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Myth final


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In religious terms, a hero is a person who is worshipped as a demi-god after his death, using rituals which are associated w/ earth powers.

- Usually worship is located either at the death-site, the burial site, or both.

- Usually the person is noted either for their deeds while alive (good or bad) OR for the strange manner of their death (Opheltes)

- Usually the person can either be seen as a traditional hero (Achilles), an important local ancestor (Cadmus), or a so-called faded divinity (a demoted god, e.g. Asclepius, Helen, Hyacinth).
Name 4 (one of these being a pair) major Theban heroes
Pentheus, Oedipus, Eteocles (and Polynices), Cadmus.

Major structuralist oppositions: stranger/native, invader/defender
Is Heracles technically a hero?
Yes, in terms of his deeds; however, he becomes such a sky divinity that he cannot be ultimately considered a hero.
King of Thebes; grandson of Cadmus. Antagonist in Euripides' "The Bacchae." Is technically native and a defender of Thebes; however, he might also be considered a strange invader of the rites of Dionysus, and since Dionysus is his cousin doesn't that make Dionysus native? Pentheus is killed via sparagmos by his mother Agave.
Subject of tragedy trilogy by Sophocles. Arrives in Thebes as a stranger; kills father, sleeps with/marries mother; was sent away as a child to avoid oracle's prediction of his fate. Dramatic irony. Blinds self, has mysterious death by Athens. Kin-murder, incest.
Controls strategic location offering access to Athens. Persians invaded Greece - Thebes acts as a gateway; Thebans surrendered, allowing Persians to march through, because of this the Athenians had to evacuate Athens (Persians destroyed it). Therefore, Athenians are not very fond of Thebes. (Most of Theban hero plays are written by Athenian playwrights.) People of Thebes are especially concerned w/ people being native to the city.
Cadmus was informed by the oracle at Delphi that he would establish a great city. When he eventually found the site of the future Thebes (thanks to a divinely sent cow, who lay down out of weariness at the place that became Thebes), he prepared to sacrifice to the gods in thanksgiving. He soon discovered that the local spring from which he needed to draw water for a proper sacrifice was guarded by a serpent. He sent his men to dispatch the monster and bring back the ritual water. ALl of his men failed int he attempt and Cadmus eventually took it upon himself to kill the serpent. Athena advised him to take the serpent's teeth and sow them: from the ground sprang up armed men, who fought and killed each other until only five were left (the Spartoi, who descended the noble families of Thebes).
Eteocles and Polynices
Sons of Oedipus; kill each other in the attack of the Seven against Thebes. (Polynices originally denied burial, but later buried by Antigone.)
Name one person who is as native as a Theban can be:
Cadmus. He comes as a stranger from the east, clashes w/ earth serpent, combines w/ sewn men to create the first men of Thebes, (FOUNDS CITY!)
What is the riddle of the Sphinx?
What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the day and three legs at night? MAN. (Sphinx delivers this riddle to Oedipus, who answers it. The Sphinx has a woman's face, a lion's body, and bird's wings.)
What are the four characteristics of heroes discussed in Works & Days?
1) Are demi-gods; 2) Have dwelling place apart from men and gods (a Garden-of-Eden-esque place), 3) Involved in epic battle, 4) Noble and righteous
Why do people want to become heroes?
Promise of a better afterlife/immortality
Where does Oedipus have hero-cult?
Athens and Thebes
What is the most common approach to myth by modern scholars?
Structuralism (think pairs/ binary opposites, ala Claude Levi-Strauss)
Has hero-cult at Nemea. Is a baby in swaddling clothes, he can't move, (even if he wants to be a hero, he can't move). Nurse puts baby down, shows Seven against Thebes where spring of water is, comes back; baby has been bit by a snake and has died (Seven kill snake). He's thus a hero. They bury Opheltes, hold games to honor him.
A Spartan youth, loved and accidently killed with a discus by Apollo. (They honor him (annually?) in Sparta.)
How is a hero worshipped in hero-cult?
As a demi-god, using rituals associated w/ earth powers.
2 lessons of myth from the House of Atreus:
- The cycle of vengeance w/in families will not end on its own; it needs to be ended by an impartial civic jury.

