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 worldorder 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 fullfledged 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, “Anuship”, 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 selfexplanation. 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 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 nonSemitic Hitties and controlled
central Anatolia (Asia Minor) from 1600 to 1200 BC. Myths preserved on clay tablets in cuneiform
writing, but Hittite language. Were IndoEuropean speakers, inherited cultural tradition from Sumerians
and refined by Sumerians Semitic people. Egyptian language similar to Semitic language but has no
common vocabulary. AfroAsiatic. 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 10 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. 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. 496406 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.484406 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 alltoohuman 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. Ovid:
• Generation younger than Vergil, important source from period of early Roman Empire
• Famed for clever and witty verse. Implicated n sexual scandal that touched Emperor Augustus
own house. Tells love stories.
• Exiled in AD 8 to town of Tomis on black sea and died
• Highly original work is a handbook of more than 200 stories united by theme of transformation
• Begins with transformation of chaos into cosmos and ending with transformation of Julius
Caesar’s Augustus greatuncle into a star.
Chapter 4 Myth of Creation
• Story that explains the “origin of the world”
• Hesiod’s version of Cosmogony. Which is a story that explains the “origin of the gods” and their
rise to power. It’s an elaborate hymn to Zeus, Greek version of the IndoEuropean skygod.
• Chasm, first was him. We do not know where it comes from and Hesiod does not say.
• Mother Earth, personification of Earth beneath us, solid foundation of the world.
• Hesiod personifies Tartarus as one of the primordial creatures by which Gaea later has offspring.
• “Sexual love or attraction”, source of motion that brings sexual beings together to produce more
offspring. Force that drives Hesiod’s complex genealogies.
• Four of them represent an independent aspect of the world: a gaping (chaos): foundation of all
that is (Gaea), the underside of that foundation (Tartarus) and principle of sexual attraction that
brings generations and change (Eros).
• Erebeus (darkness) and Nyx (night) came from Chaos
Titans: According to Hesiod:
• Gaea first bore asexually: Uranus and the mountains on her upper side that rise into the sky.
Uranus same size as Gaea and covers her completely as if locked in sexual embrace.
• Then she bore water doublet, Pontus (sea)
• Then in sexual union with her son Uranus/sky she made six male and six female Titans.
• Contend with Uranus for power, last born.
Cyclopes: Gaea bore them after union with Uranus (three of them). Clever smiths of the gods. • Took raw iron from depth of earth (their mother) and made a weapon: lightning. Brontes
(thunderer), Steropes (flasher) and Arges (brightener).
Hecatonchires: Gaea bore after union with Uranus the hundredhanders.
• Each of them had hundred hands, fifty heads, beings who can crush any opponent in their mighty
• A watery male. Oceanus and Thetys themselves gave birth to all the gods according to Homer,
good example of cosmogony similar to Hesiod’s. Oceanus is river that encircles the world, where
dome of sky touches flat surface of Earth. The Pair united to make 6000 Oceanids, spirits of the
sea, rivers and springs
• Cronus and Rhea doublets for Uranus and Gaea, are parents/grandparents of the 12 Olympians,
including Zeus, kind of the gods and central subject of praise in Hesiod’s poem.
Helius: Son of the Titan Hyperion (he who goes above) is a song god. Helius is a son god himself.
Eos: Also son of Titan Hyperiom, he is the dawn, while her sister Selene is the moon. Had many love
affairs. She loved Tithonus, a Trojan prince. Tithonus received a boon like Endymion’s (eternal slumber
from Zeus, at Selene’s request so he can be immortal). They save he shrivelled up and turned into a
• Son of Helius and Clymene, an Oceanid. His mother was married to the king of Ethiopia, she told
her son that his father was the sun. He wanted proof and his mother told him to journey to the
house of Helius himself and present himself to his father. Helius palace was beautiful, to prove he
was Phaethon father he told him he’ll give him anything he likes. TO his horror, Phaethon asked
to be allowed to drive the chariot of the sun across the sky. Phaethon eventually lost control of the
car and horses dashed down close to earth, nearly setting the world on fire. Libya is not a desert
and the skin of Ethiopians burned black. Zeus blasted the boy from the car to save the world, he
feel into Eridanus a river.
Erinyes: was made by Gaea (she was fecundated by drops of blood from Uranus) because of the fact
Cronus had cut up Uranus’s genitalia, separating him from earth and all the elements spirited. This
brought deceit and violence between father and son. Gaea also gave birth to the Furies, who are female
spirits that haunt anyone who sheds kindred blood, driving them into madness.
Giants: also sprang from the bloody gore, they are the earthborn ones, have enormous strength and
unbridled violence, who will bring their power to bear against Zeus and his Olympian brothers and sisters.
Aphrodite: blood fell on the earth but the genitals that were cut up fell into the sea. Sea foam mixed with
semen from the organ until she was born. She represents the universal force of irresistible sexual desire,
fruit of mutilation and violence. Destructive power of sexual attract is central theme in Greek myth.
Sphinx: descendant of Gaea and Pontus. Has wings, is female, and meant stranger, deadly spirit of plague
who in Greek myth besieged the city of Thebes.
Cerberus: fifty headed (or three headed) hound that guarded gates of Hades’ realm.
