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.

Part 1: Key themes

    1. You should be able to discuss the essential order of the Greek cosmos in terms of hierarchy, patriarchy and the ideals represented by the Greek Gods -- that of perfect autonomy, freedom from labor and extreme longevity -- which human males could aspire to emulate; also part of this cosmos is the concept that this ideal existence is compromised by the presence and demands of women, who subvert masculine values of order, independence and dominion.
    2. You should recognize Hesiod's Works and Days as an account of a universe that is characterized by dynamic change and unending conflict as represented in the readings by the myth of Pandora the first woman, fashioned to be the despair of men and thus the ending of the Golden Age of Greece and by the account of the Five Ages of man and its themes of man's descending order/worth -- from precious Gold to the Age of Iron, characterized by injustice and Strife.

Part 2: Humanity's alienation from the Gods:
Prometheus, Fire, and Pandora

    1. You should be able to discuss Hesiod's lament that mankind and cosmic order are worse off than under the rule of Chronos as consequence of Zeus' personal quarrel with Prometheus.
    2. You should recognize the dominant myths that are concerned with this tension between Prometheus as protector/benefactor of mankind and the divine authority of Zeus, including the myth of Prometheus tricking Zeus into taking the least parts of sacrifice offered by humans; the myth of Prometheus giving the gift of fire to man; the myth of Prometheus' punishment at the will of Zeus (the eagle who every day ate the liver from the still alive (he's immortal remember) Prometheus, which grew back every night) and especially the myth of Pandora -- the first mortal woman, created by Hephaestus (with gifts from other Gods and Goddesses) at the command of Zeus to "create a lovely evil" as the scourge of toiling men.
    3. You should be able to discuss the gift of Prometheus, fire as the spark of civilization that Zeus wanted as the exclusive possession of the gods and its implication that the use of fire breaks the ties of man to the natural -- i.e. cooked meat.
    4. You should be able to discuss the concept of gender roles in terms of the creation of Pandora -- both within the context of ancient Greek culture and in terms of the relationship between mortals, men (not women), and gods. Also the creation of woman by Zeus (or Hephaestus, actually)-- again without the help of a female, and usurping the female role of creation -- and the fact that this myth sites the origin of woman outside the womb of Gaea or any other Great Goddess, but within the mind/desires of the masculine mind.

Part 3: Humanity's Decline: Pandora and Eve

    1. you should be able to discuss the similarities between the myths of the Greek Pandora and the Biblical Eve in terms of masculine/patriarchal divine right to order the universe, as agents of the catalysts of the decline of humankind.
    2. You should be able to discuss the concept of feminine attributes as embodied in both the mythical Pandora and Eve -- including the trappings of beauty and sexuality, the concept of temptress "with the mind of a bitch" and the source of unresolved tension between male and female (including why Zeus himself can't resist pursuing such a "lovely evil' after creating her to destroy men).
    3. You should be able to recognize elements common to both the myths of Pandora and those of Eve such as the serpent of the garden of Eden which corresponds to the serpent in Greek myth which guards the Tree of Life, the Tree of Life is in both myths -- Adam and Eve may have been expelled before they ate of the Tree of Life and gained the immortality reserved for the divine; forbidden fruit (the fire from Prometheus and the apple of the Tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil); female curiosity, and loss of innocence/paradise.

Part 4: Humanities' Alienation from Nature as the Price of Civilization

    1. You should be able to discuss the implications of the myths of Pandora and those of Eve as agents that sever humanities ties to nature, or in some myths, nature's mindlessness; the "civilizing of the savage male to show that human culture is necessarily based on alienation from natural instinct."
    2. You should be able to relate the work of Hesiod to the earlier Mesopotamian myths of Gilgamish and Enkidu as they work through the concepts of civilization, sexuality, and nature -- also by virtue of being instructed by a woman whom they at first degrade then come to respect. You should be able to discuss the essentially male mythology of ancient Greece in terms of myths that assimilate feminine wisdom, while still managing to see female intelligence and assertiveness as "threats to male security".

Part 5: The Five Ages of Man

    1. You should be able to discuss the Five Ages of Man into which Hesiod divides man's history; their descending order from Gold to Iron as representative of man's descent into decay.
    2. You should be to discuss the concepts of man's existence in the first Age of Gold; mingling with the gods, peace, freedom from toil, unblemished by old age, before woman is created -- even when they died they became ghosts that wandered the earth as guides and protectors of men.
    3. You should be able to discuss the succeeding ages in terms of descending order of worth (of the representative metal) of the violence and conflict and the ensuing destruction and fates of the men of earlier ages.
    4. You should be able to recognize the Age of Heroes as the odd element of human devolution, the mark of respect and the fate of those who were deemed worthy to be whisked by Zeus from Death to far-away lands of paradise.
    5. You should recognize the theme of woman as the catalyst for the last age of Iron in which Hesiod himself lives and which will be terminated in an apocalyptic time when (among other horrors) Shame and Retribution flee the realms of man.
    6. You should be able to discuss the common theme of global destruction through deluge as evidenced by myths such as the Mesopotamian Gilgamish, the Biblical tale of Noah and Ovid's Metamorphoses and accounts from Apollodorus, with their implications of divine wrath, how the earth was re-populated, previous destructions of mankind and their resulting discontinuity of mankind's history.


Mythology Home Student Resources

Copyright ©2001 The McGraw-Hill Companies. Any use is subject to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. McGraw-Hill Higher Education is one of the many fine businesses of
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Corporate Link