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Chapter 18

CLA204H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 18: Buddy Buddy, Golden Fleece, Myrtilus


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA204H1
Professor
Yuriy Lozynsky
Chapter
18

Page:
of 4
CHAPTER 18: THE MYCENAEAN SAGA
Tantalus and Pelops
- Pelops, son of Tantalus
- Time period where humans + gods intermingled.
- Tantalus invited the gods to dine with him and he cut up his son Pelops,
boiled the parts in a pot and served them at the feast to the gods
- The gods saw his deception except Demeter who ate the flesh, when
Pelops was restored to life, he was given an ivory shoulder (the part she
ate) as substitute.
- Tantalus’ punishment; condemned to suffer everlasting thirst and hunger in
the underworld.
- Pindar’s version of myth; Poseidon fell in love with Pelops and took him up
to Olympus same as Ganymede.
oPelops prayed to Poseidon, his lover before the race for
Hippodamia’s hand. The god gave him a golden chariot and tireless
winged horses. He had 6 princes.
- Both have Pelops be among the short-lived race of mortals.
- Pelops became a suitor for Hippodamia
oTo win the hand of Hippodamia, he had to win a chariot race
against Oenomaus (father of Hippodamia).
oHe had to ride with Hippodamia and if Oenomaus caught up, he’s
dead. (he killed 13 previous suitors, their heads decorated the
dude’s walls)
oPelops bribed Oenomaus; charioteer Myrtilus to sabotage the
chariot so that it crashed and killed Oenomaus. Pelops won and left
with Hippodamia and Myrtilus.
oMyrtilus thought his prize would be to be able to sleep with
Hippodamia on the first night and tried to rape her, Pelops
discovered this and threw Myrtilus from a cliff in to the sea. As
Myrtilus fell, he cursed Pelops and his descendants (curse of his
blood-guilt), which led to the misfortunes of the House of Atreus.
- an important hero to Olympia, his shrine is next to the temple of Zeus.
oPelops receives sacrifice before Zeus in Olympia.
Atreus and Thyestes
- Pelops returned to Pisa and became king in place of Oenomaus, his
children Thyestes and Atreus fought over the kingdom of Mycenae, which
has been offered to a son of Pelops in obedience to an oracle.
- It was agreed the possessor of a golden-fleeced ram would be king.
oEuripides ver; Pan brought the Golden fleece to Atreus and the
people celebrated. Thyestes tricked Atreus’ rife with secret love and
took the golden ram to his house. Zeus, hating cheaters caused the
sun to travel in the opposite direction so as Thyestes was loving
victory and Atreus was banished, later Atreus returned and became
king, exiling Thyestes in turn only to recall him and kill him for the
seduction on his wife. He pretended to be all buddy buddy with his
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brother and invited him to a banquet. He killed Thyestes’ sons and
gave Thyestes their flesh to eat.
Agamemnon, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.
- curse of Myrtilus affected the first gen. of Pelops’ descendants. The
quarrel between Thyestes and Atreus continued by their sons.
- Second exile, Thyestes laid with his daughter Pelopia, been advised to do
so by an oracle and became father to Aegisthus, who continued the
vendetta in the next generation.
- Son of Atreus, Agamemnon, became king of Mycenae by succession. He
married Clytemnestra and had children; Iphigenia, Electra and Orestes
and Chrysothemis. (important in Sophocles’ play)
- Agamemnon commits a crime against his children. He sacrificed Iphigenia
at the start of the Trojan expedition in order to appease Artemis and gain
favorable winds to sail from Greece. (powerful and important myth)
oThis crime brings hatred of his wife, Clytemnestra. During
Agamemnon absence at Troy, she commits sex with Aegisthus,
who joined her in plotting vengeance against Agamemnon.
oWhen Agamemnon returned with prisoner, Trojan princess
Cassandra, Agamemnon was murdered by Clytemnestra and
Aegisthus. Aegisthus took responsibility for the crime and he got
killed by Thyestes.
oAnother ver. Has Agamemnon killed at the banquet celebrating his
homecoming.
oPopular one is Clytemnestra killing him in his bath, trapping him in
a robe while she stabs him. Cassandra foresees the murder and
her own death. Clytemnestra tries to justify her actions and there’s
this weird powerful imagery that has her as an earth-mother being
renewed by the rain of the sky-god or the blood of her dead
husband.
Orestes and Electra
- Orestes lived in exile at the court of Strophius, king of Phocis. His duty to
avenge the murder of his father and even though one of the murderers
was his mother, Apollo commanded him to carry out his duty
- He returned to Mycenae and with encouragement from Electra, killed
Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.
oIn Odyssey, Zeus says good job
oIn Aeschylus and Euripides; Orestes is chased by Erinyes, the
Furies. He had to appeal to Athena and be charged for matricide
(court of Areopagus, jury are the citizens of Athens)
Athena says his kill of the mother does not outweigh the kill
of the father and so the curse of Atreus comes to an end and
he is set free.
Some plays don’t accept this and have Orestes go to the
land of Tauri to fetch a wooden statue of Artemis. Custom of
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the Tauri to sacrifice strangers to Artemis in her temple and
Orestes + companion Pylades are handed over to the
priestess who is Orestes’ sister Iphigenia. When she
reocnigzes her brother, they decide to trick Thoas, king of
the Tauri into letting them take the statue of Artemis to the
sea to be clean the pollution caused by Orestes. They board
the ship and set sail but the wind and waves drive them back
to the land. Before the king can grab them, Athena appears
and helps him out. They both return to Greece, Orestes
returns to Mycenae and Iphigenia stays in Attica, continuing
as a priestess of Artemis.
- Curse = blood-guilt descending from one generation to another.
- Menelaus, king of Sparta and his daughter Hermione. Hermione is married
to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles. She is childless. She proposes, with her
father to kill Andromache (slave to the son of Achilles) while Neoptolemus
is away at Delphi however Peleus appears and saves her. Father
shamefully leaves. At this point Orestes appears and announces that he’s
betrothed to Hermione and takes her away to Argos to be his wife. He has
arranged for the murder of Neoptolemus at Delphi and a messenger
brings the news of his death. When the corpse is brought back,
- When Electra and Orestes are waiting to find out their fate, Menelaus
refuses to help Orestes, persuaded already by Tyndareus, husband of
Leda.
oShe and Orestes and Pylades (shares Orestes, his friend’s fate)
plot to avenge themselves on Menelaus by killing Helen and
Hermione. Helen escapes. They’re on the roof with Hermione,
Menelaus is yelling at them from below. Orestes set fire to the
palace.
oApollo shows up with a solution. Helen is brought up to join her
brothers, Castor and Polydeuces to be an immortal goddess.
Orestes will go to Athens where he will be tried by the Areopagus
and marry Hermione. Pylades will marry Electra. That’s how
Euripides brings an end to the saga of House of Atreus.
Orestes and the Three Electras (Aeschylus)
- Aeschylus ‘ Libation Bearers
oPlay opens with Orestes with Pylades returned to Argos. Electra
finds out she’s back home. They plot together for revenge.
oClytemnestra is the murderer. (stabbing)
oIf Orestes does not do this avenging, Furies will continue to haunt
him forever.
oClytemnestra accepts them, not knowing who they are and Orestes
says that he is dead. She has a dream about a snake/serpent.
Orestes kills Aegisthus and tells Clytemnestra that she will be next.
He kills his mother and continues to be chased by the Furies until
the third play
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