CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for January 24, 2012


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CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for January 24, 2012

  1. 1. Introduction to Classical Mythology Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina January 23, 2012
  2. 2. Daily Write <ul><li>How do you think Aphrodite feels about her relationship with Anchises, and why? </li></ul>Please do your best to answer this question in one (nice, juicy) sentence.
  3. 3. Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite : Identification <ul><li>Author = Anonymous / Unknown </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greek </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncertain; probably c. 650 BCE </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Title = Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite </li></ul><ul><li>Genre = Epic poem, Hymn </li></ul>
  4. 4. Background to the Homeric Hymns <ul><li>NOT COMPOSED BY HOMER </li></ul><ul><li>Called “Homeric” because of the language and rhythm (dactylic hexameter) </li></ul><ul><li>The word hymn derives from Greek hymnos , “song of praise” (to a god or goddess) </li></ul><ul><li>Written from the 7th to 5th centuries BCE by a variety of anonymous authors </li></ul><ul><li>Their genre is epic , based on their use of epic meter, although hymn is also a genre term </li></ul>
  5. 5. Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite <ul><li>Likely the oldest of the Hymns since it is closest to Homer’s language and because of it’s connection to Homer’s Iliad </li></ul><ul><li>Tells the story of Aphrodite’s affair with Anchises </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrates the birth of their child, Aineias </li></ul>
  6. 6. Aphrodite & Anchises in the Iliad <ul><li>Poseidon foretells the destiny of Aineias when he faces Achilles during the Trojan War </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ For it is destined that Aineias escape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And the line of Dardanos not be destroyed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And disappear without seed—Dardanos, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whom Zeus loved more than any of the sons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>born from his union with mortal women. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The son of Cronos has come to hate Priam’s line, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And now Aineias will rule the Trojans with might, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And the sons born to his sons in the future.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Homer, Iliad , Book 20, lines 302-308 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Translated by Stanley Lombardo </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Ancestry of Aineias Zeus + Electra (daughter of Atlas) Dardanos Erichthonios Tros Assaracos Capys Anchises + Aphrodite Aineias
  8. 8. Aphrodite… <ul><li>Rouses sweet desire </li></ul><ul><li>Subdues men, birds, beasts, and fish </li></ul><ul><li>Persuades </li></ul><ul><li>Beguiles </li></ul><ul><li>Conquers </li></ul><ul><li>Why does the Homeric Hymn make it sound like Aphrodite some kind of athlete or warrior? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Because in the epic view of the world… Love Is a Battlefield
  10. 10. Aphrodite’s Power Has Limits <ul><li>Aphrodite cannot subdue the 3 virgin goddesses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Athena – goddess of war, wisdom, and womanly arts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Artemis – goddess of wild animals and hunting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hestia – goddess of the home and hearth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Note that no male gods are virgins </li></ul><ul><li>Why not? Why are there no virgin gods, only virgin goddesses? </li></ul>
  11. 11. “ What the fudge is Dr. Broder talking about?” <ul><li>When I ask you a question like… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why are there no virgin gods, only virgin goddesses? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… what kind of question am I asking you? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A factual question ( what ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>to which you can cite an answer in the text? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A conceptual question ( how/why ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>that requires you to interpret the text for yourself ? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. The epic imagination is factual, not conceptual <ul><li>So when I ask you a conceptual question like… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why are there no virgin gods, only virgin goddesses? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t look down at the epic text expecting to find an answer </li></ul><ul><li>Look into your conceptual mind and see what you can find there </li></ul>
  13. 13. Why are there no virgin gods, only virgin goddesses?
  14. 14. Earth and Seed, Woman and Man <ul><li>Woman is the earth where the seed grows </li></ul><ul><li>A virgin, or maiden, is a young woman in whom no seed has been planted </li></ul><ul><li>Man produces the seeds and plants the seeds in the earth/woman </li></ul><ul><li>For the Greeks, virgin means unplanted soil </li></ul><ul><li>Since man is not the soil, there is no way a man can be a virgin </li></ul><ul><li>This, of course, is different from the way we think of virginity in the United States in 2012 </li></ul>
  15. 15. Aphrodite vs Zeus <ul><li>Aphrodite is the goddess of love , beauty , and sexual reproduction </li></ul><ul><li>In the epic imagination, love is an irrational desire </li></ul><ul><li>Zeus is the god of wisdom and reason </li></ul><ul><li>The hymn represents the power of Aphrodite over Zeus as a triumph of irrational desire over rational wisdom </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Even his wise wit she has beguiled at her will, and easily she united him with mortal women, without Hera being aware of it….” </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Then Zeus gets pissed off at Aphrodite’s shenanigans and causes her to have a Total Eclipse of the Heart
  17. 17. Doesn’t it make sense that Aphrodite should be a wife and mother? <ul><li>As a goddess of sexual reproduction , it seems reasonable that Aphrodite should be maternal , not virginal </li></ul><ul><li>But note that it is Zeus who causes Aphrodite to experience desire for a mortal man </li></ul><ul><li>In the end, then, Zeus the god of rational wisdom , triumphs over Aphrodite, the goddess of irrational desire </li></ul>
  18. 18. Questions for Discusson <ul><li>Why does the epic imagination want woman to be the earth? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does the epic imagination want man to be the seed? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does the epic imagination want wisdom (Zeus) to triumph over desire (Aphrodite)? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is Aphrodite ashamed of her desire? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is Anchises terrified when he finds out that the beautiful virgin he has just deflowered is Aphrodite? </li></ul>
  19. 19. For Next Time <ul><li>Homer, Odyssey , Books 1-3, pp. 77-123 </li></ul>
  20. 20. Introduction to Classical Mythology Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina January 23, 2012