Classical Mythology Images and Insight, Third Edition

Following is an outline of the chapter along with the main learning objectives.  To help coordinate your studies, this outline and the learning objectives are organized to match your textbook.  This organization is also utilized in the chapter review section.

Key Themes (pgs. 135-161)

    1. You should understand the basic evolution of the Gods and Goddesses from amoral (embodiment of natural forces) into idealized images of humanity, who enforce the standards of justice, etc. of the Greek culture as it evolves.
    2. You should be able to discuss why the behavior of the Gods and Goddesses (their morality, activities, etc.) needs to be above the laws and standards that must be obeyed by mankind and why that seems to be an integral part of these ancient myths.
    3. You need to recognize the basic genealogical order of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses: The simultaneous appearance of Gaea and Uranus; their off-spring Chronos and Rhea as the parents of the Older Olympian Gods and Goddesses -- including Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Poseidon, Hades and Hestia.
    4. You should be aware that the younger Olympians are the children of Zeus -- Athene, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Aphrodite (in some myths) and Ares -- excepting Hephaestus, who was Hera's child.
    5. You should be able to recognize the Gods and Goddesses by their dominant names (Greek/Roman) and primary attributes.
    6. You should be able to discuss what kind of resonances such role models have on a given culture -- including our own.
    7. You should be able to use dominant theories (i.e. external or internal?) of mythology to look at these attributes from various interpretations.

Part 1: The Older Olympians (pgs. 135-146)

    1. You should recognize Zeus as the imperial ruler of the Gods and Goddesses, and his major attributes of authority, paternity, and as the cloud gatherer, the force that generates storms, of thunder and lightning. You should be able to discuss why Zeus is not seen as all powerful or omniscient, though he is seen as the ultimate power, and has contradictory-seeming qualities, such as promiscuity and what such a quality might have signified to the ancient Greeks (i.e. heroic off-spring, diversifying the gene pool?).
      1. You should be aware that many Gods and Goddesses existed before Zeus and that later were attributed to him as his children -- perhaps to emphasize his dominion over all, mortal and immortal beings.
      2. You should be aware of some of the dominant myths concerning Zeus: his defeating his father, Cronos; his giving birth to Athene and Dionysis; his defeat of the titans giving him supremacy over all; the pursuit of Io, Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, etc.; his punishment of Prometheus for giving mankind fire, his punishment of Atlas, his part in the creation of Pandora as a punishment to mankind.
      3. You should be able to discuss why Zeus is the father of such beings or forces, as the Seasons, the Graces, the Muses.
      4. You should recognize the Fates, their function of controlling mortal lives, their independence of Zeus' rule, perhaps supremacy over Zeus' domain.
      5. You should be able to discuss the concept of Zeus as the force that, with all its inconsistencies and complexities, keeps the universe in order.
    1. You should recognize the Goddess Hera as the Queen of Heaven, wife and sister of Zeus, daughter of Chronos and Rhea; upholder of family values, Goddess of marriage.
