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Cal Poly - For 251 - Class Notes - Week 8

Created by: Sierra Taylor Elite Notetaker

Cal Poly - For 251 - Class Notes - Week 8

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251-03, Spring 2016, MW 6-8   Monday May 23   Sierra Taylor Matthew Brenholdt Michael Langberg Ekaterina Pidromova Chris Voncina Nina Krishel Emily Nitao & Sophia Kuvan Lauren Miller   Wednesday May 25   Caitlin Scott & Kathleen Warde Vinayak Raju Shayan Moghimi Kenneth Talliac & Liza Sims Sami Adamson & Winston Tong Dorian Romero  
background image Wednesday June 1   Varun Iyengar Robert Kirk Ryan Ramos Sarah Hershorin John Corotis ames B. Cushing        To       engl-251-07- May 11 at 11:01  AM                         Billy-goats and the essence of tragedy
“Tragedy” and “tragic” derive from
            TRAGOS = male goat;
            TRAGODIA = song on the occasion of the death of a male goat.
In its omnivorous wildness, open sexuality and total disregard for man-made laws, the frisky 
male goat suggests DIONYSUS, god of drunken celebration and natural growth.
The myth of Dionysus is multi-sourced and highly complex. The most useful version for our 
purposes concerns the affair ZEUS had with SEMELE, one of the daughters of Cadmus 
(mentioned in  Oedipus the King at line 37, page 160). When Semele became pregnant,  HERA, Z’s wife, got angry, disguised herself as a nurse, and persuaded Semele to ask Z to  appear to her undisguised, so that his mistress would see him just as he appeared to his real
wife. But no mortal can look directly as Zeus without being killed, and so, Semele died. Z 
took the fetus out, placed it into a wound he cut into his own thigh, and carried the child to 
term. The baby was raised by Semele’s three sisters, who came to worship him devotedly, 
even to the point of madness. They were called Maenads, whence our words “mania” and 
“maniac.” In some versions of the story, these women actually sacrifice their own children in
order to show their devotion to the god.
Birth, death. Natural growth is cyclical. “The flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make
earth,” writes California poet Robinson Jeffers; “Out of the mother, and through the spring 
exultances, ripeness and decadence, and home to the mother.” If the old must die to 
produce the new, then death and life, which appear on the surface to be total opposites, are 
revealed as inseparable parts of the same larger process.
According to ancient myth, Dionysus must die to be reborn. The ritual death of Dionysus is a 
sad occasion but a noble one, given that the goat is fated to die; his death expresses the will
and power of the gods, not punishment for individual guilt.

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School: California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
Department: Foreign Language
Course: Great Books I: Introduction to Classic Literature
Professor: James Cushing
Term: Spring 2016
Name: ENGL 251 Week 7 Notes
Description: Week 7 Lecture Notes
Uploaded: 05/16/2016
4 Pages 20 Views 16 Unlocks
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