Classical Mythology: Origins of the Gods 1/25/2016
Classical Mythology: Origins of the Gods 1/25/2016 CLAS 160D2 - 002
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Date Created: 02/02/16
Classical Mythology: Creation Origin of the Gods January 25, 2016 @2 pm Map of World by Hecataeus of Miletus (ca. 500 BC) Creation Myths: Origins of the Gods ● Homer says that Oceanus mated with Theys to produce the rest of the gods ○ cs 750 BC ○ he is suggesting that water was the first principle ● Hesiod in his Theogony “the origin of the gods” gives the first elaborate Greek literary account of genesis ○ ca. 700 BC Descendants of Chaos (According to Hesiod) ● Chaos “a yawning; a Giant Blackness” ○ Gaia “Earth” ■ Ouranos (Uranus) “Heaven or Sky” ■ Mountains ■ Pontus “Sea” ○ Tartarus ○ Erebs ○ Night ○ Eros “Love/Lust” (cosmic god of procreation) Hesiod’s Invocation to the Muses ● Hesiod calls upon the Muses to inspire him ○ the divine patronesses of the arts ● He wants men to believe he is a divine channeler, and that his knowledge of the gods’ origins has been divinely revealed ○ He says that he was a shepherd in Boeotia and the 9 muses materialized to him and imparted their version of the distant past ● Hesiod seems to say that Blackness is the first principle ○ yet many mythic/religious systems have water and blackness as the precursors to creation ■ eg. compare the Biblical Genesis description ■ Consider the Egyptian version of the 1st appearance of Ra, sun god/creator ● Oddly, Homer says water and Hesiod contends that blackness was the precondition for creation ○ but both ideas are present yet split into different early versions in the Greek tradition Where does our Modern Notion of Chaos as “Disorder” come From? ● Empedocles, the 5th century B.C. Greek philosopher postulated that all the matter of the universe is composed of 4 primal elements: ○ Earth ○ air ○ Fire ○ Water ○ So the combining of these warring elements is represented in our meaning of chaos ● In the next century “the 5th element” which made up the celestial sphere ○ Aristotle theorized the existence of the quintessence Descendants of Gaia/Uranus ● Gaia m. Uranus ○ 12 Titans ○ 3 “OrbEyed Ones” ○ 3 Hecatonchires “HundredHanded Ones” OffSpring of Gaia (Ge) “Earth” and Ouranos(Uranus) “Sky/Heaven” ● 3 Cyclopes “The orbeyed ones” are the forgers of the thunderbolt ○ Giants with one huge eye ○ Brontes “Thunder” ○ Steropes “Lightning” ○ Arges “Brightness” ■ cf. Greek keraunos “Thunderbolt” ● 3 Hecatonchires “the hundredhanded ones” ○ giants with 100 hands and 50 heads ■ Cottus ■ briareus ■ Gyes ● or Gyges 12 Titans (Giants of 1st divine hierarchy/ 6 brothers mate with their 6 sisters) ● Oceanus and [Tethys] ○ produce the 6,000 Oceanids ■ 3,000 male water spirits and 3,000 female water nymphs ● concept of animism ● [Coeus] and Phoebe (Ist Moon Goddess) ○ Create Letto ■ who then begets the divine twins ○ Artemis ○ Apollo ● Hyperion (Ist Sun Go) and [Theia] ○ Beget 3 sky divinities ■ Helios “Sun” ● the later sun god ■ Selene “Moon” ● the later moon goddess ■ Eos “Dawn” (Aurora) ● the goddess of the dawn ● [Crius] and Mnemosyne “memory” ○ they produce no significant children ○ later Mnemosyne mates with Zeus to create the Muses ■ the inspirational goddesses ● [Iapetus] and Themis “Justice” ○ Produce Prometheus ○ Epimetheus ○ Atlas ● kronos (Cronus) and Reha ○ create 6 important children ■ Zeus ● the eventual ruling sky god ■ Poseidon ● the god of the sea ■ Hades ● the god of the underworld ■ Hera ● the queen of the gods/wife to Zeus ■ Demeter ● the goddess of the grain ■ Hestia ● the goddess of the hearth *Bracketed names are not super importantso don't feel responsible to learn them Key Passages in Hesiod’s Theogony ● 1st passage ○ the castration of Uranus by Cronus ■ after Uranus has stuffed his children back into the womb of Gaia in order to prevent his being overthrown by any of them ○ Gaia provides to Cronus the sickle of adamant to castrate his father ■ Greek adamas “the unbreakable substance” ○ Conus emerges from the womb while his parents are copulating; he castrates Uranus and hurls the genitals over his shoulder backwards into the sea and Aphrodite (goddess of love) ariss from the seafoam. ○ Aphrodite is called philommes “genitalloving” by Hesiod ■ punning on the Homeric epithet for her: philommedies “laughterloving” ○ Cosmic resolution of the Oedipus complex is suggested ■ son overthrows the father; but instead of sleeping with the mother, he mates with his sister (rhea) ● a “doublet of the mother” ○ Erinyes (furies) are spawned from the bloody drops (From Uranus’ castration) which strike the ground ■ they are avenging agents who relentlessly pursue those that spill family blood ■ their function mirrors their origin Concept of the Hieros Gamos ● The hieros gamos is a “sacred marriage” ○ especially between a skygod and an earth fertility goddess ■ Ex. Uranus