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Mythology Notes. Why study mythology in the first place?. To understand the countless allusions that appear in poetry, literature and even television

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why study mythology in the first place
Why study mythology in the first place?
  • To understand the countless allusions that appear in poetry, literature and even television
  • If you have ever been tantalized, if you’ve ever looked in an atlas or known someone who had the Midas touch or an Achilles heel, if you’ve ever seen the movie Titanic or listened to an old rock band called Styx, if you have ever been in a panic after reading Frankenstein (the Modern Prometheus), if you’ve ever opened a Pandora’s box or written instructions in chronological order, if you’ve ever been on an Odyssey or heard a siren, if you’ve ever been stuck between a rock (Scylla) and a hard place (Charybdis), if you have ever made a Herculean effort to complete a Sisyphean task, or slept in a procrustean bed, you can thank mythology.
why study mythology
Why study mythology…
  • Relevant human emotions (pride, jealousy, anger, etc.)
  • Teaches moral lessons & consequences for actions
  • Timeless: Zeus’ infidelity + Hera’s suspicion = bad marriage! (Infidelity is still a problem today!)
  • Explain natural phenomena
  • Was viewed as a religion much like Christianity, Catholicism, etc.
  • It’s fun, of course!
common words from mythology
Common words from Mythology
  • Cereal (after “Ceres”)
  • Narcissism
  • Hypnosis
  • January
  • Mars
  • Mercury
  • Pluto
  • Fortune
  • Fate
  • Echo
  • Ocean
  • Venus
  • Volcanoes
mythology notes1
Mythology Notes
  • Epic- long, narrative poem about a national or legendary hero
  • Initiate- person called on the journey
  • epithet- word or phrase used to characterize a person or thing (Ex: Zeus the lord of clouds)
mythology notes2
Mythology Notes
  • Epic or Homeric simile- an extended comparison, running several lines, often using the words like, as, than or so


As a father’s life is welcome to his children when he has been lying tormented by some fell disease, and in his agony long drawn out the hateful hand of death has touched him, but God has given relief for his troubles; no less welcome to Odysseus was the sight of earth and trees, and he swam on, longing to feel his feet on solid ground.


Epic conventions (style):

1. Appeal to the Muse for inspiration

2. Long, dramatic dialogue

3. Extended, descriptive passages

4. Elaborate (Epic/Homeric) similes

Epic Hero (definition): has stature (respect); great historical or legendary significance


Epic Hero (definition): has stature (respect); great historical or legendary significance


Characteristics of Epic Hero:

1. Possesses courage

2. Has superhuman strength

3. Has a devotion to duty

4. Has a love of glory (is proud, vain, boastful)

5. Has intelligence

6. Has loyalty

7. Is a champion of freedom and justice

gods goddesses important in the odyssey
Gods/Goddesses (important in The Odyssey)

Zeus- supreme God; ruler of heavens; grand dispenser of justice

Muses- 9 goddesses who presided over song, literature & arts

Poseidon- God of the sea; makes Odysseus’ journey difficult

Hades- ruler of the Underworld

Hermes- messenger God

Athena—goddess of wisdom and warfare; helps Odysseus on journey