Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Hesiod, Mythical Chronology, and the Greek Sacrifice Ceremony

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Hesiod, Mythical Chronology, and the Greek Sacrifice Ceremony"— Presentation transcript:

1 Hesiod, Mythical Chronology, and the Greek Sacrifice Ceremony
Sept. 5, 2012

2 Mythical Chronology Creation of the world and the gods
Generational conflict among gods, culminating with establishment of Zeus’ order on Mount Olympus Creation of humanity; Ages of Man Creation of rules governing proper interactions of gods and humans  sacrifice ceremony

3 Hesiod (ca. 700 BC) Second-oldest (after Homer) Greek poet

4 Hesiod’s Poetry 2 major poems: Theogony, and Works and Days
Theogony - “Birth/generation of the gods” Epic poems, composed and performed orally Mentions in W&D that he won a prize for the Theogony at a funeral contest

5 Theogony: Outline Lines 1-104: Hymn to the Muses
Remainder of poem – a sort of hymn to Zeus Tells succession myths in chronological order, culminating with kingship of Zeus Interweaves genealogy of gods with succession myths Ends poem with a list of Zeus’ liaisons, and list of goddesses who had relationships with mortals

6 Hesiod’s Description of the Muses
“I begin my song with the Helikonian Muses whose domain is Helikon, the great god-haunted mountain; their soft feet move in the dance that rings the violet-dark spring and the altar of mighty Zeus… (they) raise enchanting voices to exalt aegis-bearing Zeus and queenly Hera…” (long list of other gods follows)

7 Mount Helicon and Valley of the Muses

8 Muses’ Address to Hesiod
“Listen, you country bumpkins, you pot-bellied blockheads, we know how to tell many lies that pass for truth, and when we wish, we know to tell the truth itself.”

9 Inspiration of Hesiod “So spoke Zeus’s daughters, masters of word-craft, and from a laurel in full bloom they plucked a branch, and gave it to me as a staff, and then breathed into me divine song, that I might spread the fame of past and future, and commanded me to hymn the race of the deathless gods, but always begin and end my song with them” (ll )

10 Hymn to the Muses as Preface to Theogony
Establishes superiority of gods (e.g., Muses) over mortals Civilization as gift from gods (e.g., Hesiod’s poetic art is gift from Muses) Character of gods ambivalent (e.g., Muses are both kind and mean) Gods (including Muses) want humans to know the myths of their origins Muses provide authority for Hesiod’s poem

11 Hesiod on Creation of the World
Chaos was born first and after it came Gaia… and the misty Tartaros in the depths of broad-pathed earth and Eros, the fairest of the deathless gods… Chaos gave birth to Erebos and black Night… Gaia now first gave birth to starry Ouranos, her match in size, to encompass all of her, and be the firm seat of all the blessed gods (ll )

12 Similarities to Mesopotamian Creation Myths
Repeated generational conflict, where new gods have to defeat old ones Use of monsters by older gods to fight their battles Castration/mutilation of older gods by newer ones  results in birth of other gods/natural phenomena

13 Zeus’ order in Theogony
His order is solidified by the generation of children – other powerful gods who support him, esp. Athena Episode of Metis/Athena prevents overthrow. Initially still absent from this order are gods in charge of civilization

14 Birth of Civilizing Institutions
Foundations of society: Zeus and Themis bear the Horae (Lawfulness, Justice, Peace) and the Fates (Spinner, Apportioner, Inescapable) Foundations of fun in society: Next, Zeus and Eurynome parent the Graces (Splendor, Festivity, Abundance) Next, Demeter + Zeus => Persephone. Civilized pleasures and basic features of human life: Zeus + Mnemosyne => Muses; Zeus + Leto => Apollo and Artemis; Zeus + Hera => Hebe (Youth), Ares, Eileithyia (goddess of childbirth)

15 The Paradox of Zeus’ Order
Zeus overthrew his own father and the previous order with violence, but the product is civilization Zeus himself fears being overthrown. E.g., his treatment of Themis and Thetis

16 Problem: The Gods and Morality issues
The many loves of Zeus (catalogue at the end of Theogony): progeny necessary to securing his order Xenophanes (late 6th/early 5th c. BC) on the gods’ behavior: “Homer and Hesiod have attributed to the gods all things that bring rebuke and blame among men – stealing, adultery, deceit”

17 Rules of Behavior for Gods
Theogony on consequences of perjury for gods, if they swear a false oath on the river Styx: a year-long coma, and a 9-year exile from company of other gods.  Even gods have rules/laws. Oath-taking is a method of trial as late as 5th-century Athens

18 The Significance of Sacrifice Ritual: Establishes Order
How are humans supposed to interact/communicate with the gods? How did the current rules governing the interactions of humans and gods come about? In what ways do humans differ from the gods? In what ways are they similar/related?

