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Classical Mythology. PowerPoint Outlines. Part One. The Myths of Creation. The Gods. Chapter 1: Interpretation and Definition of Classical Mythology. Interpretation and Definition of Classical Mythology The Problem of Defining Myth The Meaning of “myth” Mythos : “tale” or “story”

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classical mythology

Classical Mythology

PowerPoint Outlines


Part One

The Myths of Creation

The Gods


Chapter 1: Interpretation and Definition of Classical Mythology

Interpretation and Definition of Classical Mythology

The Problem of Defining Myth

The Meaning of “myth”

Mythos: “tale” or “story”

True myth or myth proper

Saga or legend


Myth, Saga or Legend, and Folktale

Myth: primarily concerned with the gods and the relations with mortals

Saga or legend: containing a kernel of historical truth and focusing upon the adventures of a hero

Folktale: including elements of elements of the fantastic and magical

Myth and Truth

Myth and Religion

Mircea Eliade

Myth and Etiology

Aitia: cause or reason for a fact, ritual practice, institution

Rationalism, Metaphor, and Allegory

Euhemerism: rationalization of myth attributed to Euhemerus (ca. 300 B. C.)

Allegory: a sustained metaphor

Allegorical nature myths: explanations of meteorological and cosmological phenomena; Max Müller


Interpretation and Definition of Classical Mythology

Myth and Psychology


Oedipus complex

Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos

Electra complex

Dreams and “dream-work”


Collective unconscious


Myth and Society

Myth an d Ritual

J. G. Frazer

The Golden Bough

Jane Harrison

Robert Graves

Myths as Social Charters

Bronislav Malinowski


Trobriand islanders

Myths as “charters” of social customs and beliefs


Interpretation and Definition of Classical Mythology

The Structuralists

Claude Lévi-Strauss

Binary structure

Negotiation and resolution of opposites

Vladimir Propp

Russian folklorist

Analysis of recurrent pattern

31 motifemes : functions or units of action

Walter Burkert

Patterns of motifemes broken down to five:

1. The girl leaves home.

2. The girl is secluded.

3. She becomes pregnant by a god.

4. She suffers.

5. She is rescued and gives birth to a son.

Synthesis of structuralist and historical viewpoints

“Historical dimension” of myth

Four theses

1. Myth belongs to the more general class of tradition tales.

2. The identity of a traditional tale is to be found in a structure of sense within the tale itself.

3. Tale structures, as a sequence of motifemes, are founded on basic biological or cultural programs of actions.

4. Myth is a traditional tale with secondary, partial reference to something of collective importance.

Comparative Study and Classical Mythology

Oral and Literary Myth

Joseph Campbell


Interpretation and Definition of Classical Mythology

Feminism, Homosexuality, and Mythology


Women in Greek society

1.Women were citizens of their communities, unlike non-citizens and slaves—a very meaningful distinction. They did not have the right to vote. No woman anywhere won this democratic right until 1920.

2. The role of women in religious rituals was fundamental; and they participated in many festivals of their own, from which men were excluded.

3. A woman’s education was dependent on her future role in society, her status or class, and her individual needs (as was that of a man).

4. The cloistered, illiterate, and oppressed creatures often adduced as representative of the status of women in antiquity are at variance with the testimony of all the sources, literary, artistic, and archaeological.

The theme of rape


Some Conclusions and a Definition of Classical Myth

A classic myth is a story that, through its classical form, has attained a kind of immortality because its inherent archetypal beauty, profundity, and power have inspired rewarding renewal and transformation by successive generations.


Chapter 2: Historical Background of Greek Mythology

Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890), founder of modern archaeology

Excavations at Troy, Tiryns, and Mycenae

Sir Arthur Evans

Cnossus in Crete (1899)


Sketch of Early Greece and the Aegean

Stone Age

Paleolithic Period (before 70,000 B. C.)

Neolithic Period (ca. 6000-3000 B. C.)

Early Bronze Age (3000-2000 B. C.)

Early Minoan Early Cycladic Early Helladic

Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 B. C.)

Middle Minoan Middle Cycladic Middle Helladic

Late Bronze Age (1600-1100 B. C.)

Late Minoan Late Cycladic Late Helladic (Mycenaean)

Paleolithic Age: inhabited, but knowledge is scanty

Neolithic Age

Migration from east and north of Greece

Agricultural communities

Female “fetishes”


Historical Background of Greek Mythology

Minoan Civilization

King Minos

Zenith during Late Bronze Age (1600-1100 B. C.)

Palace complexes

Cnossus and Phaestus

Historical/mythological traditions




Labyrinth (Labrys)

Bull motif

End of Cretan dominance (1400 B. C.)

