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
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).
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
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."
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
You should be able to discuss the four major ways in which the Romans transformed Greek myths.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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".
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.
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..