Myth%20Lectures%2013_14[1]

Myth%20Lectures%2013_14[1] - The Heroic Tradition in the...

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The Heroic Tradition in the Near East and Greece: Gilgamesh and Heracles 02/23/09
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Divine Myth vs. Legend Divine Myth: Principle characters are gods and goddesses Legend: Central characters are human beings and heroes, not divinities (although divinities often still play iportant roles)
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Ancient vs. Modern? Divine Myths explain nature Legends tell what happened in the human past Most Greeks (and other ancients) had no doubt that legendary persons really existed Local geographical places were considered actual sites of heroes’ exploits Science explains nature History (supplemented by science and archaeology) tells what happened in the human past Ancient legends are subjected to skeptical investigation and compared to evidence Legends can contain some elements of historical truth (Troy, Mycenaean bronze age civ. C. 1600-1200 BCE) Exceptions
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Near-Eastern/Greek vs. Modern Definitions of “Hero” Ancient Greek heroes In Homer: Any noble or well- born figure. Often with semi- divine parentage or lineage Later: Noble figures from the distant past, some of whom came to be worshiped as powers dwelling beneath the earth (hero-cults centered around bronze-age tombs) Morally fallible Selfish? (think mainly of themselves and their glory) Modern heroes Principle character in a book/ play/film or simply an admirable person or … Someone distinguished by prominence, bravery, or merit Morally irreproachable? Not necessarily. (MLK, JFK, athletes, doctors, firemen, soldiers, scientists, politicians) Selfless? (think mainly of others; self-sacrificing?)
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Epic of Gilgamesh Review 1. The Coming of Enkidu 2. The Forest Journey, Humbaba 3. Ishtar and Gilgamesh, the Bull of Heaven, and the Death of Enkidu 4. The Search for Everlasting Life 5. The Story of the Flood 6. The Return 7. The Death of Gilgamesh
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Semi-divine hero Kingship is given by the father of the gods (9) King as “shepherd” (1) Hero as adventurer (cf. Odysseus, Herakles, Jason, Theseus, Perseus) Hero’s Quest Hero as monster-slayer (Humbaba, Bull of Heaven) Wild vs. Tame The “firmament” (3-tiered universe) Bull imagery/metaphors Dreams Mysteries/Secrets (vii, 49, 58, 60) Fate / destiny Fame - Immortality through deeds Preoccupation with death and immortality Sacrifice: animal, grain, liquid (libation) Incense & Prayer; pray looking up with hands raised (14, 38) Heroes cry (9, 11, 12, 21, 22, 29, 33, 34, 40, 59) (cf. Odyssey) The gods are the real forces behind human motivations (11, 14) Snakes (images, metaphors, symbols) Heroes have special weapons (axe, bow, breastplate) Ninsun’s preparation to address Shamash (cf. Aphrodite, Hera) Mountains are important / sacred (16) Curses and blessings Winged soul Netherworld, judges Waters of Death, Ferryman (diff’s)
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Myth%20Lectures%2013_14[1] - The Heroic Tradition in the...

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