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Chapter 20-21

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Chris Bovaird

CLAA06 : Ancient Mythology—Greece and Rome Meera Mehta Module 3 Chapter 20: The Trojan War The House of Atreus - kings who led Greek expedition to Troy came from House of Atreus, which ruled the Argive plain from either Mycenae or Argos - line related to Tantalus of Lydia (the man who stole the gods’ nectar and ambrosia, then tried to feed them his son Pelops) o the descendants of Tantalus all committed crimes of treachery, adultery, cannibalism, incest, rape and murder o ancestors’ and descendants’ crimes led to punishments, hence the consequences of the Trojan War Pelops, Oenomaus and Hippodamia - Tantalus had invited the gods over for a feast and served them his chopped-up son, Pelops, to test their omniscience - Everyone realized except Demeter, who ate a bit of Pelops’ shoulder - Hermes resurrected Pelops by putting his pieces back in the pot and boiling them again o Pelops came out again, minus the shoulder given a shoulder made of ivory - At this time Oenomaus ruled as a king over Pisa, a village in NW Pelopponesus o Oenomaus was in love with his own daughter Hippodamia o She refused his sexual advances, but he wouldn’t let anyone marry her  Offered her as a prize in an unwinnable contest  Suitor had to carry her away in a chariot, was given a head start and sent racing toward Corinth  Oenomaus, who had a team of horses sired by the wind, always caught up with the suitors, speared them from behind, beheaded them, nailed the heads to the door of his palace - Pelops was determined to win Hippodamia o He crossed the sea from Lydia, bringing a golden-winged chariot drawn by horses that never tired  This was a gift from his lover Poseidon o Pelops also told the king’s charioteer Myrtilus that he could have the first night in bed with Hippodamia if he helped Pelops  Myrtilus removed the bronze cotter-pins at the end of the axle of Oenomaus’ chariot, which kept the wheels from falling off, and replaced them with wax  When Oenomaus raced after Pelops, the heated axle melted the wax, and Oenomaus was dragged to his death o *see p. 541 for image of Hippodamia and Pelops - Pelops, Hippodamia and Myrtilus stopped to get water o Myrtilus was already grappling Hippodamia Pelops got angry and tossed him from the towering cliff into the sea o As Myrtilus fell, he cursed Pelops and his future descendants The Banquet of Thyestes - Pelops (purified of blood guilt) returned to Pisa and became its king o Named the land Peloponnesus o Children included:  Pittheus (father of Aethra)  Chrysippus (Laius raped her; Pelops put a curse on Laius’ lineage, the House of Cadmus *including Oedipus])  Thysetes (father of Aegisthus)  Atreus (father of Menelaus and Agamemnon) - After the Heraclids had killed Eurystheus, an oracle ordered the Mycenians to choose a child of Pelops as the new king o Who should be the king: Atreus or Thyestes?  Atreus was the elder one, so he was the obvious choice  Thyestes declared that whoever could produce a fleece from a golden lamb should be king o Years before, Atreus has vowed to Artemis to sacrifice his finest lamb to her  But when a golden lamb appeared in his flocks, he killed it and hid the skin in a trunk instead of burning the fleece on the altar as he was supposed to  His wife, Aerope, knew about this o Aerope was secretly having an affair with Thyestes and gave him the fleece o Thyestes was the one who produced the golden fleece and became king o Atreus was sure that Zeus wanted him to be king, so he declared that Zeus would make the sun rise in the west and set in the east in his favour  This actually happened. 1 | P a g e CLAA06 : Ancient Mythology—Greece and Rome Meera Mehta Module 3  Thyestes abdicated the throne, and Atreus banished him - Atreus found out that Thyestes had gotten the fleece due to Aerope’s incestuous relationship with him o Atreus took his revenge on Thyestes by chopping up his three sons and serving them to him  Atreus told Thyestes what he’d just eaten, and Thyestes fled, all the while cursing Atreus - Thyestes went to Oracle of Delphi to learn how he could get even with his brother o Needed to beget a child by his own daughter, Pelopia o He unknowingly raped Pelopia and left his sword behind - Atreus married Pelopia, ignorant of the fact that she was his niece and was pregnant by Thyestes o When Aegisthus was born, Atreus assumed him to be his own son - Atreus was still determined to find Thyestes, so he sent his older sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus, to Delphi to look for him o Thyestes was at Delphi as well, seeking a new way to get even with Atreus since he couldn’t find his daughter o Agamemnon and Menelaus dragged him back to Atreus in Mycenae o Aegisthus drew his sword to help kill Thyestes, but Thyestes recognized the sword as his and demanded where Aegisthus had gotten it  It was revealed that Pelopia had been raped by her father Thyestes  Pelopia killed herself with this sword  Aegisthus presented the bloody sword to Atreus, who performed a