3 rd Six Weeks English I 2012 Greek Mythos=“discourse” or “speech” Dictionary: A traditional story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that informs or shapes the world view of a people, by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the customs or ideals of society. (Webster’s Dictionary) Essentially, mythology is a way to explain Where we came from Why things happen Where we go when we die Interaction between gods and humans Gods as hypertrophied humans Gods as flawed beings Supernatural beings and monsters Larger than life, godly “superheroes” Hercules fighting the Medusa Myths explain natural occurrences. Examples? Gaea and Uranus (creation of the Earth, the Gods & Man) Thunder and lightning (Zeus) Earthquakes (Poseidon) Seasons (Persephone & Demeter) The sun rising and setting (Helios/Apollo’s chariot) These are questions that have echoed throughout history. Fundamental questions: Who are we? Why are we here? How did we get here? What happens when we die? To explain is to have control Control is comforting It allows people to deal with the fundamentals of life surrounding us each and every day. Why women couldn’t vote To explain is to control Athena and Poseidon both want to rule and protect Athens Gift contest Poseidon=saltwater well (useless) Athena=olive tree (olives, wood, oil – all useful items in Greece) Men vote for Poseidon, women for Athena Athena wins; Poseidon flood the Attic plain Athenians blame the women, take away vote Myths often relay a message or moral Teach cultural traditions, values Icarus Stole his father’s wax wings and tried to touch the sun. He flew too high, against his father’s wishes, and the wings began to melt. Icarus tumbled to his death. Moral of the story? Life has limits. Narcissus A beautiful youth who was tempted to stare at his reflection in a lake. He was so drawn to his own reflection, he fell in and drowned. Moral of the story? Excessive self-love and pride are dangerous A biased version of history – “History is written by the winners”. Reinforce Greek culture and power Trojan War – explains why the war happened. Crete and King Minos – Minos was the 1st king of Crete. Founding of Rome Founded by sons of Mars, Romulus & Remus. Brother founded two competing cities. They fought, Remus was killed, and Romulus founded the city of Rome. Gave tellers sense of identity, sense of place Many Greeks could not read or write. Oral storytelling provided entertainment for the masses. The Greeks loved their stories filled with blood, shocking situations, and sex. The Heroes Herakles (Hercules), Odysseus, Theseus, Jason Stronger, smarter, more handsome than mere mortals Nobility in humanity - Humans are better than gods Cultural supremacy Greek superiority over non-Greeks Other as “barbarians” “barbarian” - The Greeks thought everyone who didn’t speak Greek sounded like “ba ba ba”. Religion: Cult & Ritual Maintained order Gave people reason to be loyal to a city Temples and sacrifices Feared retribution of the gods If you wanted the gods to bless you, your family, your business, your campaign, etc., you made an offering to the Oracles and Gods. Oracle (orare – “to speak”) an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophecy of the future, inspired by the gods. Most famous oracle – The Oracle at Delphi. Dedicated to the god Apollo. Mythical allusions and references In order to understand many of the allusions in Western literature, you need to know Greek mythology. Provides the foundation for Western literature. Examples William Shakespeare Titania & Oberon (the fairy Queen & King – A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) The Tempest – many allusions to mythology. Poetry John Keats & The Romantic Poets Art Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” John William Waterhouse’s “Pandora” The Birth of Venus - Botticelli Venus was born from the foam of the sea, perfectly formed. “Pandora” by John William Waterhouse (1896) Pandora was allegedly the first woman, who was made out of clay. According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar, releasing all the evils of mankind — although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail— leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again. Archetype Characters, situations, and images that are recognizable in many times and cultures. Greek characters, places, themes have influenced (consciously or not) Western literature and art Journeys to the underworld Serpent figures Temptresses Sea monsters Buried treasure Suitors’ contests Loyal servant Epic Hero Word origins – Where did these words originate? Volcano – Vulcan, god of fire Herculean – Hercules; a great task aphrodisiac – Aphrodite; a love potion Music – the Muses, goddesses of inspiration Atlas – a Titan forced to carry the world on his back. Tantalize - Tantalos, punished by food held just out of reach. Erotic – Eros, god of Love; desirable Narcissism – Narcissis. excessive self-love.