      1. You should be able to discuss the concept of motherhood and the role of wife that is inherent in the myths of Hera, as resonant of the reaction to patriarchy from the perspective of the previous beliefs concerning the Great Goddess, women's role in ancient Greece.
      2. You should recognize the dominant myths of Hera, including the parthenogenic birth of her son, Hephaestus, (though Hera was not a prolific mother, giving birth to only one Child by Zeus and (in other myths) two others children (also by Zeus); her vengeful pursuit of Zeus' many infidelities, her role in the creation of the Milky Way.
    1. You should recognize the God Poseidon as the ruler of the sea, bother of Zeus; he personifies the brutal forces of nature against which mortals must pit their intelligence to survive.
      1. You should be able to discuss Poseidon's characteristics -- quick to rage, master of horses and bulls (which often represent earth/seaquakes); the nature of Poseidon's son , Polyphemus, a cyclops who refuses to observe civilized behavior (by devouring his guests) -- in terms of the lifestyles of ancient Greeks, the "nature" of human experience (mortal and, by role model, immortal).
    1. You should recognize the Goddess Demeter as Zeus' sister, she is closely related to ancient fertility Goddesses as the goddess of the fertility of the Earth.
      1. You should be able to discuss the dominant myth regarding Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, in terms of the cyclic processes of nature; of women's roles in ancient Greek patriarchy; of the roles of the female Goddesses in the Olympian patriarchy.
      2. You should be able to concept of motherhood in terms of the dominant myths pertaining to Demeter -- the myth of Persephone (Demeter raped by Zeus); a rape by Poseidon resulting in a son and daughter (a horse and the mysterious "Mistress" respectively) and the myth of Iasion, a lover rejected by Demeter but whose force of pursuit leads to the birth a son, Plutus (Wealth) and whose myth resonates of the fertility rites of the Great Goddess and her consort.
    1. You should recognize the God, Hades, as ruler of the Underworld of Tartarus; brother of Zeus.
      1. You should recognize the dominant myths regarding the characteristics of Hades, in particular his co-rulership of the universe with his brothers, all-powerful Zeus and Poseidon and his abduction of Persephone, daughter of Demeter.
      2. You should be able to discuss the implications of Hades as God of Death in terms of the ancient Greek's awareness of (or some say preoccupation with) the inevitability of all mortals to succumb to death and descend into the realms of Hades; that Hades himself was not viewed as either bad or good but the sinister, harsh quality of natural law.
    1. You should recognize the Goddess Hestia as the sister of Zeus, the eternal, unmoving care-taker of the Olympian hearth.
      1. You should be able to discuss the Goddess Hestia in terms of the concept of women's roles: as the unmoving center of family life; her colorless passivity which results in her being replaced by the God Dionysis (as a member of the Elite core of twelve official Olympian Gods and Goddesses).
      2. You should be able to discuss the virtues of the Goddess Hestia in terms of ancient Great Goddess worship -- as tender of the flame, image of unchanging permanence and relate these to her as eternally virginal in terms of patriarchal hierarchy.