Chimera: shegoat, lion with snake’s tail and goat’s head growing from back. Descendants of Gaea and
Pontus possessed great power but features were drawn from nature. Thetis: is a Nereid (group of seaspirits that live at the bottom of the sea on golden thrones), she is the
mother of Achilles. Like her father the Old Man of the Sea she can also change her shape.
Cronus takes over realm, told by parents one of his children would take over realm from him.
Swallowed children as they were born from his wife and sister, Rhea. Children were Hestia,
Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus. Rhea asks parents for help (Gaea and Uranus),
they tell her to go to Crete and bear her youngest child, Zeus. Hid him in mountain cave,
brought up by nymphs on milk from the goat Amathea and honey from Melissa the bee. His
cries were drowned by clashing cymbals of Corybantes. She gave Cronus a stone wrapped in
cloth as her child. Zeus forced Cronus to vomit up children. They say that the Oceanid Metis
“cleverness” gave Cronus an emetic potion that Cronus vomited out with his children.
Titanomachy: Titans resented rule of Zeus and banded together and attacked the Olympians in the
Titanomachy “battle of the titans”. Only the Titan Themis and her son Prometheus sided with Zeus in
• Zeus realized from Gaea that he could win battle by getting the three Hecatonchires and the
hundredhanders. He released them and the Cyclopes from Tartarus where Uranus had imprisoned
them because of their power. The Hecatonichires took a magical drink called nectar (“overcomes
death”) as they were weakened from captivity and a mythical food called ambrosia (deathless
• For thanks, the Cyclops made Zeus the thunderbolt, his special weapon. Zeus cast the Titans into
black distant Tartarus
Atlas: either a Titan (son of Uranus) or a Giant (son of Iapetus and an Oceanid) was condemned by Zeus
to live at the edge of the world, where he help up the heavens, so that the sky and the earth would always
be separated. After, he was equated with a mountain range in Morocco near Atlantic Ocean (where his
name comes from) and gave his name to continent Atlantis, said by Plato to lie in far west beyond pillars
of Heracles, hills of Gibraltar on northern side on other Ceutra in Morocco.
Typhoeus: Gaea and Tartarus, she gives birth to monstrous Typhoeus, or Typhon. Was born in Cilicia
(southern Turkey) was so tall he towered over mountains. One hand touched western horizon other
touched eastern. He was made of hissing viper’s waist down. Had majestic wings and shaggy hair all over.
He threw fiery rocks and fire from his mouth at the Olympians who fled to Egypt and disguised
themselves as animals (reasons why Egyptian gods are animal shaped). Zeus charged with his thunderbolt
and suing the sickle that Cronus used on Uranus. Typhoeus fled to mount casius in north Syria
(southeastern Turkey). In the fight Zeus lost his sickle, Typhoeus sliced Zeus sinews off his hands and feet
which he put in a jar and placed him in a cave in Cilicia and palced a dragon to guard. Zeus’s son Hermes
and goatshaped woodland spirit named Aegipan slipped past Typhoeus, took the sinews from the jar,
restored Zeus, who then flung thunderbolts at Typheous. Zeus buried Typhoeus beneath Mount Etna in
eastern Sicily. When the mountain smokes, its from the fusillate of lighting that Zeus put in the beast, or
fire of Typhoeus himself.
Typhonomachy: battle with Typhon.
Succession myth: Even though Zeus beat the battle against Titans and Typhoeus, the succession myth that
governed earliest generationas seemed to demand that Zeus too be overthrown. Cronus was more clever
than Uranus, and Zeus was more clever then Cronus, and to forestall prohepecy, Zeus married cleverness herself, the OCeanid metis, “Cleverness”. Metis was already pregnant with Athena and so he swarllowed
the mother with the child so that cleverness became part of him and only he could access it. Cronus
swallowed his children and Uranus attempted to keep his offsprings in the mother. From a headache,
Prometheus or Hephaestus struck his head with an ax and out came Athena, fully formed and armed,
screaming the warcry. Athena was child of Zeus along, his agent and supporter, female in sex, virgin in
body and masculine in thought and behaviour. Child who would have overthrown him was never born.
Mighty and brilliant Zeus defied prophecy by thwarting biological logi according to which only females
Gigantomachy: battle of the Giants, attacked Olympians, hurling rocks and burning trees. Giants were
bearded, snaky legs, long hair. Heracles (mortal) son of Zeus, joined Olympians in war, for an Orgacle
declared that the gods could not without a mortal’s assistance. Giants were overcome, now male gods
Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon divided world between them when before it was divided by all the siblings
equally. Earth and heights of Olympus was common to all however.
Tiamat: From Babylonian Poem the Enuma elish. Poem opens with waters, male Apsu, freshwater and
female Tiamat, saltwater together in an indeterminate mass. With Lahmu and Lahamu (Mr. and Mrs.
Mud0, creation began even as Gaea “Earth” aappearted after Chaos in Greek account. Anshar and Kishar
are heaven and Earth.
Anu: Sky is begotten fourth generation, many other gods appear.
Ea: Sumerian Enki, was also born among them. Eros who is attraction accompanied Gaea, Tartarus and
Chaos in the Tiamart opposed