Lecture 9 - Heracles 09/25/08...

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Heracles 09/25/08
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Adapting the Near-Eastern Hero into  Greek Myth Gilgamesh Hero of one city 2/3 god, 1/3 mortal  Excessive strength and  appetites Great in challenges;  threat to society in  peacetime Best friend/companion Travels the world to  satisfy his own quest Dies a peaceful death Fails to achieve  immortality Heracles (= Hercules) Pan-Hellenic Hero 1/2 god, 1/2 mortal Excessive strength and  appetites Great in challenges;  threat to society in  peacetime Best friend/companion Travels the world in  obedience to orders Dies a painful death Achieves immortality
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The Problem of Demi-Gods in  Greek Mythology Most demi-gods considered mortals    even one drop of mortality makes one  mortal (cf. Gilgamesh –1/3 mortal)  Some demi-gods considered full gods  (e.g., Dionysus) Burden of proving one’s divine origin Heracles – unusual case: lives mortal  life; becomes immortal after death
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The Birth of Heracles Zeus’ deception of Alcmena/Alcmene Twins: Iphicles (son of Amphytrion) and  Heracles (son of Zeus) Zeus’ oath on Alcmena’s due date: his  descendant born on that day will rule  over all surrounding lands Hera delays birth of Heracles and  hastens that of Eurystheus
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Myths of Baby/Child Heracles Amphytrion did not know which of the  twins was his own son and which was  Zeus’ Baby Heracles and the serpents    The incident sets up Heracles as a  precocious baby (cf. Hermes and  Apollo) Proof of Heracles’ divine paternity 
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Baby Heracles and the Serpents
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Heracles’ Childhood and Youth Excessive strength/temper: murder of  Linus Excessive appetites: the 50 daughters  of Thespius (Heracles was visiting Th.  to hunt for a lion) Either 50 nights – one gal per night OR Drunken Heracles + 50 gals in one night
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Adulthood Prior to the Labors Married Megara, daughter of Creon  (king of Thebes), and had 3 children Driven mad by Hera, killed wife and kids Subject of Euripides’ tragedy  Heracles  Insane  (414 BC) Went to Delphi to learn how to atone for  his crime
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Delphic Oracle to Heracles Orders H. to leave Thebes and return to  Tyrins (his parents’ original home) Orders H. to serve his cousin  Eurystheus, king of Mycenae, and  perform 12 labors for him H.’s prize would be immortality Some of his contests/labors would be  against Death himself
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The Twelve Labors: Why 12? Greek term for labors – 
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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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Lecture 9 - Heracles 09/25/08...

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