Greek Mythology Notes 2/8/16 – 2/24/16
Greek Mythology Notes 2/8/16 – 2/24/16 CLAS 2040
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This 9 page Bundle was uploaded by Michelle Miles on Wednesday February 3, 2016. The Bundle belongs to CLAS 2040 at University of Virginia taught by Bradford Hays in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 26 views. For similar materials see Greek Mythology in Classical Studies at University of Virginia.
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Date Created: 02/03/16
2/8/16 Homer and Oral Poetry ● Homer – c. 700 BC? ● The Iliad – translated to English from Greek by Robert Fitzgerald ● Manuscripts developed (Medieval 10th century) ● Greeks would have read Homer on Papyrus scrolls few are left, but some preserved in Egypt by the dry sand ● Illustrations also included; longer scrolls promote better memory of the story, rather than books where it is easy to flip back and check previous pages ● 24 books each an individual papyrus scroll, not divisions that were created by Homer, but rather later scholars ● Milman Parry (19021935) ○ Interested in Homer, his work, and its connection with oral poetry and oral tradition ○ Traveled to Bosnia in 1930s to study and record oral poetic traditionguslars (oral poets, often illiterate and sometimes blind) ○ Asked for “The Song of Milman Parry” to be composed/recorded in 1933, portrayed self as Homeric Hero ○ Characteristics of Oral Poetry: ■ Repetition ■ Generated on the spot, not memorized or read ■ Use of “typesentences” (duel, arming, departure, etc.) ■ Use of a metrical formulae and epithets, passed from poet to poet (phrases/lines memorized and used to maintain meter), formulaic epithets ■ Archaic poetic language ● distinct from daily speech ● mingling different dialects ● The fomulae that Homer uses was developed for a century or more before he wrote ● Consequences of Oral Composition ○ The song is not memorized but generated afresh each time it is sung hence → the song is fluid: no two performances are the same; all are equally original ○ Songs only exist while they are being performed (unless recorded) ● Homer has the characteristics of oral poetry, but are written text ● 750700 BC Greeks learn to write again ● Some scribe writing down the tales of a bard? Or a bard who learns to write? ● The Iliad and The Odyssey did they come from the same bard? ○ “Homer” is who we denote at who is responsible, but it’s a little unclear who really is 2/8/16 Homer and History ● Homer makes comparisons between the gods and common men ● Giovanni Panini, “Architectural Capriccio” (c. 1755) ● “Saga presupposes ruins” Albin Lesky (20th c. German classical scholar) ○ heroic saga must be built on tales of long, long ago, and not rely on reality ● Bronze Age to Dark Age (c. 1100) something bad seems to happen ○ Decline of Mycenaean culture ○ “Palaces” abandoned on Crete and mainland ○ Linear B writing system disappears ○ Settlements smaller ○ Technology regresses ○ Minimal contact with the Near East ● The Dark Age (1100800) ○ ??? ○ Tradition of oral poetry started to percolate during this time, culminating in the Iliad & Odyssey ● Dark Age to Archaic Period ○ New “geometric” pottery style ○ Renewed contact with Near East ○ First examples of the Greek alphabet ○ Oral Iliadand Odyssey traditions take written form (?) ● The making of the Fictional Homeric World ○ Contemporary Reality (Dark Age/early Archaic Period) ■ burial methods Bronze Age: inhumation (burial); Dark Age (& Homer): cremation ■ writing Bronze Age: Linear B; Dark Age (& Homer): no writing ○ Memories of Bronze Age (reality) ■ Archeological Sites: Mycenae (Agamemnon), Pylos (Nestor), Tiryns (Diomedes), Crete (Idomeneus & Meriones) ■ Image as warrior as fierce lion comparing heros to lions found in Mycenaean history (Lion Gate, Mycenae, Mycenaean Bronze dagger depicting lion hunt) ○ Memories of Bronze Age (distorted) ■ The image of the Chariot ○ Pure Invention ■ Semihistorical setting, but likely invented characters ● Homer as historical fiction set at a time period some time in the past, set fictional characters in real historical events 2/17/16 Homer’s Use of Myth ● Timeline (past → present): ○ Gods ○ Calydonian BoarHunt, Lapiths vs. Centaurs, Herakles, Bellerophon ○ Jason & Argonauts; War of Seven against Thebes ○ Trojan War ○ NonHeroic Time (“as men are now”) ● Use of preTrojan War myth as exemplum (to reproach or encourage) ● Existing Myth + Myth Adapted by Homer + Myth Invented by Homer = Homer ● How do we know when Homer is adapting/inventing? ○ preHomeric myth (lost oral sources) ■ Homer → later sources dependent on Homer ■ Hesiod, etc. ■ Lost Intermediaries → later sources independent of Homer ● Ex. Where did Aphrodite come from? ○ Hesiod: She was born from the sea ○ Iliad 5: She is the daughter of Zeus and Dione ● Adaption of Myth I: Niobe ○ Punished for her hubris by having all of her sons and daughters killed; she mourns, grieves, and turns into stone ○ Achilles and Priam in the Iliad references the myth of Niobe ● Adaption of Myth II: Meleager ○ Phoinix: ■ Not previously mentioned in Iliad; plays little role after book 9; not prominent in other sources ■ Apparent duplicate of Chiron as Achilles’s tutor ■ What is he doing in the main camp? ■ Dual verb forms (as if scene was originally built around two ambassadors) ■ Gives vastly longer speech than Aías and Odysseus ● Gives an elaborate autobiography (doesn’t Achilles already know this?) ● Myth of Meleager married to Kleopatra, takes part in war, feuds with mother, withdraws from battle, rejects gifts, begged by Kleopatra, has to fight anyway ○ Hesiodic Version: ■ Althaia, Meleager’s mother, is told her son will only live until the log in the fire burns up; she takes the log out of the fire to save her son ■ Meleager falls in love with Atalanta ■ Hunt of the Calydonian Boar ■ Meleager kills his uncle → Althaia burns his “lifelog” ● Noteworthy Aspects of this Myth (Hesiodic version): ○ Story is logically coherent, selfconsistent ○ Motif of external lifeforce has Norse, Indian parallels (<Indo European) ○ Story dramatizes family ties ■ Mother, father/uncle, son ● Signs that Homer is adapting an older story: ○ Homeric version incorporates elements of nonHomeric story, but in a logical way ○ Story is unsatisfying except for exemplum ○ Homer’s Meleager is suspiciously close to someone else → Achilles ■ both take part in war, both involved in quarrels, both withdraw from battles, both reject gifts, both are begged to fight/not fight, bothwill fight anyways (Phoinix foreshadows some of Achilles fate with this tale) ● Conclusions ○ Homer has adapted a traditional ‘Embassy’ scene by adding a new character (Phoinix) ○ Phoinix is there to tell the Meleager story ○ Homer has reshaped the Meleager story to make it mirror (and foreshadow) Achilles’ situation ● Can we see adaption of traditional material in Homer’s portrayal of Achilles? 2/22/16 Achilles ● From Thessaly ● Creation of oral poets or telling of traditional tale/history? ● Achilles beyond Homer: ○ Summary by Proclus of lost ‘Epic Cycle’ poems ○ Statius Roman poet, unfinished Achilleid(1st c. AD) ○ Quintus of Smyrna, Posthomerica (?4th c. AD) ○ Incidental references in other writers ○ Vase paintings and other art (c. 600 BC →) ● Birth story/Background: ○ Zeus takes an interest in Thetis, a sea nymph; but, there is a prophecy that Thetis’ son will be greater than his father; so, Zeus marries Thetis off to a mortal, Peleus; Thetis is able to shapeshift and tries to do so to avoid marrying Peleus, but she is captured and the wedding proceeds, and is one of the greatest social events of Greek Mythology (this is the event in which the golden apple inscripted with “for the fairest” is claimed by the 3 goddesses) ○ Thetis dips her son in the river Styx, granting him immortality/super strength/protection; when she dips him in the