M. Gaia, Cronus m. Rhea, Zeus m. Hera Cronus Swallows His Childeren ● Theogony’s 2nd key passage describes how Cronus swallowed all his offspring whole ○ except Zeus ■ a stone in infant's coverings was substituted for him and it was consumed instead. ● Zeus was whisked away to Crete where he was nurtured by the goat Amalthea, and fed honey from the melissai “honey bees”. The Curetes, semidivine warriors, clashed their spears upon their shields to mask the cries of the infant Zeus Titanomachy (Battle of the Titans) (Or, Olympian Gods vs. the Titans) ● Zeus gets advice from Metis “wisdom” and he administers an emetic drug to his father Cronus, so he spits back up Zeus’ 5 siblings ○ He then releases the 3 Cyclopes and 3 hecatonchires from Gaia’s womb ■ since they were not freed when Cronus liberated the Titans after castrating Uranus ○ All of these then side with Zeus in the cosmic clash Forces on each side in Titanomachy (cosmic conflict lasted 10 years) ● Fighting from: Mount. Olympus ○ Zeus ○ his 5 sibilings ○ 3 cyclopes ○ 3 hecatonchires ○ Themis “Justice” ○ Prometheus ● Fighting from: Mount. Othrys ○ Cronus ○ The rest of the titans ■ Minus Themis and Atlas How does Hesiod’s Succession Myth Support the Notion of Primogeniture? ● Primogeniture ○ the first born son inherits the throne, or este ■ ie. the oldest ● Crons is first described as the youngest Titan ○ how does he become the oldest in a sense? ● Zeus is also referred to as the youngest of Cronus’ offspring ○ how does he become the oldest? Zeus vs. Typhon (Typhoeus) ● After defeating his father Cronus, Zeus faced another formidable foe ○ A firebreathing, 100 snakeheaded creature arising from the earth and trying to topple Zeus ● Zeus destroyed him with his thunderbolts, and hurled him down into Tartarus ○ Stomwines (typhoons) arose from his body ■ the word typhoon is derived from chinese tai fung “great wind”, but folk etymology has reshaped the word’s form by association with this famous myth. Further Threats to Zeus’ Supremacy of Heavens ● Race of Giants ○ who also were spawned when the bloody drops of Uranus’ castration fell upon the ground ■ in many accounts, Athena, the warrior goddess, leads the Olympian gods to victory over the Giants ● Otus and Ephialtes (2 mischievous giants) attempted to scale up the heights of heaven by staking mountains upon each other, and then trying to overthrow Zeus. ○ they were either shot down by Apollo’s arrows, or survive for further msadventures “Kingship in Heaven” Pattern ● The paradigm refers to the violent displacement of the first 2 skygods, and the perpetual rule by the third ● the motif is seen in the Hurrian/Hittite succession myth (probably from Mesopotamia) which bears striking similarities to the Greek succession myth Hurrian/Hittite Succession Myth ● Anu1st skygod ○ he rules for 9 years in the heavens, then his son Kumarbi chases him into the sky and castrate him by biting off and swallowing his genitals. ● Kumarbi2nd skygod ○ Anu tells Kumarbi because of what he consumed, 3 gods are now developing within his body. ○ Kumarbi spits out the seed of Arnzaha (the personification of the Tigris River) and Tasmisu, and attendant of Heshub, the “Stormgod”, and then both grow from the earth. Yet Heshu remains in Kumarbi and continues to develop ○ Finally, Anu tells Heshub to escape through Kumarbi’s “good orifice”, not his “bad orifice” (through the Penis, not the Anus) and Heshub complies ● Heshub 3rd skygod ○ ‘Stormgod” and eventually the eternal ruler of heavens ● Kumarbi is angry and mates with a huge female rock to produce the stone child ○ Ullikummi ■ is at first hidden away on the shoulder of the Hurrian Atlas figure (Ubelluri) and he grows at the rate of 1 acre per month until at last he towers to a height of 9,000 leagues ● 27,000 miles high ● In the first battle between Hesub and Ullikummi, Heshub is conquered ○ but the elder god bring out the copper cutter which was used long ago to separate the earth from the sky ● in the second encounter, Heshub cuts into the feel of Ullikummi and hence “defeats him Parallels between Hurrian/Hittite and Greek Versions ● Anu = Uranus ○ is overthrown by castration (cf. Uranus’ downfall) ● Kumarbi = Cronus ○ has children inside of him ■ just like Cronus after swallowing his kids ● Heshub + Zeus ○ must prove his worthiness as ruler of sky by vanquishing a fearsome foe ■ Zeus’ destruction of Typhon ■ Both versions may have diverged from a common antecedent, perhaps Mesopotamia. ● This “Kingship in Heaven” pattern eventually came to be dispersed throughout the Mediterranean ○ but the Hurrian/Hittite version bears the closest resemblance to the Greek on ● Something so significant as the series of divine reigns leading to Zeus’ rule apparently was a motif adapted and adopted from a nonIndo European source ○ the Sumerians of Mesopotamia
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