Greek Mythology, Lecture 4

Greek Mythology, Lecture 4 - Invention of Institutions and...

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Invention of Institutions and Civilization in Greek Mythology The Homeric Hymns to Demeter, Hermes, and Dionysus 09/09/08
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Blackboard
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Important Questions to Consider in This Class What is the point of each myth that we study? I.e., what was the meaning/function of each myth for the Greeks? What is the significance of each myth within the larger picture of Greek Mythology? Think big themes! What can we learn about the Greeks from their myths? social history
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Myths of Origins (Aetiological Myths) Origins of theins of the World and the gods Origins of Zeus’ rule ovs Origins of civilization and civilized pleasures (e.g., fire, art, music, etc.) Creation of rules/regulations governing interactions of gods with other gods, and of gods with mortals Origins of cities and races (foundation myths)
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How did everything we know come to be the way it is? Theogony – origin of the gods and the explanation of Zeus’ rise to power Hymn to Muses – origin of Hesiod’s poetic art (poet’s myth of the self) Homeric Hymn to Demeter – origin of the Eleusinian Mysteries Homeric Hymn to Hermes – origin of the lyre; origin of courtroom justice Homeric Hymn to Dionysus – teaches men the power of Dionysus
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Homeric Hymns 33 hymns; most composed in 7 th /6 th c. BC Vary in length from a handful of lines to several hundred Composed in dactylic hexameter – same poetic meter as heroic epic Described as preludes in early sources: sung originally as introductions to other works (e.g., Hymn to the Muses as intro to Hesiod’s Theogony )
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Hymns: Main Topics Greetings, summonses, and prayers to the god Account of how the god was born and acquired his functions and cults Lists of the god’s powers, interests, tastes, and favorite places Lists of the god’s epithets and explanation of their origins (cf. list of Marduk’s names in Enuma Elish )
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Features of Hesiod’s Hymn to the Muses Description of the Muses’ appearance, character, and function Praising the Muses and the gods as the reason for the poet’s art The Muses’ interaction with the poet explores how gods can/should interact with humans Aims to answer questions of origin: origin of gods, their function, and place in Zeus’ order
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Homeric Hymn to Demeter Composed in 7 th c. BC Aetiological myth, explaining the origin and procedure of Eleusinian Mysteries
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Eleusinian Mysteries Mysteries – at least as old as 1,500 BC Eleusis – became part of Attica ca. 600 BC
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2010 for the course CC 32770 taught by Professor Popov-reynolds during the Spring '10 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Greek Mythology, Lecture 4 - Invention of Institutions and...

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