Mythological characters and stories to know:
A son of one of the Muses, Orpheus is the greatest mortal musician who has
ever lived. His most famous exploit is his journey to
to retrieve his dead wife,
Eurydice. He loses her forever by ignoring Hades’ orders and turning to make sure she is
behind him. Orpheus also travels on the Argo and protects
and the others from the
Sirens. He is killed by a pack of roving Maenads, and his head floats to Lesbos, where it
becomes a magical icon.
The massive serpentine monster that transports
Seventh to the Eighth Circle of Hell
- A three-headed dog, Cerberus, tries to stop Virgil and Dante’s progress, but
Virgil satisfies the beast by throwing it a chunk of earth
A figure that
appropriates from Greek mythology, Charon is an old man
who ferries souls across the river Acheron to Hell
Procne & Philomela
Tereus, the tyrant from Thrace, enters the narrative. He liberates
Athens from barbarians and marries
, the daughter of the king of Athens, Pandion.
The marriage is ill-fated.
, Hymenaeus, and the Graces do not attend the wedding.
After five years of marriage, Procne asks Tereus for permission to see her sister,
Philomela. Tereus sets sail for Athens to fetch Philomela. As soon as he sees Philomela,
lust grips him. Back in Thrace, he repeatedly rapes her and hacks off her tongue to
prohibit her from speaking. Philomela weaves a portrait of Tereus’s crime onto cloth and
sends it to Procne. To get revenge, Procne slays Itys, her only child with Tereus, and
serves him to Tereus as a meal. Procne and Philomela tell Tereus that he has eaten his
son, and Tereus goes mad. He wants to kill the sisters, but they escape by turning into
birds. Tereus, too, becomes a bird
Pyramus & Thisbe-
fall in love. Their fathers oppose the match, so
they decide to run away together. Thisbe arrives first at their meeting place, but she flees
when she sees a lioness approaching. Pyramus finds the tracks of a lioness and Thisbe’s
shawl. Believing that Thisbe is dead, Pyramus thrusts his sword into his belly, killing
himself. Thisbe returns, sees what has happened, and kills herself.
Judgment of Paris-
had to pick between the three goddesses Venus, Minerva, and Juno
which was the most beautiful . Venus promised him Helen’s hand if he chose her. He
chose her and because of that Juno was wrathful toward the Trojans
Troilus & Cressida-
In the seventh year of the Trojan War, a Trojan prince named
falls in love with
, the daughter of
a Trojan priest
who has defected to the
Greek side. Troilus is assisted in his pursuit of her by
, Cressida's uncle.