Greek and Roman Mythology Notes
Greek and Roman Mythology Notes CLA 220
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Morgan Notetaker on Tuesday September 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLA 220 at University of Miami taught by Dr. Han Tran in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 61 views. For similar materials see Greek and Roman Mythology in Classics at University of Miami.
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Date Created: 09/13/16
Professor: Dr. Han Tran CLA 220-Greek and Roman Mythology The Metamorphoses by Ovid: Collection of Greek and Roman myths, which are stories used to convey a lesson (whether it is conscious or not). Book 1 Chaos and Creation & Ages of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron Ovid tells the story of creation beginning with everything being one in the beginning, then it multiplied to form the universe as we know it. This outlines the theme of the book: change. Men were created to have “hints of heaven” or be a non- perfect version of the gods. Prometheus-son of a titan; Greeks believed he brought arts and technology to humans, therefore giving them the means to distinguish themselves from animals and civilize themselves. “The Golden Age” -associated with Saturn(Roman) or Cronos/Kronos(Greek) -no war, no struggle for life (agriculture didn’t exists, seasons didn’t exist, no shelter was necessary), everything was perfect “The Silver Age” -associated with Jove (Zeus according to the Greeks, Jupiter according to the Romans.) -he created the seasons, forcing men to build shelter to protect themselves from the elements. -agriculture began, men had to work for food and struggle was introduced to their lives -civilization begins “The Bronze Age” and “The Age of Iron” -“Piety, Faith, Love, and Truth changed to Deceit, Violence, the Tricks of Trade, Usury, Profit;” (Ovid 6) -men became an increasingly violent race; heartless beings born of the blood of the earth ran rampant, and the gods began to feel that they were threatened -nobody could be trusted; not even family or neighbor -Age of Iron is the current age we are in. In the Bronze Age, during a time gods and men interacted closely, Zeus remembers Lycaon (or Lykaon). Who was the kind of Arcadia, a very rugged and primitive region of Greece. -Lycaon’s father, Pelasgos was the first Arcadian (literally produced from the earth of Arcadia). He lived in the stone age, before humans discovered agriculture, and taught the Arcadians to wear animal skin, live in huts, and that acorn nuts were a safe food source. -Lycaon founded the oldest city in Arcadia-Lycosoura (in Greek: “Wolf-mountain”) Also, he founded games, which in young men competed and were asked to eat this stew which was made from animal and human flesh. -Some contenders had servings with human flesh, and they were turned into a wolf to live in the forest for nine years. -Other contenders escaped this fate by the luck of not being served stew with human flesh in it. If the contender who turned into a wolf didn’t consume any human flesh in their wolf form for ten years, they would regain their human form. -When Jove/Zeus decided to investigate, he visited Lycaon in disguise. He saw that Arcadia seemed to be ruled by wild animals and at Lycaon’s table, was served human flesh. 2 -This is a horrible violation on Lycaon’s part, because the Greeks believed that you are what you eat. (The gods consume ambrosia, nectar, and the smoke from sacrifices; they do not consume dead things. Humans consume meat and grains, which eventually rot, but these are cooked which is more civilized than wild animals consuming raw meat.) -Lycaon was unaware he was serving a god, but nonetheless, in Zeus’s eyes, he had tried to turn the god into an animal. Lycaon is blind to the difference between gods, humans, and animals; explaining why he is so close to a wolf. -Zeus turns Lycaon into a wolf for his crime. -Lesson: Lycaon’s story is a warning about how it is so easy for humans to regress and return to animals. The Flood & Deucalion and Pyrrha -The human race was so plagued by evil, it needed to be begun again to purge the impurities. -Zeus thought of using fire to wipe out the human race (from his thunder bolt, which was given to him in a political agreement between him and his uncle, Cyclopeon), but the fates had reserved fire to end the world at a later date. -So water was used to wipe the earth clean. It is more forgiving, and after the flood, humanity was more pure. -Zeus didn’t wipe out the human race entirely because the gods needed humans to worship them. They needed offerings and sacrifices. -There were two survivors of the flood: Deucalion & Pyrrha. They were both very pious, and both are directly linked to Prometheus. -Prometheus-father of Deucalion 3 -Epimetheus (who is the brother of Prometheus)-father of Pyrrha; Pandora-mother of Pyrrha -Prometheus stole Zeus’ fire to give to humanity, and in retaliation, Zeus gave mankind the first woman, Pandora, who was crafted by Hephaistos(Greek)/Vulcan(Roman). This was humanity’s price to pay. -Pandora