Chapter Six Myths of the Immortals : Zeus and Hera
Zeus and Hera • Cronos’ myth contradictory: • a tyrant or wise ruler of the Golden Age • Six children of Cronos and Rhea are the first Olympians: • Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, Hades • (Aphrodite born of his severed genitals in one version of her birth)
Zeus and Hera • All except Hades lived on Olympus; therefore, Hades is not considered an Olympian because he lives in the underworld. • There will be a total of 12, 13, or 14 Olympians • Zeus is the great father/king of this court of gods and goddesses
Aphrodite • Uranus’ severed genitals and seafoam • Daughter of Zeus and Dione- Oceanid/Titaness
Olympian gods/goddesses • “The Olympian gods were a projection onto a cosmic canvas of the concerns and activities of the Greeks themselves, and the organization of the Greek family and tensions between the sexes are reflected in the family of the gods” (142). • By examining the tensions and structure of the families of the Olympian gods, we can draw conclusions about Greek society and their families.
Zeus, Lord of the Sky • Zeus means shine, sky, or father sky • Lived in the mountains (Olympus, Mt. Ida near Troy) and brought storms (his thunderbolt) • Zeus’ weapon is also thunderbolt • By far the most powerful of the gods
Zeus, Lord of the Sky • Symbol of his power is the aegis-goat skin and this symbolizes the storm cloud of the weather god • Animals are the bull for power and fertility and the eagle which is lord of the sky • Guardian of justice (the way) • Protector of xenia • But was not more powerful than fate
Zeus’ responsibilities 1. Handed down the laws that governed the behavior of mortals and immortals 2. Enforced oaths sworn by mortals and immortals and made sure they obeyed 3. Pronounced certain oracles 4. Imposed order on the universe; placed planets and stars in the sky 5. Commanded the weather
Dike • Custom-the way things are done • Act against custom and you act against Zeus
Xenia • Formal institution of friendship in which hosts are kind to strangers and strangers honor their host and repay the kindness • This enabled Greeks to safely travel to distant lands • Received into household when gust and given a gift • Must reciprocate when host travels • A violation is to kill guest or steal from guest • A violation is guest to kill, rob, or seduce host’s wife
Artists and Zeus’ Affairs • Gave artists the opportunities to depict nudes and erotic themes without giving offense.
Zeus and Danae • Danae was the daughter of Acrisius. An oracle warned Acrisius that Danae's son would someday kill him, so Acrisius shut Danae in a bronze room, away from all male company. However, Zeus conceived a passion for Danae, and came to her through the roof, in the form of a shower of gold that poured down into her lap; as a result she had a son, Perseus. When Acrisius discovered Perseus, he locked both mother and son in a chest, and set it adrift on the sea. The chest came ashore at Seriphus, where Danae and Perseus were welcomed. Later, King Polydectes of Seriphus fell in love with Danae and tried to force himself on her; he was eventually killed by Perseus.
Zeus and Leda • Leda was the daughter of Thestius and the wife of Tyndareus. She has been known as the Queen of Sparta. Leda was seduced by Zeus when he came to her in the form of a swan. Leda gave birth to an egg. From it hatched the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Pollux. With Zeus she also had Helen and with Tyndareus she had Clytemnestra.
Zeus, Lord of the Sky • Zeus and Ganymede • Zeus takes on many aspects of a Greek aristocrat, such as pederasty
Zeus and Ganymede • Ganymede is the young, beautiful boy that became one of Zeus' lovers. One source of the myth says that Zeus fell in love with Ganymede when he spotted him herding his flock on Mount Ida. Zeus then came down in the form of an eagle or sent an eagle to carry Ganymede to Mount Olympus where Ganymede became cupbearer to the gods. According to other accounts, Eos kidnapped Ganymede, to be her lover, at the same time she kidnapped Tithonus. Zeus then robbed Eos of Ganymede, in return granting Eos the wish that Tithonus be immortal. Unthinkingly, Eos forgot to ask that Tithonus remain youthful. Everyday, the faithful Eos watched over Tithonus, until one day she locked him in a room and left him to get old by himself.
Zeus and Europa • The legend of Europa and Zeus begins when the ruler of the Olympian gods glimpses the young woman one day. At first sight of Europa, Zeus is instantly overcome by her beauty and grace. Not being one to ignore his desires, the god immediately comes up with a plan - he assumes the form of a glorious white bull and swims to the shore on which Europa and her female companions are playing (it should be noted that in some versions of the story, rather than disguising himself, Zeus sends a real white bull to lure the girl). The bull is so sleek and handsome, not to mention gentle, that the maidens all take turns stroking and petting the pretty creature. • In time, Europa feels comfortable enough with the bull to climb upon his back for a little ride. However, as soon as she is safely seated, the bull moves toward the sea, carrying the object of his affection with him. They together cross the water. Their strange but compelling journey leads them eventually to the island of Crete.
