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: The Connection between Greek and Roman Myths

  1. You should be aware of the influence of various cultures on the Roman culture, especially that of the Etruscans and the Greeks -- in terms of lifestyles (such as urbanization and the arts),  gender roles, goods and services (including an alphabet and elements of their architecture).

  2. You should be aware that the historic elements of Roman mythology  are also borrowed from other cultures: the Etruscans contributing names for essentially Greek Gods and Goddesses;  the Romans adopted literary works and myths from the Greeks and arts  and  linked them with existing myths.

Part 2: A Roman Myth: Romulus and Remus

  1. You should be aware of the basic story line of the most important Roman myth which relates the founding of the city of Rome and its implications of a "policy of aggressive expansion enforced by violence and as part of a divine plan."

  2. You should be able to discuss the cultural implications, especially aggression and gender roles, of the "Rape of the Sabine Women" as it figures in the founding of Rome.

  3. You should be able to discuss the origins and cultural significance of the "Feast of Lupercalia"; its possible connections to the God Pan, and/or the God Faunus, including the young males runners and the later addition of a fertility ritual which involved the of flagellation of women (who offered themselves up to negate a curse by the Goddess Juno -- in her role of Moon Goddess) with strips cut from a sacred, sacrificial goat.

Part 3: The Characteristics of Roman Myth

  1.  You should be able to discuss the significant mythic elements of the founding of Rome as it focused primarily on the city and its process of expansion -- from "suckling" on the previous cultures (represented by the wolf -- symbol of the Etruscans), through acquisition of the Sabine territories and on to acquire the rest of Italy, while keeping a nostalgic elements for its earliest, pastoral beginnings.

  2. You should be able to discuss the myth's perspective in the context of a patriarchal culture, and the contrast between the Greek precedents (in which rape is not portrayed approvingly -- usually as violations of sacred and/or civilized behavior) and a mythic beginning of a city by means of the total subservience of the female perspective, as even approved of by the Gods and the women themselves.

  3. You should be able to discuss the tendency for Roman writers to "demythologize" earlier myths -- equating the Shower of Gold used by the God Zeus as a means to seduce her to bribery by gold, rather than a mystical rain; or the rape of the mother of Romulus' and Remus' mother to as less divine-character, that of her uncle.

  4. You should be able to discuss the significance of cultural links between the Romans and Greeks in terms of the mythic and historical genealogy that links Greek gods and Goddesses to Trojan heroes to Romans.

  5. You should be able to discuss the four major ways in which the Romans transformed Greek myths.

  1. They refocused the myths by redefining the characteristics  of the Gods and Goddesses to emphasize characteristics the Romans especially valued -- placing greater importance on the practical by exalting the Goddess of Grain, Ceres, rather than the Goddess of Wisdom. Athene and emphasizing their descent from the God of War, Mars/Ares.
  2. They historicized the myths by tying the myths to actual events and individuals in Roman history -- not only by adding specific dates and geographical sites for the events, but by trying to explain events as realistically as possible (Romulus and Remus are not only related to the Greek Gods and Homeric Heroes but are cited as the ancestors of such real people as Julius Caesar; the Romans became fascinated by the juncture of myth and history and saw them as a means to instruct as well as delight.
  3. They politicized them to serve the needs of the Roman state, even the Gods and Goddesses are more nationalist (devoted to Rome) in a way the Greek deities were not.
  4. They reinterpreted Greek myths to reflect Roman ideas and values -- most specifically in linking duty to parents, gods and state directly to patriotism and link patriotism to survival.

 

Part 4:  The Roman Hero

  1. You should be able to discuss the cultural implications of shift in the Roman  Heroic ideal, who  unlike his counterpart, the Greek Hero, is less concerned with his own needs and goals (committing antisocial acts in reckless pursuit of immortality) and more the example of the ideal Roman soldier and citizen who is adamant and unswerving in his championing of the "Roman way".

  2. You should be able to discuss the psychological shift in the Roman Heroic ideal in terms of duty, which requires not giving way to excesses of grief, anger or rage; and the subservience of self, even in death, to the perpetuation of Eternal Rome.

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