- A tied verdict tips balance to the defendant.
What's up w/ the House of Atreus? (the chronology, basic stories, etc.)
Starts w/ Tantalus (he invites the gods to dinner, serves up his son Pelops, is sent off to Tartarus); his son, Pelops, starts off his marriage under a cloud of blood-guilt for killing Hippodamia in the wax-rigged chariot race. Pelops' son Atreus gets the golden ram from Pan; Atreus' wife has an affair w/ her brother Thyestes and they trick each other back and forth to get the throne (eventually Atreus gets it). Atreus cooks Thyestes' sons to get revenge for the adultery; he feeds them to Thyestes, and then taunts Thyestes w/ their hands and feet. Thyestes consults oracle, has a son (Aegisthus) by his own daughter, and Aegisthus eventually kills Atreus (though not before Agammemnon and Menelaus are born).
Wife of Agamemnon, seduced by Aegisthus, they plot revenge on Agamemnon (for killing Iphigeneia & for all the evil done to Thyestes by Atreus); they kill Agamemnon, and are both eventually killed by Orestes.
Castor and Polydeuces; ancient sources disagree about their paternity, but Helen is nearly alwys the child of Zeus; they are brothers to Helen and Clytemnestra
Famous friend (sidekick) to Orestes; he eventually marries Electra (daughter of Clytemnestra)
an Oceanid, daughter to Clytemnestra. She hated her mother for the murder of her father Agamemnon and waited for the return of her brother Orestes to seek vengeance. She helps Orestes physically hold the weapon; she urges him on.
Son of Thyestes (who was tricked by Atreus), and wants to avenge his father. Seduces Clytemnestra, they plot. Agamemnon walks across a purple carpet (usually only meant for gods), and Aegisthus comes in and kills him while he's in the bath (a hospitality ritual). Aegisthus is eventually killed by Orestes.
Son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra; seeks to avenge his father. He is 1) a feeble hero, 2) a mother killer (in a sense, reversing his birth), 3) a city founder (Arcadia), 4) a terrible sufferer who comes out of his suffering to establish an important civic institution (trial by jury). After his murder of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra (which he does with his sister Electra), the Furies drive him mad; he goes to Apollo, then to the Hill of Ares in Athens; he has there the first homicide decision by jury; it ends in a tie, and that goes in favor to the defendant (still true in western law).
What are the four patterned elements at work in the House of Atreus?
1) Hospitality/feast, 2) Betrayal, 3) Cannibalism, 4) Deliberate kin-murder
Daughters of earth or night, pursue those who have violated certain taboos, such as shedding kindred blood. (think Orestes)
"Hill of Ares" - hill northwest of Acropolis, site of early Athenian council/court which tried homicides (i.e., Orestes' homicides); also the site of a famous speech by St. Paul
Depictions of Orestes killing Aegisthus
Often shown as a military competition b/w 2 equal opponents (not dishonorable), but sometimes is shown as unequal and thus dishonorable. They are usually both heroically nude, unarmed males.
Ways in which Orestes' killing of Aegisthus is sacrilege:
- Kills him at the altar (at a feast, which is a hospitality ritual)

- Kills him while he's making an offering.

- Orestes accepts hospitality at the religious feast, then kills his host (Aegisthus)

(not an issue of sacrilege, but important: Orestes stabs Aegisthus in the back while Aegisthus is bending over the altar)
Name the 'supermen' of Greek myth, and some common characteristics:
Theseus and Heracles; extraordinary strength, many famous deeds; travel to perform wonders; more than one type of heroic action; also have a dark side (like Orestes and Oedipus); Athena as protectress; monster-killers
Heracles and Theseus: talk about divine parentage and childhood
Heracles: divine parentage clear (Zeus and Alcmene). With Theseus, divine parentage is ambiguous (his father is either Poseidon or Aegeus, and his mother is Aethra). Theseus has no childhood stories; Heracles stranges snakes as an infant
Heracles and Theseus: talk about their work as monster killers
Theseus kills the Bull of Marathon and the Minotaur (which has the head and tail of a bull); both represent bulls of some sort. Heracles fights many different kinds of monsters: a) snaky monsters (i.e., Triton, Hydra), b) animals (i.e., Erymanthian Boar), c) part-human monsters (i.e., the giant Antaeus; the 3-headed Geryon)
Heracles and Theseus: talk about warriors
Both fight Amazons. Heracles also fights giants, Neleus and his sons, Trojans.
Heracles and Theseus: talk about them as lawgivers
Theseus is more prominent in this area, although both kill robbers. Theseus is credited w/: -uniting Attica under Athenian rule (and giving Attica a code of law), - refounding the Isthmian games, - assisting supplicants such as Medea, Oedipus, and the mothers of the 7 against Thebes
Heracles and Theseus: talk about how they travel to underworld/other worlds
Both go to the underworld (Heracles for Cerberus; Theseus goes there w/ friend Pirithous w/ the intention of kidnapping Persephone, and snakes curl up around them, trapping them; only later does Heracles save Theseus, but leaves Pirithous). Theseus goes to undersea world. Heracles goes to land of the 3-headed Geryon, at the edge of the sunset.
What does the fact that Theseus has to be rescued by Heracles tell us about a comparison of the two?
Heracles is the superior hero.
Heracles and Theseus: dark sides
1. Madness and kin-murder. Heracles kill shis wife and children in a fit of insanity; Theseus curses his son Hippolytus and causes his death.