Eruption of Thera (modern Santorini)

Myth of Atlantis (Plato’s Critias and Timaeus)

The Mycenaean Age

Invasion from north and possibly east

First Greek speakers

Mycenae, “rich in gold”

Cyclopean walls

Lion Gate

Shaft graves

Tholos tombs

Carl Blegen (1887-1971)

Nestor’s Pylos


Sky-god (Zeus)

Linear B

Rich horde of tablets at Pylos

Michael Ventris and John Chadwick (1952)

Linear A




Historical Background of Greek Mythology

Troy and the Trojan War

Frank Calvert responsible for primary investigation of Hisarlik (1863-1868)

Schliemann and Wilhelm Dörpfeld: campaigns at Troy (1871-1894)

Blegen’s work at Troy (1932-1938)

Since 1988: under direction of Manfred Korfmann

Nine settlements on hill of Hisarlik

Troy I (ca. 2920-2450 B. C.)

Troy II (ca. 2600-2450 B. C.)

Schliemann’s “Treasure of Priam”

Troy VII (ca. 1250-1040 B. C.)

Troy VIII (ca. 700-85 B. C.)

Troy IX (85-ca. A. D. 500)

Troy VI and Troy VIIa

Continuity of culture

Evidence of human settlements linked to the Trojan War

Different stages of conflict

Recent excavations confirm preeminence of Troy in Anatolia

Signs of devastation

Hasty burials

Long-weapons, piles of stones

Date of destruction of Troy VIIa (1250-1150 B. C.)

Tradition date for Trojan War (1184 B. C.)

Upper citadel and lower area of habitation

Commercial ties between Mycenaean Greece and Troy

Troy’s position on the Hellespont

Economic causes of conflict plausible

Hittite texts

“Wilusa” and Ilios

Appaliunas and Apollo

Confirmation of Homeric geography

Mycenaean cemetery on site of original coastline


Historical Background of Greek Mythology

End of Mycenaean Age and Homer

Unsettled Conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean

Destruction of Mycenaean Centers

The Dorians

The “Sea Peoples”

The Dark Age

Decline in population

Loss of literacy

Impoverished material culture

The Emergence of the Iliad and the Odyssey (eighth century B. C.)

Oral tradition


Asia Minor (or one of the coastal islands)

Epic dialect

Traces of every period from Bronze Age to eighth century B. C.

Invention of a True Alphabet

Phoenician script

Writing and its relationship to the production of Homer’s epics


Chapter 3: Myths of Creation

Parallels between Greco-Roman and Near Eastern Myths


Incomplete account of genesis

Hesiod (ca. 700)

Boeotian poet working ca. 700 B. C.

Theogony and Works and Days

Bitter perspective on life

Importance to him of the Muses of Mt. Helicon

First literary account of genesis among the Greeks (Theogony and Works and Days) Invocation to the Muses

Chaos (yawning void)

Gaia/Gaea/Ge or Earth

Tartarus (place beneath the earth)

Eros (the procreative urge; love)

Erebus (gloom of Tartarus)


Aether (the upper atmosphere)


The Primacy and Mystery of Eros

Eros (for the Romans’ Cupid or Amor)

Aristophanes’ Birds (5th century B. C.)

Parody of Orphic tradition

Phanes (“the one who first shone forth” or “gave light to creation”

Protogonus (“first-born”)

Creation Account in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Chaos as crude, unformed mass of elements


Four elements (earth, air, fire, and water)


Myths of Creation

Hieros Gamos (“sacred marriage”)

Gaia and Uranus

Titans: Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys, and Cronus



Oceanus and the Oceanids

Hyperion and Helius, Gods of the Sun

Phaëthon, son of Helius


Selene, Goddess of the Moon


Mt. Latomus in Caria

The Endymion sarcophagus

Apollo, Sun-God and Artemis, Moon-Goddess

Eos (Aurora), Goddess of the Dawn



Myths of Creation

Castration of Uranus

Birth of Aphrodite (foam or “aphros”)





A Second Hieros Gamos: Cronus and Rhea

Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus

The Birth of Zeus

Mt. Dicte

Hymn to Dictaean Zeus

Zeus Dictaeus

Zeus as kouros (‘young man”)

“The Palaikastro Kouros”





Amalgamation of Mycenaean and Minoan Elements

Mythological Interpretations

Max Müller

Feminist criticism

Claude Lévi-Strauss

Freudian interpretations

Jungian archetypes


Chapter 4: Zeus’ Rise to Power: The Creation of Mortals

The Titanomachy: Zeus Defeats His Father, Cronus

Zeus grows to maturity

Cronus disgorges Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon

Zeus’ allies: his brothers and sisters, the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes

Zeus’ opponents: the Titans (especially Atlas) with the exception of Themis and her son Prometheus

Zeus on Mt. Olympus against Cronus on Mt. Othrys

Titans imprisoned in Tartarus and Atlas condemned to hold up the sky

The Gigantomachy

Gaia produces the Gegeneis (“earthborn”)

Giants imprisoned in volcanic regions (e.g., Enceladus under Mt. Aetna in Sicily)

Typhoeus (or Typhaon or Typhon)

Otus and Ephialtes Pile Up Oympus, Ossa, and Pelion

Confusion of Traditions about the Titanomachy and Gigantomachy

Historical Underpinnings of Myths

Process of conquest and amalgamation, when Greek-speaking people invade the Grecian peninsula (2000 B. C.)

