CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for January 10, 2012


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CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for January 10, 2012

  1. 1. Introduction to Classical Mythology Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina January 10, 2012
  2. 2. Daily Write <ul><li>What do you already know about mythology, and what would you like to know? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Course Description <ul><li>Major gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines of classical mythology as portrayed in major literary works; the function of myth in society and its relevance to modern life </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why study classical mythology? <ul><li>Knowledge of classical mythology is useful to anyone interested in any aspect of art, entertainment, or culture, including film, video games, comic books, and graphic novels. Many of our ideas about god, mankind, nature, science, and psychology come from classical mythology </li></ul>
  5. 5. Course Objectives <ul><li>By the end of this course, students should be able to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify major figures in Greek and Roman mythology and summarize their main attributes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain how different literary genres use Greek and Roman mythological material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Apply factual and conceptual knowledge to the analysis of mythological texts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assess the value of mythological knowledge in your own life </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Methods of Assessment <ul><li>Your achievement of course objectives will be assessed in the following ways </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Daily Writes 40% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Midterm exam 30% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Final exam 30% </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Words: Classical <ul><li>Refers to the culture and society of ancient Greece and Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Covers the period from 800 BCE to 200 CE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BCE = Before the common era (“BC”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CE = Common era (“AD”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoids cultural sensitivities over the use of the terms BC and AD, which refer to time in terms of Christian theology </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Words: Mythology <ul><li>mythos (G) = story </li></ul><ul><li>logos (G) = telling </li></ul><ul><li>mythology = storytelling </li></ul>
  9. 9. Stories about whom? <ul><li>Gods </li></ul><ul><li>Heroes </li></ul><ul><li>Monsters </li></ul><ul><li>People, places, things, and events related to these </li></ul>
  10. 10. Stores about what? <ul><li>The divine world (divinity) </li></ul><ul><li>The human world (humanity) </li></ul><ul><li>The natural world (nature) </li></ul><ul><li>How all three interact and interrelate </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Divine World <ul><li>The gods and what they do </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How they relate to one another </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How they relate to human beings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How they relate to the natural world </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. The Human World <ul><li>Human beings and what they do </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How they relate to one another </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How they relate to the gods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How they relate to the natural world </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. The Natural World <ul><li>Land, sea, air </li></ul><ul><li>Stars, planets, heavenly bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Animals, minerals, vegetables </li></ul><ul><li>Time and space </li></ul><ul><li>Climate and weather </li></ul><ul><li>Am I forgetting anything? </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Greek Gods Personify the Greek World <ul><li>They personify aspects of </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The natural world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The human world </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Personify means to give personal qualities to something impersonal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Impersonal means “not a person” </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. For example… <ul><li>Aspects of the natural world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The god Uranus personifies the sky </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The goddess Gaia personifies the earth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Aspect of the human world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The god Eros personifies sexual desire </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The goddess Aphrodite personifies sexual reproduction </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Gods and Mortals <ul><li>In Greek and Roman mythology, the gods are ageless and immortal </li></ul><ul><li>mortal < (L) mors, mortis = death </li></ul><ul><ul><li>mortal, adj. = destined to die </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mortal, n. = one who is destined to die = a human being ≠ immortal god </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mortals are human beings, destined to grow old and die </li></ul>
  17. 17. Heroes <ul><li>In the poems of Homer (c. 750 BCE), heros (G) = manly man who exhibits bravery in battle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognate with Sanskrit v ī ra and Latin vir > English “virile” (manly) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most of the major heroes in Homer’s poems are descended from one divine parent (god or goddess) and one mortal parent </li></ul><ul><li>Later, the word came to mean a mortal man who had lived and died and was worshiped at his tomb because of his famous deeds </li></ul>
  18. 18. Other Figures in Mythology <ul><li>Women as wives, mothers, or marriageable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some women in mythology practice witchcraft or sorcery </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Monsters , which may be </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bestial = resembling animals; sometimes different animals combined </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humanoid, but deformed (like the giant, one-eyed Cyclopes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Part human, part animal </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. But… Why? <ul><li>Why tell stories about gods and goddesses, heroes who fight wars and battle monsters, maidens who practice witchcraft, and all types of supernatural events? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Perhaps because… <ul><li>The stories are true? </li></ul><ul><li>The stories are fun? </li></ul><ul><li>The stories are educational? </li></ul><ul><li>Some combination of the above? </li></ul><ul><li>Some other reason or reasons? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it useful to ask this question at all? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Theories of Myth: Myth is… <ul><li>A way of explaining the natural world (primitive science) </li></ul><ul><li>A form of creative expression (like music, art, and poetry) </li></ul><ul><li>An expression of the unconscious mind or the structure of human thought </li></ul><ul><li>A way of communicating social meanings and cultural values </li></ul><ul><li>A way of legitimating social institutions, cultural practices, and religious rituals </li></ul>
  22. 22. While we may come back to some of these theories from time to time, we are going to be considering myth somewhat differently…
  23. 23. For Next Class <ul><li>Read Hesiod, Theogony , in ACM, pp. 129-44 </li></ul>
  24. 24. Introduction to Classical Mythology Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina January 10, 2012