2. Woman trouble. Theseus tries to kidnap Helen (Castor and Polydeuces steal her back.) He abandons Ariadne (Dionysus later rescues her). He kills his Amazon bride Antiope during a battle. His last wife, Phaedra, causees the death of their son Hippolytus. Heracles kills his first wife, Megara; his second wife Deianara kills him unintentionally w/ love charm made from poisioned blood of centaur.
What are Heracles' arrows dipped in?
The poisonous blood of the Hydra
T or F: Theseus and Heracles manage to have at least one successful relationship each with a woman.
How is Alcmene (Heracles' mother) usually depicted?
As having been deceived by Zeus.
Heracles and Theseus: death and cult
Theseus: hero-cult, focused on actual remains of his body (followers got his bones from Skyros, moved them to Athens, built tomb)

Heracles: accepted as a full god on Olympus, has full temple-cult, cult image is as a mature male. He's not really a hero, but a mortal promoted to full divinity - he fights alongside other gods.
Distinguish b/w worship rituals to chthonic and sky gods.
Chthonic: black animals, libation into ground, hands to ground.

Sky: white animals, smoke rises up into air, hands to air
Depictions of Theseus and Heracles
Sometimes include Athena; Heracles always a mature male or baby; Theseus often looks young (he was more of a hero in his youth, and in that sense a more typical hero than Heracles). In modern art, the Minotaur represents the possibility of being human but also being trapped in a monster's body; of imprisonment inside the body.
Honor among Homeric warriors. Consists of:

- recognition by peers (e.g., in the form of prizes, tangible objects: loot)
- memory of your deeds
- favor of the gods (e.g., Athena)

Kleos is gained by valor in battle.
Give an example of (a) pure warrior hero(es)
the 7 Against Thebes
What are some common characteristics of warrior heroes?
These men fear death.

They weep (Achilles, Petrocholus) though it is a feminine activity.

They can use trickery
Homeric armor consisted of:
Greaves (shinguards)
Corselet (breastplate)
Swordbelt and sword
Spear (sometimes two spears)
What should we know about Homer and the Trojan War, historically?
The Trojan War took place 300+ years before Homer wrote it. Very rarely do you have 2 people in chariots fighting each other; Homer is a mish-mash of 8th century armor and practices, and 12th century armor and practices. In Homer, a battle is usually described as 2 recognizable (i.e., Achilles) people fighting each other, either in an aristeia or a duel
Name the 7 elements to a Homeric duel scene:
(warning: not all elements appear in all duel scenes)

1. Similies or exploits leading up to duel, to equate opponents in mind of audience (e.g., compare them to animals)
2. Arming scene (put on armor in exactly the same order)
3. Vaunts (exchanging of insults)
4. Casting of spears (warriors in battle)
5. Hand-to-hand engagement w/ swords, if spears miss
6. 'Vaunts' over dead or dying opponent
7. Stripping of armor from corpse OR battle over corpse to prevent this
Which hero might be said to be 'chock full of kleos'?
Is mortal and will die, but has elements of divinity. Son of Peleus and Thetis. He can battle the gods 1-on-1, and he speaks with gods directly (Thetis; Athena, whom he talks to as he would a sister - Achilles sees Athena undisguised, but he does not burn up). Has a dark underside, in which he commits many acts of hubris.
Friend to Achilles; killed by Hector. Serves as a family substitute to Achilles.
Contrasts Achilles: he is distinctly mortal, can see the gods only when they're in disguise (he never acts directly w/ them, and in fact they're out to trick him); seen as brother, son, father and husband.
What do we learn from the Achilles-Hector story?
It's not enough to be just a great warrior in order to become a hero.
What are Achilles' acts of hubris?
Achilles acts w/ hubris in the following ways, as a result of madness he endures in his 'mourning' of Patroclus.