Creation of Mortals

Traditions involving Zeus

Prometheus, creator of man

Ovid’s account

The Four or Five Ages

Gold, silver, bronze, iron

Hesiod’s inclusion of an Age of Heroes between bronze and iron

The characteristics of the ages

Aidos and Nemesis


Zeus’s Rise to Power

Prometheus against Zeus

Iapetus and Clymene


The trick of the sacrifice

The theft of fire in a hollow fennel stalk

The punishment of Prometheus

Heracles ends Prometheus’ suffering

Creation of Pandora

Hephaestus’ creation

Athena’s role

Pandora (“all gifts”)

Pandora’s jar

Hermes’ role


“Hope alone remained within.”

Interpretation of the Myths of Prometheus and Pandora

Ritual of sacrifice

Origin of fire

“Culture god” or “culture hero”

“Divine trickster”

The nature of gods and men

The nature of evil

The position of woman

The role of hope


Zeus’ Rise to Power

Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound

Strength (Kratos) and Force (Bia)

Characterization of Hephaestus

Zeus as tyrant

Prometheus’ gifts to mankind

Chorus of Oceanids

The story of Io

Hera’s jealousy

Argus Panoptes (“all-seeing”)

Hermes Argeiphontes (“slayer of Argus”)


Egypt and the birth of Epaphus

The role of Io in Prometheus Bound

Promise of Heracles’ release

Prometheus’ secret about Thetis

Zeus and Lycaon and the Wickedness of Mortals

The tyrant Lycaon

Transformation into a wolf

The Flood

Deucalion, son of Prometheus

Pyrrha, daughter or Epimetheus

The “bones” of the mother

Hellen, eponymous ancestor of the Greeks


Zeus’s Rise to Power

Succession Myths and Other Motifs

Near Eastern Parallels to Hesiod’s Account

The Succession Myth as Archetype

Enuma Elish (When on High); Babylonian



Kingship in Heaven



Persistence and Diffusion of the Flood Motif

Character and Career of Zeus

Circumstances of birth

Infancy in seclusion

“Divine Child”

Close to nature and world of animals

Obstacles and adversaries

Ultimately victorious

Parallels in Myths of Greece and the Ancient Near East

Five basic myths




Descent to Underworld

Hero-king Gilgamesh

Two periods of contact with Greece: 13th and 14th centuries; 8th and 7th centuries B. C.

Sumer and Akkad





Zeus’ Rise to Power

Babylon and King Hammurabi (1800 B. C.)

Establishment of the Assyrian Empire

Capital at Nineveh


Hittites in Anatolia

Capital at Hattusas (Boghaz-Köy)

Babylonian Enuma Elish

Apsu and Tiamat

Anu and Ea or Enki (earth-god)

Birth of Marduk


Comparison of Typhoeus with Tiamat

Babylonian Atrahasis

Atrahasis (extrawise)

Tyranny of Enlil

Atrahasis survives Flood

Epic of Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh, ruler of Sumerian city of Uruk (ca. 2700 B. C.)


Similarities with Odysseus, Heracles, and the Iliad



The Bull of Heaven

Akkadian Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld


Dumuzi (Tammuz)


Chapter 5: The Twelve Olympians: Zeus, Hera, and Their Children

Zeus’ Establishment as Supreme God


Poseidon — sea

Hades — underworld

Pantheon of Gods

Zeus (Jupiter)

Hera (Juno)

Poseidon (Neptune)

Hades (Pluto)

Hestia (Vesta)

Hephaestus (Vulcan)

Ares (Mars)


Artemis (Diana)

Demeter (Ceres)

Aphrodite (Venus)

Athena (Minerva)

Hermes (Mercury)

Dionysus (Bacchus)

Canonical twelve (with removal of Hades and Hestia)

Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth and Its Fire

A goddess of chastity

Hearth/sacred fire

Hestia (“hearth”)

Familytribe city state

Transmission of fire

First-born of Cronus and Rhea


The Twelve Olympians


Amorous nature

Image of father, husband, and lover

Justice and virtue

Moral order of the universe

The cloud-gatherer




Tales of Zeus’ subordination

Zeus and Hera

Hieros Gamos

Hera: consort and queen

Stern, vengeful



Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia


Olympic Games, 776 B. C.

