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CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for March 27, 2012
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CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for March 27, 2012


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  • 1. Introduction toClassical Mythology Dr. Michael BroderUniversity of South Carolina March 27, 2012
  • 2. Daily Write #16: ReviewIn the traditional myth of Herakles, the hero is drivenmad by Hera, kills his wife and children, and mustcomplete a series of labors to atone for his crime.Euripides changes this order of events. E.A. Haigh, inThe Tragic Drama of the Greeks (1896), explains that byEuripides’ change, “The legend acquires a newsignificance, as an example of pathetic andunmerited suffering, and of stubborn endurance inthe face of calamity.” What do you think of thisinterpretation? Can you think of any other reason(s)for making the madness and murders come after thelabors instead of before?
  • 3. Daily Write #16: Review• Some of you pointed out that the traditional version of events already illustrates endurance in the face of unmerited suffering – What does Euripides gain by switching the order of events? – Pokes a bit of a hole in Haigh’s interpretation• Many of you suggested that Herakles “snaps” under the psychological pressure of his 12 labors: a kind of mythological PTSD – Very interesting interpretation, very relevant to our current engagement in two foreign wars
  • 4. Daily Write #16: Review• Some of you pointed out that Euripides’ version illustrates not only endurance in the face of unmerited suffering, but also the arbitrary nature of the gods – Herakles commits his divinely inspired crime, carries out his divinely imposed sentence, and the gods still destroy his family and ruin his life
  • 5. Daily Write #16: Review• Some students said they like the traditional story better, either because – It illustrates the heroism of Herakles – It teaches the lesson of atonement for one’s sins• That’s fine, but: You still need to account for why Euripides chose to depart from the traditional account – Just because he felt like it? – Because he believed the traditional account was not true to the human condition?
  • 6. Daily Write: Grading Criteria• Engage with the question – If the question relates to a passage from the text, make sure to comment on the passage – If the question relates to a quote from a scholarly article, make sure to comment on the quote – Make sure to address all part of the question• Show knowledge of the text – Use examples from the text to illustrate your points Now that we are well into the second half of the course, I am holding you to a higher standard for your Daily Writes.
  • 7. Philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge about nature and humanity• philo– = love of < Gr. philia, lo• sophy– = wisdom < Gr. sophia, wisdom
  • 8. Like history, philosophy was a new alternative to mythological thinking• Where history is a type of knowledge about past events, philosophy is a type of knowledge about – The natural world (nature) – The human world (humanity or culture) – The rational world (mathematics, logic)• Just as Herodotus is considered the father of history, the father of philosophy is Socrates
  • 9. Life of Socrates• Born in Athens c. 469 BCE• Little is known about how Socrates earned a living, although some ancient sources say that he worked as a stonemason• Like other Athenian men, Socrates served in the military and the government, but he was not interested in a military or political career – His main interest in life was philosophical inquiry• Died in Athens in 399 BCE – Did not die of old age or natural causes – He was put on trial for his philosophical views and sentenced to death by the Athenian people because his commitment to truth and justice posed a danger to the people in power
  • 10. Socratic Values• Socrates placed the highest value on wisdom and virtue – Wisdom = the pursuit of knowledge and truth – Virtue = the pursuit of excellence in qualities that define humanity• The four major Socratic virtues: – Wisdom – Courage – Moderation – Justice
  • 11. Introduction toClassical Mythology Dr. Michael BroderUniversity of South Carolina March 27, 2012