opened the box which gave men morality and all their problems. -When Deucalion and Pyrrha ask the goddess Themis what to do, she tells them to “scatter your mother’s bones.” They scatter rocks behind them, and the rocks begin to take shape as humans-the new race. -Deucalion and Pyrrha are not the actual parents of the human race. Pyrrha’s mother, Pandora, who represents sin, would taint the new race. Apollo and Daphne -Apollo kills Python (who is female) to build one of his most important temples, the temple at Delphi. -This killing seems to serve as a prelude to Apollo and his first love Daphne. -Daphne doesn’t want anything to do with Apollo. She runs from him, and when she can’t run anymore she prays to become a tree with thick bark so that he can’t touch her. -Apollo is supposed to be entirely rational, powerful, ultra- male. But Cupid, who is nowhere near as powerful as Apollo physically, strikes him with his arrow and Apollo falls so easily. -Apollo’s hopeless pursuit of Daphne is related to his killing of Python. When he killed Python, he separated his anima from him. (Anima=the feminine part of his psyche) From this point on, Apollo will always be unhappy in affairs of love. 4 -Although Apollo is the god of oracles, he is marked by an inability to express himself to the objects of his desire. -Daphne doesn’t entirely escape Apollo. She turns into a laurel tree, and the laurel becomes a symbol of Apollo and is presented to the victors in the Pythian games (this athletic game was established because of Apollo’s victory over Python). Io and Jove to Io as Isis Jove/Zeus falls to Cupids arrow when he discovers the virgin Io. She runs from him and he turns into a cloud to seduce her. Zeus is nearly always victorious when obtaining the object of his desires, unlike Apollo who is always hopeless. Zeus turns Io into a white cow to escape the notice of his wife, Hera(Greek)/Juno(Roman). Hera is the goddess of marriage, and is always jealous and suspicious of Zeus. Hera makes Argos Panoptes (Argos=important city for Hera, Panoptes= “all seeing”) the guardian of Io in her cow form. Argos Panoptes is said to have one-hundred eyes and is completely rational, almost robotic. -Zeus sends Hermes(Greek)/Mercury(Roman) to kill Argos Panoptes. In order to do this, Hermes uses a combination of storytelling and music to put him to sleep so he can strike. -The story Hermes tells is that of Syrinx and the god Pan (very light-hearted god who is half-goat/half-man and spends his time chasing nymphs). Much like Daphne, Syrinx runs to escape Pan and prays to be turned into reeds and Pan adopts the reeds into his musical instrument of choice. 5 -When Argos is finally asleep, Hermes beheads him and Argos Panoptes’ one-hundred eyes become the feathers of the peacock. -Io finds peace in Egypt after Hera releases her from her cow form and Hera’s jealousy. Io’s son (with Zeus) will become part of the ancestors of the Greeks. Book 2 Phaethon’s Ride -Phaethon is the son of the sun god (Not Apollo, because originally Helios, the sun god, was separate from Apollo). -Helios/Sol drives his chariot every day, bringing light to the world. No one else can survive Helios’ journey, but he promised Phaethon whatever he wanted and Phaethon insisted on driving the chariot. -Helios’s journey is even dangerous for himself; he says it is filled with hidden terror and barely makes it through each day. -Helios’ horses are naturally out of control; they are chaotic and it is essentially Helios’ job to prevent chaos. If the sun doesn’t follow its pattern, the world would fall into chaos. -When Phaethon takes his father’s chariot, the world is thrown into unexpected change. This shows that one person’s recklessness (literally playing with fire) can affect the entire world. -Gaia, the goddess of the earth complains to Zeus about the disruption; Atlas almost fails to hold the Earth. (Atlas is Prometheus’ brother who has been condemned to a similar fate by Zeus. Atlas must hold the world and Prometheus is chained to a rock with a bird pecking at his liver every day.) 6 -Zeus strikes Phaethon off of Helios’ chariot and Phaethon’s body falls down to Earth, back where he belongs with the other mortals. -Naiads, fresh-water nymphs, find his body and bury him. His sisters, the Heliades, commemorate his death with eternal death. They turn into trees in their grieving and their tears become precious drops of amber. -Cycnus, Phaethon’s friend was so devastated that he could not keep his human shape and became a swan (a bird that doesn’t fly to close to the sun and takes to shaded waters). Jove and the Arcadian Nymph -Jove’s new object of desire is Callisto (“most beautiful”), Lycaon’s daughter. She, like other young virgins, is depicted as part of Artemis’(Greek)/Diana’s(Roman) circle. Virgins are considered wild, living in the forest with the goddess until they are married and tamed. They are separate from civilized society. -Zeus takes on his daughter, Artemis’ appearance to seduce Callisto. She becomes pregnant out of wedlock, and is shamed and banished from Artemis’ circle. -She