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GREEK MYTHOLOGY Creation & Origin myths. myths WHAT ARE MYTHS Traditional stories whose meaning has an importance (resonance) for a people and which help.

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Presentation on theme: "GREEK MYTHOLOGY Creation & Origin myths. myths WHAT ARE MYTHS Traditional stories whose meaning has an importance (resonance) for a people and which help."— Presentation transcript:

1 GREEK MYTHOLOGY Creation & Origin myths

2 myths WHAT ARE MYTHS Traditional stories whose meaning has an importance (resonance) for a people and which help shape their national character, and idea of self (identity). Eg Edmund Hilary story is a role model to NZers Achilles a role model to Greeks 9-11 as a motivate for US revenge. Christmas story inaugurates a period of peace for Christians. Story that explains the origins of a people, and give their lives meaning in an otherwise meaningless, chaotic world. Genesis explains the origin of the Hebrews etc Papa and Rangi the Polynesians Explain mankind’s relationship to the gods or god. Act as an answer to the terror of death Needed to be treated with respect, sacrifice, humility – like parents or rulers.

3 myths Are worked and reworked over generations until they have an aura of the sacred, and power to inspire. Oral at first, then later written story, drama, music, art, poetry Around 700BC by Homer – the stories of the Trojan wars, & Hesiod – the myths and legends of gods and heroes The truth status of myths: They are true in that most people subscribe to them. Historical truth was not considered until modern times. If they act effectively to define and the bind people together, and answer their fears of being meaningless, and destined to die – they are spiritually true. people think all myths but theirs are false - hence that most myths are false! Usually they are explaining metaphors, doing the same thing as modern metaphors of germs, psychological states, electrons, saints, star signs, “luck”. The psychology behind myth making is simple and universal – we all share them we would rather live a life with order than with chaos so we can understand the origin of good and bad things so as to be able to attract good, and avoid bad things. In a chaotic universe, there are no rules, and good or evil happens randomly, undeserved. We would always vulnerable, and that would be too stressful to stand.

4 Types of myths Creation myths: e.g. Genesis (Adam & Eve) Religious myths: Virgin birth of Christ, Birth of Athene Hero myths: e.g. stories of Heracles, Theseus, Christian saints Nature myths: natural phenomena in pre-scientific times needed to be explained to give a possibility of control against natural disasters. Charter myths: law-giving origin of the Ten Commandments or the Koran. Historical myths: explaining things from historical memory: e.g. the great flood, Atlantis, “where did our people come from?” Psychological Myths: falling in love (Eros’ arrows), becoming enraged (Eris – strife),

5 CREATION MYTH PELASGIAN VERSION Goddess Eurynome amidst the Chaos, separated the sky from the sea. She stroked the wind and it formed a serpent Ophion, which impregnated her. Now in dove-form she laid an egg which Ophion hatched The sun, moon, stars, planets, earth, plants & animals. 14 Titans, then from the soil of Arcadia (in Greece) she made Pelasgus the first man, and ancestor of the Pelasgians.

6 CREATION MYTH OLYMPIAN VERSION (Hesiod) Gaia (the Earth) emerged out of chaos as did Tartarus (the Underworld), Nyx (night) and Erebus (underworld darkness), and Eros (attraction): Gaia gave rise to Uranus (the sky), who fertilised her as rain, and plants & animals resulted and Pontus (the sea) who fertilised her to give birth to sea sea spirits & gods. Titans, and cyclops, and monsters also came for her union with Uranus, but he ordered her to keep them within her fearing they would overthrow him. She persuaded Cronos (Saturn), one of their titan sons to overthow Uranus. Cronos castrates his father and casts his genitals into the sea. Beautiful goddess Aphrodite (Venus) is born from his semen, also are the 3 Furies (avengers and oath guardians) on the sea.

