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
- You should be able to discuss the ancient Greek Heroes in terms
of common or key elements, both over the span of time (during the ancient and classic
Greek eras) and trans-culturally (comparing to common elements in myths from Mesopotamia,
- You should be able to discuss the essential elements of the
mythic hero in terms of their significance within their contextual culture.
- You should be able to discuss the epic narrative form in terms
of the Hero, especially the significance of the Hero's quest/journey -- often giving the
narrative a distinctive cyclic or circular form; in terms of epitaphs or set conventions
in phrasing; the serious and awesome nature of the subject; the symbolism, metaphor and
alliterative devices -- influences from the oral story-telling traditions of myths.
- You should be able to discuss the implications of the tension
underlying the character of the Hero in terms of his god-like qualities versus his human
mortality; his function within his contextual community as savior and threat; his need for
glory vs. his need of human relationships (including admiration, rewards, to spread or
even be aware of his fame).
Part 2: Heroic Pattern
- You should be aware of the cultural implications of the
essential elements in the Heroic pattern as expressing values and concerns of the ancient
- You should be able to discuss the Heroic pattern in terms of his
extraordinary birth (usually divine parentage) which serves to connect him with divine or
god-like qualities; which sometimes forms the basis of his quest to achieve immortality;
which forms part of the basis for his quest for fame -- especially in terms of special
gifts such as extraordinary strength; in terms of involving the Gods and Goddesses in
human affairs on his behalf (or, as is often in the case of Hera's interventions --
against him); the gulf it creates between him and ordinary human concerns.
- You should be able to discuss the Heroic pattern as it relates
to the ideals of his culture in terms of role models (masculine, patriarchal,
spiritual/ethical), physical form and attributes, overall role within the culture as a
rescuer, doer of impossible deeds -- sometimes as a savior and sometimes as a threat.
- You should be able to discuss the Heroic pattern in terms of his
quest -- whether for immortality, riches, etc -- using cultural concepts of worthiness of
goal, obstacles encountered (such as dragons and Gorgons), and as a metaphor for
self-discovery or social concerns (such as the shift from beliefs centered on the Great
Goddess to patriarchal belief systems such as the ancient Greeks mythology).
- You should be able to discuss the elements of the Heroic pattern
in terms of symbolism, such as the concepts of dragons and monsters as representative of
the concerns of the subconscious, or of the journey to the underworld as representative of
the need to confront death or the need to return to the womb or returning to a lower level
of existence -- instinct or the anima/animus.
Part 3: The Hero as
- You should be able to discuss the role of the Hero in terms of
humanity's quest for civilization and their own god-like potential, with the Hero
protecting what has been gained from incursions of barbarians and savagery.
- You should be able to able to discuss the Hero's role as
Redeemer in terms of the mythic "fall" from paradise in terms of the myths of
the Gods Zeus and Prometheus, in conflict, and the social and psychological implications
of the myths themselves -- Prometheus' trick, giving the God Zeus the poorer section of
sacrifice and humans the best; stealing fire -- the spark of civilization -- for humans;
punishing mankind with the lovely evil of woman; and Hesiod's rendering as mankind in a
down-ward evolution symbolized by metals of decreasing worth.
- You should be able to discuss the Hero's relentless pursuit of
immortality and fame by means of impossible tests and quests, which the Hero must attempt
as part of his essentially dual nature of 1/2 divine, 1/2 human, mortal vs. god-like in
potential, nature vs. culture (especially in terms of physical attributes -- strong enough
to defend civilization or to smash everything in excessive aggression).
Part 4. The Isolation
of the Hero
- You should be able to discuss the Hero in terms of isolation, as
neither fully divine nor fully human, unique but accepted fully by neither culture -- and
the concept of the Hero that craves the attention of the divine along with immortality as
well as human contact along with their admiration and means of attaining fame.
