Mythology: Origins, Meaning, & Relevance Today Compilation by S. M. Yellin
Topics for Discussion: A Brief Overview • Mythology: Meaning, Origins & Meaning • Other Mythologies • Mythology in Math & Sciences • Mythology in the Arts, Literature, & Language • Major Players or Gods in Greek & Roman Mythology • Architecture & Mythology • Mythological Animals & Creatures • Famous Greek Writers: Oral Traditions and Classical Works • Classical Themes in Greek Literature & Mythology • Jason and the Argonauts & The Clash of the Titans (Ray Harryhausen) & Other Cinematic Classics • References
Mythology • Myth from Gk. mythos"speech, thought, story, myth," of unknown origin.Myths are "stories about divine beings, generally arranged in a coherent system; they are revered as true and sacred; they are endorsed by rulers and priests; and closely linked to religion. Once this link is broken, and the actors in the story are not regarded as gods but as human heroes, giants or fairies, it is no longer a myth but a folktale. Where the central actor is divine but the story is trivial ... the result is religious legend, not myth."[J. Simpson & S. Roud, "Dictionary of English Folklore," Oxford, 2000, p.254] “A story of forgotten or vague origin, basically religious or supernaturalin nature, which seeks to explain or rationalize one or more aspects of the world or a society,”or a merging of religion and science to explain how the world was formed, the universe, and explanation of human behavior and relationships between one another and the gods. • The myth of tradition, some factual reference, some fantasy; the stories vary in their versions, basically, from oral tradition to written tradition; they have been rewritten with many variations.
Mythology in the Sciences • The Constellations (Astronomy) such as Pegasus; Callisto is the name of a sea nymph, & was placed in the sky along with her son as Ursa Major & Ursa Minor (Big Bear & Little Bear); • Planets: “A planet (from the Greek πλανήτης, planetes or "wanderers") is a body of considerable mass that orbits a star and that produces no energy through nuclear fusion. Prior to the 1990s only nine were known.” Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto, Venus, Mercury, Neptune, Earth (Gaiea). • Moons of the planets: For instance, some (there are 13) of the moons of Neptune are Triton, Naiad, Despina, Proteus, Nereid, etc.; Saturn’s largest moons are Rhea & Hyperion; and many, many, more!!! • Chemistry:Titanium-low density, good strength (tantalus & Titan, first sons of Gaia); Prometheum, (Prometheus); the element Mercury was named after the Roman god for Speed and mobility. • Mathematics: Greek pupils of Thales, such as Anaximander (611-545 B.C.) “…is alleged to have introduced style or gnomon into Greece”; Euclid and Aristotle had an influence on Greek mathematics. “The ancient Greek architects who calculated the measurements that would be used in the construction of the Parthenon, used mathematics to come up with their designs. Buildings, like the Parthenon, have influenced many modern buildings like the Philadelphia Art Museum. Greek mathematics has made an astonishing impact on our world.” It's Greek to me!
Heliotropism (hē'lē-ŏt'rə-pĭz'əm) [Gk héliotrópio]any plant that turns toward the sun. The growth or movement of a fixed organism, especially a plant, toward or away from sunlight. Heliotropism can be easily seen in sunflowers…slowly turning their large flowers so that they continually face the sun. Helios Sol(bottom) represented as Sunday, crowned with the sun. Luna is Monday, Mars is Tuesday, Mercury is Wednesday, Jove is Thursday, Venus is Friday, & Saturn is Saturday. (bottom is a floor Mosaic from 3 A.D. Imperial Rome). The Gods in Science, Astronomy, & Calendar
Myth into Language • Achilles heel – a symbol of weakness; Achilles, a warrior in the Trojan War, died when a poisoned arrow pierced his heel, the only vulnerable part of his body • Adonis – is a term for a handsome man. Aphrodite pursued this handsome hunter. • Ambrosia – the food of the gods (even now, made of oranges & coconut). • Aphrodisiac – a love potion, derived from Aphrodite. • Apollo – God of the sun, patron of sciences; space vehicle. • Arachnid – scientific term for invertebrate animals, etymology Arachne, a mortal turned into a spider by Athene. • Atlas – a collection of maps; an unsuccessful giant who fought Zeus & was forced to hold up the world. • Cereal – named for Ceres, goddess of the harvest. • Chaos – means disorder. He was father of all the gods—makes sense! He gave order to the swirling winds & water in the beginning of creation. • Chronology – a term for measuring time, derived from Cronos, Father of the gods, known as Father Time (other words: chronicle, chronic) • Cloth – from Clotho, 1 of the 3 Fates, who spun the thread of life on her spindle. • Cupidity – meaning intense desire, named after the god of love, Cupid. The Cupid of myth was depicted as an adult, not like the infantile cupid on Valentine’s cards. • Echo– repetition of a sound; Echo talked so much that the gods only allowed her to repeat what others said (more to the story, she was trying to distract Hera). • Fate – destiny—the Three Fates decide how long a person’s life would be, measuring & snipping the thread at birth, years & months (related words: fatal, fatalism, fatality). • Flora– scientific term for plant life. Flora, the goddess of flowering plants.
