Eros, visualized by theGreeks as a handsome youth, is the personification ofsexual love and desire.
Know that there are 2 different account for the creation of Eros (Roman name,Cupid, see below). You now know the lesser known of the two accounts—this Eros is not really associated with Venus whom we’ll encounter later
The 3 Fates (Moerae). Notice that one is spinning the wool (birth),another is measuring the thread (of life), and the third is cutting it (death)
A Cyclops. Notice that hehas a single eyeon his forehead.
Cyclopes serve different functions indifferent mythstories. Our 3Cyclopes makethe lighteningbolts for Zeus
The Cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey (left, being blindedby Odysseus) isnot the same as one of those that appear in our story
Okay—enough of theCyclopes. How about their brothers, the 3 Hecatonchires (100- handers)
A photograph I found on the web, called Hecatonchires
The Mutiliation of Uranus by Cronus, by Vasari and Gherardi Focus on the central scene in this painting. All the Titans are inside of Mother Earth (inside her womb). Cronus is holding a scythe, given to him by his mother, to castrateUranus, and thus release her from perpetual intercourse...thats why Uranus is inside with the Titans.
Saturnus, or Saturn, is the Roman name for Cronus. This is aphotograph of a Roman fresco. Saturn is holding his sickle, without which we could not identify this figure
The most important sequel to the castration of Uranus by Cronus is the birth of Aphrodite, thegoddess of sexual attraction. After Cronus castrated his father, he threw the severed genitals into to the sea. Aphrodite was born from the foam created by the mixture of sea water and thegenitals. The severed genitals floated first to Cythera (1). Aphrodite finally stepped on land on Cyprus, a larger island farther east (2) 2 1
Greek relief depicting Aphrodite rising out of the sea for the first time. Her maidens or nymphs are covering her with a robe. She is nearly always depicted nude.
The Birth of Venus (Roman name) by Botticelli, an Italian Renaissance painter (1485).In the Ufitzi gallery in Florence. Notice the triad of figures (three is the magic numberin art): Our eyes are drawn to Aphrodite, the central nude figure standing on a shell as she approached the shore. To our left are personified winds blowing her to shore, and to our right are nymphs waiting to clad the goddess
Venus (the Roman Aphrodite) as depicted on a fresco foundon a wall in Pompeii, Italy. Again, notice the triad structure: Venus is in the center with cupids flanking her. The one on our left holds a scythe, which helps put this scene in context (these iconographic symbols are necessary to identify most figures)
The place is the Underworld and the threefigures in the air are Furies, female figures with snakes for hair (here seen with snakes wrapped around their bodies) and wings on their backs. In the Upperworld, they appear only to those who have spilled the blood of kin. They are personified vengeance.
In the following slide you’ll see the 3 Furies haunting Orestes, the young male in the foreground, after he killed his mother (left, with the knife in her chest). He killed hismother because she killed his father (her ownhusband). She killed her husband because he killed their daughter. We’ll learn about myth’s most dysfunctional family in several weeks. But for now, check out the Furies haunting Orestes…
The Greeks believed that their world was a flat disc surrounded by a fresh water river calledOceanus or Ocean. On top of this disc sat a solid dome called the sky, much like an inverted teacup sits on a saucer. Across this dome from east to west rides Helios (or sometimes Apollo), the personification of the Sun (notice the rays emanating from his head), in his fiery chariot; and every night he returns to the east in a cup which floats along in the river Ocean.
This piece depicts a scene from a myth that we’ll read soon, but for now I point out the sun god (Helios or Apollo) on our left. Without the rays of light emanating from hishead, we would not know both who this is and the context of this scene. The 3 figureson the right are the Cyclopes, makers of Zeus’ lightening bolts and whatever else needsto be manufactured on Mt. Olympus. They’re in the workshop of Hephaestus, the fifth figure in the foreground
Helios, the son ofHyperion (a Titan, and brother ofCronus), had a sonnamed Phaethon. Know this story well. Here,Phaethon asks hisfather to lend him his sun chariot
Phaethon is depicted in his father’s chariot, trying tocontrol the 4 horses that pull the sun across the sky. He loses control and the horses pull the sun too close to theearth, which sets the earth on fire and burns the Africans (aetiological story of whyAfricans have dark skin and how a desert was made)
In order to save theearth, Zeus ( in the upper right) must blast Phaethon out of the skywith his lightening bolts. Zeus’ iconographic symbols are his crown,lightening bolts, and theeagle, one wing of which we can see. A favorite scene for artists to depict
Rubens, the 17th c. Flemish master, captures the moment whenPhaethon is blasted out of the chariot by Zeus
“Phaethon” by Michelangelo. Zeus sits upon his eagle, above, about to throw his lightening bolt (cut off) atPhaethon. The central scenedepicts Phaethon among thehorses falling from the sky. At the bottom Phaethon’s sisters lament their dead brother.
Another offspring of Hyperion, the Titan, is Selene, the moongoddess. She also drivesa chariot (2 horses, not 4)…across the NIGHT sky. We are able to make outher two horses, and she is flanked by stars and wearing the moon-disk on her head. She is thesubject of a very famous story which involvesEndymion, for which you are not responsible.
Poussin, an 18th c. French artist, was interested in the storys erotic overtones--notice the little Cupidsthroughout. Here we see Selene leaving Endymion, a shepherd whom Selene would regularly visit at night ashe slept. Apollo the sun is in his chariot in the background (right) and Eos the dawn precedes him, sprinkling the morning dew. Night (right foreground) is forced to pull back her black pall. Endymion apparently is begging her to let him sleep on forever (they had sex in his dreams) as the god of sleep, Somnus, sleeps on in the background.
Caracci, a 16th c. Italian painter, depicts one of Selene’s nightlyvisits to the sleeping shepherd. How do we know it’sSelene? A crescent moon appears on her head.
Youre looking at a painting fired into the inside of a Greek shallow drinking vessel.You tip the cup to sip some wine and see Eos and Tithonus. Eos fell in love with themortal and asked Zeus to make him immortal, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. He soon grew so old that he was unable to satisfy his eternal youthful wife.
In this baroque ceiling painting Aurora (the Roman name for Eos) leaves the now aged Tithonus for her dailytrip across the morning sky. In this depiction her companions sprinkle the dew for her.
Interpretation ofthree scenes from this story…
Goya, 18th c. Spanish master,painted this one as one of a series of frightening murals which adornedthe walls of a small house where he suffered through a long illness as a recluse. Although the text statesthat Cronus swallowed his children, Goya depicts him as eating them.His eyes symbolize the brutality and violence of this part of the story of the creation of the universe.
And there’s a cave on Mt. Dikte where Zeus is said to have been raised
Poussin shows us the nymphs (spirits of naturalplaces personified) of Mt. Dikte nurturing Zeuson the goats milk provided by a friendly Satyr who milks the goats
The marriage of Zeus, the sky god, and Hera, the earthand fertility goddess (symbolized by Zeus’ grabbing of Hera’s breast). Archaic sculpture
Zeus and Heraagain, this timemore subdued. A later, Classical version.
A scene from a well preserved Greek vase. Prometheus or Hephaestus issaid to have whacked Zeus on the head to alleviate his migraine. Athena with her shield (one of her iconographic symbols) is then born from hishead, fully grown and armed for battle. She is the offspring of Zeus and Metis (who is still inside of Zeus)
A view inside of a shallow Greek wine vessel. On the left is Atlas, a Titan, who holds up the sky at the edge of the world, aspunishment for fightingagainst the Olympians.