7 CREATION MYTH OLYMPIAN VERSION (Hesiod) Cronos, now king of the gods, frees his siblings, and marries his sister Rhea It is prophesised that he will also be deposed by his son so he swallows their first 5 offspring (Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, & Poseidon). The last is Zeus but Rhea saves him by exchanging with a stone and gives him to Gaia for protection. Cronus swallows the stone, and Zeus is smuggled to Crete and raised by a goat Amalthea (whose horns were “horns of plenty” (cornucopia), became the constellation Capricorn. Zeus causes his father to throw up his brothers and sisters. After a 10 year war against Cronos and his Titan brothers, & Giants, Zeus and his siblings and the Cyclops, Zeus becomes the ruler of the Gods, ruling from Mt Olympus The Titans are locked up in Tartarus (except Atlas who is given a holding job beyond the pillars of Heracles, and his brothers Prometheus & Epimetheus) The Giants are imprisoned in mountains and their efforts to escape cause earthquakes, and eruptions. Eventually Zeus had children - Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Athene, Ares, Dionysus, and Hephaestus who joined him with his 5 brothers and sisters, on Mt Olympus. All these wars between Olympian gods and earlier monsters may reflect collective memory of the struggles of the old native matriarchal (earth-mother) religion of the Pelasgians, and the new, patriarchal (sky-father) Achaeans.

8 CREATION MYTH 5 AGES OF MAN Age of Golden - rule of Cronos - peace & plenty, no disease, a days work kept you going for weeks Age of Silver - quarrelsome & arrogant, not pious. Age of Bronze - warlike, and quickly became extinct in the great flood Age of Heroes - the two generations at the end of the Mycenean period (Heracles, Theseus, Achilles, Jason, Oedipus … Age of Iron - the time at then end of the Greek dark ages (time of Hesiod & Homer)

9 CREATION MYTH Prometheus The PROMETHEAN view of man's origins. The Titan brothers, Prometheus (name means 'foresight' or wise) and Epimetheus (name means after thought or unwise) escaped imprisonment in Tartarus after the war with the giants because they supported Zeus (Prometheus (“forethought” knew the outcome?) They were given the task of making animals and man from clay, breathed life into them, and gave them the some means of survival. Epimetheus had created animals and used up all the gifts available - like fur and fangs and feathers - on them, so Prometheus wanted to give men fire, and allow them upright stance like the gods. When he requested permission for fire from Zeus, he was refused, so stole it for them. Zeus had refused because he was mad at Prometheus who had tricked him into choosing poor quality meat offerings dressed up to look good. Explains why in classical times - the best portions were not used in sacrifices to the gods. Zeus had Pandora (“all gifts”) made by his son Hephaestus, and married her to Epimetheus with a sealed box as dowry. But before long Pandora opened the box, and all manner of ills (disease, anger, passion) escaped to plague man. Only hope remained in the box to keep man going. So mankind now had fire for cooking and crafts and technology This tale is often seen as an example of a charter myth excusing why it is OK to treat women as a source of evil (as does the tale of Eve and the Apple)

10 CREATION MYTH Punishment of Prometheus, the flood, & the origin of the Greek people PROMETHEUS was chained to a mountain in the Caucases mountains where an eagle fed daily on his liver. The liver grew back by night ready for the next day. This continued for centuries until Zeus allowed Heracles to release him in order to hear a prophesy from far-sighted Prometheus about his own fall from power. This is also seen as a myth showing how goodness struggles against unreasonable power and tyrants- even against the gods. Prometheus had a good son, Deucalion, who had assisted him during his suffering on the Rock by chasing off the Eagle. In reward his farseeing father warned him of a great deluge Zeus would send as a punishment for mankind’s evil, and that he must build a boat to escape with his wife (Epimetheus' daughter Pyrrha) to rebuild the race. (a universal myth – possibly from an real event in mankind’s collective memory) After the waters receded they get help from a titanness Themis who has them cast rocks over their shoulders as they walked away from her temple. As they did they turned into men and women to repopulate the land. The greeks, (Hellenes) claimed descent from Deucalion's son Hellen.


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