CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for March 29, 2012


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CLAS220 - Lecture Notes for March 29, 2012

  1. 1. Introduction toClassical Mythology Dr. Michael BroderUniversity of South Carolina March 29, 2012
  2. 2. I know that some of your are very excited today… …about what’ s coming to theaters tonight.
  3. 3. Introduction toClassical Mythology Dr. Michael BroderUniversity of South Carolina March 29, 2012
  4. 4. 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.
  5. 5. Daily Write #18: Review• List 3 mythological references from Plato’s Symposium• Include the context in which the reference occurs (which speaker, which speech, etc)
  6. 6. Daily Write #18: Review• Eros is mentioned in all the speeches• Aphrodite is mentioned by Pausanias, among others• Zeus is mentioned by Aristophanes• The Gorgon is mentioned by Socrates (punning on “Gorgias,” the name of a 5th-century Athenian sophist)• Hephaestus is mentioned by Aristophanes• Poros (Resource) and Penia (Poverty) are mentioned by Diotima• Many other possibilities…
  7. 7. Daily Write #18: Review• However, Diotima (mentioned by many students) is not a mythological figure• Diotima may be a figment of Socrates’ imagination, or she may not be, but she is presented as a real-life, flesh-and-blood, historical woman, not a god, goddess, hero, monster, or other figure from traditional mythology
  8. 8. Daily Write #19Idyll 11, by Theocritus (c. 275 BCE), is a poem inwhich the Cyclops Polyphemus appeals to the SeaNymph Galateia, with whom he is in love. Where havewe met Polyphemus before? Compare the Polyphemusof Idyll 11 to the Polyphemus you remember from thatother mythological text (make sure to include the titleand author of that other text). How is he similar? Howis he different? Why do you think Theocritus chose towrite about Polyphemus? Why do you thinkTheocritus chose to give Polyphemus the kind ofcharacter and personality he has in this poem?
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. The legacy and historical significance of Socrates• Socrates’ value system put him in conflict with traditional Greek cultural values and social norms, which valued wealth and power• More than anything else, this privileging of wisdom and virtue over wealth and power is what makes Socrates the father of philosophy and an important historical figure• Socrates did not write; what we know of his ideas comes from written records left behind by his students, especially the philosophical dialogues of Plato and Xenophon
  13. 13. Plato• Athenian philosopher (428-347 BCE) – Student of Socrates – Founded a school of philosophy in Athens called the Academy – Wrote a series of philosophical dialogues
  14. 14. Philosophical Dialogues• In a sense, they are like plays with all talk and no action• Philosophical dialogues are meant to be read, not to be performed onstage• The dialogues of Plato feature Socrates in conversation with other Athenian citizens or strangers
  15. 15. Plato’s Symposium• A dialogue about Eros, the god of love and desire• Setting is a symposium, or drinking party, in which a group of Athenian men meet for dinner and drinks and make speeches in honor of the god Eros
  16. 16. The symposium is a very typical ancient Greek social custom• Only men attended symposia; respectable Greek women did not attend symposia as guests• Hosted at the home of an Athenian citizen• Dinner would be served, then drinking would begin• Guests might sing songs or recite poems• Other kinds of entertainment might include music, dance, or acrobatics• Prostitutes, both female and male, might also be present, either for sex or companionship
  17. 17. Plato’s Symposium…• In the symposium Plato writes about (set in 416 BCE) – There are no prostitutes, entertainers, singing, dancing, or poetry – Rather, each of the participants makes a speech in honor of Eros, the god of love and desire
  18. 18. Participants in the Symposium• Agathon, the host, a young, handsome tragic playwright who has just won his first prize for his first entry in the annual festival of Dionysus (416 BCE)• Phaedrus, Athenian citizen, friend of Socrates• Pausanius, Athenian citizen, lover of Agathon• Eryximachus, Athenian citizen and medical doctor• Aristophanes, famous Athenian comic playwright• Socrates, Athenian citizen, philosopher, and friend of Agathon• Alcibiades, Athenian citizen, statesman, and military leader, and admirer of Socrates
  19. 19. Opening Scene of the Symposium• Dialogue between a friend of Socrates named Apollodorus and an unnamed friend (called “Comrade” in our text)• The Comrade wants Apollodorus to tell him about the symposium at Agathon’s house where Socrates and the other guests made “erotic speeches,”• Erotic speeches can mean – Speeches about the god Eros (It’s a floor wax!) – Speeches about the concept of desire (It’s a dessert topping!)