Connection with Heracles

Pelops and Hippodamia

Temple of Zeus

West pediment: Lapiths and Centaurs

Ixion impregnates the nephele (“cloud”) that Zeus had fashioned to resemble his wife, Hera

Ixion’s punishment on the wheel

Nephele gives birth to Centaurus, the father of the race of centaurs

Chiron: wise, gentle tutor to heroes

Violent and lustful nature typical of centaurs

Lapiths, a Thessalian tribe

Pirithoüs, Lapith chieftain and a son of Ixion

Wedding of Pirithoüs and Hippodamia


The Twelve Olympians

East pediment: race of Pelops and Oenomaüs

Metopes: Twelve Labors of Heracles

Cult image of Zeus carved by Pheidias

Oracles at Olympia and Dodona

Whispering oaks of Dodona

Priestess and tripod

Oracles and prophets





Children of Zeus and Hera

Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth

Hebe: cupbearer to gods


Hephaestus, divine artisan

God of fire and forge


Return of Hephaestus

Consort of Aphrodite

Her adultery with Ares

Ares, god of war

Cult partner: Aphrodite



Brutality of war


The Twelve Olympians

Other Children of Zeus

The Nine Muses

Mnemosyne (“memory”)

Patrons of literature and the arts

Pieria/Mt. Helicon


Calliope (epic)

Clio (history or lyre playing)

Euterpe (lyric or tragedy and flute playing)

Melpomene (tragedy or lyre playing)

Terpsichore (choral dancing or flute playing)

Erato (love poetry or hymns to gods and lyre playing)

Polyhymnia (sacred music or dancing)

Urania (astronomy)

Thalia (comedy)

The Three Fates

Children of Zeus and Themis

Moirai (Greek) or Parcae (Latin)

Clotho (“spinner”)

Lachesis (“apportioner”)

Atropos (“inflexible”)

Luck or Fortune (Tyche)

Necessity (Ananke)


Chapter 6: The Nature of the Gods


Human form and character


Mt. Olympus



Divine Hierarchy


Olympian gods (and important chthonian gods)

Wondrous, terrifying beings




Zeus and Monotheism

Sovereignty of Zeus

Moral order of universe

Suppliants, hospitality, oaths

Monotheistic cast

View of Zeus in religious poets and philosophers

Stern Zeus of Hesiod


Aeschylus’ Agamemnon

Polytheistic cast in Judeo-Christian religion


The Nature of the Gods

Greek Humanism

Protagoras: “Man is the measure of all things.”

Sophocles’ Antigone

Achilles in the Underworld (Homer’s Odyssey)

Idealistic optimism/realistic pessimism

Myth Religion and Philosophy

Greeks were not a people of a religious “book.”

Place of Homer

Priests and priestesses

Legendary History of Herodotus

History of the Persian Wars

Story of Solon, Croesus, and Cyrus

Herodotus as Myth Historian

Influence of Homer and Tragedy

Atys (Ate [“ruin” or “destruction”]); links with Attis and Adonis

Adrastus (“the one who cannot escape”); links with Nemesis or Adrasteia (Necessity)

Other legendary folktales in Herodotus [box]

The story of Candaules and Gyges

The story of Arion and the dolphin

Musician, connected with Dionysus and the dithyramb, the sacred choral song honoring the god

Favor of Periander, tyrant of Corinth

Plot against Arion

Rescue by dolphin

Historical figure of Periander and perhaps Arion

Association of Dionysus and dolphins

Connection with Poseidon

The story of Polycrates, tyrant of Samos


The Nature of the Gods

  • Appendix: Greek Religion
    • Greek Mythology and Religion
      • Previous Scholarship
      • Integration of myth, ritual, and image
        • The Panathenaic Festival
    • The Nature of Greek Religion
      • Absence of priestly caste
      • No unifying doctrinal creed
      • No closed canon or religious book
      • No fixed, unchanging rite or ritual
      • A multiplicity of religious beliefs, myths, and rituals
    • The Civic Religion of the Polis
      • The polis as the center of social, political military, economic, cultural, and religious communal life
      • Greek ideas of the “sacred” and the “secular”
      • Civic worship of the gods
      • Athenian festivals or heortai
        • Hecatombaia
        • Panathenaea
        • Anthesteria
        • Brauronia
        • Thesmophoria
        • Boundary between religious and secular blurred
    • Heroic Cults of the Dead
      • Localized, chthonic heroic cults
      • Olympian and chthonic cults

The Nature of the Gods

  • Priests and Priestesses
    • Role and service of the priest
    • Importance of the priestess
  • Seers
    • Role of the seer
    • Types of augury
  • Mystery Religions
    • Comparison of civic cult and mystery religion
    • Specific doctrine
    • Sacred texts
  • The Sacrifice
    • Significance of sacrifice
    • Portrait of sacrifice in Homer (Odyssey 3. 430-463)
    • Reconstruction of a sacrifice
      • Sacrifice and community
      • Sacrificial animal
      • Sacrificial procedure
        • Animal brought within the temenos (“sacred precinct”)
        • Procession to altar
        • Music
        • Water for purification
        • Young maid with basket containing barley cakes and knife
        • Scattering of barley
        • Priest cuts lock of hair
        • Stunning blow
        • Cutting the throat
        • The ritual cry (ololuge)
        • Altar splashed with blood
        • Butchering of animal
          • Thighbones wrapped in fat
          • Internal organs roasted
          • Roasting for main mea
      • Meaning of the sacrifice

