Classics 30

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muthos
alternative spelling: mythos. The word ‘muthos’ is used in Homer to refer to a formal, authorative speech, often before an audience. Gradually, however, the meaning of muthos changes over time. In the Classical period, Plato contrasted muthos with logos. In this, he paved the way for the modern interpretation of myth as an untrue story.
trado
The Latin verb ‘trado, tradere’ means “to hand down”.
It is where our word tradition comes from.
Archaic Period, the
8th to the 6th centuries, BCE
predates the Classical Period
Greek epic and lyric poetry flourished.
Homer, Hesiod, and the author of the Homeric Hymns all composed in the archaic period.
Chaos
The first principle, from which the cosmos emerges. See Theogony lines 115 following.
Epic
The earliest surviving form of Greek literature
epic is a form of poetry that flourished in the archaic period.
It began as an oral form (Homer recited the Iliad and the Odyssey from memory) but was later written down.
See further Homer, Hesiod, Theogony.
Gaia
Greek goddess of the Earth
She is born after Chaos (Theogony 115 ff.).
She partners with Ouranos and gives birth to the race of Titans.
Overpowered by the weight of Ouranos, Gaia gives her unborn son, Kronos, a sickle with which to castrate his father.
Muses
Daughters of Memory
the Muses appear at the beginning of the Theogony, and at the beginning of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
They are invoked by the epic poet to help him begin and remember his song.
Olympians
The children of the Titans
The most important Olympian is Zeus (king of the gods).
Aphrodite is also an Olympian, although she is technically born in an earlier generation.
The Olympians get their name from Mt. Olympos, where they live as a somewhat happy, somewhat unhappy family.
The Greeks liked to think of the Olympians as being 12 in number, but in practice the number was greater.
They are Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Poseidon, Hestia, Hades, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hermes, Persephone, Aphrodite, Dionysos
we first meet them in Hesiod’s Theogony, but we will talk alot more about this group of gods as we move through the course
Ouranos
Son and mate of Gaia,
Ouranos is the god of the sky.
castrated by Kronos in the early part of the Theogony.
Primordial Gods
These are the very first gods to populate the universe in Hesiod’s Theogony.
They include Chaos, Gaia, and Ouranos.
Theogony, the
– Epic poem about the origins of the cosmos
– a ‘cosmogony’ (birth of the cosmos) as well as a ‘theogony’ (birth of the gods);
– composed by Hesiod;
– Hesiod appears as a character in his own poem in the prologue (lines 1-115)
Titans
The children of Ouranos and Gaia as described in Hesiod’s Theogony.
Although they live forever, Hesiod refers to them as “the gods from before” (that is, before the reign of Zeus – see Olympians).
Athena
Goddess of wisdom.
Emerges from Zeus’ head in the Theogony.
Special protector of Odysseus and Telemachus in the Odyssey
(appears to Telemachus in the guise of Mentes and Mentor in bks 1-4).
Kronos
The son of Ouranos,
Kronos tries to fight off succession by swallowing his own children.
He is a god of the older generation (a Titan),
married to Rhea,
father of Zeus and many of the other Olympians.
His story is told in the Theogony.
In the Roman tradition, Kronos is renamed ‘Saturn’.
See further Goya, “Saturn Devouring His own Children (under images).”
Metis
Greek word meaning “cunning”
The first wife of Zeus in the Theogony,
Zeus swallows when she is pregnant with Athena.
Rhea
Wife of Kronos in the Theogony
Mother of Zeus, whom she hides away to save from Kronos.
Zeus
Supremely powerful ruler of gods and men.
Zeus is the son of Kronos and the leader of the Olympians.
The Theogony tells the story of his succession and celebrates his rule.
He appears in many other myths that we will address in this course.
In the Iliad, Zeus is the arbitrator of events (he holds the scales which determine Hector must die) and he also presides over Odysseus’ fate on his journey home in the Odyssey (see the council of the gods, Od. 1)
Enuma elish
see Powell chapter.
Babylonian Succession myth
featuring the god Marduk and his rise to power.
Kingship in Heaven
Hittite succession myth
Alalush > Anush > Kumarbi
details story of Kumarbi,
the birth of storm-god Teshub from Kumarbi’s body.
Kumarbi
Servant of Anush who replaces him in succession for royal/divine power.
Bites off Anush’s genitals, swallows his semen
becomes pregnant with the storm god Teshub, whom he gives birth to through the “good place” (thought to be his penis).
Also gives birth to Ullikummi
Marduk
Storm God
Comparable to Hesiod’s Zeus
Associated w/ thunder/lightning
The supreme god in Babylonian mythology
featured in the Nr. eastern text called the Enuma elish.