sacrifice to the gods and went to the river to wash his hands  Aegisthus then stabbed Atreus in the back. - Menelaus and Agamemnon took refuge with King Tyndareus of Sparta (Helen’s father), who raised an army and helped th brothers kill Thyestes o Now Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae The House of Tyndareus Leda and the Swan; The Dioscuri - Tyndareus had married Leda, sister of Althea, Meleager’s mother o Zeus had intercourse with her, then Tyndareus did as well on the same night  Polydeuces and Helen immortal children of Zeus  Castor and Clytemnestra mortal children of Tyndareus o Apparently, Leda actually laid a pair of eggs  From one egg hatched Zeus’ children, from the other hatched Tyndareus’ - Castor and Polydeuces = the Dioscuri (“sons of Zeus”) o Participated in the voyage of the Argo and in the Calydonian Boar Hunt o Chased Theseus after he abducted Helen and brought her and Aethra back o When Castor was killed in a cattle raid, the grieving Polydeuces gave up half his immortality to Castor o Dioscuri were pre-eminently the protectors of sailors in distress The Oath of Tyndareus - Tyndareus married Clytemnestra to Agamemnon but was worried about Helen, who had tons of powerful suitors: o Odysseus—son of Laertes and king of Ithaca o Diomedes—son of Tydeus; warrior who fought against Thebes and ate brains of Melannipus o Ajax—son of Telamon, who would be second-best Greek warrior at Troy o Philoctetes—son of Poesas, who had dared light the funeral pyre of Heracles o Patroclus—son of Menoetius, who became Achilles’ best friend and lover o Menelaus—son of Atreus - Odysseus understood Tyndareus’ predicament o Being too poor for Helen (he was the king of a remote, rocky island), he offered a solution to the problem if Tyndareus would marry him to his niece, Penelope. o The solution: The Oath of Tyndareus (described by Hesiod in Catalogue of Women) But of all who came for the maid's sake, the lord Tyndareus sent none away, nor yet received the gift of any, but asked of all the suitors sure oaths, and bade them swear and vow with unmixed libations that no one else henceforth should do aught apart from him as touching the marriage of the maid with shapely arms; but if any man should cast off fear and reverence and take her by force, he bade all the others together follow after and make him pay the penalty. And they, each of them hoping to accomplish his marriage, obeyed him without wavering. But warlike Menelaus, the son of Atreus, prevailed against them all together, because he gave the greatest gifts.(ll. 100-106) But Chiron was tending the son of Peleus, swift-footed Achilles, pre-eminent among men, on woody Pelion; for he was still a boy. For neither warlike Menelaus nor any other of men on earth would have prevailed in suit for Helen, if fleet Achilles had found her unwed. But, as it was, warlike Menelaus won her before. 2 | P a g e CLAA06 : Ancient Mythology—Greece and Rome Meera Mehta Module 3 - Helen + Menelaus Hermione The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis - Peleus was born on the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf - When his father, Aeacus, came to the island, it was uninhabited until Zeus changed the ants into people, thereafter called the Myrmidons - Peleus and his brother Telamon were jealous of their half-brother Phocus for his superior athletic ability killed him o Aeacus exiled them, on pain of death if they ever returned o Because of his stern judgment, Aeacus was believed to be one of the judges of the dead, along with Minos and Rhadamanthys - Telamon fled to Salamis, became king and fathered the great hero Ajax - Zeus had lusted for Thetis, but Prometheus warned him that a union with Thetis would result in a child stronger than Zeus o Zeus promised Thetis to Peleus - Peleus found Thetis on a seashore o Leaped out, pinned her down o She changed into many shapes (fire, tree, lion, bird) and at last consented to marry him - Hera was evidently grateful to Thetis for not having slept with her husband, so she arranged for Thetis an extravagant wedding (described in Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, p. 548) The Judgment of Paris - Priam was the sole surviving son of Laomedon; the others were killed by Heracles o Priam married Hecabe, who bore many children, including Hector, the greatest warrior in Troy o When she was pregnant with Paris, she had a dream that she gave birth to a firebrand indicated that Paris would be the cause of Troy’s destruction - Priam and Hecuba exposed Paris by Mount Ida, but he was rescued and raised by a shepherd o Paris grew to be far stronger and more handsome than all the other shepherds o Single-handedly warded off a group of robbers called Alexander, “warder of men” o - In the midst of Peleus and Thetis’ wedding, Eris (“strife”) appeared, angry at not having been invited o She rolled an apple across the floor and said “May the fairest goddess take it.”  