- You should be able to discuss the Hero in terms of his gender
role, especially the implications of his relationships with women as concerns of ancient
Greek culture: the patriarchal structure; love, romance and sex; and social/domestic
concerns such as peaceful, progressive civilization vs. savagery, violence and aggression.
- You should be able to discuss the corollary roles of women as
portrayed in the Heroic myth in terms of gender roles, as narrative devices such as
motivators or obstacles, distractions, temptresses and threats, priestesses and prizes of
war, objects of love and desire, which also reflect social and cultural roles/status.
- You should be able to discuss the related concepts of women and
civilization in terms of the Hero -- the Hero's need to reject, tame or kill women, else
they tame, effectively kill, the Hero by means of domestic obscurity which is in direct
conflict with his needs for fame and his need to accomplish extra-ordinary deeds, the
fruits of his labors -- protecting civilization -- denied him.
Part 5. The Hero and
- You should be able to discuss the Hero's role in preventing
"a backslide into savagery", in terms of his contextual culture, as expressing
the concern for protection from beasts (both literal and figurative/symbolic beasts such
as the forces of natures or the subconscious) and from human threats (enemies threatening
both the cities and towns and the survival of the culture as a whole -- the Hero embodying
culturally specific ideals of human potential, such as courage).
- You should be able to discuss the Hero's role in adding to the
knowledge of the culture, often by means of extensive travels, providing geographical,
economic (such as new trading resources), connecting different areas within the culture
and adding information about other, more distant cultures -- always including the concept
of myth being both literal and figurative and/or symbolic.
Part 6. The Hero as
Centaur: Image of the Self Divided
- You should be able to discuss the concept of the mythical
creature, the Centaur, in terms of the Heroic myth, including the implications of a
creature that is half/human half/beast -- just as the Hero is half/human, half/divine --
in this case the contradiction of human potential (such as intelligence and knowledge,
even wisdom) vs. the "voracious appetites and aggressive instinct of the
- You should be aware of the relationship of the Hero to the
Centaur in terms of image -- the best and the worst, "brains and brawn" -- and
the cultural implications of why the two opposing qualities "inextricably
Part 7. The Early
- You should recognize Perseus as one of the earliest Heroes and
as representative of many Heroic qualities that form the basis for the later evolution of
both the epic Hero and the cultural ideals (of masculine role models, courage, etc.)
- You should be able to discuss the basic elements of Perseus'
myths: 1/2 divine, the son of the God Zeus and his mother Danae; his encounter with
Medusa; his rescue of Andromache from the Krakon -- including discussion of his
relationships with women as being more interactive, harmonious, even protective and his
use of magic and intelligence to defeat his adversaries rather than brute strength.
- You should be able to discuss some aspects of the Gorgon,
Medusa: her connection with Goddess worship (especially the symbolism of her physical and
psychological aspects); the myth that Pegasus (the sacred horse of the Sky God Zeus, as
well as his physical/symbolic characteristics) sprang from Medusa's neck as Perseus cut
off her head; and her mythological and cultural importance in terms of gender, patriarchy
and her adversarial role within the Heroic pattern.
- You should be able to discuss the implications of a Hero,
Perseus, who settles down in later life, who chooses domestic life/civilization over the
Heroic pursuit of fame/immortality -- though he ultimately achieves immortality by being
turned into a constellation by Athene.
Part 8: The Archetypal
- You should recognize the Hero Heracles (Hercules) as the
archetype Hero, and the essential elements of his myths: 1/2 divine, father the God Zeus
and Alcmene, including the Goddess Hera's attempts at killing him as an infant; his own
killing of his wife and children in a fit of rage; his famous 12 Labors in atonement for
his crime; his two voyages to the Underworld; his death at the hands of his loving second
- You should be able to discuss the elements of Hercules'
mythology in terms of gender roles, patriarchal concepts (especially in terms of symbolic
conflict with Goddess belief systems, employing or defeating symbolic elements related to
Goddess beliefs systems such as snakes).
