CLA 322 4/7/16
CLA 322 4/7/16 CLA 322 P
Popular in greek Mythology: Monsters
Popular in Classical Studies
CLA 322 P
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kenya on Saturday April 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLA 322 P at University of Miami taught by Han Tran in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 18 views. For similar materials see greek Mythology: Monsters in Classical Studies at University of Miami.
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Date Created: 04/16/16
CLA 322 Monsters 4/7/16 Fantastic creatures The (Western) Phoenix Greek: Phoinix=red THINK: Is a fantastic creature the same asordifferent frommonsters? What are theirfunctions? Who creates them and why? Earliest mention in Greek sources: The Precepts of Chiron-From Plutarch= ‘A chatteringcrowlives out nine generations of agedmen, but a stag’slife isfour times a crow’s, and a raven’s lifemakes threestags old, whilethe phoenix outlives nine ravens, but we, the rich-haired Nymphs, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder,outliveten phoenixes.’ (Though Plutarch is later, he claims to be quoting from an earlier world from Hesiod (around 8 cCE) Speakers are the muses (daughters of Zeus) Passage structured asa scale of longevityand seems to culminate in this fabulous creature of the Phoenix, beyond the Phoenix are the Muses Why the muses? Phoenix sings a funeral song before it dies (something to do with the muses, whoalso sing? The muses aregoddesses (Daughters ofZeus, a titan) who are Athanatoi (deathless ones). If they are supposed to live forever why compare themselves to a Phoenix? A Phoenix is not entirely mortal, though it does experience death it comes backright away “Outlive ten phoenixes” Places these birds on a scale where itmay not bemortal it can never be the sameas the death less gods, close but no cigar. Phoenix not native to Greece but from Egypt: th Herodotus histories book 2 (5 c Classical prd): 73. Thereis also another sacred birdcalled the phœnix which I did not myself seeexcept in painting, for in truth he comes tothemvery rarely, at intervals, as the people of Heliopolissay, of five hundred years; andthese say that he comesregularly when his father dies; and if he belike the painting, he is of this size and nature, that is to say, some of hisfeathers are of gold colour and others red, and in outline and size heis as nearly as possiblelike an eagle. This bird they say (but Icannot believe the story) contrives as follows:-- setting forth from Arabia he conveys his father, they say,to thetemple of the Sun (Helios) plastered up in myrrh, and buries him inthe temple of the Sun; and he conveys him thus:--he forms first an egg of myrrh as large as he is ableto carry, andthen he makes trial of carrying it, and when he has made trial sufficiently,then he hollows out the egg and places his fatherwithin it and plasters overwith othermyrrh that part of the egg where he hollowed it out to put hisfatherin, and when his fatheris laid in it,it proves (they say) to be of the same weight as it was; and after he has plastered it up, he conveysthe wholeto Egypt to thetempleof the Sun. Thus they say that this bird does. Heliopolis (city of the sun)-connection of Phoenix and the sun As the sun is reborn everyday(in Egyptian thought) so too does the Phoenix Myrrh wasused to embalm dead bodies and preserve them in Egypt o Egg protecting the father, can correlate with the bandages protecting Pharaoh He takes his father to Heliopolis, so that his father can be reborn Ba—a person’s soul escapes the dead body in the shape of a bird (as the soul hadthe ability to soar) Phoenix can soar like the Ba. Can renew itself because the Ba isa bird that is deathless. The Phoenix symbolizes the aspiration that the soul will live on forever like the sun (who’s color he bears) What’swith his father? The father is the Phoenix itself. They are the same aspiration to live on forever Remember, the Phoenix takes care of its own father means it’s taking care of itself, as the phoenix regenerates out of no agency other than itself Why500 years? No one can live long enough to see the phoenix come back Compromise for the mortalityof creatures, and the aspirations for creatures not to die and come back (so the phoenix essentially lives a long time, but we’re not saying forever). Aelian, on Animals2 ce, 