Chapter_12 IM 6e


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CHAPTER 12 HEROES AT WAR: THE TROY SAGA MAIN POINTS 1. The ancient Greeks certainly believed that the Trojan War, in some form, was a historical event. Likewise, modern scholars think that the Iliad has some loose basis in fact. 2. Archaeological evidence indicates that around 1250 B . C ., a settlement, which we label “Troy VIIa,” was looted and burned. The identity of the attackers is not certain, much less the motivation for the attack. 3. Zeus has arranged a wedding between Thetis, a minor sea goddess, and a mortal man, Peleus; all the gods are invited except Eris, the goddess of strife, who shows up anyway with a golden apple “for the fairest.” NOTE: The theme of the goddess who is not invited and who shows up with a curse is a familiar folklore motif: Sleeping Beauty (Grimm: Little Briar Rose) sleeps because the thirteenth Wise Woman who was not invited to a feast in Beauty’s honor (twelve were invited, because the king had twelve gold plates) cursed her with death, a curse ameliorated by the other women. In folklore, goddesses or fates often punish people with curses for their neglect. 4. Hera, Athene, and Aphrodite quarrel over the golden apple, so Zeus throws it off Mount Olympus. It lands in a field outside of Troy, where King Priam’s son Paris is tending sheep. 5. The goddesses offer him gifts in exchange for the golden apple: Hera offers power over Asia Minor, Athene offers wisdom, and Aphrodite offers the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris gives the apple to Aphrodite. 6. Priam sends Paris on a diplomatic mission to Sparta; he meets Helen, wife of King Menelaus, daughter of the mortal woman Leda, and of Zeus, who visited Leda in the shape of a swan. 7. While Paris is a guest in their home, Menelaus leaves on a trip, and Paris seduces or abducts Helen. When Paris refuses to return her, Priam feels honor-bound to defend him; Menelaus has allies who come to his support, and the Trojan War begins. 8. The implications of the story of the judgment of Paris involve sequels, because Greek myth is essentially open-ended. 9. Myths occur in a timeless or nonchronological world. Thus, Achilles, son of Thetis and Peleus, would be too young to take part in the battle of Troy, but he is a renowned hero at its beginning. Human time cannot be meaningfully applied to mythic time.
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10. Zeus sanctifies family values and social order; Paris violates this order, but family loyalty is also a value under the old clan and kinship system, and Priam’s adherence to this value makes the value systems clash. 11. The cosmos itself is not stable; change is in the nature of things, and the gods must cope with the existence of evil. The disharmony in the human world reflects that of the cosmos. 12.
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