mythlec3-4 - Greek and Roman Mythology Lecture 3 1) Athena:...

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Greek and Roman Mythology Lecture 3 1) Athena : equals Roman Minerva -- source of story about birth is Homeric Hymn 28 2) Homeric hymns: date from 8th to 6th c. B.C.; literary rather than devotional -- chief feature is myth -- ascription to Homer suggests aristocratic epic tradition; probably delivered in competition by professional rhapsodes -- reciters of poetry, esp. Homer but also other poets): means "song-stitcher", 1st attested in 5th c., but implies formulaic compositional technique of earlier minstrels -- originally accompanied on lyre themselves, later carried staff -- rhapsodes competed at festivals dedicated to particular gods -- geographically widely scattered 3) Birth of Athena: sprang from head of Zeus, already wearing armor of gold and brandishing spear -- Olympos shook, the earth shook, the seas roared -- then all was calm, Hyperion even halted the chariot drawing the sun while Athena took off her armor and stood before her father. 4) Another version seen in Hesiod, Theogony : -- Zeus had swallowed consort Metis (Wisdom), afraid that Metis would bear son who would overthrow him -- her Fate -- Ouranos and Gaia had encouraged him to swallow her (remember that Kronos had swallowed Rhea's children in order to avoid one of them overthrowing him) -- thus Athena had to be given birth through Zeus' head -- further elaborations have Hephaestus, Prometheus, or Hermes split head of Zeus with axe -- Athena cries out thunderously at moment of birth in panoply (full armor) 5) Birth legends establish closeness of Zeus to Athena -- closeness establishes characteristics of Athena: 1) prowess and strength; 2) wisdom; 3) masculine virgin 6) Moment of birth pictured by Pheidias on east pediment of Parthenon -- parthenos = virgin -- west pediment shows victory by Athena over Poseidon by gift of olive 7) Attributes of Athena : bright eyes, quick mind, inflexible heart, great warrior, virgin, protector of cities (esp. Athens) -- arrayed in armor, carries helmet, spear and aegis -- latter often had Medusa head depicted -- beautiful, but severe and aloof; unlike Artemis, another virgin goddess who is pursued, Athena is virtually unapproachable -- is devoted to father and great protector of certain heroes, e.g. Odysseus and Orestes -- standard epithet is "grey-eyed" ( glaukopis ), which may refer to keen glance and/or color -- animal familiar was the owl -- also associated with snakes -- see at feet or on shield -- association of animals and esp. olive indicate fertility aspects -- often attended by winged figure Nike = Victory -- also see Athena herself called Athena Nike, representing victory in war -- this is an aspect of Athena -- also have Athena Parthenos, Athena Polias
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8) Tritogeneia : uncertain origin -- appears to refer to region associated with birth -- river or lake Triton (Tritonis) in Boeotia or Libya (originally a water goddess?) -- Palladium told by some that she was raised by Triton, the sea-god -- Triton had daughter Pallas with whom Athena played and practiced arts of war -- Athena
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This note was uploaded on 10/26/2011 for the course CLASSICS 207 taught by Professor Professorumurhan during the Spring '10 term at Rutgers.

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mythlec3-4 - Greek and Roman Mythology Lecture 3 1) Athena:...

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