river, she must hold him by his heel, so his heel doesn’t get wet, and is thus vulnerable → the “hero’s weak point” (ex. Superman and Kryptonite, Norse mythology Baldur) ○ Chiron, a centaur, is appointed to be Achilles’ tutor/trainer ○ Prophecy if Achilles goes to Troy, he will die, if he stays home, he will live a long, happy life ■ → Thetis hides him on the island of Scyros, disguises him as a female ■ Odysseus disguises himself as a traveling salesmen selling feminine accessories and weapons, and finds Achilles by his interest in the weapons ○ Penthesilea, the Amazon Queen defeated by Achilles ○ Ethiopian prince Memnon, son of Eos ○ After Achilles’ death, Thetis has him transported to the White Island, where he is married to Helen in an immortal paradise ● Homer emphasizes Achilles’ mortality and ordinary humanness; disregards the heel/invulnerability, “fairytale” elements are absent ○ Ex. interaction with Lykaon ○ Achilles’ armor in the Iliad ○ Achilles’ horse, Xanthos, in Iliad9, begins to utter a prophecy to Achilles, but is silenced by the gods ● Mortality is very prevalent in the Iliad → more interest in mortals than gods, more is at stake, gods are almost just comedic relief, achievement of glory 2/24/16 Myths of Creation ● Cosmogonic/Creation myth ○ Narrates origin of physical universe ○ Explains creation of human beings (and other living organisms) ○ Provides blueprint for human relationship with higher powers ○ Accounts for the existence of evil and misfortune ● Creation myths found all over the world, everyone asks “Where did we come from?” ● Hesiod ○ From Askra in Boeotia ○ Won prize at funeral games of King Amphidamas (c. 730) ○ 2 poems + fragments ■ Theogony (“Origin of the Gods”) ● Reveals Hesiod’s meeting with the 9 muses on Mt. Helikon → they grant him the ability to write poetry ■ Works & Days ■ other lost poems (Catalogue of Women, etc) ○ Poetry reflects oral tradition (formulae, etc) ● Hesiod tells us that the first thing that existed is chaos ● Then emerged a series of elements: ○ Gaia (Earth) ○ Tartaros ○ Eros ○ Erebos ○ Night ● Ouranos andGaia mate and give birth to Titans ○ Kronos ○ Rhea ○ other Titans (Prometheus, Atlas, etc) ○ HundredHanded Giants (not Titans) → Ouranos confines them to Tartarus; angered by this, Gaia arms her son Kronos with a sickle and he castrates his father ■ After castrating his father, Kronos throws his genitals into the sea, giving birth to Aphrodite ● Kronos andRhea marry and give birth to: ○ Zeus ○ Hera ○ Poseidon ○ Demeter ○ Hestia ○ Hades ● Kronos is master of the universe, after overthrowing his father, and fears his children will overthrow him, so he swallows them upon their birth; after Zeus is born, Rhea tricks Kronos into eating a stone instead, sending Zeus away to be raised in Crete ● Zeus releases the HundredHanded Giants to help him overthrow his father, who he forces to spit up his siblings and the stone, which becomes exact center of the universe at Delphi ● Gaia, angered, creates, Typhon (Typhoios) ● Hesiod’s narrative is not unique → Babylonian Enuma Elish (1000 BC and before) ○ Mummu ○ Apsu (fresh water) + Tiamat (salt water) → Qingu, Ea → Marduk Enamu Elish Hesiod’s Theogony ● Apsu + Tiamat generate other gods ● Gaia + Ouranos generate other gods ● Ea puts Apsu to sleep ● Their son Kronos overthrows Ouranos ● Ea’s son Marduk is more powerful ● Kronos’ son Zeus overthrows Kronos than father Hurian/Hittite Succession Myth ● Hesiodic Cosmos tell us: ○ The world is hierarchical, ruled by monarch ○ Zeus: lesser gods :: human king : subjects ○ Male = government, order, power, being in charge ○ Female = unrest, turbulence, monsters ○ Disorder, confusion → Ordered universe ● Atrahasis ● Frankenstein model of creation make material model from scratch, add life through supernatural means ● Genesis Priestly Writer vs. J Writer ○ Modeled after God himself vs. Frankenstein model
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