Zeus and Io • Io was an Argive princess and the daughter of Inachus, an ancient hero or river god of Argos. She also had the misfortune to be subjected to the lust of Zeus. Zeus, in an attempt to avoid the rage and jealousy of Hera, his wife, transformed Io into a handsome white heifer. Hera, who knew Zeus was up to no good, asked for the heifer as a present. Zeus could not refuse. Hera deposited Io in the safe keeping of Argus, the watchman with a hundred eyes. She was eventually rescued by Hermes, though Hera still dogged her by sending a gadfly to sting her wherever she went. This tale she eventually ended up telling to Prometheus, while he was bound to his rock. Prometheus, though he couldn't provide direct comfort, told her that, though her future would be fraught with hardship and toil, she would, upon reaching Egypt and the Nile, be restored by Zeus and bore him a son, Epaphus. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, she is the progenitor, thought removed by many generations, of Hercules, greatest of heroes, to whom Prometheus himself would owe his freedom.
Zeus • The metaphor for the conquests is that sex is the way the world is made. Earth/plants is female while rain is male. • Hellenistic commentators found 115 conquests of Zeus. • Zeus was Helen of Troy’s father. • Hera seduces Zeus with Aphrodite’s belt, so he will not pay attention to the Trojan War. Flowers grow around them and after Zeus falls asleep, Hera leaves and assists the Greeks. Zeus is enraged by his scheming wife.
Zeus, Lord of the Sky • Metis “cleverness” – Athena from his head after swallowing Metis • strength and judgment • Themis “established law”– • Horae (Eirenê-peace, Eunomiê-good rule, Dikê-justice) • Moerae (fates) (Clotho-spinner, Lachesis-measure, Atropos-cuts off) • Mnemosyne “memory”– 9 Muses who inspire poets and musicians • Dione “shinning one” -- Aphrodite
Zeus • Eurynome-3 graces embody feminine qualities • Demeter- Persephone • Leto- Apollo and Artemis
Some of Zeus’ Conquests • Metis • Gaia prophesied that a second child of Metis would overthrow him. • He went ahead and swallowed Metis before she gave birth to Athena in order to avoid her giving birth to a son later in life. • Eventually, Zeus had a very painful headache and had Hephaestus crack his skull open with an ax. • Athena was born from his head fully grown and dressed in full armor.
Themis 1. Together, they had the three Horae (Seasons) and the three Moirai (Fates) – sometimes known as children of Erebus and Nyx. 2. With the birth of these six daughters, Zeus completed the job of creation by finally bringing order to chaos. Eurynome 1. They had the three Graces. 2. These three daughters gave beauty, splendor and grace to the universe. Demeter 1. Iacchus 2. Persephone (summarize story of Persephone)
The Horae The Three Graces
Mnemosyne – Nine Muses 1. Clio – history 2. Euterpe – music and lyric poetry 3. Thalia – comedy 4. Melpomene – tragedy 5. Terpsichore – dance 6. Erato – love poetry and marriage 7. Polyhymnia – sacred song and oratory 8. Urania – astronomy 9. Calliope – epic poetry
Leto – Zeus and Leto produced the twins Apollo and Artemis Hera 1. Ares 2. Hebe – a perpetual youthful beauty 3. Eileithyia – a goddess of childbirth
Hera and Trojan War • Paris picked Aphrodite as the most beautiful of the goddesses between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. • Oldest temple • Hera hated adultery because it was a threat to marriage, inheritance of property, and rank.
Hera, Queen of Heaven • Marriage, sexuality, fertility • Her children with Zeus • Eileithyia-childbirth, Hebe-youth, Ares-war and most hated • Mother of Hephaestus • Hephaestus-cripple and thrown from heaven
Hera, Queen of Heaven • Some of the most magnificent temples are to her (a Heraeum) • Argos (Argives) • Persecuted Zeus’s paramours and sometimes their offspring • Heracles “glory of Hera” • Join a temporary rebellion with Poseidon and Athena
Trouble in paradise? 1. The gods tried to challenge Zeus’ rule just once. 2. Hera, Poseidon, Apollo, and all the other gods and goddesses except Hestia rose up against him. 3. While he was asleep, they tied him down so that he could not get free. 4. Thetis summoned Briareus to set him free. 5. Zeus then punished Hera by hanging her from the sky by her wrists with anvils on her legs and would not set her free until she promised to never lead a rebellion again.
Zeus and Hera at Home on Olympus • A tempestuous marriage • The scene between Thetis and Zeus from the Iliad shows Zeus threatened Hera with violence for her jealousy • Hephaestus, and their children intervenes to stop the fight • Hephaestus guides Hera to silence and cheer
Banquet roles • Hephaestus-cupbearer • Apollo- music, plays lyre and entertains with the muses
Misogyny • Disagreeable wife is threatened with violence to keep her in her place.
Anthropomorphism • Gods are human-shaped and humanlike, an inheritance perhaps from Mesopotamian traditions • They eat and drink (special divine substances to be sure). • Have humanistic needs, traits, qualities, and behaviors
Anthropomorphism • They laugh, get angry and jealous, and can even be wounded. • Anthropomorphism makes interesting narrative and great myths • Differences-immortal, inchor, do not excrete/ mortal, blood, excrete
Anthropomorphism • Ares is wounded by the spear of Diomedes in belly. • Zeus orders him healed by Apollo