- You should be able to discuss concepts of the divine potential
of humans (such as extraordinary physical prowess), the tension between god and mortal,
the excessive nature and its resultant tension of redeemer/protector vs. threat embodied
in the Hero Heracles.
- You should be able to discuss the elements of the Twelve Labors
of Hercules in terms of cultural implications, such as the evolution from labors that
require killing by brute strength to labors that utilize intelligence, cooperation with
others (including advice), and result in protecting civilization from the threats
operating on both the literal level and the symbolic level of preserving certain
ideological and cultural conventions.
Part 9: Other Heroes:
Theseus and Jason
- You should recognize the basic elements of the mythological
Hero, Theseus: his similarities to Heracles in terms of half/divine birth and
extraordinary abilities; his trip to the Underworld to abduct the Goddess Persephone; his
encounter with the Minotaur.
- You should be able to discuss the Hero Theseus in terms of his
human roles: as King of Athens, married, committed to his civilization/culture in tension
with his Heroic pattern (for better and worse).
- You should recognize the Hero Jason, who shares many of the
traits of the Heroes Heracles and Theseus -- half-divine and extraordinary attributes --
and be able to discuss the dominant mythology including: his journey with the Argonauts
(which included Heracles and Theseus) to obtain the golden Fleece; his encounters with the
enchantress Circe; the tragic consequences of his liaison with Medea.
- You should be able to discuss the gender roles prevalent in the
mythology of Jason, especially concerning the implications of such women as the
enchantress, Circe and the abandoned Medea and the representative symbols regarding the
role of the Goddess (including the Goddess Hecate's direct influence) -- how the women are
representative of cultural concerns about women's roles as well as their function within
the Heroic pattern -- thus the patriarchy.
- You should be able to discuss the Hero Jason in terms of his
cultural roles, particularly the implications of his succumbing to wealth, greed and
status in his later life, his domestication that results into a "cowardly"
character that "hides behind a woman", and the consistently functional role of
the women he encounters and abandons.
Part 10: The Upper
Limits of Human ambition: Phaeton
- You should be able to discuss the myth of Phaeton in terms of
its symbolic "awareness of human limits", the moral to exercise self-control and
be able to discuss the Hero Phaeton is his similarities to other Heroes (including his
half/divine birth, his need for extraordinary deeds).
Part 11: The Heroine: Women's Mysteries
in a Man's World
- You should understand that women in Greek myths were not intended as
role-models for young Greek women.
- You should understand the fundamental differences between Greek
heroes and heroines in terms of the most comment elements in the hero myth.
- You should be familiar with the female initiation ritual, the
Brauronia; especially its significance to the archetypal Greek heroine.
- You should understand the mythic role of the Amazon as feminine
Part 12: Patterns of the Heroine Myths
- You should understand the underlying pattern in the the heroine myth,
that women are always portrayed in the context of their male relationships: their
husbands, fathers, lovers, or sons.
Part 13: The Heroine as Mother or Wife
- You should understand 'divine passion' as it applies to the mothers
of heroes and be able to use specific examples from Greek myth, for instance Semele or
Danae, to illustrate your understanding.
- You should understand how the loyalty a wife shows her husband can
lead to her ultimate death, imprisonment or other unfortunate fate.
- You should recognize Alcestis as the ideal model of the loyal
- You should recognize that in most cases, the fate of the mother or
wife heroines is terrible.
Part 14: The Heroine as Helper - Maiden
- You should recognize Electra, Medea, and Ariadne as examples of the
Heroine as Helper-Maden.
Part 15: The Heroine as Hero-Impersonator
- You should understand the ultimate fate of women who refuse to abide
by their assigned gender roles and choose to follow the traditional male hero archetype.
- You should recognize Atlanta, Agave, and Clytemnestra as examples of
Part 16: The Heroine as Bride of Death
- You should identify Cassandra, Iphigenia, and Psyche as examples of
heroines of the Bride of Death.
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