700 yrs.of Herodotus: "The Phoinix (Phoenix) knows howto reckon five hundred years without the aidof arithmetic,for it is a pupil of all-wise nature, so that it has no need of fingers or anything else to aidit in the understanding of numbers. The purpose of this knowledge and the needfor it are mattersof common report. But hardly a soul among the Aigyptoi (Egyptians) knowswhen the five-hundred-year period is completed; only avery fewknow, and they belong tothe priestly order. But in fact the priests have difficulty in agreeing onthese points, and banter one another andmaintain that it isnot now but at some date later than when it was due that the divine bird will arrive.Meantimewhilethey arevainly squabbling, the birdmiraculously guesses the period by signs and appears. And the priests are obliged to giveway andconfess that they devotetheirtime ‘to puttingthe sun to rest with theirtalk’; but they do not know as much as birds. But, inGod's name,is it not wise to knowwhereAigyptos (Egypt) is situated, whereHeliopolis whitherthe birdis destinedto come, and where it must bury its father and in what kind of coffin?" Why does the Phoenix know when the 500 yrs. has come? The knowledge of the passage of immense amount of time is innate in the bird, while the Egyptians (other than the priests---though they disagree) can measure the passage of 500 yrs. It’s part of its nature, or his naturallife style, like a caterpillar knowing when to turn into a butter fly Why would he want to keep returning to Egypt? In antiquity Egypt hada reputation for ancient, knowledge and wasa holy place And where the Pharaoh could be assured to go on living in the afterlife in his tomb Egypt is where your soul could continue to live on and be continuously cared for Holds the secret to immortal life Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana: "‘And the Phoinix (Phoenix),’ he [the Indian sage Iarkhas, 1st CE] said, ‘isthe bird which visits Aigyptos (Egypt) every five hundred years,but the rest of that time it flies about in India; and it is unique in that it gives out rays of sunlight and shines with gold, in size and appearance like an eagle; and it sits upon the nest; which is made by it at the springs of the Nile out of spices. The story of the Aigyptoi (Egyptians) about it,that it comesto Aigyptos,is testified to by the Indians also,but the latteradd this touch to the story, that the Phoinix which isbeing consumed in its nest sings funeral strains for itself. And thisis also done by the swans according to the account of those who have the wit to hear them.’" The Indians say the bird visits Egypt but remains in India the rest of the time Say the Phoenix sings death songs for itself Why stay inIndia (remember the other source saidArabia—whereMyrrh comes from)? Lots of other spices here The other ancient holy place Phoenix is a link between Egypt and India The funeral songs Swans seem to do the same thing Even though it knows it’s going to come back, it doesn’t want to die and is saddened by its coming end o Idea that you can be immortal, but you are stillmortal in that you understand decay, age, passage of time, etc and anattachment to your mortal life Spices seem to be very important: Ovid’s Metamorphoses: “These creatures [other races of birds] all derive theirfirst beginnings from others of theirkind. But one alone, a bird, renews and re-begetsitself--the Phoenix of Assyria, which feeds not upon seeds or verdure but the oils of balsamand the tears of frankincense. This bird, when fivelong centuries of life have passed, withclaws and beak unsullied, builds a nest high on a lofty swaying palm; andlines the nest withcassia and spikenard and golden myrrh and shreds of cinnamon, and settledthere at ease and, so embowered in spicy perfumes, ends his life's long span. Then from his father's body is reborn a littlePhoenix, sothey say,to livethe samelong years. When time has built his strength with power to raise the weight, helifts the nest--the nest his cradle and hisfather's tomb--as love and duty prompt, from that tall palm and carries it acrossthe sky to reach the Sun's great city [i.e. Heliopolisin Egypt], and before the doors of the Sun's holy temple laysit down.” st 1 book man out of clay—Man is separated from animals in that he looks towardheaven where his origin is from Now the bird is from Assyria (modern Iraq) Father is