Song of Ullikummi
Hittite myth
continues Kingship in Heaven.
Tells of birth of stone child Ullikummi and his fight with the storm god Teshub.
No female characters in Hittite myths
Succession Myth
A kind of myth which deals with the succession of sons over fathers over a number of generations. Many Greek and Near Eastern myths use this format to tell of how a divinity came to be a supreme ruler.
Typhoios
Storm God
Associated with volcanos/winds
Monstrous child of Gaia and Tartaros.
Typhoeus challenges Zeus’ rule in the Theogony and is eventually defeated by him.
Compare lecture 7, where an alternative version of the birth of ‘Typhaon’ (same god) is given in the Homeric hymn to Apollo.
Age of Heroes
See ‘Ages of Man’ (ID). Hesiod Works and Days.
The group of mythological heroes who died in the Trojan and Theban wars.
Ages of Man
Hesiod, Works and Days pp. 26-29.
the five ages (also called ‘races’) of mankind are Gold, Silver, Bronze, Heroic, Iron. You should know all of these individually for an ID, but when discussing one or another on an ID you should also be able to put them into context in relation to one another. Through the ages of man Hesiod tells a story of the gradual decline and generation of the human race and their lot upon the earth.
Bronze Age of Man
Hard, warlike group.
Violent. Killed one another off in war.
This group has nothing to do with the so-called “Bronze Age” period of Greek history.
Elpis
Greek word for ‘hope’ and ‘expectation.’
Elpis is the only thing left inside Pandora’s jar when she opens it in the Works and Days (lines 115 ff.)
Epimetheus
Slow witted brother of Prometheus who accepts Pandora as a bride
Golden Age of Man
the time when men lived without toil or disease
under the rule of Kronos.
Loved Peace
Respected Gods
Iron Age of Man
The worst age for mankind.
age of toil, disease, good mixed with evil.
Pandora seems to have in some ways set this age in motion by opening up her jar.
Pandora
Hesiod, Theogony, Works and Days.
Pandora is the first woman
creates the race of women.
Made from earth and water by Hephaestus
manufactured by Zeus and the other gods in return for (and as punishment for) Prometheus’ theft of fire.
Pandora is married to Epimetheus and opens up the jar that she was given (and told not to open) with disastrous results for the history of human kind.
Prometheus
Hesiod Theogony and Works and Days.
Prometheus is a Titan who tricks Zeus twice, first through the fixing of the sacrifice, second by stealing fire back for men.
In later traditions, such as Aeschylus’ play Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is represented explicitly as a culture – hero (a little bit of extra info not mentioned in lecture).
Although a god, Prometheus is often associated with man and humankind.
He is punished by Zeus for his transgressions.
Silver Age of Man
Men lived as children for 100 years, and then died after a brief adolescence.
Did not honor gods.
Aineias
Son of Anchises and Aphrodite,
Name means “dread” and “terrible”
Raised by nymphs
Founds the city of Rome
A hero in the Trojan War.
From Virgil’s Aeneid
Anchises
Mortal whom Aphrodite falls in love with and sleeps with, conceiving the child Aineias.
He also appears in Virgil’s Aeneid.
Danae
Danae is the mother of the hero Perseus.
Her father locks her up in a room, but Zeus still manages to impregnate her through a shower of gold.
Eos and Tithonos
Eos (the goddess of Dawn) falls in love with the mortal Tithonos (Trojan).
She asks Zeus to grant him immortality but forgets to ask for ethernal youth…
Ganymede
Beautiful boy whom Zeus falls in love with and takes up to Olympos to be his cup-bearer.
Raped by Zeus
Ganymede receives immortality and eternal youth.
Leda
Zeus has sex with Leda in the form of a swan
Helen is an offspring of their union.
Troy
site of Judgment of Paris and the Trojan War.
Located on west coast of Asia Minor near Mount Ida (Turkey).
Apollo
Son of Zeus and Leto,
sister of Artemis.
Apollo’s 3 timai are the bow, the lyre, and prophecy.
Born in Delos,
Apollo founds a sanctuary at Delphi.
Delphi
Homeric hymn to Apollo.
Named after Dolphin, which Apollo took form of
Site of Apollo’s sanctuary and oracle in Northern Greece (see map in Athanassakis).
Apollo killed the dragon Pytho there
Symbolizes light>dark, civilization>nature, sun>earth, men>women, new>old
Hera
wife of Zeus and queen of the gods.
Her special province (timE) is marriage.
Ironically, her own marriage to Zeus is full of problems.
Hermes
The trickster god
born from Zeus and Maia.
