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Greek and Roman Mythology Week 3B Notes

by: Jake Notetaker

Greek and Roman Mythology Week 3B Notes ENGL 2444

Jake Notetaker
Virginia Tech

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Notes on the Nature of the Gods
Greek and Roman Mythology
C. Steer
Class Notes
Greek Mythology
25 ?




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jake Notetaker on Thursday September 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENGL 2444 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by C. Steer in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views. For similar materials see Greek and Roman Mythology in ENGLISH (ENG) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Date Created: 09/08/16
The Nature of the Gods 9/7/16 Wednesday, September 7, 2016 Anthropomorphic Personifications  The gods take human form (anthropomorphic)  They represent different parts of nature or the world (personification) o Ex. War (Ares), harvest (Demeter),  This way of looking at things helped people come to grips with, and address difficult concepts  Because they're anthropomorphic they are like humans o Can be wounded (Ares), lame (Hephaestus) , jealous, lustful (Zeus)  Anthropomorphic deities could sometimes change shapes Gods of Olympus  The higher order of Gods, the Olympians, are the most powerful (along with Hades and Hestia)  Eat ambrosia and drink nectar  Can feel physical and emotional pain  Usually appear to humans in disguise Symbols  Gods had animals or trees that were symbolic of them o Zeus - Eagle, Oak tree o Hera - Peacock o Athena - Owl o Poseidon - Horse o Ares - Dog Other Divinities  Creatures such as Sirens, Gorgons, and Harpies  Spirits associated with the Earth are chthonic o Nymphs - female nature spirits  Typically spirits of a local place o Muses are sort of nymphs Demi-Gods  Offspring of Gods and humans, often heroes  Very strong, beautiful and godlike, but not divine  They are very gifted  Ex. Perseus Zeus and Monotheism  Zeus was the strongest of the gods and championed moral and ethical responsibilities  Represented order and fought chaos  Sometimes he is simply referred to as "God"  He upholds the sanctity of hospitality and oaths  He is sort of the God of Gods, but he can still be affected by the other gods Humanism  Another important part of Greek personality was Humanism  Greeks believed that humans were the ultimate creation o Having human-like gods raised humans to a more divine state  "Man is the measure of all things" - Protagoras  We as humans determine how to interpret reality Irony of Man's Dilemma  Image of man is depicted in Greek statues known as Kuros (women versions called Kore)  Humans were the pinnacle of creation, but still remained the playthings of the gods and fates Myth and Philosophy  The Greeks did not have a bible to lay down the laws  Books such as The Odyssey and The Iliad didn’t lay down laws, but they demonstrated how the Gods acted and gave examples of great humans  "Never count a man happy til he's dead" - Solon  Who is the happiest person? o People with wealth, power, and influence are not the most happy o IT is people with good family, friends, and health that are happiest o Humans are subject to chance and could therefore lose wealth and power, but friends and family aren't as affected by fate Herodotus  Croesus was a happy wealthy king  He asked Solon who was the happiest person in the world o Solon says it was some obscure person  The king got mad  Eventually the kings son Atys died  Then the Persians defeated Croesus in battle  Before he was about to be executed by the King of Persia, Croesus realized the wisdom of Solon Greek Historiography  The study of how people write history is called historiography  Greeks used history to tell moral stories  History was not used to preserve facts, but instead to tell stories of great people, maybe getting some of the facts wrong Mythology and Religion  Greek myths were stories of creation or moral stories  Religion involved worship and sacrifice to individual gods  Ritual was important o One ritual was the presentation of the peplos to the statue of Athena o Each city state had its own set of rituals to honor different gods  If you didn’t get the process correct you risked incurring the wrath of the particular deity Identity  The identity of a Greek's city state was extremely important  But the identity of being Greek in general was equally if not more important Seers/Prophets  Most famous of these were the Delphic priestesses known as "oracles" o Oracles answered peoples questions in cryptic poems  Other people known as "seers" could prophesize bird flight patterns, or lightning strikes, or similar things Mystery Religions  There were cults known as mystery religions  They all believed in the human soul, the conflict between good and evil, and the afterlife  They felt a more personal connection to one specific god  Could be a part of multiple religions (Greek religion was inclusive)


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