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Marriage and Death in Mythology

by: Kelsey Borgstadt

Marriage and Death in Mythology CLAS 160D2

Marketplace > University of Arizona > Classical Studies > CLAS 160D2 > Marriage and Death in Mythology
Kelsey Borgstadt

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Last set of notes before the quiz!
Topics in Culture and Civilization, Classical Mythology
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kelsey Borgstadt on Wednesday February 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLAS 160D2 at University of Arizona taught by Teske in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 274 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: 02/10/16
Myths of Marriage and Death ­ Eros, “love or lust” and Thanatos “death” as Freudian concepts­ primal aspect of human  condition ­ Divine paradigm of Hades marrying Persephone in the underworld­ linked to cycles of  regeneration and death (change of seasons) o Persephone is the daughter of Demeter. She was out picking flowers one day,  while picking flowers Hades comes out of the underworld and abducts her and  takes her as his bride in the Underworld. At one point during her mourning the  loss of her daughter, Demeter decides to wipe out the human race by removing  the grains from the field. The gods plea with her to stop her from doing this, she is like “nah”. Hermes goes to the underworld and begs Hades to release Persephone. Hades releases her but after she eats pomegranate seeds (fruit of death). She  returns to the earth during spring but has to return to the Underworld every  winter. This is said to be why flowers bloom in spring and everything dies in  winter. ­ Involve key social and biological transitions o Recreation of oikos “household” with new parameters Orpheus and Eurydice ­ Tragic death of bride Eurydice on wedding day and the master musician’s attempt to  resurrect her from underworld.  ­ Theme of power of music and song to confer immortality ­ Violent death of Orpheus, his brief stint as a talking/singing oracular head on Lesbos and  his ultimate reunification with his wife in the afterlife  Admetus and Alcestis ­ Admetus is under the protection of Apollo. Apollo gets word that Admetus is going to die and he goes to the 3 Fates and bargains with them, gets them to say that someone could  die on his behalf.  ­ Admetus’(king of Pherae) devout wife agrees to die in his place, so he can go on living.  ­ Comic aspects of Euripides’ play. Apollo and Thantatos “death” argue over Alcestis’ life  (bargaining with death) ­ Alcestis’ tearful address to marriage bed ­ Admetus’ claim that he will take no woman to replace her but will put a statue in her  likeness in their bed (playful twist on the Pygmalion myth) ­ Heracles’ boisterous revelry seems to violate the sacred host/guest bond, so he wrestles  Thanatos and brings Alcestis back from the dead o “gyne”­ woman/wife “xenos”­ host/guest  ­ Final scene involves a veiled Alcestis who is presented as the guest’s gift to Admetus­  unveiling of the bride as prelude to the gamos ­ The mute bride will finally recover her speech after 3 days but for now she is a living  statue Haemon and Antigone ­ Antigone is to be executed by the king of Thebes (her uncle Creon) because she buried  her brother, Polyneices (a son of Oedipus who fought against Creon) against the wishes  of the tyrant o Creon thought only friends, not enemies, should be given proper burial ­ Antigone backs the sacred unwritten law of the gods regarding the proper burial of the  ded and opposes the new artiburary human decree of Creon ­ Ironically, she is to be buried alive for having buried her brother­ imprisoned in a cave  with meager provisions ­ As she makes her way to the cave, a figurative underworld, she sings her own  epithalamium (wedding song) and imagines that she is to be married to death­ she  becomes both a Persephone and a Demeter figure ­ Antigone hangs herself rather than die a slow starvation yet she uses a sindon as noose, a  term which can refer o “a marriage veil” or “a funeral shroud”­ image represents the  unveiling of the bride ­ Soon after, Haemon finds her and cuts her down then drives his sword into his side and  embraces her­ gamos is suggested ­ Antigone is finally reunited in the afterlife with her beloved family members Pyramus and Thisbe (prototype for Romeo and Juliet) ­ Ovid tells old Babylonian myth of star­crossed lovers ­ Pair is described to meet at a tomb outside the city ­ Thisbe arrives first and is scared by a lioness fresh from a kill and runs in a cave but she  drops her veil and the lioness shreds and bloodies it ­ Pyramus arrives and sees the bloodied veil and assumes Thisbe has been devoured; so he  slays himself with his sword ­ Thisbe finds him as he takes his br4eath so she kills herself with the same sword (gamos) ­ Their parents bury their ashes together Cupid and Psyche ­ Apulesius’ allegorical story of Cupid and Psyche in his novel, “Golden Ass” ­ After many trials and tribulations, Psyche “the Soul” will become immortal and be  reunited with her beloved Cupid “Love” ­ Clearly for the Greeks and Romans death is only the beginning (for love) “til eternity do  us part”


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