Myth into Language • Fortune – or luck, named for the goddess Fortuna, who spun a wheel to decide how to distribute fortune to mortals. • Fury – means rage. The Furies punished evil-doers in the underworld. (Related words: furious, furor) • Grace– is a word for charm. A Trio of sister goddesses, the Graces, were in charge of dispersing beauty & charm. • Herculean task – involving great effort. Hercules, muscle-bound hero, rose to challenge 12 seemingly impossible labors imposed on him by Hera. • Hypnosis– a state resembling sleep where a person easily accepts suggestions on what to say or do. Hypnos was the god of sleep. • January – is named Janus, the god of beginnings & endings. • Jovial – means hearty & friendly. Jove (Zeus) or Jupiter, king of the gods, was born under the lucky planet Jupiter. • June – named after Hera or Juno, the goddess of the marriage & childbirth. Is that why so many marriages are planned for June? • Mars – the planet, named for the god of war. (martial arts, martial, martians.) • Mercury – named for both the planet and element, after the speedy Messenger God Mercury. Related word: mercurial • Muse – to wonder, marvel, or reflect. The Nine Muses inspired the fine arts. Related words: amuse, music, musical. • Narcissism – excessive love of oneself. Narcissus, so enchanted with his own reflection, he couldn’t look away. He was changed into flower. • Ocean – derived from Oceanus, a lord of the sea. He was one of the giants who unsuccessfully battled against Zeus.
Myth into Language • Odyssey – means an adventurous journey. It is taken from Odysseus, the hero who sailed the Greek sea, having one adventure after another, while sailing for home after the Trojan War—it 10 years. • Olive branches – given by Greeks after battle as a symbol of peacemaking; today, the expression “extending the olive branch” means attempting to make peace. • Olympic Games – famous worldwide games named for athletic contests once held on Mt. Olympus. • Oracle – a person who gives wise counsel (opinions) & decisions. They answered questions about the decisions of the gods. • Owls – came to be symbols of wisdom because Athena, goddess of wisdom, was often pictured with an owl perched on her shoulder. • Panacea – the goddess of cures. • Panic– means sudden, intense fright. Part god, part goat, Pan lived in the woods. There his bloodcurdling war cry made soldiers flee in terror. • Psyche – is the soul and mind. Psyche gained self-knowledge while performing difficult tasks. (Related words: Psychiatry & Psychology) • Tantalize– to tempt. Greek King Tantalus so angered the gods, in Hades they tortured him by keeping food & drink slightly out of his reach. • Titans- coming from the giants called Titans, several sports teams have used this name. (However, the Titans lost against Zeus; the Titanic sunk.) • Typhoon– a tropical cyclone, named after Typon, a flying, shrieking, flame-spewing monster. • Volcanoes- named for Vulcan, the god of fire.