the prior body (ashes from which it is born) Carries it’s nest with it to Heliopolis Longest (late) source for Phoenix’s description from Antiquity: Claudian, the Phoenix: "There is aleafy wood fringed by Oceanus' farthest marge beyond the Indes and the East where Dawn's panting coursers first seek entrance; it hearsthe lash close by,what timethe watery threshold echoes to the dewy car; and hence comes forth the rosy morn while night,illumined by those far- shining wheels of fire, casts off her sable cloak and broods less darkly. This isthekingdom of the blessèd bird of the sun where it dwells in solitude defended by theinhospitable nature of theland and immunefromthe illsthat befall otherliving creatures; nor doesit sufferinfection from theworld of men. Equal to the godsis that bird whose liferivalsthe stars and whose renascent limbs weary the passing centuries. It needs no food to satisfy hunger nor any drink to quenchthirst; the sun'sclear beam is its food, the seasrare spray its drink--exhalations such as these form itssimple nourishment. A mysterious fire flashes fromits eyes, and a flaming aureole enriches its head. Its crest shines with the sun's own light and shatters the darkness with its calm brilliance. Itslegs areof Tyrian purple; swifter than those of the Zephyrs areits wings of flower-like blue dappled with rich gold. Never wasthis bird conceived nor springs it from any mortal seed, itself is alikeits own father and son, and with none to recreateit,it renews its outwornlimbs with a rejuvenation of death, and at each decease wins a freshlease of life. Forwhen a thousand summers have passed faraway, a thousand winters gone by, a thousand springs intheircourse given tothe husbandmen that shade of which autumn robbed them,then at last, fordone by the numberof its years, it falls avictimto the burden of age; as a tall pine on the summit of Caucasus, weariedwith storms, heels over with its weight and threatens at last tocrash inruin; one portion falls by reason of the unceasing winds, another breaks away rotted by the rain, another consumed by the decay of years. Dye: Myrex shell (only kings could afford it) Rare, precious, noble 1000, impacts the pristine bird, and it falls “a victim to the burden of age” What’sDifferent: More time has passed him, and the emphasis on aging, decay, and the burden of time having past Now the Phoenix's bright eye grows dim and the pupil becomes palsied by thefrost of years, like the moon when she is shrouded in clouds and her horn beings tovanishin the mist.Now his wings,wont to cleave theclouds of heaven, can scarce raise themfromthe earth. Then, realizing that his span of lifeis at an end and in preparation fora renewal of his splendor,he gathers dry herbs from the sun- warmed hills, and making an interwoven heap of the branches of the precious tree of Saba he builds that pyrewhich shall be at once histomb and hiscradle. On this hetakes his seat and as he grows weakergreetsthe Sun with his sweet voice; offering up prayers and supplications he begs that those fires will give him renewal of strength. Phoebus [Apollon or Helios the Sun], on seeing him afar, checks hisreins and staying hiscourse consoles his lovingchild withthese words: ‘Thou who art about toleavethy years behind uponyon pyre,who, by this pretence of death, art destined to rediscoverlife; thou whose decease means but therenewal of existence and who by self-destruction regainest thy lost youth,receive back thy life, quit the body that must die, and by a change of form come forth more beauteousthan ever.’ So speaks he, and shaking his head casts one of his golden hairs and smiteswilling Phoenix with its life-giving effulgence. Now, to ensure his rebirth, he suffers himself to be burnedand in his eagerness to be born again meets deathwith joy. Stricken with the heavenly flamethe fragrant pilecatches fire and burns the aged body. The moon in amaze checks her milk-whiteheifersand heaven halts his revolving spheres,while the pyre conceives the newlife; Nature takescare that the deathless bird perish not, and calls upon the sun, mindful of his promise,to restore its immortal glory to the world. The price you pay if you want to live 1000 yrs., even far from othersand at the edge of the world time will catch up with you Unlike the gods, he gets tired of life
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