Chapter 7: Poseidon, Sea Deities, Group Divinities, and Monsters

Pontus (“sea”)

Oceanus and TethysOceanids

Pontus and GeNereus (an old man of the sea)

Nereus and Doris (an Oceanid)Nereids

Three Important Nereids


Prophecy of Thetis’ son

Marriage of Peleus and Thetis



Polyphemus (a Cyclops)

Acis, son of Faunus and Symaethis


Consort of Poseidon


Conch shell


Attendent of Poseidon (sometimes his son)


Ability to change shape

Old Man of the Sea

Appearance and character of Poseidon

Stern, rough, unkempt


“Earth shaker”

Male fertility of the earth; stallion and bull



Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla, daughter of Phorcys and Hecate

Relationship with Poseidon or Glaucus

Transformation at the hands of Amphitrite or Circe

Straits of Messina

Charybdis, daughter of Poseidon and Ge


Progeny of Pontus and Ge

Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, and Eurybië

Thaumas and Electra

Iris (“rainbow”) and Harpies (“snatchers”)

Phorcys and Ceto

Graeae (“aged ones”)

Gorgons (Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa)


Pegasus and Chrysaor (he of the golden sword)

Children of Chrysaor and Callirhoë

Geryon and Echidna

Children of Echidna and Typhon

Orthus, Cerberus, the Lernaean Hydra, and the Chimaera

Children of Echidna and Orthus

The Theban Sphinx and the Nemean Lion

Ladon, guardian of the tree in the garden of the Hesperides (“daughters of evening”)



Interpretive Summmary

Numerous stories of water divinities

Importance and dangers of sea travel to Greeks and Romans


Stories of seafarers




Importance of Poseidon to Athenians


Aegeus, father of Theseus

Unpredictability and mystery of the sea


Chapter 8: Athena

Birth of Athena

Zeus and Metis (“wisdom”)

In full battle array

Prowess in battle, strategy and tactics of war, goddess of the citadel, masculine virginity

Sculpture of the Parthenon

Athena Parthenos (“virgin”)

Athenian Acropolis (448 B. C.-437 B. C.)

Victory over Persians

East pediment

Birth of Athena

West pediment

Contest with Poseidon over the control of Athens

Doric frieze (metopes)

Lapiths and Centaurs

Sack of Troy


Greeks and Amazons

Ionic frieze

Panathenaea; ceremonial robe (peplos)

Statue of Athena Parthenos by Pheidias

Pallas Athena Tritogeneia

Tritogeneia: lake Triton or Tritonis; association with Triton

Pallas, daughter of Triton


Pallas (“maiden”)

Parthenos (“virgin”)

Kore (“girl”)

Athena and Arachne

Patron of spinning and weaving



Character and Appearance of Athena

Weaving as symbol of cunning and human resourcefulness

Fates as weavers

Arete (“excellence”) of a women

Military, political, domestic arts


Horses, ships, chariots

The double-flute and Marsyas

In Athens worshiped with Hephaestus

Warrior, aegis, Nike (“victory”)

Glaukopis meaning grey eyed (bright eyed or keen eyed?)

Owl, snake, olive tree

Unapproachable virginity

Relationships with heroes


Chapter 9: Aphrodite and Eros

Aphrodite and castration of Uranus

Aphros (“foam”)

Cytherea, Cypris

Zeus and Dione

Aphrodite Urania (Celestial) and Aphrodite Pandemos (Common)

The Nature and Appearance of Aphrodite

Beauty, love, marriage

Importance of Praxiteles’ work

Attendants of Aphrodite

Charites (“graces”)

Horae (“hours” or “seasons”)

Phallic Priapus

Aphrodite and Hermes, Dionysus, Pan, or Zeus


Comic and obscene


Offense of Cyprian women, who became the first prostitutes



Aphrodite and Eros

Aphrodite and Adonis

Phoenician Astarte

Paphos, son of Pygmalion and Galatea

Cinyras and Myrrha

Birth of Adonis

Death of Adonis

Great Mother

Death and resurrection of male consort

Variant: Persephone and the chest

Cybele and Attis

Phrygian Great Mother


Castrationalmond tree



Aphrodite and Anchises

Fear of emasculation




Aphrodite and Eros

The Symposium of Plato

House of Agathon

Speeches on Eros

Aristophanes’ Comic and Profound Myth

Love as a search for completeness

Socrates’ Speech

Diotima, a woman from Mantinea

Eros as intermediary

Poros (“resourcefulness”)

Penia (“poverty”)

Pursuit of the Beautiful and the Good


Cupid and Psyche

Apuleius (second century A. D.)