Greek & Roman Norse (Odin, god of war, poetry, wisdom & death) Chinese(dragons; Nuwa and Fuxi represented as half-snake, half-human creatures.) Celtic (Finn MacCool, after his father was beheaded by the Morna clan, he was sent by his mother to be raised by a Druidess) Indian (Krishna) Egyptian(Re, god arose out of darkness from an egg—all powerful) & more! “Some” Mythologies of the World
The Titaneswere six elder gods of time named Kronos, Koios, Krios, Iapetos, Hyperion and Okeanos, who ruled the cosmos before the Olympians came to power. They were sons of Ouranos (Uranus) the sky and Gaia the earth. Some of their sons & grandsons include Prometheus & Epimetheus, also considered Titans. Zeuswould later escape the fate of his siblings (being devoured by Cronos) & lived to fight the Titans & overthrow them, driving them into the pit of Tartaros. Rhea – the Titan mother of the gods. She was a goddess of Female fertility, Motherhood & Generations, married to Kronos. (bottom) Circa late 5th century B.C., Museum of Fine Arts in Boston Kronos & Rhea(top), who is presenting him with stones wrapped in a blanket to keep him from swallowing Zeus. (Ca 475-425 B.C., attributed to painter Nausicca, in Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.) The Titans:
“…a simple graphic depiction of the family of the main gods of the pantheon: beginning with the Protogenoi (pl) or Protogenos (sing) means First Born or Primeval…a group of deities who were born in the beginning of the universe inthe centre, the ring of Titan gods and their families on the right, the children of Kronos in a ring at top, and the Olympian offspring of Zeus forming a ring left. The spirits and sea-gods stand bottom left and centre…Circa 6th BC Athenian black figure vase painting.” www.theoi.com/Gallery/P29.2.html Family Tree: Geneology (Πρωτογενοι)of the Gods
The Greek Pantheon,a council of twelve great gods known asthe Olympians,namely Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athene, Hephaistos, Ares, Aphrodite, Apollon, Artemis, Hermes, Dionysus, and sometimes Hestia. Also, The Greek Pantheon (edifice) “a circular temple in Rome that was completed in 27 bc and dedicated to all the deities but which has been used as a Christian church since ad 609.” The Olympians – Gods of the Pantheon
A picture of Zeus found on an amphora (or vase); Louvre Museum in Paris—(dated about 470-460 B.C.). God of sky, law, weather, order & fate. Zeus, aiming a lightening bolt & holding an eagle (symbols often pictured with him). Thunder & lightening are part of his weaponry. Another symbol is the oak tree, representing strength. He also is prophetic and can see the future. He was saved by his mother who hid him from his father, who swallowed his other siblings (Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, & Hera). Zeus became the main leader ruling over the heavens & “the upper regions,” which included Mt. Olympus in Thessaly where the gods lived. Zeus married his sister Hera; he had affairs with many other women. He had two sons with Hera, Ares (god of war) and Hephaestus (the fire god, forger of metal—who made Talos). He had a daughter with Hera named Hebe—the goddess of youth and later to be Hercules’s (Zeus’s son, half human, half god) wife when he ascended to Olympus after his death. Zeus (Jupiter or Jove): King of the Gods & Greatest of all the Olympians—Ruler of Mt. Olympus (Son of Rhea & Cronos) By Jove!
Hera Olympian Queen of the gods & goddesses; goddess of women & marriage. “Hera was usually depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a crown and holding a royal, lotus-tipped staff. Sometimes she held a royal lion or had a cuckoo or hawk as her familiar.” Other symbols: peacock & cow. Hephaestus was one of her sons; she produced him alone, he was ugly, & she cast him from the heavens. Jason was one of her favorite mortals—she assisted him on his voyage with the Argonauts. Center picture- ca 500 - 475 BC Attributed to the Brygos Painter (in the Museum of Rhode Island School of Design) Hera (Juno): Daughter of Cronos & Rhea; Sister & Wife of Zeus
POSEIDON, Olympian god of the sea, rivers, flood and drought, earthquakes, and horses. In the War of the Titans, he fought with his brothers Zeus & Hades against the Titans (who were then imprisoned in Tartaros). In the division of the Cosmos, Poseidon was given dominion over the sea. Symbols: dolphin, horse, bull; always carrying a trident. Museum: Ostia Antica, Rome, Italy Type: Floor Mosaic; Ostia, Baths of Neptune—Imperial Roman Period. Depicted with a dark bear & always carrying a trident. (Center) Some of his sons were the Cyclops (Kyklops). He persecuted Odysseus for blinding his son Cyclops Polyphemus. Below right, the sea-god herald (merman) Triton of Poseidon, calming the sea by blowing a conch shell. Poseidon (Neptune): King of the Sea, Son of Cronos & Rhea
Hades (Pluto): King of the UnderworldSon of Cronos & Rhea • The god of Death & of the Dead, presiding over funeral rites, & the right of the dead to have a burial. • Haides, god of the hidden wealth of the earth from the fertile soil with nourished the seed-grain, To the mined wealth of gold, silver and other metals. • When he drew lots, after helping his brothers Zeus & Poseidon overthrow the Titans, he was given the dark & dismal realm of the Underworld. • Hades petitioned Zeus for a bride, Zeus complied & gave him Persephone, his & Demeter’s (his sister) daughter; knowing Persephone would resist the Underworld, Hades took her by force. • Haides was depicted as a dark-bearded, regal god. He was depicted as either enthroned in the underworld, holding a bird-tipped sceptre, or as Pluto, the giver of wealth, pouring fertility from a cornucopia.”