1. human sacrifice (an absolutely forbidden act)
2. mutiliation of corpses (mutilates, refuses to bury Hector's body)
3. threats of cannibalism (threatens to eat Hector's body)
4. refusal to eat and drink (during his period of mourning; this can be seen as a denial of his own mortality)
Battle-scene featuring one warrior, whose strength is usually augmented by divine aid, making him irresistable for a time
boasts or insults spoken by opposing warriors before or after combat
'outrage,' 'insult.' Arrogant or excessive behavior, usually punished by the gods.
Jason of Iolcus (Thessaly)
A problematic hero; he does still qualify on the ugly side of heroism: kin-murder, blood guilt, dies alone (killed by falling piece of his own ship (the Argo)). He travels to Colchis in Black Sea to fetch the Golden Fleece, then after return to Thessaly is exiled to Corinth (because of the death of Pelias, his half-uncle).
Mythic elements in Jason's story:
Exile, oracle of man with one sandal (Pelias has heard this oracle predicting his own death), sowing of dragon's teeth (autocthonous), patronage of Hera, kin-murder.
Jason's magical crew:
Orpheus (singer), Polydeuces (one of the twins; boxer), and others.
Folk-tale elements in Jason's story:
Old woman in disguise (Hera), impossible tasks to win princess
Perseus (general)
of Argos; son of Danae, whom Zeus impregnated using a shower of gold; Danae and baby Perseus shut up in a chest, put out to sea (thus exiled at birth to Seriphos (Aegean island)), then travels to North Africa to kill the Gorgon Medusa (this task involves many helpers); on his return to Argos he's exiled to Tiryns because of the death of his grandfather Acrisius (whom he accidently kills w/ an errant discus throw).

Magic equipment: helmet of invisibility, magic bag, winged sandals

Mythic elements: birth, exposure, aided by Athena, manslaughter fulfilling oracle.

Folktale elements: three old women (Graeae); magic equipment, rescue of princess
How is Pegasus born, and who is he associated with?
Pegasus is born from the Medusa's blood (birth of monsters from blood/death of earth deity theme);
Perseus' magic equipment
Helmet of invisibility, magic bag, winged sandals
Perseus' mythic elements
birth, exposure, aided by Athena, manslaughter fulfilling oracle
Perseus' folktale elements
three old women (Graeae); magic equipment, rescue of princess
3 old women who share one eye; Perseus steals the eye and holds it ransom for information on finding the Gorgon(s)
Bellerophon (general)
traveling hero from Corinth. Exiled in his youth because he accidentally slew his kinsman; travels to Tiryns. Sent away from Tiryns to Lycia because of false accusation of adultery (given letter for his new host which says, 'Kill bearer of this message,' but host doesn't read it until after he's fed Bellerophon, and thus he can't kill him). Travels from Lycia to land of Amazons, land of Solymi (a warrior tribe), and on quest to kill monster Chimera. Tries to travel on Pegasus to Olympus and ends his life crippled and wandering.

Magic equipment: magic bridle, Pegasus (winged horse)

Mythic elements: exile, false accusation of seduction, battle w/ Amazons, divine punishment for hubris

Folktale elements: magic bridle and horse; wins princess
a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail; Bellerophon killed this monster.
Bellerophon (magic equipment)
Magic bridle, Pegasus (winged horse)
Bellerophon (mythic elements)
exile, false accusation of seduction, battle w/ Amazons, divine punishment for hubris
Bellerophon (folktale elements)
magic bridle (allows him to capture Pegasus) and magic horse; wins princess
Famous realms from the edges of the Earth:
Hyperboreans: mythical people of the far north; devotees of Apollo, live in a 'golden age' setting

Ethiopians: mythical people of the south (in Homeric tradition), who feast w/ the gods

Amazons: mythical tribe of warrior women, usually located in the far north

Island of Hesperides: mythical island at the western edge of the world; site of tree w/ golden apples sought by Heracles. The Hesperides are the 'daughters of evening'
What's a surprising feature of some of the artwork showing Jason and the Argonauts?
It's hard to tell exactly which one is Jason; they're all identical.

