Exam 3 - Mythology Exam #3: Hero myths: Now our myths will...

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Mythology Exam #3: Hero myths: Now our myths will be focused on human beings instead of gods. These “Hero” myths are not about extraordinarily courageous or superior people, as our common interpretation of ‘hero’ denotes. Instead, heroes in mythology are capable of stupidity, cowardice and other weaknesses, though some are naturally brave and smart. Greek heroes, basically, are ordinary human beings who live extraordinary lives, who could either succeed or fail at their tasks. Greek hero myths show what it was like to be human. Fate – a concept somewhat foreign to our culture, which emphasizes freedom of choice and autonomy, as well as responsibility for your own actions. Greeks believe that it was all mapped out for you since you were born – an unchangeable blueprint, with personal choice being merely an illusion. We’re ruled instead by fate – but Greeks were unclear as to who authored fate, since even the gods could not change it. Later on came the concept of three women who controlled fate, one of whom wove the thread of fate, the next who measured it (and thereby measured your lifespan), and one who cut the thread. Belief in fate made the oracle of Apollo so important – it let visitors find out what their fate was going to be. Astrology and horoscopes are also based on the assumption that you do not have freewill – that the stars determine your life. Psychology says that you were born free, but your development and childhood dictate what kind of person you’ll be – that you’re not free anymore. The biological basis for human behavior says that both physical attributes and personality are controlled by your genes. Whether you’re violent or peaceful, it’s genetic. So each of these things is a form of predetermined fate – we may think we’re free, but the things and sciences we surround ourselves with say otherwise. Croesus , king of Lydia – he was the richest person in the world, and it was he that created the concept of money. He had the fortune to do or have whatever he wanted to. A famed Greek philosopher named Solon visited Croesus, and the king really wanted to impress this powerful man. After Solon had been shown the grand tour of all of Croesus’ riches and power, Croesus asked Solon who the happiest person in the world was. Solon, to Croesus’ surprise, named someone he’d never heard of. So Croesus asked who was second. Again, someone he’d never heard of. Finally, exasperated, Croesus asked, “OK, what about me??” Solon replied, “Call no man happy until he’s dead.” This was confusing to Croesus – the Greek view of the afterlife was very bleak with eternal misery. What Solon meant was that if you can die with a good life with nothing bad happening to you, then you can be called happy, as in having had a happy life. But while you’re still living, something bad might still happen to you. So until you complete life happy, you can’t be happy. Such is the story of the father whose two sons won medals at the
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2011 for the course CLST 2090 taught by Professor Warga during the Fall '07 term at LSU.

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Exam 3 - Mythology Exam #3: Hero myths: Now our myths will...

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