He begins life in relative obscurity but works his way into the Pantheon,
he takes on the honors or attributes (timai) of messenger, shepherd, and companion to mortals.
He is also the god of boundaries and travel.
Homeric Hymns
A collection of hymns in honor of the gods,
composed in the archaic period.
They are called ‘Homeric’ because they follow Homer’s style, although were most likely not the work of the same author of the Iliad and/or Odyssey.
The hymns celebrate the lives of the Olympian gods.
aetiological myth
An example of a myth that explains something about a custom or ritual in Greek society.
Demeter
Sister of Zeus and mother of Persephone (with Zeus). Founds mystery religion at Eleusis with Persephone. Goddess of agriculture and grain.
Demophoon
Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Son of the mortal woman Metaneira, whom Demeter comes to in disguise as a mortal nursemaid. Demeter attempts to make him immortal and ageless by putting him in the fire every night and anointing him with ambrosia. Compare to other mortals who attain or almost attain divine status
Eleusynian Mysteries
Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Secret mystery rites for initiates, located at Eleusis, and presided over by Demeter and Persephone (will not be an ID on midterm, but good to know).
Hades
Brother of Zeus who is given the realm of the Underworld (also called Hades) by Zeus as his timE. Marries Persephone in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.
Persephone
Persephone is abducted into the Underworld by Hades in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. She works out a compromise with her new husband so that she can spend 2 thirds of the year with her mother and a third underground with him. Persephone shares with Demeter the rites of the Eleusynian Mysteries.
Homer
Iliad; Odyssey; Oral poet, composer of Iliad and Odyssey. Active in about the 8th century BCE (much about him is unknown). See further Muses, epic.
Thetis
Iliad; Theogony. Daughter of Nereus (old man of the sea), an immortal who is married to the mortal man Peleus and who gives birth to Achilles.
Achilles
Iliad. Greatest hero of the Achaeans, son of Peleus 
and Thetis. Argues with Agamemnon and sits out much of 
the fighting in the Iliad, because his honor has been insulted. 
Kills Hector in book 22.
Agamemnon
Iliad; also Odyssey books 1-4; Aeschylus’ Oresteia.
Leader of the Achaeans (Greeks) at Troy, argues with Achilles. Father of Orestes. Murdered when he returns home by Aegisthus and his wife Clytemnestra 
(Aegisthus murders him in the Odyssey; Clytemnestra in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon which we’ll read later in the course).
Hector
Iliad. Greatest hero of the Trojans, the tragedy of his death closes the Iliad. Brother of Paris, killed by Achilles.
Hephaestus
Iliad; Theogony; Works and Days; Odyssey; Lame smith god of the Olympians, makes the Olympians laugh at the end of Iliad I.
Sarpedon
Iliad. Son of Zeus who dies in book 16 of the Iliad. Zeus is torn over whether to save his son or whether to let him die as fate has appointed.
kleos
Iliad, Odyssey. Greek word meaning fame, honor, reputation. a marker of heroic status.
nostos
Odyssey. ‘homecoming’ (we get our word nostalgia, homesickness from this word). Word used to describe the returns of the Greek heroes from Troy after the city has been captured. The story of Odysseus’ nostos to Ithaca is told in the first 12 books of the Odyssey, but in many ways his true nostos, his real return home, does not take place until the very end of the poem.
Phemius
Oral poet (bard) in Odyssey who sings to keep the suitors entertained (book 1).
Telemachus
Odyssey 1-4. Son of Odysseus and Penelope, just reaching age of manhood when Odyssey opens.
Telemachy
Odyssey. A name given to the first four books of the Odyssey, because Odysseus does not appear until book 5. The Telemachy can be thought of as a ‘mini-Odyssey’ – Telemachus’ wanderings to different areas of Greece in search of news (more accurately the kleos) of his father.
Xenophanes
(Dowden, “Greeks on Myth”). Presocratic philosopher who criticized Homer and Hesiod for their portrayal of the gods (too immoral, too anthropomorphic).
Clytemnestra
In the Odyssey, left under the charge of a poet by husband Agamemnon when he went to war, but still seduced by Aegisthus (Od. 3. 255-300, p.36). In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, kills Agamemnon upon his return from war and is in turn killed by Orestes. Also plays an important role throughout the trilogy. Alternative spelling: Clytaemestra.
Eidothea
Odyssey 4. Sea goddess. Daughter of Proteus (although she, like Telemachus in book 1, isn’t entirely sure of this). Aids Menelaus in his journey home.
Helen
Odyssey 4. Wife of Menelaus.  Telemachus visits her in Sparta in the Telemachy.  Known for her wiles as well as her beauty.