In others, Jason is shown half-dead in the dragon's mouth (he's not a very good hero)
Give (up to 5) examples of mythical women whose stories represent "The Maiden's Tale"; also describe what defines "The Maiden's Tale"
"The Maiden's Tale": Rape - Persecution - Birth of Hero;

Danae (mother of Perseus)
Semele (mother of Dionysus)
Io (mother of Epaphus)
Antiope (mother of Amphion and Zethus)
Europa (mother of Minos)
Define "The Helper Maiden" archetype and then give several examples of mythical women who fit this archetype.
"Helper Maiden": Assistance - Abandonment/Persecution

Ariadne, Medea, Ino, Nausicaa, Scylla (daughter of Nisus, who betrays her father's city (Megara) to the enemy when she falls in love w/ the enemy commander, Minos), Tarpeia (daughter of Roman commander, betrays citadel to Sabines, killed by them), Dido (helps shipwrecked Aeneas, abandoned by him, commits suicide).

All but Medea end up dead or abandoned; Medea refuses to play the typical Helper Maiden role.
Define "The Virtuous Youth" archetype; tell what Biblical story it models, and then give three examples of this archetype.
"The Virtuous Youth": Rejection - Persecution

Models the story of Joseph and Potiphar's Wife

Hippolytus, Peleus, Bellerophon
Related to Circe; Helps Jason obtain golden fleece, kills brother Apsyrtus to foil pursuit (forces her into exile, but this is technically a heroic deed), kills bronze giant Talus with a magical glance, tricks daughters of Pelias into killing their father, kills king and princess of Corinth along with her own children, flees to Athens, attempts to poison Theseus when he arrives in Athens, flees Athens and reaches Persia, where her son Medus becomes eponymous ruler; after death, she's bride of Achilles in Elysian fields. Importantly, it is Medea (not Jason) who manages to kill Pelias.

She has divine favor (sun-god), is assigned a place in the Elysian Fields, has a country named after her. A powerful, rational heroine in ancient cult; her children also have cult.
Dialogue b/w Jason and Medea in Euripides
Jason says women are irrational, says he is rational; In Medea's mind, she's killing her children as an act of revenge, so that Jason will have nothing left (she sees this as a battle against cowardice)
A very long narrative poem presenting adventures on a grand, heroic scale organically united through a central figure of heroic proportions.
Epic simile
Extended comparison (using 'like' or 'as') of action in the world of the poem to something in the world of the audience, usually a natural phenomenon (i.e., Odysseus compared to a lion)
Formulaic composition
Technique used by oral poets to improvise extended poetic performances. It involves pre-constructed 'building blocks' such as epithet + hero's name which fit into different metrical spaces in the line of verse; longer 'blocks' consist of entire scenes such as feasting, anchoring ships, etc.
trained singers who recited Homeric verse at festivals, often competing for prizes. They continued well into the classical era in Greece. Their name is related to the word for 'stitch' (rhapto) and reflects their original improvisational role as oral poets.
(German 'novel of education') A type of novel or narrative which presents the development of character, most frequently of a young man
('example') anecdote, legend, or myth cited as pattern of positive or negative behavior by ancient poets, orators, and philosophers (i.e., Orestes as an exemplum for Telemachus)
Traditional features of epic:
Epic similes, conventional scenes (e.g., hosting scenes in Odyssey), inset tales.
History of the Odyssey poem
Told over several generations, by many bards of several, several years. Not performed in the same way. Poet Homer wrote down versions of Iliad & Odyssey; around the time of Alexander the Great, the poems took on a permanent form (Vulgate); odd that it starts w/ Telemachus, but it allows us to understand the situation at home; show him as a young double of Odysseus.
Son of Odysseus and Penelope. Has character development (story begins w/ him); Athena fosters his transition from passive child to active adult; Telemachus is eventually shown to be a legitimate son of his father. Orestes serves as an exemplum to Telemachus.
Describe a typical hosting scene (6 features)
1. Greeting, relieve stranger of weapons, animals, baggage
2. Seat stranger in seat of honor
3. Offer stranger opportunity to wash
4. Offer stranger food and drink
5. ONLY NOW ask stranger's name, origin, and mission
6. Offer stranger assistance, lodging, and host-gift
For whom does Telemachus stage a proper hosting scene?
Athena (disguised). Telemachus is a model host, and Athena is a model guest (as opposed to the suitors). This makes it possible for Telemachus to start moving into adulthood.
What act involves proving Telemachus is Odysseus' son?
He weeps at the stories of Odysseus as told by Menelaus. He can definitely prove his legitimacy by modeling Orestes (as applied p. 113-114 by Nestor)
Name the adventures of Odysseus in the 3 cycles:
Cycle A (Odysseus, all men and ships in fleet):
- Lotus Eaters
- Cyclops
- Aeolus
- Laestrygonians

