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Chapter 5

Notes for Chapter 5

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James Lynd

Chapter 5 Myths of Creation The origins of Mortals - The Greek tradition shows little interest in the ultimate origins of mortals - Sometimes Zeus is identified as creator or mortals, sometimes various gods working together - > most often Prometheus is said to be the maker of mortals - -> he was the titan that took Zeus’s side in battle - Prometheus was known to be especially clever - Roman Poet Ovid gives the fullest surviving story (written in the time of Jesus!) - > After describing the emergence of the world from Chaos (based on Hesiod), Ovid writes that Prometheus made the human race by mixing primeval earth and water. - > because earth contained divine seed, the human was a superior being (above ani- mal kingdom) Prometheus, Protector of Mortals - Prometheus has much in common with Eastern predecessor, the clever Enki/Ea - He was the protector of mortals - Prometheus is said to mean ‘forelearner’. - > has brother, Epimethus ‘afterlearner’ or ‘dummy’ - Zeus was jealous and fearful of Prometheus - > Prometheus at Macon tried to trick Zeus: - -> He gave portions of ox and haggis to all the gods. He hid the bones inside the fat of the ox and presented it to Zeus. Zeus comments on the unevenness of the proportions and Prometheus says ‘ O Zeus, the noblest and greatest of all eternal gods, pick which- ever your heart may desire. - > here there are two different versions of the story, both ending with Zeus picking the bones. One says that he saw through the trick but chose the bundle anyways to justify the pain he was planning on inflicting on humans. However, like a folktale element, Zeus was undeniably the stupid ogre. (like Cronus who ate a stone instead of his son) - This is an Aetiological tale describing why the burnt offerings are the white ox bones Chapter 5 Myths of Creation The origins of Mortals - Zeus was so angry at what happened that he removed fire from trees to punish the hu- mans. This would make them unable to cook their meat and would starve. - But Prometheus stole the fire by hiding it in a fennel stalk (a thick plant stem common in the Mediterranean with a soft inflammable pith and a hard fire-resistant coat (used to transport coals)). - Zeus was angry and ordered Strength (Krauts) and Violence (Bia) who were children of the rive Styx, to bind Prometheus to a pillar in the Caucasaus Mountains at the east- ern end of the Black Sea. - > Everyday an eagle would peck out his liver. Being immortal it would grow back and happen again the next day. - In Prometheus Bound, Prometheus says that he is responsible for human intelligence and culture and way of life. - Taught them brick-making, woodworking, the calendar, numbers, writing, animal hus- bandry and seafaring - > 442-471 Prometheus Bound - Ancient myth usually depicts early human beings as having lived in a paradise that is now lost - Eden. - > But, as Aeschylus (Prom. Bound) tells, it was nothing like that. - -> Early humans were rude, witless, savage and lacking self-consciousness - Also responsible for medicine, prophetic arts, metallurgy, shape of intestines, astro- nomical phenomena. - Prometheus is the great culture bearer. He made human life what it is. - At last Heracles killed the eagle and set Prometheus free. Zeus didn’t object because by then Prometheus had done him a great favor; divined a prophecy concerning the Nerid Thetis whom Zeus admired. ‘A child would be greater than it’s father’ so Zeus backed off and told her to marry a mortal - gave birth to Achilles Chapter 5 Myths of Creation The origins of Mortals Pandora - Zeus’ other punishment was women! - So, he created Pandora: - > Hephaestus kneaded the clay into a goddess form, gave it speech and strength and a lovely face - > Athena taught her womanly skill (to weave) - > Aphrodite crowned her head w
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