“Demeter was depicted as a mature woman, often crowned and holding sheaves of wheat and a torch.” Symbols: sheaf of wheat, cornucopia, & poppy flower “She was one of the twelve great Olympian gods. Her Mysteries promised mankind passage to a blessed afterlife.” Her daughter was Persephone, who was abducted by Hades. Picture (left) ca 480 B.C.; standing by an altar, holding sheaves of wheat. (Center) “Demeter stands holding a royal sceptre and sheaf of wheat. She wears a crown upon her head. Next to her is Persephone, holding an Eleusinian torch and pouring libations (sacrifice of wine or oil) from a cup.” ca 450-425 B.C. in museum in Athens She sent Triptolomos to instruct mankind about agriculture. Demeter (Ceres) : Olympian Goddess of Agriculture, Grain & Bread, Earth, Fertility; Daughter of Cronos & Rhea
Ares (Mars): The God of War & Manly Courage • He was depicted as either a mature, bearded warrior dressed in battle arms, or a nude beardless youth with helm and spear. • Because of his lack of distinctive attributes he is often difficult to identify in classical art. • Symbols & emblems: dog, vulture, wild boar, & bloodstained spear. • He was the son of Zeus & Hera. • Unlike Athena, who used wisdom—even as a warrior, Ares uses “bold force & strength… often god of war as of its tumult, confusion, and horrors, …loving war for its own sake.” • He supported the Amazones, his warrior daughters. • He is identified with the planet Mars. • Pictures—late classical; Bronze statue in Turkey (copy of an original Greek statue).
ATHENE (or Athena) Also, goddess of weaving, pottery, & other crafts. Depicted crowned with a crested helm, armed with shield & spear, & wearing the snake-trimmed aegis cloak wrapped around her breast and arm, adorned with the head of the Gorgon. Other symbols: the owl & the olive tree. She was born from the head of Zeus, fully grown & armored. “…Protectress of agriculture, Athena is represented as the inventor of the plough and rake: she created the olive tree, the greatest blessing of Attica, taught the people to yoke oxen to the plough, took care of the breeding of horses, …instructed men how to tame them by the bridle, her own invention.” Athena sided with the Greeks in the Trojan War. Bottom—(Circa 580 B.C.) British Museum in London “Birth of Athene” Athena Armed—(Circa 470 B.C.), Attributed to the Nikon Painter, in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass. Athena (Minerva): Goddess of Wise Counsel, Courage, War & Defense
Owl—Circa 475-450 B.C. in Louvre in Paris (top) Left top figure—Circa 525 B.C., Attica Red figure on an amphora. Athena holding her helm and a spear—Circa 460-450 B.C. in Philadelphia Museum (right top). Athena writing—Circa 480 B.C. on an amphora (left bottom). Athena, Hera, & Aphrodite (mosaic, Imperial Roman), Early 2nd A.D. in the Louvre in Paris. Athena: Goddess of Wise Counsel, War & Defense:
APHRODITE was the great Olympian goddess of beauty, love, pleasure & procreation. She was pictured often accompanied by the winged god Cupid or Eros. Her attributes included a dove, apple, scallop shell & mirror.Other symbols: sparrow, seagull, rose, & myrtle shrub. “Venus de Milo” by Alexandros of Antioch (right) Aphrodite with a mirror—ca 460-450 B.C. in Louvre Museum Ahprodite (Venus): Goddess of Beauty, Love, & Procreation
APOLLON (or Apollo)the great Olympian god of prophecy & oracles; god of healing, & the next moment, plague and disease; music, song and poetry; archery; and the protection of the young. He was depicted as a handsome, beardless youth with long hair and various attributes including: a laurel wreath or branch of laurel; golden bow and quiver; raven; golden chariot; and golden lyre. Famous stories include his birth on the island of Delos, along with his twin sister Artemis; their mother was a nymph named Leto, who was pursued by Zeus; hunting & killing the python that pursued his mother; & his love for the nymph Daphne. "Apollo Musagetes"in theMuseo Pio-Clementino, Musei Vaticani, Vatican City (marble statue) Apollon (bottom left) Delphi Archaeological Museum, Delphi, Greece Apollo: God of Prophesy, Oracles, Healing, Song, Poetry, Archery, & Protector of the Young (boy child).