Metamorphoses (or The Golden Ass)

Elements of folktale, fairytale, and romance

Platonic interpretation

Sappho’s Aphrodite


Devotion to Aphrodite


Chapter 10: Artemis

Character and Appearance of Artemis

Beautiful, virginal, huntress

Cult places in Asia Minor

The Birth of Artemis and Apollo

Zeus and Leto


Goddess of childbirth

Death of young girls

Niobe and Her Children


Transformation to stone


Callisto and Arcas

Great Bear (Arctus, or Ursa Major, or the Wain [hamaxa])

Bear Warden (Arctophylax, or Arcturus, or Boötes)

Little Bear (Ursa Minor)


Merope, daughter of Oenopion

Pleiades, daughters of Atlas and Pleione, an Oceanid

Sirius (Dog Star)


Transformation into a stream that flows underground



Origins of Artemis

Fertility connections

Diana or Artemis of Ephesus

Artemis Brauronia

Brauronia: festival held every 4 years with procession from Athens to Brauron

Cult of Artemis at Brauron

Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris: Iphigenia was first priestess at Brauron

Arcteia: rite of “playing the bear for Artemis”

Myth of the killing of the bear sacred to Artemis

Marriage forbidden until a maiden had “played the bear” (5-10 years of age)

Artemis, Selene, and Hecate


Chthonian characteristics

Trivia, goddess of the crossroads

Nocturnal, occult forces



Artemis versus Aphrodite: Euripides’ Hippolytus

Hippolytus, devotee of Artemis


Phaedra’s nurse


Goddesses as psychological forces

The misogyny of Hippolytus

Sophronein (“to be temperate”)

Misandry, Artemis, and the Amazons

Lesbian themes

Other Dramatic Versions

Euripides’ two versions; (Hippolytus Stephanephoros)

Seneca’s (d. A. D. 65) Phaedra

Jean Racine’s Phèdre (1677)

Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms (1924)

Robinson Jeffers’ The Cretan Women (1954)

Mary Renault’s The Bull from the Sea

Additional Reading

Scenes from Euripides’ Hippolytus


Chapter 11: Apollo

The Birth of Apollo

Zeus and Leto

The Homeric Hymn to Apollo

First part: To Delian Apollo

Apollo and Delos

Delos sacred to Apollo

Impressive archaeological remains

Story of Anius

Anius, son of Apollo, king of Delos

Three daughters: Elaïs (“olive girl”), Spermo (“seed girl”), and Oeno (“wine girl”)

Agamemnon’s attempt to compel them to go to Troy

Transformation into doves, a sacred bird at Delos

Apollo and Delphi

Pythian Apollo, god of Delphi

Crisa under Mt. Parnassus

Slaying of Pytho

Pytho (“I rot”)


Omphalos (“navel”)

Cretan sailors and the connection with the dolphin

Apollo Delphinius

Panhellenic Sanctuary

Pythian Games

The Oracle and the Pythia at Delphi

The Pythia, priestess of Apollo


Oracular utterancesepic meter (dactylic hexameter)

Castalian Spring

Apollo Loxias

Socrates and the Delphic oracle



The Cumaean Sibyl

Sibyl and Sibylla

Aeneas in the Underworld, Vergil’s Aeneid, Book 6

Sibylline Books

Apollo and Cassandra

Apollo and Marpessa


Apollo and Cyrene


Apollo and Daphne

Daphne (“laurel”)

Apollo and Hyacinthus

Hyacinthia festival

Apollo and Cyparissus

Transformation into the cypress tree



Apollo, Coronis, and Asclepius

God of medicine

Raven, Apollo’s bird

Asclepius trained by Chiron

In Homer’s Iliad Machaon and Podalirius are two sons of Asclepius

Hygeia or Hygieia (“health”) and Panacea are also said to be children of Asclepius

Sanctuary of Epidauros a major center of worship

Socrates’ last words in Plato’s Phaedo

Incubation: sleeping in a holy place

Preparatory rites

Patient to sleep in the hope of having a vision of Asclepius and being healed

Importance of snakes

Aristophanes’ Wealth

Asclepiadae and Hippocrates

Asclepius and Hippolytus

Euripides’ Alcestis

Apollo and the Cyclopes

Servitude to Admetus, king of Pherae

Thanatos (“death”)


Asclepius’ staff or Hermes’ caduceus as a medical emblem?

Staff of Asclepius: staff entwined by a single serpent

Confusion with the caduceus



Apollo’s Musical Contest with Marsyas

Apollo’s Musical Contest with Pan

King Midas of Phrygia

Mt. Tmolus

The Nature of Apollo

Violence and restraint

Healer and bringer of plague

Good shepherd/sun-god


Additional Reading: The Homeric Hymn to Apollo (3.179-546: To Pythian Apollo)

Apollo in the company of the other gods

Apollo seeks a site for his oracle.

Apollo builds his temple at the site of Delphi.

Hera gives birth to the monster Typhaon.

Apollo vaunts over the she-dragon he has slain.