Hera, Athena and Aphrodite fought over it - Zeus sent the three of them to Paris, son of Priam, to ask for his judgment - Hermes led the goddesses before Paris o They each unrobed themselves to show him their naked bodies and offered him a bribe  Hera—dominion over the world  Athena—glorious military career  Aphrodite—the most beautiful woman in the world  Paris chose her because he wanted Helen - Paris went to Troy recognized as lost princewent to Spartagreeted warmly by Menelaus, who upheld the laws of xenia o But Paris flouted these laws  When Menelaus left Sparta to attend a funeral, Paris and Helen eloped and took the palace’s treasure with them to Troy  She ditched her husband, her daughter Hermione, and her good name The Trojan War The Gathering at Aulis - Menelaus flew into a black rage when he found out that Paris had flouted the rules of xenia o He and Agamemnon of Mycenae invoked the Oath of Tyndareus, and Helen’s former suitors assembled with their armies at the port of Aulis on the coast of Beotia - Odysseus, who had come up with the Oath of Tyndareus, wasn’t present o He and Penelope just had a baby boy, Telemachus (“far-fighter”), and Odysseus didn’t want to leave his family o Odysseus feigned madness dressed like a madman and followed a plow attached to a bull and a jackass  Palamedes was also famed for his cleverness (he had invented the alphabet, dice, numbers, astronomy)  Wasn’t deceived; took Telemachus from Penelope’s arms and threw him in front of the plow  Odysseus immediately stopped the plow to save his son, showing he wasn’t mad after all o Later during the war, Odysseus took revenge on Palamedes  Planted a letter on a Trojan captive implying that Palamedes intended to betray the Greeks for gold 3 | P a g e CLAA06 : Ancient Mythology—Greece and Rome Meera Mehta Module 3  Greeks found sack of treasure in Palamedes’ tent (which Odysseus had placed there), stoned him to death, left him to rot - While the Greek forces were still gathering at Aulis, the prophet Calchis stated they’d never win the war without Achilles o The protection of Achilles:  Thetis placed him in a hearth every night to burn away his mortal parts. Peleus walked in on her one day, and she angrily took Achilles out, cast him to the ground, left Peleus forever to go back to her father Nereus. OR  Thetis held him by the ankles and dipped him in the river Styx. He was only vulnerable at the ankles. o Training Achilles  Achilles was taught by Chiron on Mount Pelion, where he hunted every day with his companion Patroclus o Hiding Achilles  Thetis took him to the island of Scyros east of Euboea (where Theseus was murdered) and concealed him in the women’s quarters dressed as a girl - Calchas detected that Achilles was on Scyros but didn’t know where o Odysseus and Diomedes pretended to be peddlers selling women’s trinkets attracted the king’s daughters o Placed a sword and shield nearby Achilles immediately went for them and thus joined the expedition The Journey to Troy - Finally all the warriors were were gathered. Additional names of importance: o The Lesser Ajax—son of Oileus; unrelated to the Greater Ajax, son of Telamon o Nestor— king od Pylos; son of Neleus o Idomeneus—king of Crete - The Greeks didn’t know how to get to Troy o Came ashore south of the Troad, the area around Troy, in a land called Mysia o Local king Telephus (a son of Heracles) tried to drive them off, and Achilles wounded him o The Greeks returned to Aulis o Telephus’ wound wouldn’t heal  Following an oracle that “only that which harmed you can cure you”, Telephus said he’d lead them to Troy if Achilles would heal him  Achilles took some corrosion off his spear (“that which harmed you”) and placed it in the wound, which healed  Ready to go to Troy - According to Calchas, Artemis was the one sending the Greeks bad winds that were now preventing them from reaching Troy o Agamemnon once boasted, while hurling his spear at a deer, that “even Artemis could not do so well” o Now Agamemnon needed to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia  Pretended that Iphigenia was to marry Achilles, so Iphigenia came dressed in wedding clothes  Iphigenia was led to the woods, where Agamemnon slashed her throat on an altar  Told in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, the first play in a trilogy called the Oresteia (p. 554) o According to another tradition, Artemis sent a doe as a substitute for Iphigenia  Doe was killed while Iphigenia was carried in a cloud to the land of the Taurians  There, Iphigenia became a priestess to a foreign and more savage Artemis, who demanded the human sacrifice of all strangers - Winds were fair again. The Greek fleet stopped on an island to make a sacrifice to the gods, but a snake bit Philoctetes o The wound reeked, so they ditched Philoctetes on the island of Lemnos. *He kept Heracles’ bow with him - The Greeks approached the Troad, but an oracles had declared that the first to land would be the first to die no one wanted to go ashore o Protesilaus leapt from the ship, ran to the beach, got killed by Hector Helen on the Wall - Odysseus and Menelaus went to the city to ask for the return of Helen without further bloodshed, but were nearly killed by treachery in the act o So the battle began. - Homer’s Iliad describes the beginnings