Artemis was also a goddess of childbirth, Protectress of the girl child. Twin sister of Apollo Artemis--usually depicted as a girl with a silver hunting bow and quiver of arrows. Other symbols: she-bear, deer, silver chariot, crescent-moon crown. Like her brother Apollo, she could bring health or sudden disease & death (Top Left) Circa 500-459 B.C. in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (Bottom Left) Circa 450 B.C., Early Classical, “Artemis with a Bow” found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts, Boston, USA (Bottom Right) “Artemis, Queen of Beasts”, Circa 570-560 B.C., in Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze, Florence, Italy (Top Right) “Artemis & Deer Chariot”, Circa 450-440 B.C. Found in Musée du Louvre, Paris, France Artemis (Diana): Olympian goddess of hunting, wilderness and wild animals,
Symbols & Emblems: winged headband & winged sandals, staff with 2 snakes twined around, a crane. “HERMESwas the great Olympian God of animal husbandry, roads, travel, hospitality, heralds, diplomacy, trade, thievery, language, writing, persuasion, cunning wiles, athletic contests, gymnasiums, astronomy, and astrology. He was also the personal agent and herald of Zeus…” Metropolitan Museum of Art (ca 500-450 BC) Attributed to Tithonus Painter (right bottom) Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Pompeii, Fresco Imperial Rome (top) Museo Gregoriano Etrusco Vaticano,Vatican City (ca 430-445 BC) Hermes (Mercury): Messenger God; God of Trade, Travel, & Theft; Conductor of Souls to the Underworld
The Return of Hephaistos (Hephaestes) (ca 430-420 AD) Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio & Attributed to the Kleophon Painter Hephaestus (ca 525 BC) attributed to the Ambrosia Painter (bottom right) He was usually depicted as a bearded man with hammer and tongs, the tools of a smith. He was also often shown riding on the back of a donkey, presumably to suggest his crippled legs. Hera had cast him to earth, ashamed that he was crippled. Hephaestus helped to ‘birth’ Athena, create Pandora, & chain Prometheus to Mt. Kaukasos (Caucasus). HEPHAISTOS (Vulcan or Vulcanos): The God of Metal-Working, Fire, Volcanism, Stone Masonry, Sculpture, & the Fine Arts
Symbols: ivy, vine, grape bunches, wine cup, leopard DIONYSOS (or Dionysus) …god of wine, vegetation, pleasure and festivity….depicted as either an older bearded god or a pretty effeminate, long-haired youth. His attributesincluded the thyrsos (a pine-cone tipped staff), drinking cup, leopard and fruiting vine. usually accompanied by a troop of Satyrs and Mainades (female devotees or nymphs).” Portrait of Dionysos as a youth, crowned with grapes & vines. Mosaic from Antioch, Constantinian Villa. (Bottom) ca 325-350 AD. Top (ca 410-400 BC) at the Harvard University Art Museum. Dionysos (Bacchus): God of Wine, Parties, & Drama
The first-born child of Cronos & Rhea, swallowed by Cronos, saved by Zeus. She presided over baking of bread & preparation of the meal; goddess of the sacrificial flame, receiving a share of every sacrifice made to the other gods. She is often pictured with a flowered branch, & sometimes a kettle. she was pursued by Apollo & Poseidon, but swore by Zeus to remain a virgin. Museo Nazionale Tarquiniese, Italy (Archaic Period); Attic red figure (center)—attributed to Oltos. Marble statue (right) of Hestia (Vesta), early classical in Rome, Italy. Hestia: The Virgin Goddess of the Hearth & Home
Persephone (or Roman, Proserpina) – reluctant goddess of the Underworld, wife of Hades. Goddess of Spring growth. Daughter of Demeter & Zeus. (Left top) Ca 330-310 BC. Apullian Red Figure. Hekatê (Hecate)of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy (communicating with the dead). Sometimes pictured in short dresses & boots, holding twin torches; also, pictured in triple form, as goddess of the crossroads. (top right) Red figure on vase(ca 330-310 BC). THE ERINYES or Furies (Bottom) were three chthonian goddesses who avenged crimes against the natural and moral order, such as homicide, unfilial (inappropriate child / parent) conduct, crimes against the gods, and perjury.(Apulian Red Figure, CA 340 B.C.) Other Notable Characters:
