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Unformatted text preview: The Myths of Greece Rosenberg 80-104: The creation of the Titans and the Gods; Ages of Man, Demeter and Persephone, Labor and Death of Heracles Greece Location, Greek Theater & Tragedy. Theseus Myth (Lecture & Handout) Greek Terrain -Peninsula -Islands -Mountains -Open plains -International highway -Older cultures -Influence Climate -Mediterranean: -Hot/dry summer -Coolish/wet winter -Climatic difference -Local variation -Classical Greek territory -Particular topography/similar living Objective -To relate the land to the: ->Values ->Attitudes ->Customs of Ancient Greeks -How the Greeks see the world The Sea -Aegean Sea -40 miles from the sea ->No matter where you are in Greece, you're 40 miles away from the sea -Classical Greek about the sea ->27 different words for "sea"; none of them have Greek roots -Night sailing ->Impossible due to the islands being so close together -Ships ->Relatively small, 30-40 people, only sailing The Islands -Many islands (no night sailing) -Drinking water problem ->Bring drinking water from mainland ->Mixed water with wine to make it taste better The Mountains. -Farmable land ->Not enough for the people living there -Mountains -Forests -Rivers ->Very few rivers in Greece that contribute to cultural and economic development Conclusion -Land of Greece is poor and hard. -More Greeks than land could support -Ways of surviving ->Social alliances ->Gift from colonies Greek Responses to the Hardness of the Land -Birth control -Conquest (Spartans) -Colonization ->Aegean Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea ->Asia Minor, Ukraine, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Sicily, Marsailles -Exposure ->Agonas: Means a pregnancy was allowed to come to term but if the child was considered an "extra" child, the baby was left in the forest because the family could not handle another child. -->Could not physically kill your kids, because the Gods will be upset and punish you However, if you left it in the woods, then it was the Gods' decision Boetia,Thebes, Peloponnesus, Laconia, Messania, Pylos. The Theseus Legend -Objective ->Greek worldview ->Greek response ->Greek hero model -->Theseus is the earliest known Greek hero ->ARETE (Areti): Excellent/skilled -Fertility is important -Cunning: a skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving; craftiness; guile Conclusion -Agonas: competitive world -Arete: strive for excellence -Greek poet Vergil: "timeo Danaos at dona ferentes" = "Fear the gift-bearing Greeks" Three Generations of Gods -Ghea and Uranus -Children of Ghea and Uranus -Children of Cronus and Rhea -Immortal children of Zeus Olympian Gods -Anthropomorphic and immortal Three Male Gods -Zeus - Sky ->Taught everyone to be just in their treatment to eachother ->Taught people to respect the gods and eachother ->My word is law -Poseidon - Sea -Hades - Underworld Birth of Theseus Aegeus, King of Athens, married twice, but was unable to produce a son. Deciding that this infertility was the result of the anger of Aphrodite, Aegeus introduced her worship to Athens and built a temple to her. These efforts availing nothing, Aegeus consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, who warned him not to untie the mouth of his wineskin until he reached the highest point of Athens, lest he die of grief. Aegeus had no idea what that oracle might mean. One reason for his concern that he had no heir was that he had fifty nephews, all of them planning rebellion since each of them believe he might be the next king. Presently he came to Corinth, where he met the witch Medea. The latter, in return for a promise by Aegeus to provide her a refuge in Athens, concocted a magic potion to make Aegeus fertile. Aegeus moved on to Troezen. There he got drunk and raped a woman named Aethra, who, distraught, got up and walked on the beach, whereupon the god Poseidon also raped her later the same night. Poseidon conceded paternity of any child conceived in the next four months to Aegeus. Aegeus, when he awoke and found himself in Aethra's bed, told her that if a son were born to them he must not be exposed or sent away, but rather be secretly raised in Troezen. Aegeus said that he would hide his sword and sandals under a hollow rock, known as the Altar of Strong Zeus, which stood on the rod from Troezen to Hermium. If, when the boy grew up, he could move this rock and recover the tokens, he was to be sent with them to Athens. Meanwhile, Aethra must keep silent, so that Aegeus's nephews, the fifty sons of Pallas, would not plot against her and the child. Theseus recovers his heritage At sixteen or so, Theseus lifted the rock, recovered the tokens and set out for Athens. On the road, he encountered and slew many road bandits, often using their own exotic execution methods. One character lived at a point where a road curves up around a mountain, with a mountain on one side and a sheer drop to the sea at the other. This character's game was to insist that anyone using the road should wash his feet, in some versions, kiss his toe. If he did, he kicked him into the sea. Theseus through him into the sea. A little farther on, there was a character that insisted that anyone