Apollo recruits Cretans to serve as his priests.


Chapter 12: Hermes

The Birth and Childhood of Hermes

Zeus and Maia, one of the Pleiades

Argeïphontes (“slayer of Argus”)

Mt. Cyllene/Arcadia

Invention of lyre

Theft of cattle

Confrontation between Apollo and Hermes

Reconciliation mediated by Zeusgift of lyre to Apollo

The Nature of Hermes and His Worship


God of thieves, merchants, youths

Divine trickster


Divine messenger

Traveler’s hat (petasus)

Sandals (talaria)

Herald’s staff (caduceus)

Guide of souls (psychopompos)

God of boundaries or the transgression of boundaries

Herms: boundary markers/fertility

Mutilation of the herms (415 B. C)

Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetica

Hermaphroditus and Salmacis


Chapter 13: Dionysus, Pan, Echo, and Narcissus

The Birth, Childhood, and Origins of Dionysus

Dionysus (Bacchus)

Semele, daughter of Cadmus

Nymphs of Nysa

Ino, sister of Semele

Origins in Thrace/Phrygia

The Bacchae of Euripides

God of vegetationthe vine/grape/wine

Agave, sister of Semele

Pentheus, son of Agave

Cadmus, grandfather of Pentheus and retired king

Tiresias, priest of traditional religion

Pentheus as adversary of god

Pentheus as sacrificial victim

Cadmus and Harmoniaserpents

Harry Partch’s Revelation in the Courthouse Park, an American Bacchae

Other Opponents of Dionysus

Daughters of Proetus, king of Tiryns

Driven to madness because of their resistance to Dionysus

Melampus, a famous seer, cured them

Festival of Agriania

Daughters of Minyas

Refusal to worship Dionysus

Transformed into owls or bats


Lycurgus of Thrace



The Nature of Dionysus, His Retinue, and His Religion

Ecstatic spiritual release through music and dance

Entheos: Possession by god

Sparagmos: rending of animal

Omophagia: eating of raw flesh

Ritual communion

Thiasus: sacred band of the god

Bacchae or Maenads


Thyrsus: wand wreathed with ivy and topped with pinecone

Sileni; Papposileni (“older sileni”); Silenus and King Midas

Connection with Great Mother; Rhea and Cybele

Union with Ariadne

Variant of Dionysus’ birth

Zeus and Persephone


Role of the Titans

Creation of human beings



Dionysus and Icarius and Erigone

Dionysus’ Gift to Midas of the Golden Touch


Dionysus and the Pirates

The Dionysiaca of Nonnus


Syrinx (“panpipe”)


“Panic” Son of Hermes and Dryope

Echo and Narcissus




Chapter 14: Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries

The Myth of Demeter and Persephone

Abduction by Hades

Hecate and Helius

Demeter’s grief, anger and retaliation

Demeter comes to Eleusis and the palace of Celeus

The Maiden Well

Queen Metaneira


Demeter breaks her fast.

Demeter nurses Demphoön.

Hades and Persephone and her eating of the pomegranate

Demeter’s ecstatic reunion with Persephone

Demeter restores fertility and establishes the Mysteries

The Interpretation of the Hymn

Death and rebirth of vegetation

Spiritual metaphor or allegory

Kore (“girl”)

Hades (Pluto or Dis among the Romans)


Commission to spread Demeter’s arts



Eleusinian Mysteries

Special position of Athens


Secrecy of rites

Mystery religions

Connection with Orpheus


Nine-day interval




Kykeon: drink of barley and water

Resting at the Maiden Well

Revelation of divinity

Stages of initiaion

Lesser Mysteries: preliminary to initiation

Greater Mysteries: full initiation

Participation in the highest mysteries

Hierophant (“one who shows the sacred thing”)

Hiera (“sacred things”)


Iacchus and Dionysus

Stages of Greater Mysteries

Dramatic enactment of myth

Revelation of sacred objects

Utterance of certain words

The final revelation: the hiera

The role of Dionysus

The role of Orpheus

Mystery religions and state cult

Archon Basileus: Athenian religious official

Triumph of Matriarchy


Chapter 15: Views of the Afterlife: The Realm of Hades

  • Homer’s Book of the Dead (the Odyssey, Book 11)
  • Tiresias
  • Anticlea
  • Heroes
  • Agamemnon
  • Achilles
  • Ajax
  • Heroines
  • Tormented sinners
  • Sisyphus
      • Outwitting of Death (Thanatos)
      • Alcaeus of Lesbos, 7th century poet
      • Revelation of Zeus’ secret
      • Chaining of Death
      • Death freed by Ares
      • Sisyphus in Hades
      • Sisyphus’ punishment
  • Heracles
  • Difficulties of interpretation
  • Position of heroes
  • Elpenor
  • Place for extraordinary sinners
  • Depicting the Underworld
  • Representations of the Underworld in art
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Michelangelo’s Last Judgment

