Greek Mythology Lecture 5

Greek Mythology Lecture 5 - Gods and Humans Origins of...

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Gods and Humans: Origins of Rules and Types of Interactions 09/11/08
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Main Questions and Issues How are humans supposed to interact/communicate with the gods? How did the current rules governing the interactions of humans and gods come about? In what ways do humans differ from the gods? In what ways are they similar/related?
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Ways of Communicating with the Gods in the Ancient World Prayer/hymn/poetry Sacrifice Divination: 1. Readings entrails/liver 2. Taking omens 3. Consulting an oracle: Delphi (oracle of Apollo) – Pythia in a trance Dodona (oracle of Zeus/Dione) – oaks/doves Epidaurus (oracle of Asclepius) - incubation Bura (oracle of Heracles) – dice-throwing
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Homeric Hymn to Apollo Ultimate goal of the hymn: to tell the origins of Apollo’s oracle at Delphi Structure of the hymn: Leto’s struggle to find a place to give birth Apollo’s birth on Delos Description of baby Apollo Apollo’s travels all over Greece Telphousa’s trick Apollo’s defeat of she-dragon; origin of Pytho Apollo kidnaps a merchant ship with its crew to be his first priests
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Location, Location, Location! Leto’s problem: no land would allow her to give birth there (fear of Hera!) Tiny barren island of Delos receives her Delos asks Leto to swear an oath that Apollo will found a temple and oracle there Leto swears oath by the Styx
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Baby Apollo Apollo’s first words after birth are to proclaim his function and name his favorite objects: “My wish is to hold dear the lyre and the curved bow and to prophecy for men the unerring will of Zeus” (ll. 131-132) Contrast with baby Hermes: others tell Hermes his function, but Apollo can proclaim his own
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Apollo and the She-Dragon Apollo slays the she-dragon guarding the place and the monster Typhaon/Typhoeus Etymology of the alternate name: Pytho from the rotting corpse of the dragon Corpse as a sêma – sign/mark of a location (cf. the building of houses/temples on top of carcasses of previous gods in Enuma Elish – e.g., Marduk builds a temple on top of part of Tiamat’s body) Irony: the defeated is thus forever commemorated
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Apollo the Pirate/Kidnapper Leaps on a Cretan ship in shape of dolphin The ship is carried of its own accord towards Delphi (Krisa is the port) Epiphany of Apollo: in the shape of man, asks the Cretans if they are merchants or pirates Captain recognizes him as a god Apollo teaches the Cretans their new job as his priests
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Temple and Theatre of Apollo at Delphi
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Pythia – her origin unexplained; conveyor of god’s words to men
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Sacrifice Ceremony – Greek BBQ Greek sacrifice customs: humans roast and eat the meat The gods get the inedible/worthless parts of the sacrificial carcass (fat and bones) Fire necessary for sacrifice ceremony Myths of origin of fire and origin of sacrifice customs are connected: Prometheus gave both to humans
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