Ch13Perseus

Ch13Perseus - Classics 10: Chapter 13: Spring 2011 Perseus...

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Classics 10: Chapter 13: Spring 2011 Perseus and Myths of the Argive Plain I. Io and Her Descendants II. Perseus and Medusa III. Perseus and Andromeda At left, Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus and Medusa, 1554, in bronze
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Perseus: Major Themes • Descendants of Perseus will rule Mycenae, greatest of Bronze Age Greek cities • As the founder of Mycenae, Perseus involved in great adventures appropriate for his heroic city • Perseus a simple hero, though plots of his stories complicated and interrelated – His myths older than Trojan War myths? • Most of the good guys live happily ever after; many folktale motifs • No major literary account of his deeds (why?)
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Plain of Argos = The Argolid
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Argive Plain
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Myths of the Argive Plain • Rich and powerful Bronze Age area • Mycenae, with its Lion Gate and amazing “beehive” tombs, founded by Perseus • Tiryns, 10 miles south, amazingly well built stone walls (port town for Mycenae?) – Perseus’ grandson Heracles lived here • Argos, between Mycenae and Tiryns, but on other side of river Inachus – Chief city in classical period, not in Bronze Age – Bronze Age cities already tourist attractions by then
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Mycenae: Beehive Tomb and Lion Gate
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Io and Her Descendants: The Cow Phase • The local river god Inachus marries the Oceanid Melia and has daughter Io • Although Io was a priestess of Hera, Zeus desired her, put a cloud around her, and raped her • Hera, suspicious of a dense cloud on an otherwise sunny day, comes to investigate • Zeus just has time to finish and tries to deceive Hera by turning Io into a cow
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Io and Her Descendants: The Cow Phase • Hera figures it out, asks for the cow, tethers her under the watch of Argus • Argus, a child of Gaea, has 100 eyes, and some of them are always awake! • Zeus sends Hermes to free Io; he sings all the eyes shut with a lullaby, kills him • Hermes thereafter known as the slayer of Argus (= “Argeïphontes”) • Hera moves Argus’ eyes to the tail of the peacock (etiological)
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The Wanderings of Io the Cow • Io free but stung constantly by the gadfly Hera sends to torment her • She is pushed all around the ancient world • The Bosporus, “cow-crossing”, is where Europe meets Asia (now Istanbul) • On the far side of the Black Sea, Io stumbles upon Prometheus bound, losing his liver daily • Great scene in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound (430 BCE), they commiserate about Zeus
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Io’s Egyptian Family Tree • Prometheus foretells that Io’s journey will end in Egypt, where Zeus will reappear; she will return to human form – Her descendent Heracles will free him much later • Zeus’ reappearance makes her pregnant, she bears Epaphus (“he who has been touched”) • Epaphus becomes king of Egypt, marries (and founds) Memphis (where Cairo is now) – Memphis is a daughter of Nilus (god of the Nile) • Their daughter Libya has two sons by Poseidon – Agenor, whose (grand)sons Minos and Cadmus will become the rulers of Crete and the Greek city of Thebes – Belus, who becomes of King of Egypt and has two sons
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This note was uploaded on 05/22/2011 for the course CLA 10 taught by Professor Traill during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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Ch13Perseus - Classics 10: Chapter 13: Spring 2011 Perseus...

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