Cycle B (Odysseus's ship and the men on that ship only):
- Circe
- Land of the Dead
- Sirens
- Scylla and Charybdis
- Cattle of the Sun

Cycle C (Odysseus alone, no men or ship):
- Charybdis
- Calypso
- Phaeacians
What is the last thing Odysseus does that is a plausible Homeric element?
He sacks the city of Cicones
How many eyes does Polyphemus have?
'The wrong number.' Not necessarily just one eye; sometimes is pictured with 2 regular eye sockets and one working eye.
What can be said to result in Aeolus' bag of wind blowing Odysseus and his men away?
A combination of Odysseus' men's greed and Odysseus' lethargy
Why are the other ships in Odysseus' fleet destroyed?
His other captains anchor too close to the shore of the Laestrygonians (cannibals).
Applying Campbell's 'separation/initiation/return' model to the Odyssey, what are the initiation scenes?
Cycle A: Cyclops
Cycle B: Land of the Dead
Cycle C: Calypso
What does Calypso offer Odysseus that he turns down?
What are the 3 elements of Campbell's hero model?
separation, initiation, return
In what sense is Odysseus a hero?
Hard to say. He's NOT a superhero, and he's NOT a fairytale hero. He has a crew, but it's not of helpers. In Iliad, he's a warrior hero, but in Odyssey he is only heroic when he's fighting the suitors.
According to Campbell's separation/initiation/return model, how many quests are there in the Odyssey?
What does Odysseus essentially have to realize before he can come home?
-That he is not an animal
-That he is not a god
What do Helios' cattle symbolize (the ones Odysseus' men end up eating)?
The days of the year; there are 360 cattle, and by eating the cattle the men are eating their own time on earth
What do all good women do?
How are witches depicted in art?
Ugly hair
What characteristic leads Odysseus into Polyphemus' cave?
Is Odysseus a good guest, and why or why not?
He's NOT a good guest.

- He stays too long w/ Circe (a full year)
- He should not have gone into Polyphemus' cave
What do the 12 axe-heads that Odysseus has to shoot through in the end of The Odyssey symbolize?
Months of the year
What is Odysseus more concerned with than actually being a hero?
He's more interested in repeating pattern of heroism (ala Campbell) than he is with actually being a hero.
Which other hero can Campbell's separation-initiation-return model be applied successfully to?
Perseus (brings Medusa head back from his initiation)
What are the two things Odysseus does when he encounters monsters?
He 1) runs away from them, or 2) uses drugs and trickery

(i.e., w/ Polyphemus and Circe)
What is Odysseus' only goal?
Why is Hermes making an appearance in the Odyssey, when Athena is Odysseus' usual protector?
Because he's the god of trickery. W/ Hermes' herb, Odysseus matches Circe drug-for-drug.
Talk about the revised genealogy of Odysseus
Hermes --> Autolycus (also a famous trickster, & Sisphyus' best friend; Hermes' gift to Autolycus is that he can steal anything he wants)

-->Anticleia (who sleeps w/ both Laertes and Sisyphus, thus Odysseus' father is ambiguous)