using his road fit into his bed. If a person did not fit - no one did - he would use a rack to lengthen those too short. For those too long, he cut off the excess on both ends. Then, everyone fit into his bed, but somehow were no longer interested in using the road. Theseus hung this clown from a tree. When Theseus got close to Athens, he discovered a monstrous bull, ravaging the countryside. Theseus seized the bull by the horns, dragged the bull to Athens, and sacrificed it on the Acropolis. At Athens, he discovered that Aegeus had married Medea and fathered a son named Medus. Medea recognized Theseus and arranged to poison him, but Aegeus recognized the tokens Theseus brought and prevented the poisoning. Theseus then drove Medea and her children from Athens. The fifty sons of Pallas, rivals of Aegeus for the throne and now in despair of ever inheriting, went into revolt, but Theseus defeated them. The journey to Crete As a result of a naval defeat, Athens paid an annual tribute of seven maids and seven youth to Minos, King of Crete. These persons were fed to the Minotaur, the monstrous son of Minos. This creature was half man, half bull. To keep him from eating the ordinary citizens, he was kept locked up in the labyrinth, an elaborate maze designed by Daedalus, court scientist to Minos and a Greek. The tribute youth were the principle diet of the Minotaur. The year he became heir apparent to the throne, Theseus volunteered to be one of the tribute youth himself and to kill the Minotaur. His father agreed. Theseus substituted three additional youths disguised among the maidens and set off for Crete. Aegeus said that he would watch the sea until the return of Theseus. When the ship was in sight of Athens, Theseus should raise white (or in some versions, red) sails if Theseus was alive and the Minotaur dead, black sails if Theseus was dead. At Crete, Minos recognized the royal status of Theseus and invited him to participate with Cretan nobles in athletic games and tournaments. Theseus excelled and won them all. Minos invited his royal sacrifice to dinner as though he were a guest. Ariadne, daughter of Minos, fell in love with Theseus. When Theseus was put into the Labyrinth the next day, Ariadne threw a sword and amagic ball of yarn over the wall. The yarn, designed by Daedalus, unrolled directly to the Minotaur and provided a guide path for finding the way out of the maze. Theseus followed the yarn to the Minotaur and killed him, and then followed the yarn out. Theseus and Ariadne ("I think we better split, my father will not like that we murdered my brother.") made for the harbor. The Athenian youths, the seven plus the three disguised as maidens overpowered the harbor guards and pulled their ship into the sea and all escaped Crete. On the way back, the ship stopped over night at Naxos and Theseus left Ariadne asleep on the beach, where she was later rescued by the god Dionysus, who married her. Asked later, Theseus said that he forgot her. When the ship reached the harbor at Athens, the black sails were still flying. Aegeus, in grief, leaped into the sea and drowned, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Apollo and explaining why the name of the Aegean Sea. Theseus became King of Athens and performed a number of civic services. Asked about the sails, he said that he forgot. Actually, what he said was "Some god made me forget." That statement is hard to dispute, gods can certainly do that. So once Theseus says that, who knows? Who can prove the contrary? And, maybe, he believed it. After all, noone in his right mind would leave the girl who saved his life on a beach or arrange his fathers suicide. What is the world like? And how is the individual to respond? What do you think? What are the traits of this world, what traits does Theseus illustrate for the hero? Vergil: Timeo Danaos at dona ferentes -"Fear the gift-bearing Greeks" Myth and the Greek Gods (Rosenberg 80-104) Hesiod, Theogony (Rosenberg, 80-89) Get the narrative down. Questions about the myth: What is the sequence of events? What is the beginning? What was there in the beginning? What happened? What was there in the end? Who are the titans? What happened next? What did Uranus do and what did he fear? How did Gea feel about that and what did he do? What did Chronos fear and what did he do? How did Rhea and Zeus feel about that and what did they do? Zeus and the Titans: Prometheus changes sides. How did Zeus win? In general: What is the world of the gods like? What is the response? What assumption is made about every strong male? What motive seems to drive everybody, parent and child, alike? How has Hesiod connected the various kinds of gods together? What drives the process of generational change? -Wrote myths of creation -Believed the world moved from chaos to order by the will of the Gods -Different groups were related to eachother, even if fighting ->All were powerful The Ages of Man(Rosenberg, 90-92) Questions about the myth: What are the four ages? What distinguishes one from another? What drives the process? What causes these changes? What age do we live in? How bad is it? What does Hesiod think Zeus will do about it? If Zeus is the guardian of the natural order, in the prior reading, what is he in