“ECHO (Êchô), an Oreade nymph, kept Hera busy by incessantly talking to her, while Zeus was cavorting with the nymphs. Hera found out—her punishment for Echo, changing her so she had no control over her tongue, neither being able to speak before anybody else has spoken, nor to be silent when somebody else has spoken. (Upper right, 400-300 B.C., British Museum) Echo fell desperately in love with Narcissus, who did not return her love, he was in love with himself. Echo & Narcissus by John William Waterhouse (oil) 1903 (bottom) The poet Ovid retold the myth, Narcissus, son the river god Cephissus & the nymph Liriope, was doomed by a prophesy by Tiresias, the seer, who told his parents that the child "would live to an old age if it did not look at itself.” The nymph Echo fell in love with him, but distraught over his rejection, she withdrew, becoming a plaintiff whisper. Nemesis, knowing Echo’s rejection, arranged for Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection.” Other Notable Characters
Prometheus –a Titan, bound by chains of Hephaestus, as commanded by Zeus, to Mt. Kaukasos, while the Aetos Kaukosios (golden eagle of Zeus) picked out his liver daily. His crime: giving fire to man.(Museum in Vatican City, ca 530 B.C.) Pandora –first woman formed out of clay by the gods. Given as wife to Epimetheus, Titan, brother of Prometheus, who was entrusted with the task of moulding mankind. Pandora born out of the earth, moulded by Hephaistos, depicted crowned and veiled, with hands raised. Above her flies an Eros (winged love god).In the Ashmoleum Museum, Oxford, UK (ca. 475-425 B.C.) Other Notable Characters: Prometheus & Pandora
Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1869 (left) Pandora’s Box Taken from: The Myths of Greece and Rome by H.A. Guerber (G. Harrap & Co. 1907) (right bottom) Pandora by William Waterhouse (1896) (top right) Epimetheus, Pandora’s husband, told her never to open the jar she had received from Zeus. Curiosity getting the better of her, Pandora opened the box, releasing all the misfortunes of mankind—save one thing, “foreboding, the final spite,” closing the box in time, she held on to ‘hope’. Pandora’s Box
Centaur: part horse & man (bullkiller), inhabited the mountains of Thessaly. A Mosaic (ca 118-138 AD) taken from Emperor Hadrian’s Villa near Tivoli. (In a Berlin Museum.) Cerberus: vicious 3-headed dog, with a serpent’s tail, a mane of snakes, & lion paws, tail, guarding entrance of Hades (only “shades” or spirits were allowed to enter). Black Figure (ca 530 BC) in the Louvre Museum. Harpies: means “to snatch”; half-woman (sometimes with ugly faces) & half-bird, known as the “hounds of Zeus,” they were also personified as winds & storms (e.g., Homeric epics); they would steal food & leave a foul odor behind. King Phineus once revealed the secrets of the gods & was punished by the tormenting Harpies. (Attributed to the Kleophrades Painter. ca 480 BC, J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, CA.) Mythological Animals & Creatures
THE GORGONES (or Gorgons) were three powerful, winged demons, having writhing snakes as hair, their names were Medousa (Medusa), Sthenno and Euryale. Only Medusa was mortal, once beautiful, she was punished by Hera. Perseus had to cut off her head, which he accomplished with the help of the gods, equipping him with a reflective shield, curved sword, winged boots and helm of invisibility. Perseus fled with the monster's head in a sack, and with her two angry sisters following close upon his heels. Two creatures sprang forth from the wound - the winged horse Pegasos and the giant Khrysaor (a winged boar). Painting on an amphora(top, ca 490 BC). Athene receives head of Medusa from Perseus.Museum in Boston (bottom, ca 400-385 BC). Mythological Animals & Creatures
