The Early Greek world and Greek Myths

The Early Greek world and Greek Myths http://www.aworldofmyths.com/media/Greek_Gods/Thetis/Thetis_2.jpg Chris  Mackie     Greece in 700BC? http:/...
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The Early Greek world and Greek Myths

http://www.aworldofmyths.com/media/Greek_Gods/Thetis/Thetis_2.jpg

Chris  Mackie    

Greece in 700BC?

http://www.foxysislandwalks.com/Paxos/Lakkos_beach.jpg

Chris  Mackie  

Greece in 700BC?

http://greecetravelog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/greece-beach-2.jpg

Chris  Mackie  

‘Greece’ in the late 8th century BC •  No  ‘Greece’  in   the  modern   sense.    Greek-­‐   speaking   peoples  live  in   diverse  and   sca;ered   communi=es   (polis/poleis)  

http://0.tqn.com/d/ancienthistory/1/0/B/9/2/The-Beginnings-of-Historic-Greece-700-BC-600BC-.jpg

The  Greek    world,  c.  700-­‐600  BCE   Chris  Mackie  

‘Greece’ in the late 8th century BC •  The  early  Greek  world  was  an  oral  society  (wri=ng  is   introduced  in  a  rudimentary  way  around  700BC)   •  It  is  a  society  with  few  images  to  look  at.  Early  Greek   myth  and  epic  poetry,  however,  are  very  ‘visual’   although  not  in  a  performance  sense.   •  Epic  poetry  and  myth  are  fundamental  to  the   ‘popular  culture’  of  the  =me.    Both  of  these  are   conveyed  orally.   •  Homer  and  Hesiod  are  our  two  surviving  Greek  epic   poets  from  the  early  (late  8th  C)  period     Week    1   Chris  Mackie   Lecture  2  

Myth •  Mythos/epos  (from  which  we  get   ‘myth’  and  ‘epic’)   •  Myth  can  be  just  a  story  or   narra=ve,  but  usually  one  with   specific  characteris=cs   •  Greek  myths  emerge  in  an  oral   world  (Homer)  and  are  then  passed   on  through  literature  and  art   •  Prose  literature  (and  history-­‐wri=ng)   come  long  aVer  Homer  

http://cc.oulu.fi/~yseppa/pics/image_homer_b.jpg

“Homer”,  imagined   as  a  blind  poet.   Chris  Mackie  

Myth •  Myths  are  a  common  cultural   acquisi=on  -­‐something  we  share,   something  that  has  meaning  for   us   •  They  have  an  element  of   ‘tradi=onality’  about  them  (cf.   ‘tradi=onal  tales’)     •  No  monolithic  defini=on  of  myth   or  single  way  of  ‘reading’  them  

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Jason  and  Athene  

Chris  Mackie  

Where is Myth? In  our  study  of  Greek  an=quity  myths  are  found  principally   •  In  literature.    There  were  four  principal  genres  in  Greek   an=quity  :  epic  poetry,  lyric  poetry,  drama  and  prose.    The   first  two  of  these  are  earlier  than  the  last  two.   •  In  art,  especially  on  vases   •  In  architecture  (most  famously  the  Parthenon  at  Athens)   In  ancient  Greek  society  itself  myth  would  have  been  found  in  all   of  the  above  places  plus  within  the  oral  framework  of  society   itself.    Myth  as  popular  culture.      

Greek Mythology: More general comments •  Huge  corpus  of  narra=ves   only  some  of  which  survive   •  Greek  mythology  is   characterised  by  the   prolifera=on  of  hero  myths.   •  Dominance  of  human  form   and  quest  narra=ves  (like   the  Trojan  war)  

h;p://library.artstor.org/library/iv2.html?parent=true  

Chris  Mackie  

10 Aspects of classical myths to think about 1.  Greeks  myths  are  very   fluid  and  flexible.       They  are  used  by  poets,  ar=sts   and  mythmakers  as   appropriate     (eg.  Medea  killing  her  children   is  a  likely  adapta=on  by   the  poet  Euripides)   http://legacy.earlham.edu/~wisesu/ancientmyths/images/medea-vase.jpg

Chris  Mackie  

10 Aspects of classical myth 2.  They  are  some=mes  didac=c  (teach)   3.  They  are  some=mes  ae=ological  (ie   they  explain  the  origins  of  things   (including  the  natural  world  and   natural  phenomena)   4.  Some=mes  connected  to  religious  or   ritual  prac=ces   5.  They  can  be  very  poli=cal,  or   favoured  for  poli=cal  reasons  (Greek   tyrant  Pisistratus  favoured  narra=ves   about  Heracles;  Roman  Emperor   Augustus  favoured  par=cular   narra=ves  about  Trojan  Aeneas).  