this reading? How are people responding? What is the world like? How does Hesiod think Zeus will respond? Demeter and Persephone(Rosenberg 93-99) Questions about the myth:What is the narrative? How did Demeter lose Persephone? How did Demeter get her back? What was Hades courtship procedure? Well, he did ask Zeus first, didn't he? What conclusions do you come to about the status of women, even goddesses? What is this story about? How much power did these gods have? Hercules(Rosenberg 100-105) Get the narrative down. Whose child is Hercules? Why dose that so incense Hera? What are Hercules traits? Hera sends two serpents to his nursery and the infant strangles them. What were you just told? Hera sends madness to Hercules. In his madness, he sees his children as monsters. What should a hero do? So he slays them. So, what is his motive in attempting his labors? Role models, how are Theseus and Hercules alike, how are they different? Hercules -Great ancient hero of Argos -Doesn't seek glory or immortality Greek Tragedy In less than two centuries Greek society went through an amazing transformation, nowhere more apparent than in the Greeks written culture: their drama, their historical writing, and their philosophy. It was an era of, as it is known, Athenian preeminence, and thus the study of Greek civilization in this golden age inevitable focuses on Athens. In the Athenian government in the 5th century BC, which can best be described as a direct democracy, the only elected position was that of strategos. One of the most lasting achievements of the fifth century B.C. was the creation and perfection of a new literary and theatrical form - tragedy in the polis of Athens. Greek polis is a political, autonomous unit, where members consider themselves strongly united. The cost of producing a tragedy in Athens of 5th century BC was borne by the choregos. Greek dramas were written in the most sublime poetry since Homer, and they first appeared in Athens, at religious festivals honoring the god Dionysus. . At these celebrations, also marked by dancing and revelry, dramatic performances addressed increasingly profound moral issues. The writers of tragedies derived most of their plots from tales of gods and heroes in Greek mythology; therefore drama never lost its close connection with religion. Their central themes include questions fundamental to all religions: What is humanitys relationship to the gods? What is justice? And if the gods are just, why do they allow people to suffer? That tragic drama arose at this time and in this place may be the result of the new confidence of the Athenians following their victory over Persia and the founding of the Athenian empire. Their inspiration may also have derived from their awareness of how short-lived triumphs can be. Greek tragedy relentlessly pursued its main theme- that worldly success can lead to arrogance, and arrogance invites destruction, often sent down by the gods as punishment. The surviving plays explore subtle moral problems with shattering power. The stature of the main characters gives the tragedies additional force, for they are often heroic, strong-willed men and women like Oedipus and Antigone, powerful personalities who are caught in fearful dilemmas. Thus Antigone, in Sophocles play of that name, defies the ruler of Thebes, who has forbidden her brother a traditional burial because he died in war against the city; she chooses to follow divine, not human, law, and her courageous decision destroys her. Along with these strong characters is a chorus of a dozen or so men who comment on the action and the moral problems in odes set to music. Greek tragedies, written by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, are still performed and filmed and they continue to inspire operas, plays, and ballets more than two thousand years after their creation. The Theater at Athens There are about forty Greek tragedies surviving, but to call them Greek is misnomer All these play where written in Polis of Athens by Athenians. ("Polis" is a city-state.) Aeschylus, the author of the play Prometheus, is the earliest of the writers whose work survived. His plays establish the classic form for Greek tragedy. At Athens there was an annual festival dedicated to the god Dionysus. There were circle dances accompanied by a citizen chorus, chanting hymns to Dionysus and there were mime plays as well. The plays emerged late in the 6th century BC, evolving by some process that is not clear from these earlier ceremonies. Athenian citizens wrote plays around the theme set each year by a public board of citizens.The board picked a myth that would be the subject for the following year. The play writes were free to tell some, all, or any part of the myth in a dramatic form. The play writes submitted their play to an official. The official picked three and nominated a rich citizen for each one to finance production. (Sometimes the rich volunteered. But, if you really did not want to do it, you could nominate somebody else and argue that he was richer than you were.) Three actors were recruited and the chorus, all citizen volunteers, rarely paid. They rehearsed, and on the last four days of the festival the plays were performed several times in the theater of