Menelaus
Odyssey book 4. Brother of Agamemnon, husband of Helen. Telemachus visits him in book 4 of the Odyssey and Menelaus tells him about his nostos via Egypt.
Metrodoros
“Greeks on Myth”. Allegorist from the 5th c. BCE who believed that the gods in Homer represented different parts of the human body and that the heroes represented different elements of the universe (sun, moon, etc.).
Nestor
Odyssey book 3. Oldest of the Greek heroes who fought at Troy. Telemachus visits him in Pylos in Od. 3
Penelope
Wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus. She is under increasing pressure to marry one of the suitors. See further Linda Pastan “At the Loom,” “Rereading the Odyssey in Middle Age”.
Proteus
Odyssey 4; Old man of the Sea who can change into many shapes at will. Father of Eidothea.
Tells Menelaus who tells Telemachus that Odysseus is still alive and with Calypso
Theagenes
Presocratic physical allegorist from late 6th c. BCE. He believed that we should think of the gods in Homer as elements such as fire, water, air. See further Dowden, “Greeks on Myth”
Calypso
Odyssey bk. 5. Goddess who inhabits island of Ogygia and who detains Odysseus there for a number of years.
Nausicaa
Odyssey book 6. Phaeacian princess who is told in a dream by Athena to wash her clothes at the river in preparation for marriage. There she meets Odysseus.
Odysseus
Hero of Homer’s Odyssey. Marked by his cunning, cleverness, and ability to endure pain and suffering.;
Favorite of Athena.
xenia
Odyssey. Ancient Greek practice of guest-friendship.
allegory
see Dowden and Graf. An ancient myth theory used by the Presocratics (eg. Theagenes, Metrodorus) and the Stoics, among others, to rationalize and interpret the hidden meaning behind myth.
Demodocus
Od. 8. Blind bard among the Phaeacians on Scheria. Sings at the feast set up to honor the stranger Odysseus. See further Song of Ares and Aphrodite.
Poseidon
Odyssey; God of the sea, brother of Zeus and Hades. Develops a hatred of Odysseus during his nostos.
Song of Ares & Aphrodite
Od. 8. The adulterous affair between Ares and Aphrodite, and their capture by Aphrodite’s husband Hephaestus, is told by Demodocus in book 8 of the Odyssey. Some ancient Greeks tried to rationalize this story though allegory.
Aeolus
Odyssey bk. 10. King who lives on floating island with his 6 daughter and 6 sons. Gives Odysseus a bag of winds to aid him in his passage home.
Circe
Odyssey book 10. Immortal daughter of Helios. Lives on an island visited by Odysseus and turns some of his men into pigs. She then sleeps with 
Odysseus and he lives with her for a year.
Folktale
See the reading by Powell on folktale that is downloadable from the course website for lecture 15. Folktales are stories found the world over containing common basic motifs, such as the folktale of Cinderella. We see lots of folktale motifs occurring in the Odyssey.
Laestrygonians
Odyssey book 10. Fantastic giant people who spear Odysseus’ men like fish when they pull into their harbor.
Lotus Eaters
Odyssey 9. Group of people who feed Odysseus’ crew the lotus, which causes them to forget their homeland.
Myth and Ritual
An approach to analyzing myth. Through myth and ritual theory we can detect representations of certain rituals in ancient Greek culture, such as the binding of Ares (represented through the story in Od. 8, for example).
Polyphemus
Odyssey bk 9. Cyclops, son of Poseidon, who traps Odysseus in his cave and eats several of his men. Curses Odysseus when he finds out his name.
Cattle of the Sun
Odyssey 12. Immortal cattle of Helios whom Tiresias warns Odysseus not to eat, on any account. His men fall victim to their hunger and eat the cattle. The gods punish Odysseus’ crew with a storm, killing all of them (except Odysseus) at sea.
Elpenor
Od 10-12. Member of Odysseus’ crew who falls from the roof of Circe’s house at the end of book 10, whom Odysseus meets in the underworld, and whom he buries on Aeaea at the beginning of book 12.
Scylla and Charybdis
Odyssey 12. monsters whom Odysseus and his crew must pass by (and Odysseus must pass again after losing his crew). Scylla lives high up in a cliff on a rock face and eats several members of Odysseus’ crew; Charybdis is a whirlpool who sucks everything down into herself and eventually spits it all back out.
Sirens
Odyssey 12. Figures who sing alluringly to Odysseus and try to tempt him to pull in and listen to his song. Circe warns Odysseus that no-one who pulls in to the island ever leaves, which is why he fills his crews’ ears with wax and has himself bound to the mast.
Tiresias
Odyssey 11. Prophet whom Odysseus meets in the Underworld and who gives him advice on his journey home.

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