has the child Arcas, who is Lycaon’s grandson and brings a greater standard of civilization to Arcadia. His name means “the bear” which is what Callisto turns into herself. -Arcas meets his own mother (in bear form) in the forest. While his mother recognizes him, he does not know the bear is his mother and he brings his spear up to kill her. -Zeus holds his spear back and makes the pair constellations. The Raven -The pure white raven sees Coronis’ unfaithfulness; she is Apollo’s current love interest and the raven intends to report back to him. 7 -A black crow warns the raven not to tell Apollo. This crow was originally white too when it was punished by Athena(Greek)/Minerva(Roman) for saying too much. -Athena is a virgin goddess and the right hand of Zeus. She is always on the winning side and is often depicted with the winged Nike. She was born of Zeus’s head and is his and Metis’ daughter. Zeus swallows Metis in order for her not to cause any trouble with the powerful prophecy there is about her. In retaliation, Hera gave birth to Hephaistos/Vulcan who is as lame with his feet as he is deft with his hands. -Athena, still a virgin goddess, somehow had a child which was born of the earth with Hephaestus. Gaia, goddess of the earth, handed Athena the child Erichthonios. -Athena puts Erichtonios, who has half the body of a snake, inside a basket and entrusts it to Cecrops’ three daughters, telling them not to look inside Cecrops the first kind of Athens and also has the form of half-serpent/half-man because he was spontaneously produced from the soil of Athens. His daughters are Pandrosos, Herse, and Aglauros. -Aglauros is the sister who disobeys and looks inside the basket and sees the baby. -The crow is turned black by Athena when it tells her off this offense. This is not the first transformation of the crow. Originally, it was a virgin fleeing Poseidon who prayed to be safe from him and Athena turned her into her personal bird. -The white raven doesn’t listen to the crow and tells Apollo of Coronis’ infidelity. (Apollo seems to be the only god who is concerned about what his lovers do in their free time) 8 -Apollo kills Coronis, but she is pregnant, so he saves the baby (he is also a god of medicine and healing) but is unable to save her. -He regrets killing Coronis and turns the raven black. Ocyrhoe -Apollo and Coronis’ child, Asclepius/Aesculapius, is given to Chiron to be trained. -Chiron is a centaur, but he is one of the good ones. He is immortal because both his parents are gods. Centaurs are male, half-horse/half-humans who lose all rationality when they are drunk. -Heracles/Hercules is the son of Zeus, an agent of order and nemesis to the centaurs. -Chiron teaches Asclepius healing (like Asclepius’ father). -Chiron’s daughter Ocyrhoe can see the future and is overwhelmed by her powers. Right away, she can see that Asclepius is fated for greatness as a healer. He will bring the dead back to life. This is a sin Zeus will kill him for because bringing the dead back to life will cause chaos. Zeus will bring him back as a god though. -Ocyrhoe is turned into a horse because she revealed the future. Chiron calls to Apollo because of this, but he is not listening. -Chiron, is poisoned by the venom of a hydra, for which there is no cure. Hercules’ arrow poisons the immortal Chiron accidently when he is trying to kill centaurs. This leaves Chiron in pain because there is no cure, but he cannot die. -Prometheus suggests that Chiron trades his immortality with Hercules’ mortality so the pain will end. And so Chiron dies the death of every centaur: by the hands of Hercules. 9 -Aesculapius is depicted with one snake wrapped around his staff. He, the student, became immortal. While Chiron, the teacher, became mortal. Mercury and… -Hermes/Mercury was born in a cave to an immortal nymph and Zeus. He had to earn his place among the Olympians. -Out of his crib, he goes to steal Apollo’s cattle. Apollo is angry, but they come to an agreement. Hermes gives Apollo a lyre he made out of a tortoise shell and Apollo gives him a staff with two snakes wrapped around it. -Hermes is special because he can go to the underworld, a place the other Olympians wouldn’t dare to go. -Hermes falls for Herse, one of the three daughters of Cecrops. He tells Aglauros that he intends to court Herse. She reacts in the same way she reacted to seeing the baby Erichtonios. -Envy (personified as a repugnant figure) takes over Aglauros’ heart and she lies across the threshold into Herse’s room to prevent Hermes’ entry and turns into stone. Jove and Europa -Zeus snatches Europa (who is not Greek, but Phoenician) and turns into a white bull to trick her. He takes her to the island of Crete. -Back in Phoenicia, Europa’s father is concerned and tells his son, Cadmus, to look for her. If he doesn’t find her, he warns Cadmus that he will be exiled. -An oracle tells Cadmus to find a white ox who has never been used in agriculture, and to follow her until she comes to rest. In that location, he was to build a city. 10
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