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Persephone and Hades

Chris  Mackie  

10 Aspects of classical myth 6.        They  can  be  historical   or  quasi-­‐historical  in   tone  and  content  (eg.   Trojan  war).    There  is   every  possibility  that   a  war  for  Troy  was   fought,  but  not   necessarily  anything   like  the  mythic  (or   epic)  version  of  the   narra=ve.   http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/thisdayintech/2012/04/trojan_horse_400px.jpg

Chris  Mackie  

10 Aspects of classical myth 7.  Myths  as  products  and   explora=ons  of  the  psyche  

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Orpheus  and  Eurydice,  Hades  and  Persephone   (Rubens)  

Chris  Mackie  

10 Aspects of classical myth 8.  Myths  as  explora=ons  of  social   customs  and  ins=tu=ons   9.  Myth  as  entertainment  and  the   popular  culture  of  an=quity.    Note  the   way  that  Greek  mythology  dominated   ancient  cultures  and  the  period  since.     What  is  about  Greek  mythology  that   has  made  it  so  dominant  and  so   popular?    Is  it  its  imagina=ve  power  or   perhaps  its  human  face?   10.    Myth  and  morality  

h;p://library.artstor.org/library/iv2.html?parent=true  

Achilles  and  Aias   playing  a  game   Chris  Mackie  

Homer? •  Professional  epic  poet.    We  know  very   li;le  about  about  him.   •  He  may  have  come  from  Chios  or  Smyrna   (right  at  the  west  of  modern  Turkey)   •  He  is  almost  certainly  our  oldest  surviving   European  poet.   •  The  date  is  difficult,  but  most  people  say   around  700BC,  maybe  a  bit  later.   •  There  is  no  agreement  on  the  method  of   composi=on  (ie  wri=ng),  or  even  whether   we  are  talking  about  a  single   monumental  poet  

http://cc.oulu.fi/~yseppa/pics/image_homer_b.jpg

Chris  Mackie  

Homer? •  Homer  is  at  the  end  of  a  tradi=on  (of  oral   epic  poetry)  and  he  is  also  the  beginning  of   a  tradi=on  (of  European  literature).    He  is   our  window  on  the  world  of  the  earliest   Greek  myths  and  poetry   •  He  probably  chants  in  a  rhythmic  metre   (hexameter)  with  musical  accompaniment   •  Epic  language   •  Performed  in  an  aristocra=c  house?  

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A  singer:     Bronze   Statue8e   from  Crete   about  700  BC     Chris  Mackie  

Homer’s use of myth •  Homer  is  ruthless  in  adap=ng  tradi=onal  mythic  narra=ves  for   his  own  poe=c  agenda   •  His  narra=ve  of  Troy  is  firmly  grounded  on  a  fairly  austere   vision  of  heroic  conduct.    His  warriors  acquire  their  glory  and   reputa=on  by  figh=ng  with  the  spear,  the  shield  and  heavy   armour.    There  are  no  monsters  in  the  Iliad.    They  are  part  of   the  heroic  past  (eg.  Chiron  the  Centaur)  

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The  duel  of   Achilles  and   Hector   Chris  Mackie  

Homer’s Iliad 16,000  lines  long   About  40  days  of  the  Trojan  war   The  wrath  or  fury  (mênis)  of  Achilles   Ancient  epic  deals  with  the  life  cycle  -­‐  the  birth,  life  and  death   of  the  hero.   •  Achilles  is  insulted  and  withdraws  from  ba;le.    His  friend   Patroclus  decides  to  return  to  the  conflict  and  he  is  killed  by   the  Trojan  Hector   •  Achilles  returns,  kills  Hector  and  mu=lates  the  body.     Everybody  watches  the  mu=la=on   •  In  the  final  book  king  Priam  and  Achilles  exchange  a  great   ransom  for  Hector’s  body   •  •  •  • 

Chris  Mackie  

Homer’s Iliad •  The  name  ‘Iliad’  comes  from  the  word  ‘Ilios’=Troy.   •  Despite  this,  no=ce  that  the  Iliad  does  not  deal  with  the  fall  of   Troy,  just  a  short  period  of  it.    Contrast  the  film  ‘Troy’  by   Wolfgang  Peterson  who  tried  to  cover  everything  from  the   very  beginnings  of  the  war  to  the  fall  of  the  city.     •  Hector’s  death  and  crema=on  at  the  end  of  the  poem   represent  what  is  going  to  happen  to  Troy   •  The  Iliad  therefore  an=cipates  the  death  of  Achilles  and  the   fall  of  Troy,  but  doesn’t  deal  with  them  as  such.   •  Achilles  as  hero:  warrior,  young,  outsider,  semi-­‐divine,  crazy,   doomed  and  desperate.    For  all  that  he  is  probably  the  most   ‘human’  of  the  Greek  heroes   Chris  Mackie  

The Myth of Troy

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/58/Triumph_of_Achilles_in_Corfu_Achilleion.jpg

Achilles  drags  the  body  of  Hector   Chris  Mackie  

The Myth of Troy

Photo @ C. Mackie

Chris  Mackie