of the battle, when Helen joins the elders and points out the warriors. Because of old age had they now ceased from battle, but speakers they were full good, like unto cicalas that in a forest sit upon a tree and pour forth their lily-like voice; even in such wise sat the leaders of the Trojans upon the wall. Now when they saw Helen coming upon the wall, softly they spake winged words one to another: "Small blame that Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans should 4 | P a g e CLAA06 : Ancient Mythology—Greece and Rome Meera Mehta Module 3 for such a woman long time suffer woes; wondrously like is she to the immortal goddesses to look upon. But even so, for all that she is such an one, let her depart upon the ships, neither be left here to be a bane to us and to our children after us." [161] So they said, but Priam spake, and called Helen to him: "Come hither, dear child, and sit before me, that thou mayest see thy former lord and thy kinsfolk and thy people—thou art nowise to blame in my eyes; it is the gods, methinks, that are to blame, who roused against me the tearful war of the Achaeans—and that thou mayest tell me who is this huge warrior, this man of Achaea so valiant and so tall. Verily there be others that are even taller by a head, but so comely a man have mine eyes never yet beheld, neither one so royal: he is like unto one that is a king." [171] And Helen, fair among women, answered him, saying: "Revered art thou in mine eyes, dear father of my husband, and dread. Would that evil death had been my pleasure when I followed thy son hither, and left my bridal chamber and my kinfolk and my daughter, well-beloved, and the lovely companions of my girlhood. But that was not to be; wherefore I pine away with weeping. Howbeit this will I tell thee, whereof thou dost ask and enquire. Yon man is the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, that is both a noble king and a valiant spearman. And he was husband's brother to shameless me, as sure as ever such a one there was." [181] So spake she, and the old man was seized with wonder, and said: "Ah, happy son of Atreus, child of fortune, blest of heaven; now see I that youths of the Achaeans full many are made subject unto thee. Ere now have I journeyed to the land of Phrygia, rich in vines, and there I saw in multitudes the Phrygian warriors, masters of glancing steeds, even the people of Otreus and godlike Mygdon, that were then encamped along the banks of Sangarius. For I, too, being their ally, was numbered among them on the day when the Amazons came, the peers of men. Howbeit not even they were as many as are the bright-eyed Achaeans." [191] And next the old man saw Odysseus, and asked: "Come now, tell me also of yonder man, dear child, who he is. Shorter is he by a head than Agamemnon, son of Atreus, but broader of shoulder and of chest to look upon. His battle-gear lieth upon the bounteous earth, but himself he rangeth like the bell-wether of a herd through the ranks of warriors. Like a ram he seemeth to me, a ram of thick fleece, that paceth through a great flock of white ewes." [199] To him made answer Helen, sprung from Zeus: "This again is Laertes' son, Odysseus of many wiles, that was reared in the land of Ithaca, rugged though it be, and he knoweth all manner of craft and cunning devices." [203] Then to her again made answer Antenor, the wise: "Lady, this verily is a true word that thou hast spoken, for erstwhile on a time goodly Odysseus came hither also on an embassy concerning thee, together with Menelaus, dear to Ares; and it was I that gave them entertainment and welcomed them in my halls, and came to know the form and stature of them both and their cunning devices. Now when they mingled with the Trojans, as they were gathered together, when they stood Menelaus overtopped him with his broad shoulders; howbeit when the twain were seated Odysseus was the more royal. But when they began to weave the web of speech and of counsel in the presence of all, Menelaus in truth spake fluently, with few words, but very clearly, seeing he was not a man of lengthy speech nor of rambling, though verily in years he was the younger. But whenever Odysseus of many wiles arose, he would stand and look down with eyes fixed upon the ground, and his staff he would move neither backwards nor forwards, but would hold it stiff, in semblance like a man of no understanding; thou wouldest have deemed him a churlish man and naught but a fool. But whenso he uttered his great voice from his chest, and words like snowflakes on a winter's day, then could no mortal man beside vie with Odysseus; then did we not so marvel to behold Odysseus' aspect." [225] And, thirdly, the old man saw Aias, and asked: "Who then is this other Achaean warrior, valiant and tall, towering above the Argives with his head and broad shoulders?" [228] And to him made answer long-robed Helen, fair among women: "This is huge Aias, bulwark of the Achaeans. And Idomeneus over against him standeth amid the Cretans even as a god, and about him are gathered the captains of th
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