Dionysus, an open air amphitheater. The citizens attended when they could and one play was voted the best for that year. Most of the surviving plays, but not all, won the prize the year they were first produced. After the festival, for a few weeks, the winning play would be performed by a traveling company who went to some of the villages outside Athens. The winning playwright gained great prestige within the city, but rarely much money. The theater itself had a large round section in front of the seats, called the orchestra, which reflected the origins of the theater in the dance rituals of Dionysus. At the back of the stage was a small structure, called a logia, shaped like a large shed but more ornate, which was open in the front and closed with curtains. The chorus and the actors stood on the round platform called the orchestra, rather close to the audience. Usually the chorus in Greek tragedy represents the collective wisdom of the polis. When the scene was shown inside or was to happen offstage, the actors went into the logia and performed there. In the play Prometheus the logia was not used. In the play Oedipus, the character Jocasta hangs herself behind the curtains in the logia, and Oedipus blinds himself in the same place. The actors were all male. It would have been disgraceful and an assumption of wantonness for a woman to appear on the stage, so men played the female roles. They wore elaborate painted masks that represented their charters. There were only three actors, each played several roles, changing masks as appropriate. Aristotle and the tragedy Aristotle knew everything and wrote about everything; he is truly one of the greatest minds in the Western civilization. In the Poetics, Aristotle addressed epic poetry and tragedy. He argues that both epic poetry and tragedy discuss important topic in elevated language. Aristotle distinguished comedy from tragedy in a simple fashion: in tragedy bad things ruin the hero; in comedy everything comes out all right. In analyzing tragedy, Aristotle argued that the principle element of the play is the plot. The plots in a sense are all the same: the hero begins the play well regarded and in a good station in life, and through the actions of the play his fortunes are completely overturned at the end. Good plots exhibit three unities: unity of time, unity of place, and unity of action. Unity of time and place is obvious; Unity of action means that each action of the play seems to proceed logically from the last. The characters exist to support the plot. Those statements would be quite controversial in analyzing plays now and in some respects there are controversial in considering the Greek tragedies as well. Nevertheless, Aristotle argued that the best plays have plots in which the actions reveal some mistake that the hero has made and that destroyed him. This process of discovery, of revelation, is the best writing. The audience, identifying with the hero, feels fear, pity and awe at the things that beset him, and as a consequence, feel a catharsis, a release, of those emotions. Greek Concepts Thanatos Death (Ta?at??) Telos end (Te???) Fovos fear (F???) Poneria cunning (??????a) Ponos pain (?????) Oikos/spiti house (?????/Sp?t?) and dromos road (?????). Timehonor/position T??. Xenosforeigner (?e???) and Philos and xenos (F????e??a) Xenitialiving abroad (?e??t?a) Agona contest, struggle/ a very competitive place (A?o?as) Pallikarimale Greek hero (?? pa???a??) Arete striving for excellence (Aret?) Hubris thinking of being greater than others, having limitless power, attributed to his gods (Hubris) Ateblind, rash behavior(Ate) Nemesisretribution (Nemesis) Pronunciation of Greek names Greek names are straightforward. Each vowel is a syllable. Ariadne Ar/ee/ad/nee ???ad??? The principal stress is on the next to last syllable - ar-i-AD-ne. Again: Demeter de-MEE-ter ???t?a Most Greek names follow that pattern. These two names are central in the Iliad: Agamemenon a-ga-MEM-non ??ae?? Achilles a-KIL-les ?????ea? The problems come with names that have come over into English. "Theseus" ought to be pronounced the-SAY-us, but English has made it into THES-e-us. T?sea? Or Demeter's daughter Persephone: per-SEF-o-nee. There are a couple other things: - the vowels are a bit different: the letter "a" is always soft, as in the English word "father." - The letter "i" is nearly always pronounced "ee" as the English word "feet." - The letter "e" may be pronounced like a long "a" in English, as in "actor" or it can be soft as it is in "Ariadne." And then there are few diphthongs, tow vowels together: "ae," "ai," "oe." The convention in using these manes in English is to pronounce "ae" as the English "i" in "ice," "ai" as the "a" in "actor," and "oe" as the double "e" in "feet." Hence, Aegeus i-JAY-us ???a?? pe?a??? Oedipus EE-da-pus - the name is heavily Anglicized: ought to be ee-DEE-pus. Truly, take a crack at pronouncing these names. The story is easier to master that way. If you get bogged down, try reading it aloud. Reading out loud can focus your attention. ...
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This note was uploaded on 05/06/2008 for the course HUMS 160 taught by Professor Litos during the Fall '08 term at Lansing.
- Fall '08