Part 2: The Younger Olympians (pgs. 146-153)

    1. You should recognize the Goddess Athene as the daughter of Zeus (she sprang fully grown from his forehead); the goddess of wisdom, military strategy, and civilized values, order and justice; and the patroness of the Greek city-state Athens.
      1. You should recognize the dominant myths regarding Athene: her miraculous birth from her father's forehead; her competition against Poseidon for the patronship of Athens; turning the mortal woman Arachne into a spider over a weaving contest; her participation in the Beauty contest against Hera and Aphrodite which was judged by Paris and which she lost to Aphrodite (resulting in Athen's bitterness toward the Trojans in their war against ancient Greeks); her part in the Trojan war and the myths of Hercules and the myth of Athene's off-spring as the result of a sexual attempt by the God Hephaestus (the son becomes one of the first kings of Athens).
      2. You should be able to discuss the implications of Athene's birth in terms of nature theories, feminist concepts of feminine role models, psychological terms of feminine intelligence as it relates to the male patriarchy.
    1. You should recognize the God Apollo as the son of Zeus and Leto , a daughter of the Titans, a Goddess though not Olympian. Apollo is the god radiant energy, of the rational, of harmony; he communicates the gods' will to mortals; he is seer of future events, God of the intellect, spiritual enlightenment and patron of sophisticated creativity in his role as the patron of the Muses.
      1. You should recognize the dominant myths concerning Apollo; and the significance of such attributes as seer of the future and voice of the Gods' will (he communicates via the Oracle of Delphic, among others), the myth of his flaying alive of a rival flute player -- a centaur, embodiment of carnal, unthinking instinct.
      2. You should be aware that the God Apollo replaces the god Helios/Hyperion as the Sun God in later myths.
    1. You should recognize the Goddess Artemis as the twin sister of Apollo, daughter of Zeus, Goddess of midwifery (she helped deliver her own twin brother).
      1. You should be able to discuss the role of Artemis in terms of her virginity within the patriarchal hierarchy and its associated myth of Artemis' slaying of the hunter who invaded the privacy of her bathing, her association with the Moon and ancient worship of the Great Goddess, her role as protector of wild animals while also being patroness of the hunt.
    1. You should recognize the God Hermes as the son of Zeus and Maia (the daughter of Atlas), the personal messenger of the Gods, a trickster and patron of travelers, magic, sleep and dreams, the embodiment of perpetual motion (the opposite of the fixedness of the Goddess Hestia)
      1. You should be able to discuss the dominant themes in myths concerning Hermes: guardian of boundaries which he transverses at will -- between the Gods in Heaven, Earth and the Underworld (it is he who guides the souls of the dead into the realm of Hades); the trickster who steals Apollo's cattle and when caught bargains him out of them; invents the pan-pipe and the lyre.
    1. You should recognize the God Hephaestus and discuss his significance as the son born of Hera alone, husband to Aphrodite; known as the house-builder, he is the master craftsman who fashions the thunderbolts of Zeus and the armor of Achilles and (at Zeus' command) creates the first woman, from clay.
    2. You should recognize the Goddess Aphrodite as the divine being born of the sea (or in some myths, daughter of Zeus and Dione, daughter of either Uranus and Gaea or Titans); and her personification of human sexuality; the perfection of femininity.
      1. You should be able to discuss the dominant myths of the Goddess Aphrodite in terms of gender roles, both within the patriarchal structure of both the Olympians and ancient Greek culture; of her as the winner of the beauty contest between the Goddesses -- winning over the Goddesses Athene and Hera.
    1. You should recognize Eros as the son of Aphrodite and Ares (or in some myths, a primal force born before the Olympians); the God of physical desire.

1. You should be able to discuss the aspects of the God Eros in terms of both myths of his being -- either as a primal force or the son of the union between the goddess of Love and the God of War); of his attributes as the masculine manifestation of the love goddess -- with his "fierce arrows of desire" that spare neither mortal nor god.

    1. You should be able to recognize the God Ares, as the God of War and the son of Zeus and Hera (in some myths, their only child together -- thus the only rightful heir to Zeus).
      1. You should be able to discuss the God Ares in terms of his attributes of physical prowess; of his role in the patriarchy of the Olympians as well as in the contextual ancient Greek culture -- taking into account that in later Roman myths Ares (as the God Mars) is also God of agriculture; as the chosen lover of Aphrodite; as representative of undisciplined male aggression.
    1. You should recognize the God Dionysis as the God of Wine, Intoxication and Creative Ecstasy; the son of born of Zeus alone; and the only major deity of the Olympians who was born mortal and had to die to become immortal
      1. You should be able to discuss the dominant themes of the myths concerning the God Dionysis including; his relationship to the mythical consort of the Great Goddess; his miraculous birth (Zeus alone) and that birth's relationship to the birth of Athene and his replacement of the Goddess Hestia in the Olympian order of 12 major gods.
    1. You should recognize and be able to discuss the Minor Deities and beings such as nymphs, dryads and oreads -- female nature spirits, who play their part in Greek mythology; they relate to various regions and/or specific activities or concepts.

1. You should recognize and be able to discuss the attributes of the God Pan as a creature of man and goat; as personification of natural wild things; his role in the workings of the ancient universal order.

    1. You should be aware that the myths of gods and goddesses "mirror" the culture that created them
      1. You should be aware that the myths contain the values, complexities and contradictions of the contextual culture, and evolve with the contextual Greek and Roman cultures.
      2. You should be able to discuss the idealized concepts of existence that these mythical beings offer humanity; specifically, they are god-like beings who are not constrained by concepts of ethical responsibility, who are able to achieve every wish, and who seem to have an affinity with humans but whose very existence emphasizes the gulf of mortality/Death between mortal and god.

 

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