Sphinx – lion body, female with wings(Boston Museum on amphora ca 450-440 B.C.) Cyclopes – Cronos imprisoned the Cyclopes (3 of them, having one single eye in the middle of their foreheads) in Tartarus; later, Zeus released them to join him in the battle for power against Cronos. The most famous CyclopPolyphemus was tricked & blinded by Odysseus—so his men could escape the horror of becoming a “tasty meal.” Mythological Animals & Creatures
Greek Architecture & Mythology 1) The Parthenon of Athens(a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena) is one of the major architectural works of the Classical period. It and other temples usually contain sculptures of mythological subjects. 2) The Temple of Zeus at Olympia (pillar still standing!)
Greek Architecture & Mythology • Ruins at Olympia, Greece • Fallen Columns at Olympia
Doric Architecture (the oldest order) Ionic Architecture (2nd order, circa 500 B.C.) Greek Architecture: Doric, Ionic, & Corinthian Orders
Corinthian Order (least commonly used) Capital with Entablature (section that lies between the column and the roof) from the Pantheon at Rome (below). Also, Corinthian style found in Athens. Russell House in Middleton, CT Corinthian (top right); Doric (top left) NYC Custom House; Corinthian (left bottom) & Ionic (right bottom) architecture at the University of Virginia. Greek Architecture: Doric, Ionic, & Corinthian
Greek Architectual Influences throughout the World • Austrian Parliament built as a mix of neo-Renaissance and classical Greek architecture, Vienna, Austria (bottom); • Erechtheion, Athens, Acropolis (top right); • Porch of the Maidens, Erechteion (bottom right).
Reoccurring Themes in Greek Literature & Mythology: • The Pitfalls of Temptation • The Brevity of Glory • Limitations of Free Will • Ignoring the Truth • The Suffering & Instability of Homelessness & Wandering • Bloody Instruction: Bloodshed begets Bloodshed • Testing of Heroes • The Transformation of Consciousness • Betrayal & Consequences
Reoccurring Themes in Greek Literature & Mythology: • The Rites of Passage • Inability to Change Predestined Outcomes • The Danger of Arrogance and Hubris (excessive pride) • Ambition as a Vice • Consequences of Tyranny • Gender & Ambition; Women & Social Order • Skepticism v. piety, Reason v. irrationality, Greek v. foreign, Male v. female/androgynous (neutral, asexual), & Civilization v. savagery
Perseushad many adventures, and with the help of Athena and Mercury, he was able to outwit “the Graeae (gray ones), three perpetually old women with one eye and tooth between them and sisters of the gorgons.”Later, he would go on to slay Medusa. Medusa – her gaze could turn people into stone. She was one of the Gorgon sisters, having brass hands, sharp fangs, and hair made of living, venomous serpents. She was once beautiful, unlike her sisters, but was punished by Athena, but later killed by Perseus (another adventure). The Clash of the Titans – Ray Harryhausen
The Nine Muses (The Arts): Thalia, with Shepherd’s crock & comic masque; Terpsichore & Erato with their lyres; Callipio &Clio with their scrolls; Urania with the globe; & Melpomene, Euterpe, & Polyhymnia (3rd or 4th Century A.D. Imperial Roman Period)
Some of the Major Players in Greek Mythology • Zeus, Hera, Athene, Nike (Victory, flying over their shoulders); Poseidon seated with a Trident; Hades, god of the underworld (far right).
Jason & the ARGONAUTS
Jason & the Argonauts • Argo was the name of the ship after her shipbuilder Argos. • The Argonautic Expedition took place around 1400 BC or much earlier (2000 BC).