19 The Warka Vase (ca BC)

20 Sacrifice Ceremony – Greek BBQ
Greek sacrifice customs: humans roast and eat the meat The gods get the inedible/worthless parts of the sacrificial carcass (fat and bones) Fire necessary for sacrifice ceremony Myths of origin of fire and origin of sacrifice customs are connected: Prometheus gave both to humans

21 Prometheus Name means “Forethinker” – he is ahead of his time, and shows too much initiative for his own good. Son of Iapetus, one of the 1st-generation Titans  implicit resentment towards Zeus’ order Brothers: Epimetheus (Afterthinker), Atlas, Menoitios. Trickster figure/culture hero

22 Origins of the Greek Sacrifice
Prometheus and the sacrifice at Mekone Aetiological myth (explains an existing Greek custom by giving it a mythical foundation). The custom is complex, so the myth answers the puzzling questions: Why are the gods offered bones and fat? Why do humans get to eat the meat?

23 Prometheus and the First Sacrifice
“When the gods and mortal men were settling their accounts at Mekone, Prometheus cheerfully took a great ox, carved it up, and set it before Zeus to trick his mind. He placed meat, entrails, and fat within a hide and covered them with the ox’s tripe, but with guile he arranged the white bones of the ox, covered them with glistening fat, and laid them down as an offer…” (Hesiod, Theogony ll. 535 ff.)

24 Significance of the Sacrifice Ritual
Distinguishes man from both gods and beasts, and shows the hierarchy (gods, then men, then beasts) Man cooks his meat, rather than eating it raw Man does not eat man Gods do not eat cultivated food Fire stands for technical expertise

25 Consequences of First Sacrifice
Instrumental in creating sacrifice procedure that will henceforth be followed by all humans. The procedure was ratified by Zeus’ acceptance of that first sacrifice Zeus is aware of the trick, but plays along anyway  anger for the sacrifice Paradox of the first sacrifice

26 Prometheus the Fire-Bringer
Zeus angry about sacrifice at Mekone  hides fire from humans Appropriate punishment: use of fire allows the sacrifice to exist, but Zeus hated the first sacrifice No description of the sacrifice in Works and Days; just a brief comment that P. had somehow cheated Zeus. Prometheus steals fire back from the fennel-stalk Zeus even more angry Creation of Pandora

27 Pandora Payback trick from the gods in response for Prometheus’ trick with the sacrifice Another aetiological myth: explains the reasons for the origins of evils that humans have to bear; e.g., the origin of the suffering of childbirth NO SUCH THING AS PANDORA’S BOX!!! It is actually a pythos (jar) Story of the jar in Works and Days; not mentioned in Theogony Pandora = Eve-equivalent in Greek myth

28 The Problem of Pandora Origin of woman – punishment for man from Zeus for the deceit of the first sacrifice conducted by Prometheus  When gods squabble, humans get caught in the middle (cf. Demeter’s withholding of crops from earth when punishing Zeus) According to Works and Days, her name designates the gifts of all the gods to her  gift from the gods = BAD!

29 Alternate Versions of the Myth
Theogony Sacrifice at Mekone Prometheus steals fire Zeus orders the creation of Pandora Description of Pandora List of the horrors that a wife and marriage bring to a man’s life Works and Days Prometheus steals fire Zeus’ threat and laughter Zeus orders the creation of Pandora Pandora opens the jar, and lets out all sorrows; only Hope remained inside

30 Prometheus as Culture-Bringer
Prometheus Bound ll – list of arts that Prometheus taught humans: Sense (I.e., common sense) Building/architecture Agriculture; how to yoke animals Writing How to tame the horse; use of wagons/carts Ships Medicine

31 Prometheus in Later Myths
Later mythographers Apollodorus and Pausanias tell how he molded the human race out of clay  Prometheus as creator of mankind N.B. Theogony does NOT tell how humans came into being. Hesiod is only concerned with the origins of the gods In Works and Days, Hesiod follows the myth of Prometheus and Pandora with myth of succession of human races

32 Interactions of Gods and Humans
Set rules/institutions through which humans may reach the gods, and the gods may respond The myths about the establishment of these rules/institutions, however, show that these interactions are not founded on goodwill of the gods Gods highly concerned with getting their due from humans – honor/respect, sacrifices When humans do not fulfill their part of the bargain, the relationship of gods and humans gets ugly

33 Sophocles, Antigone “The Ode to Man”
Chorus: Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man; the power that crosses the white sea, driven by the stormy south-wind, making a path under surges that threaten to engulf him; and Earth, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, doth he wear, turning the soil with the offspring of horses, as the ploughs go to and fro from year to year…

34 The Ode to Man: List of Achievements
Ploughing and working the earth Hunting and capturing beasts of air, sea, and land  “man excellent in wit” Taming the horse with the yoke “Speech and wind-swift thought, and all the moods that mold a state (I.e., laws), hath he taught himself” Surviving adverse weather Man is only powerless against Death Cunning (metis) as most important quality

35 The Ode to Man: Cunning “Cunning beyond fancy’s dream is the fertile skill which brings him, now to evil, now to good. When he honors the laws of the land, and that justice which he hath sworn by the gods to uphold, proudly stands his city: no city hath he who, for his rashness, dwells with sin. Never may he share my hearth, never think my thoughts, who doth these things!”

Download ppt "Hesiod, Mythical Chronology, and the Greek Sacrifice Ceremony"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google