Descendence from Hermes means that Odysseus is also descended from Zeus
Name a mythic trickster who is not a god:
Palamedes: Son of Nauplius, one of the Argonauts; inventor of certain letters of the alphabet and of the game of dice; frustrates Odysseus' plan to pretend madness to avoid going to Troy; Betrayed and killed by Odysseus and Diomedes (stoned to death by Greek army as a traitor); his death avenged by his father, who lures returning Greek fleet onto rocks w/ false beacons.
Who are always liars?
Episodes to remember from the Homeric tradition:
Trojan Horse, spy mission inside Troy, theft of Palladium; Doloneia (O & others capture spy Dolon, Dolon gives them info, they kill him anyway (this book will later be called spurious)
What are the 4 Cretan lies of Odysseus upon his return to Ithaca?
- Tells Athena he is fugitive from murder on Crete
- Tells Eumaeus he is Cretan bastard, escaping from seamen who had betrayed him to slavery
- Tells Eumaeus story of Odysseus and cloak
- Tells Penelope he is of royal house of Crete
Why is Crete a good alias for Odysseus?
It's far away from Ithaca and hard to prove
If Odysseus doesn't work as a traditional tragic or comic hero, what kind of hero is he more like?
A folk hero
In what sense is Helen a heroine?
Not because of any action, but because she's essentially a goddess on earth (a 'faded divinity')
Nurse of Dionysus; she becomes the goddess Leucothea (gives Odysseus a magic veil that allows him to survive when he's shipwrecked); also, she threatens her stepchildren Helle and Phrixus, who escape on golden ram which becomes the Golden Fleece sought by Jason
An archaic poet, writes of how Helen went to Troy in his 'Palinode'; Helen strikes him blind for his accusation against Troy, and writing the 'Palinode' earned him the restoration of his sight
Mother of Neleus and Pelias by Poseidon; she's the first heroine seen by Odysseus in the parade of heroines in the underworld. She exists to transmit Poseidon's bloodline into the royal house. (Example of a heroine as a victim of divine rape)
Mother by Zeus of Amphion and Zethus, builders of the walls of Thebes
Clytemnestra-figures in the Odyssey:
Calypso, Circe, Sirens, Scylla
Penelope-figures in the Odyssey:
Nausicaa, Arete, Eurycleia, (Athena). Athena is the only divine figure who is a helper rather than a destructor.
Besides weaving, what do women do?
Tend the hearth. (Roman epitaph: 'She guarded the house, she made wool', as in she was sexually faithful to her husband and she weaved)
Dog, (recognizes Odysseus?)
Nurse, notices Odysseus' scar
Penelope and recognition of Odysseus
Most scholars think she recognizes him early on; it's almost a Greek comic plot leading toward social reorder and a wedding. Athena stops time when they go to bed together (only place in the poem where forces of nature stop for Odysseus). Penelope is a thinker, a plotter and a planner.
In the Odyssey, who does Agamemnon give credit to in the underworld?
Penelope, NOT Odysseus; he is pleased she has not become a Clytemnestra-like figure.
Who can't Odysseus be a hero without?
Penelope; you can't have a comedy w/o both figures
What is the significance of Penelope asking Odysseus about the bed:
Shows that marriage is what's really at the center of his return. The tree shows that their marriage is rooted in the earth and guarded by Athena.
Approx. what year was the possible lifetime of historical Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, during the early period of Sumerian city-states?
2800 BCE
Around what year did the earliest text of a Gilgamesh poem come out, and in what language?
2000 BCE, in Sumerian; based on previously existing oral material in both Sumerian and Akkadian
During what time did the Babylonians produce variants of the Gilgamesh poem in Sumerian and Akkadian languages?
1800-1300 BCE
In what year was the standard version of Gilgamesh edited?
1200 BCE
In what year (approx) were the last copies of Gilgamesh produced?
200 BCE
Cuneiform writing:
writing system of signs impressed w/ wedge-shaped stylus onto clay or wax; used throughout Mesopotamia for several different ancient near-eastern languages
What work serves as an exemplum of cuneiform writing?
the Epic of Gilgamesh
An arrogant, out-of-control sexual predator; a bad king. Confrontation w/ Enkidu calms him down.
A wild man, lured out of the wild using sex (7 days w/ harlot); admires Gilgamesh after confrontation w/ him.
In what senses is Enkidu like Gilgamesh's whipping boy?
Enkidu is cursed by Humbaba; Enkidu is condemned to death by the gods.
Describe the 5 episodes of the Epic of Gilgamesh:
1. Gilgamesh meets Enkidu
2. Conquest of the FOrest of Cedar/Humbaba (a typical monster-killing expedition)
