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Notes 1/15-1/22

by: Kelsey Borgstadt

Notes 1/15-1/22 CLAS 160D2

Kelsey Borgstadt
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These notes cover the first week of class.
Topics in Culture and Civilization, Classical Mythology
Class Notes
Classical Mythology




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kelsey Borgstadt on Friday January 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLAS 160D2 at University of Arizona taught by Teske in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 149 views. For similar materials see Topics in Culture and Civilization, Classical Mythology in Classical Studies at University of Arizona.


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Date Created: 01/22/16
Classical Mythology 160D 1/15­1/22 ­­Formal definition of of a myth: “a story, often of unknown origin and usually at least partly  traditional and supernatural agencies, and relates supposedly historical events in order to explain  some practice, belief, or natural phenomenon.” ­­ Interpreting myth (and the people who created/coined the idea) ­ Rational Approach (Euhemeristic) ­ gods/stories were just prominent men in society or kings/rulers ­ people eventually started to worship and view them as gods ­ Allegorical Approach (Flugentuis) ­ extended metaphor ­ explain the origins of practice/beliefs, or natural phenomenon (prelude to             science) ­ popular approach during times of religious persecution  ­ Psychological Approach (Freud) ­ organized telling’s of subconscious fears or desires  Ex.) Oedipus Rex­ This is a story about a king of Thebes (Laius) who hears a  prophecy that his son (Oedipus) will kill him and marry his wife. So, the king  drives metal spikes into his infant son’s ankles and banishes him. Oedipus is  found by a Corinthian herdsman and is taken to the Corinth king, Polybus.  Polybus raises Oedipus as his own. Oedipus grows up to and comes across an  oracle who tells him that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Disgusted,  and not knowing that Polybus was not his biological father, Oedipus heads back  towards Thebes to prevent the prophecy from coming true when he comes to a  crossroads. At the crossroads he is met by a stranger who attacks him so Oedipus  kills the stranger, which happened to be Laius (his biological father). He travels to Thebes and is met with a Syphnx who kills anyone that cannot solve it’s riddle.  Oedipus is able to correctly answer the riddle, so the Syphnx kills itself. Oedipus  is reveared and marries the widowed queen (his mother). A plague sweeps  through Thebes, and Oedipus is told he is the reason for the plague because he has caused so much upset in the natural order of things. His wife/mother discovers  that she married her son and she kills herself. Oedipus discovers that he has  fufilled the prophecy and takes the pins that were on his wife/mother’s dress and  blinds himself. Feud uses the myth of Oedipus Rex to explain the “Oedipus Complex”, which in  pyschology says that little boys hate there fathers because they  secretly/subconciously want to have their mother for there own. ­ Anthropological/Sociological Approach (Sir James Fraizer) ­ mythic themes/structures can be traced cross­culturally in search of mythic  universals ­ tries to explain/study how certain beliefs span across cultures and time Ex.) external soul motif­ that objects can hold a person’s soul  This holds true in classical cultures all the way up to Harry Potter (horcruxes).  ­ Structural Approach ­ myths can be broken down into basic units of narrative sequence ­ 31 basic plot elements that every traditional tale draws upon  ­ there is surface structure and deep/internal structure which shows the  juxtaposition of themes; night and day, good and bad, male and female, etc. ­­Anthropomorphism: attributing of human shape/characteristic to the gods ­­ Zoomorphic/theriomorphic­ animal like form  Ex.) Anubis from Egyptian mythology  ­­ Important Sources for Classical Mythology ­ Greek Writers (and their works) ­ Homer (Iliad/Odyssey) ­ Hesoid (Theogony, “Origin of the Gods”, Works and Days) ­ Homeric Hymns (33 poems that are dedicated/describing individual gods) ­ Pindar (epinkia­ victory ides written to celebrate the winners of athletic contests  that often include elaborate mythological allusions that immortalized the victors) ­ Appolonios Rhodius (Argomantica) ­ Appolodorus (Bibliotheca­ encyclopedia account of ancient myths)  ­ 5  Century Tragedians ­ Aeschylis (Orenstein trilogy, Prometheus Bound, Seven Against Thebes) ­ Sophocles (Oedipus Rex, Women of Trachis, Philoctetes) ­ Euripedes (Medusa, Barrhrie) ­ Theocritus (Idyls­ pastoral poems populated with nymphs, satyrs, and herdsmen, also odes addressed to Graces, Helen of Sparta, Heracles, Disocruri) ­ Roman Writers ­ Virgil (Aenid, Ecogues, Georgics) ­ Ovid (Metamorphoses­ handbook of myths, Heroides­ fictional letters from  scorned women to men) ­ Aputeius (Golden Ass)  * Note that Greek writers came way before Roman writers. 


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