  20. 20. Structure of the Symposium• Apollodorus explains that he heard about the symposium from his friend Aristodemus, who was present at the symposium when it took place, about 15 years earlier• Apollodorus then recounts the speeches in order, as he heard them from Aristodemus• The first half of the dialogue includes the speeches of Phaedrus, Pausanius, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, and Agathon, in that order• Then Socrates takes the floor
  21. 21. Structure of the Symposium• Socrates questions Agathon – Typical example of the Socratic method of philosophical inquiry through question-and-answer intended to reveal weaknesses in the logical argument of the person with whom Socrates is speaking• Then, Socrates recounts an encounter he had with Diotima, a wise woman from whom he learned everything he knows about erotics – First, Diotima questions Socrates using the “Socratic” method – Then, Socrates recounts Diotima’s speech on Eros
  22. 22. Structure of the Symposium• Just as Socrates finishes speaking, Alcibiades enters, drunk, and makes a speech of his own, not in praise of Eros, but in praise of Socrates• Alcibiades’ speech is followed by a brief concluding section in which the party breaks up, with some participants going home, and others falling asleep drunk
  23. 23. The Speeches: Phaedrus• “I can hardly point to a greater good for someone to have from youth onward than a good lover, and for a lover, a beloved.”• Eros drives both lover and beloved to virtue, because neither wants to be seen as unmanly or cowardly or in any other way shameful in the eyes of the other• Mythological examples of great loves – Alcestis and Admetus – Orpheus and Eurydice – Achilles and Patroclus
  24. 24. The Speeches: Pausanias• Two Aphrodites – Uranian (“Heavenly”) • Born from the severed genitals of Uranus – Pandemus (“Common to all people”) • Born to Zeus and Dione• The existence of two Aphrodites implies the existence of two Erotes (plural of Eros)
  25. 25. The Speeches: Pausanias• Common Eros is shameful, while Heavenly Eros is honorable• Common Eros is heterosexual, while Heavenly Eros is homosexual• Common Eros should be against the law• Note that Pausanias and Agathon are lovers, so when Pausanias describes a same-sex relationship that is long-term, committed, and honorable, he is talking about Agathon and himself
  26. 26. The Speeches: Pausanias• Homosexual Eros is considered shameful in some parts of Greece, honorable in others• In Athens, it is considered honorable to purse a boy honorably, and shameful to pursue a boy shamefully• In Athens, it is considered honorable for a boy to submit to a lover honorably, and shameful to submit to a lover shamefully• Eros is valuable to the city, because he compels lover and beloved alike to make virtue their central concern
  27. 27. The Speeches: Eryximachus• Medicine is the science of the effects of Eros on repletion and depletion of the body• Music is the science of the effects of Eros on rhythm and harmony• Divination is the science of the effects of Eros on justice and piety• The power of Eros is greatest when Eros is directed, in moderation and justice, toward the good in all affairs, both earthly and heavenly• The gifts of Eros include happiness, good fortune, the bonds of human society, and harmony with the gods
  28. 28. The Speeches: Aristophanes• People used to be male, female, or androgynous – andro=related to men (Greek anēr, man) – gyno=related to women (Greek gynē, woman)• People used to be round, made up of two halves each, either both male, both female, or one of each – The male kind was the offspring of the sun – The female kind was the offspring of the earth – The androgynous kind was the offspring of the moon
  29. 29. The Speeches: Aristophanes• When mankind challenged the power of the gods, Zeus cut them in half• Apollo turned the backward facing heads towards the front so mankind could see its wound and remember the punishment for its hubris (arrogance against the gods)• Each human being longed for its severed half• Zeus relocated their genitals toward the front and invented interior reproduction, by the man in the woman• “Love is the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.”
  30. 30. The Speeches: Agathon• Eros is the happiest god• Eros is the youngest god• Eros is the most delicate god• Eros is the most beautiful god• Eros partakes of the four Socratic virtues – Wisdom – Courage – Moderation – Justice
  31. 31. The Speeches: Summary• Phaedrus: Eros produces shame when the lover/beloved acts shamefully and pride when the lover/ beloved acts honorably• Pausanias: Eros compels the lover and the beloved to act virtuously• Erixymachus: Eros is the desire for what is good in every aspect of nature or culture• Aristophanes: Eros is the desire for wholeness/completion with another human being• Agathon: Eros is the divine embodiment of youth, beauty, and the Socratic virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice
  32. 32. The Speeches: Socrates• Eros wants all good things forever• Since Eros wants all good things forever, Eros also wants immortality• In order to achieve immortality, lovers must reproduce• Since immortality is godlike and the gods are beautiful, we seek to reproduce in beauty
  33. 33. The Speeches: Socrates• Earthly lovers are pregnant in body and seek to produce children in a beautiful partner• Heavenly lovers are pregnant in soul and seek to reproduce wisdom and virtue in a beautiful partner• Heavenly lovers climb a ladder of Eros – Love of one beautiful body – Love of all beautiful bodies – Love of beautiful souls – Love of virtuous deeds and ideas – Love of beauty itself, which is always and everywhere eternal, perfect, and complete
  34. 34. The Speeches: Alcibiades• Socrates loves Alcibiades and compels him to virtue• Even though Alcibiades knows that wisdom and virtue are more important than wealth and power, he refuses to change his own life• Alcibiades thus feels shame in the presence of Socrates• Alcibiades thought he could offer Socrates his own youth and beauty in exchange for Socrates’ wisdom and virtue• Socrates, however, was impervious to Alcibiades’ charms
  35. 35. The Speeches: Alcibiades• Once Alcibiades realized that he could not exchange his youth and beauty for Socrates’ wisdom and virtue, he became distraught• Socrates pursues beautiful boys like a lover, but once the beautiful boys get to know Socrates, they fall in love with him, not because he is young or beautiful, but because he is wise and virtuous• Even though Alcibiades represents this as a “dirty trick,” it is exactly what Uranian Eros is supposed to do: develop wisdom and virtue in the soul of the beloved
  36. 36. Next time, we’ll talk about Theocritus’ Idyll 11……and Lucretius’ On theWorkings of the Universe
  37. 37. Upcoming Assigments• 4/3—REVIEW: Theocritus, Idyll 11 (Polyphemos’ Love for Galateia), in ACM, pp. 398-401• 4/3—READ: Lucretius, from On the Workings of the Universe, in ACM, pp. 298-305• 4/5—READ: Vergil, from The Aeneid, in ACM, pp. 410-20• 4/10—READ: Vergil, from The Aeneid, in ACM, pp. 421-30
  38. 38. Introduction toClassical Mythology Dr. Michael BroderUniversity of South Carolina March 29, 2012