3. Ishtar sends the Bull of Heaven (Taurus) against the heroes
4. Death and funeral of Enkidu
5. Gilgamesh's quest for immortality
What 5 elements make Gilgamesh a hero?
- Storyteller
- Monster-killer (Humbaba, Bull of Heaven)
- Traveler (Forest of Cedars, land of Uta-napishti)
- Friend (Enkidu)
- City-founder (final lines show his pride in walls; the city's walls are his immortality)
What does every city-founder receive?
Gilgamesh returning from his expeditions with the story of the flood is like what parallel story?
Odysseus recanting his story at Phaecia
Gilgamesh and Enkidu traveling to other worlds makes them comparable to what other heroes?
Odysseus, Jason
In what ways does Gilgamesh, like Odysseus, make his own journey harder through his impetuous behavior?
- Kills Stone Ones
- Falls asleep during challenge
Who is Gilgamesh's divine enemy, and who is Odysseus' parallel divine enemy?
Ishtar; Poseidon
Obverse (coin)
The side of a coin bearing the principal image or inscription
Reverse (coin)
The back of the coin
Blank (coin)
A piece of metal prepared to be made into a coin
Standard coin, can be made of gold, silver or electrum; varies widely in value epending on metal and weight
A silver coin, in classical Athens was the daily wage for a skilled worker
Sestertius, denarius
Roman coins worth respectively 2.5 and 10 'asses', or weights of bronze; the denarius was originally silver but was gradually debased
Elements of foundation myths:
- Nymph = place (Rhodes, Cyrene)
- Rape of heroine produces dynastic hero (Rhodes, Europa, Io, Antiope)
- Exiled founder (Cadmus, Tlepolemus)
- Consultation of oracle (Cadmus, Tlepolemus, Battus)
- Magical walls/human sacrifice for walls (Troy, Thebes, Athens)
- Snakes (Athens, Thebes: snake-men; Delphi, Thebes: killing of snake)
Foundation myths of Thebes:
Cadmus and the Spartoi; Antiope + Zeus produce Amphion and Zethus, who build the magical walls.
Foundation myth of Troy
Magical walls built by Apollo and Poseidon
Foundation myth of Cerete
Zeus enamored w/ Europa, transforms self into shape of bull, and gets in w/ her fathers herd. Europa gets on the bull, Zeus swims them both out to Crete, where he reveals himself. They give birth to Minos. Minos becomes King
Foundation myths of Rhodes:
Helios was originally forgotten when the gods handed out the land; eventually ended up w/ this island. Helios loved the island's nymph Rhode. Helios has cult there.
Foundation myth of Cyrene:
Apollo whisked nymph Cyrene away in his golden chariot, to the very site of the city that would be given her name; they gave birth to Aristaeus. Battus founded Cyrene, fulfilling prophecy given to his ancestor Euphemus
Who are the characters involved in the basic 2 foundation myths of Rome?
- Aeneas
- Romulus & Remus
Aeneas is whose child?
Founds Alba Longa, a city a short distance south of the eventual site of Rome
Rightful king of Latins, displaced by his evil brother Amulius (in founding of Rome)
Aeneas (general); Aeneas and the Aeneid
a Trojan prince, goes into exile, finally wanders into Italy. He founds Roman religion. What is important to him: his son, father, the gods (his wife is lost). Founds Roman kings. By marrying Lavinia, he unites 2 nations that will become Rome. Aeneas is a wimpy hero; he's very pious, the whole story of Aeneid is a long tale of human sacrifice. The poem feels very incomplete to many readers. (Main points: he wins Lavinia, reaches Italy)
Jupiter Indiges
cult title of Aeneas after his death
Sabine war god identified w/ both Mars and Romulus
Who wrote the Aeneid
Virgil (70 - 19 BCE)
Who wrote "History of Rome" in 142 volumes?
Livy (59 BCE - 17 CE)
Ara Pacis
"Altar of Peace", dedicated in January of 9 BCE; a source of early Roman history
Romulus & Remus (general)
Romulus (c. 771 BC[1]—c. 717 BC) and Remus (c. 771 BC—c. 753 BC) are the traditional founders of Rome, appearing in Roman mythology as the twin[2] sons of the priestess Rhea Silvia, fathered by the god of war Mars. According to the legend recorded as history by Plutarch and Livy, Romulus served as the first King of Rome. They represent the 'exposed baby myth'; as children they were put in the river in a basket; they floated downstream and were found and nursed by a wolf. They restore Numitor (grandfather) to his throne, but this leaves no throne for themselves. They go out and found Rome. Romulus slew Remus over a dispute - 1) brawl over interpretation of bird omens, Remus killed by someone; or, 2) Remus killed by Romulus for jumping over Roman walls (Livy emphasizes this; also, when twins are equal, one of them is expendable).
What happens when Romulus dies?
He disappears; or, he's torn to pieces by senators.

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