC, when alphabet was
new and unfamiliar. Impossible to record him in earlier Linear B or Phoenician syllabic scripters because
of his complex poetic lines depend on long and short vowels which those scripts did not have. Iliad is
16000 lines, period of several weeks during 10th year of Trojan War. Principle theme is wrath of Achilles,
his anger over being mistreated by leader of the expedition, Agamemnon. Odyssey 12000 lines narrates
return of Odysseus to his home after 20 years.
Epic: “song”, long narrative poem celebrating deeds of heroes.
Hesiod: He tells us a little about himself unlike Homer. Theogony (origin of the gods) and Works and
Days. His father lived in Asia Minor. Then moved to mainland Greece to small forlorn village. He became
an aoidos. Hesiod had great description on the Muses, inspirers of poetry, whom agave him power of
song. He gave first definition of a poet.
Homeric Hymns: Like poems of Homer and Hesiod, composed orally and antiquity, believed to be by
Homer himself. Four are several hundred lines long: to Demeter, Apollo, Hermes, and Aphrodite. Hymn
is a metrical address invoking a god or goddess by listing cultic names and telling important story about
deity. Homeric hymns focused on mythic narrative.
Humanism: Ethic and secular law, value central to Western civilization.
Choral Song: With lyric poetry came Choral song, new technique of composition in writing, memorized
for public presentation by group of twelve of more boy or girl dancers. Greatest of choral poets was Pindar
whose odes contain a myth that reflects on glory of the athlete being praised.
•Tragoidia means goat song, because goat was an animal associated with Dionysus, at whose
spring festival in Athens tragedies were staged, name may be taken from song sun during sacrifice
of a goat in the god’s honour. Composed in writing, script of tragic play was not meant to be read
by to serve as a prompt book for a live performance.
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Aeschylus: earliest tragedian whose works survive.
•Seven plays of more than eighty he wrote. He loved song and elaborative descriptions of foreign
•Used to myth to explore grand moral issues between individuals will and divine destiny.
•His characters tends to be types or to embody some principle.
•Lived with Athens was at its greatest glory
•He fought at Marathon. Persians was something he wrote about his time, does not have a mythical
•Was in political and cultural dominance of Athens (c. 496-406 BC). Born 6 years before battle of
•Died two years before Athens humiliation by Sparta at end of Peloponnesian War. Wrote 123
plays, seven survive
•Dramas locked in bitter conflict, likes to show dignity of human beings in conflict with superior,
usually divine forces, noble person.
•(c.484-406 BC) more plays survive from him then Aeschylus and Sophocles combined, nineteen
from 90 he wrote. Poet of great range
•Characters often deflated heroes, mere mortals caught up in all-too-human squabble.
•Characters have abnormal mental states. Aristotle said Sophocles showed men as they ought to be
while Euripides showed them as they really are.
Apollonius of Rhodes:
•Wrote poem on Jason in style of Homer, the Argonnautica
•Hellenistic Greeks interested in essential truth of myth.
Library of Apollodorus:
•Account of mythical events from creation of the world to death of Odysseus.
•Best source of info about many Greek myths, especially those told in Cyclic poems.
•Greatest Roman poet, told story of Aeneas in his epic the Aeneid. Full descriptions of underworld
and vivid account of sack of Troy
•Preserved legends of Dido, queen of Carthage and of Hercules battle against monster Cacus.
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