Views of the Afterlife

Plato’s Myth of Er

The Republic

Vision of Er


Cycle of one thousand years

Chain of being

Necessity (Ananke)

Harmony of the spheres

The Fates or Moirai

Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos

Choice of souls

River of Forgetfulness (Lethe)

Pythagorean/Orphic elements

Plato’s Phaedo


Views of the Afterlife

Vergil’s Book of the Dead (the Aeneid, Book 6)


Cumaean Sibyl

Golden Bough

Burial of Misenus

Tree of empty dreams

Fabulous creatures



Untimely Dead

Mourning Fields

Dido, queen of Carthage

Field of renowned heroes







Otis and Ephialtes


Theseus and Perithoüs



King of Lapiths

Punishment on a fiery wheel

First to shed kindred blood

Attempt to violate Hera

Elysian Fields/Elysium


Vision of illustrious Romans

Gates of Ivory and Horn


Views of the Afterlife

Traditional Elements of Hades’ Realm

Tartarus or Erebus

Elysium or Elysian Fields

Islands of the Blessed

Three Judges: Minos, Rhadamanthys (or Rhadamanthus), and Aeacus

Rivers: Styx (River of Hate), Acheron (River of Woe), Lethe (River of Forgetfulness), Cocytus (River of Wailing), Pyriphlegethon or Phlegethon (River of Fire)

Charon and his fare

Hermes Psychopompos


Hades (Pluto or Dis), king of the Underworld

Orcus (“the place that confines”)






Tantalus Hecate

Furies (Erinyes): Allecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone; avengers of blood guilt, especially within the family


The Eumenides (“kindly ones”)

The Universality of Greek and Roman Concepts

The Italian poet Dante (1265-1321)

The Inferno

Vergil as guide


Chapter 16: Orpheus and Orphism: Mystery Religions in Roman Times

  • Orpheus and Eurydice
  • Ovid’s version
  • Hymen
  • Ill-omened marriage of Orpheus and Eurydice
  • Orpheus’ descent to Styx
  • Orpheus’ request
  • Pluto and Proserpina grant his request on condition he not look back.
  • Eurydice’s second death
  • The vengeance of spurned Thracian (Ciconian) women
  • Variant tradition
  • Vergil’s Georgics, Book 4
  • Aristaeus
  • “Why did Orpheus look back?”
  • Ovid: out of fear for Eurydice’s well-being
  • Vergil: a kind of frenzy seizes him
  • Subsequent literature
  • Explorations of Orpheus’ motivation
  • Eurydice’s role at times becomes more pronounced.
  • Life of Orpheus, Religious Poet and Musician
  • Origins in Thrace
  • His mother was one of the Muses, usually Calliope
  • His father is either Oeagrus, a river-god, or Apollo
  • Orpheus falls in love with Eurydice, a Dryad
  • Orpheus as an Argonaut
  • Musaeus, Orpheus’ son or pupil
  • Death of Orpheus
  • Women of Thrace/Maenads
  • Survival of head and lyre in Lesbos
  • Apollonian and Dionysian elements
  • Orphic Hymns


The Orphic Bible

Chronus (Time) as first principleAether, Chaos, and Erebus

Adrasteia (Necessity)

The Cosmic EggPhanes, known by many names, including ErosNight

Phanes and NightGaea (Earth) and Uranus (Heaven)TitansCronusZeus

Zeus swallows Phanes and all creation.

Zeus becomes the One, the beginning and end.

Zeus and PersephoneDionysus (Zagreus)

Tenets of belief

Purity of soul

Corruption of body

Original sin

Transmigration of soul



Union with divine spirit

Parallels with role of shaman and shamanism

Shaman: spiritual, mystical figure of great power, who can cross the boundary of this world into the spiritual realm

Connections with mystery religions



Mystery Religions in Roman Times

Syncretism : harmonizing of different cults and myths into some sort of unity

Mysteries of Demeter at Eleusis

Mysteries of Cybele and Attis

Taurobolium: shedding of the blood of the bull

Mysteries of the Cabiri of Samothrace

Theoi Megaloi (“great gods”)

Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux

Mysteries of Mithras (Mithra)

Persian god of light and truth

Mithraea or underground chapels

Tauroctony (“slaying of the bull”)

Officers, soldiers, and sailors

Initiation of men

Communal meal

Mysteries of Atargatis or Dea Syria, the Syrian goddess

Consort Tammuz or Dushara

Marriage to Hadad, thunder-god

Association with Syrian Baal, Greek Zeus, and Roman Jupiter

Mysteries of Isis

Goddess of fertility

Osiris dismembered by Seth


The Sistrum or rattle

The Situla or breast-shaped container for milk

Jug of Nile water

Associated with Serapis

Apuleius’ Metamorphoses (or The Golden Ass)

Lucius initiated into the Mysteries of Isis

Isis connected with Cybele, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Demeter, Persephone, and Hera