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Chapter 14

Notes for Chapter 14

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University of Toronto St. George
James Lynd

Chapter 14 - Herc was the greatest of greek heroes - His image and career are vey similar to Gil’s - Like Gil he is wtrong and willful. He wantes adventure and experience and under- stands loyalty and friendship - The theme of contrast and hostility between the natural world and the cultural world is also strongin stories about Herc - He shows sympathy with the natural world by toting a primitive club and by shooting with a bow and arrow (when shield and spear were modern weapons) and he has an unruly behavior - Yet he rid the civilized world of dangerous animals and men - After a life of suffering, victory and defeat, Herc traveled to Olympus where he became a God - No town claimed his grave - He is among the earliest mythical figures in greek art perhaps as rely as 8th c BC - His 12 labors were the theme of the sculptural art on the temple of Zeus at Olympia - Inspired epic poetry - No continuous literary account of his career but mentions of herc and his deeds are so many that we can piece together a bio - > must remember that the myth of herc is a reconstruction assembled from many pieces The Birth of Heracles - Perseus’ son Electryon marries his own niece and they had a daughter, Alcmena and nine sons - Of Electryon’s other brothers, Sthenelus had a son, Eurystheus, and Alcaeus had a son, Amphitryon. - Electryon became king of Mycenae but soon pirates attacked him killing all but one of his nine sons. - Electryon prepared o leave on campaign,entrusting the kingship and care of his daughter Alcmena to his nephew Amphitryon understanding that his nephew would re- spect her chastity - But before Elec could leave his trusted nephew Amphitryon killed him in a quarrel - His punishment was banishment from Mycenae - Taking alcmena, Amphitryon fled north to Thebes Chapter 14 - > Creon, king there, purified him of blood-pollution - Amphitryon and Alcmena got married but she would not sleep with him until he avenged the death of her brothers as her father had planned to do - Amphitryon gathered allies, including Creon himself, and set out against the pirates - He won, headed home eager to get some - However! Zeus also admired Alcmena's beauty and before her husband arrived Zeus took on his appearance and appeared at her door showing his booty - They had sex and after enjoying her Zeus left just before the real Amphitryon ap- peared - Then the real Amphitryon appeared showing his booty and demanded sex - They had sex - So she had two seeds in her: divine and mortal - > Divine was Herc - > mortal was Iphicles, a man of humbler stature - Herc waas not to be king of Mycenae or Tiryns, but become the slave of his cousin Eu- rystheus - > When his mum was about to give birth, Zeus swore that on the very day a descen- dan of his own seed would be born who would rule over all surrounding lands - > Hera, Jealous, Delayed the birth of Herc while hosting that of Eurystheus, the child of Menippe and Stheneles, also a son of Perseus and hence Zeus’ grandson. - > Hera deceived him by asking if his child would be destined to rule was going to be born today and got Zeus to swear an oath - > Hera then caused the other birth - > Zeus blames Blindness and forces Hera from Olympus - Ovid adds detail to this: - Alcmena cried to the birth goddess Lucina but that goddess at Hera’s request, must sit outside the birth chamber with all her fingers crossed and her legs too - > Galanthis a servant notices this strange old women and realizes what goes on. She shouts ‘A child is born!’ and Lucian jumps up, breaking the dark magic spell - > Lucina turns the servent into a weasel Observations: Twins and Divine Birth - Many early peoples viewed twins (about one birth in 80) with superstitious awe and ei- ther killed them or regarded them with wonder Chapter 14 - One logical explanation for fraternal twins is two fathers: One mortal, the womans hu- man consort and one divine, being an invisible being present at the moment of concep- tion - Twins in Greek myth either are very close friends or bitter enemies - > Four such sets n legend of Perseus and his relations. Two of deadly enemies (Danaus and Aegyptus, Acrisius and Protease) - > two close friends (Herc and Iphicles, Castor and Polydeuces) - Idea of intercourse with an god and queen is developed in egypt. - A comedy the Amphitruo by the roman playwright Plautus: - > Jupiter appears as Amphitryon with Mercury disguised as his salve - > He makes the night last three times its ordinary length so great was his pleasure with Alcmena - > All night the clownish Amphitryon stands outside the house precented by high jinks from getting inside and gettin it on Herules Youthful Deeds - Amphitryon knew he was father to one and zeus to another but he wasn’t sure to which - Only when Hera sent serpants to destroy the mighty son of Zeus did he kow - > one of the infants seized the snakes and crushed them in his hands while the other lay helplessly nearby - Many stories of Herc are dunny or are raw jokes in the spirit of ‘hey, did you hear about that time’ - For example: - > A story told how Zeus ensured Herc’s greatness by placing the infant at Hera’s breast so that he could Imbibe the divine milk. Herc bit down sharply and hear screamed blood murder and dashed the child away: - - > Aetiological tale of milky way - Another: - > concerns Hercules’ fine and aristocratic education as he gre up stron and ripped! - > Herc received instruction in wrestling, archery, fighting in heavy armour and playing the lyre. He quickly mastered all the martial arts but he broke the lyre’s strings - > His teacher complained so much that herc picked up the lyre and bashed it in his music teachers head Chapter 14 - > tried for murder he was acquitted for self defense! Another: - After this death Amphitryon deided to remove his son from the town until things cooled down - He sent him to the country to tend cattle on the slops of Mount Cithaeron - > there herc grew until he was eight feet tall - > defeated the local boys in throwing javelin, shooting the bow, and similar stuff - > When 18 years old he hunted an enormous lion that ravaged the clocks of Thespius king of a nearby town Thespian - > for fifty days he hunted the lion - > each night, exhausted, he stayed in the kings house - Seeing how tall, strong and handsome he was, Thespius was determined to have grandchildren by him - Each night he sent one of his fifty daughters to Herc - > Herc thought it was the same woman each night and so he begot his first fifty sons - Another rendition: Thespius got Herc drunkand sent in all fifty daughter in a sngle night, one after the other. He impregnates all! - Kills lion. Marriage, Madness and Murder - Herc is often a buffoon or a sexual genius but soon he goes tooooo far - In a crisis a heroes greatness us useful, in a peaceful time it can be a danger to him and others - Amphitryon was killed in a ware against Erogenous, King of Minyans - new king of Thebes, Creon, gave herc his daughter Megara in marriage - He settled down and had three sons - Went mad because of hear and killed them and his wife - Subject of play by Euripides Heracles Insane (414BC?) - > after destroying a pretender to be the Theban throne, Herc is about to perform a sac- rifice but suddenly imagines he is traveling to Mycenae to kill the cowardly Eyrystheus who compelled him to go under the twelve labours which in this version took place be- fore the incident - Killed his own sons thinking they were the fam of Eurystheus Chapter 14 - at the height of happiness Herc lost control and comitted a terrible crime - In 416 the island of Melos revolted and tried to leave the Athenian Empire - The Athenians crushed the revolt and killed every adult male in Melos, enslaved the women and children - Europe's play was staged after and may represent these horrible events in a dramatic fasion The Twelve Labours - After the murder (the usual order of events) Herc went to Delphi to learn what he must do to atone - The oracle replied that me must leave thebes and travel to the argive plain. His par- ents’ homelands. - There hw ould serves as a bondsman to his cousin Eurystheus, king of Mycenae and perform the Twelve Labors - The greek word Athloi which really means ‘contests’ (hence our word Althetics) for which the victor wins a prize - Hercs prize would be immortality, the oracle said, and seveal of his contests were to be waged against death himself - Actually, he completed more than twelve tasks (so
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