Ancient Greek Mythology Study Notes

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In the BeginningChaos – a vast dark confusionUranus – god of the skyGaia – mother earthThe TitansKronos – titan rulerRhea – titian queenAtlas – titan condemned to hold up the sky/EarthPrometheus – titan who served as Zeus’ advisor until he gave man fireThe Olympians of Mt OlympusZeus – god of the sky, mightiest of all Greek gods, weapon is lightning boltPoseidon – Zeus’ brother, god of sea and earthquakes, weapon trident, hates OdysseusHades – Zeus’ brother, god of the underworld and the deadHera – wife of Zeus, contestant in the beauty contestHestia – goddess of the hearthDemeter – goddess of the harvestHephiastos – lame and ugly smith godAthena – goddess of wisdom, and war, contest in the beauty contestAphrodite – goddess of beauty and love, contestant in the beauty contestApollo – god of music and poetry, twin brother to ArtemisArtemis – goddess of the hunt, twin sister to ApolloHermes – messenger for the godsPersephone – goddess of the underworld, trapped and tricked by HadesAres – god of warNike – goddess of victoryDionysus – the god of winePan – man with goat feet who roamed in the wildernessProteus – old man of the seaMorpheus – the god of dreamsThe FatesThree goddesses who spin, measure and cut the yarn which is your life.

No one can change his fateNymphsGoddess like women who live in the wilderness of Earth and who epitomize female beautyThe FuriesFlying female monsters with serpent hair and bloody eyes who torture those who escape lawful punishment of a crimeThe MusesNine daughters of Zeus who inspire and preside over thought in all forms: epic poetry, history, mime, music, dance, choral poetry, tragedy, comedy, and astronomy.

The PoetsHomer – a Greek who wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey around 700BCVirgil – a Roman who wrote The Aeneid around 25 BCOvid – a Roman who wrote The Metamorphoses around 7ADDante – an Italian who wrote The Divine Comedy (The Inferno) around 1300ADMonstersGorgonsSirensScyllaCharybdisCharonCerberusHarpiesFuriesCyclopsTHE TROJAN WAR 1250 BCHomer: written around 700 BCThe Iliad – story of Achilles’ rage and his quarrel with Agamemnon. Ilium is another name for TroyThe Odyssey – story of Odysseus’s 10-year journey home from the war.

Virgil: written around 25BCThe Aeneid - Retells the story of the wooden horse and the burning of Troy from the Trojan point of view.

Trojan War: The PlayersThe Gods:Eris- the goddess of discordThetis – sea goddess and mother of AchillesThe MortalsThe Trojans:Priam – king of TroyHecuba – queen of TroyHector – royal son and the greatest of the Trojan warriorsParis – royal son, lover or abductor of Helen, judge of the beauty contest between the 3 goddesses, his actions spark the Trojan WarCassandra – royal daughter, a prophetess who is doomed to never be believedAeneas – a Trojan who escapes Troy and founds what will later be Rome, his journey is told in the Virgil’s Roman Epic Poem called The Aeneid.

Andromache – Hecotr’s wife.

Deiphobus – brother of Paris who married Helen after his brother.

The Greeks:Peleus – father of AchillesMenelaus – king of Sparta, husband to Helen and he wants her backHelen – the most beautiful mortal woman, goes to Troy with Paris and starts a warAgamemnon – general of the Greek army, brother to MenelausClytemnestra – treacherous wife to Agamemnon who kills him when he returnsOrestes – their son who kills his mom (Clytemnestra) to avenge his fatherAchilles – greatest of all mortal warriors, full of rage, impervious to injury except in his heel, son to goddess Thetis, his exploits are told in Homer’s Epic Poem The IliadChiron - the wise centaur who educated Achilles.

Neoptolemos – son of Achilles, he kills Priam during the sack of TroyPatroklos – friend of Achilles, killed by Hector while wearing Achilles armorThe Myrimidons – Achilles’ warriorsAjax – second greatest Greek warrior, kills himself after losing Achilles armor to Odysseus.

Sinon – An epic liar! Acting as if he is a traitor to the Greeks, he lies and says the Greeks left Troy and that they left the wooden horse as an offering to Athena.

Epeus – the builder who made the wooden horse.

Palamedes – the Greek who tricked Odysseus into showing that he was not insane.

Odysseus – King of Ithica, Greek battlefield commander in Troy, Planner of the Trojan horse attack, hero of The Odyssey, takes him 10 years to get home after 10 years at the Trojan War.

Penelope – Wife of Odysseus, doesn’t know if her husband is alive or dead, plagued by suitors.

Telemachus – Son of Odysseus, doesn’t know dad because he left for war when Telemachus was a newborn.

Other Mortals from The AeneidDido – Queen of CarthageTurnus – King of the RutlansLavinia – Aeneas’ bride to beAlso know all the adventures of:PerseusTheseusHerculesThe Trojan WarOdysseusAeneasRomulus and RemusThe Power of Fate:No one can change his fate and the more you try, the more you insure it.

Thetis was such a beautiful sea nymph that even Zeus wanted to sleep with her. But when he learned of a prophecy that said her son would be greater than his father, Zeus married her to a mortal king named Peleus and Thetis gives birth to Achilles.

Eris, the goddess of discord roles a golden apple into the wedding party of Peleus and Thetis that says “for the fairest of all.”The 3 hottest goddesses try to claim it – to settle it, there is to be a beauty contest.

Paris – a handsome prince of Troy and the son of Priam and HecubaBecause the gods won’t do it, he is asked to judge a beauty contest between Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera. Each offers him a bribe to pick her.

Athena – military wisdom and powerHera – wealth and powerAphrodite – sex/love of the most beautiful woman alive.

He picks Aphrodite and the other two become enemies of Troy.

Helen – a daughter of Zeus and a mortal is the hottest woman alive.

Problem: she is married to Menelaus the king of the warring Spartans.

Paris visits Sparta and Aphrodite has Helen fall for himThey flee to Troy together.

Menelaus gets all the Greek heroes, including his brother Agamemnon (the general of the Greek army to help him get her back. Agamemnon goes because of thirst for power, the rest go because as suitors of Helen back in the day, they agreed to save her if such a situation arose.

They sail across Aegean Sea to land at Troy and try to penetrate the Trojan Wall.

Menelaus, Agamemnon, Big Ajax, Little, Ajax, Odysseus, Nestor, Achilles, Diomedes, Patroklos, Stentor.

Mustering the Troops:Odysseus, the King of Ithaca – there was a prophecy that if he went to war, he would not get home for 20 years. He was just married to Penelope and had a newborn son, Telemachos so he didn’t want to go to war.

The clever Odysseus faked madness when they came to recruit him.

He plowed the rocky beaches, but Palamedes called his bluff by putting Telemachos in front of the horse. If he didn’t stop his new born son would be trampled.

Achilles – the greatest of all warriors.

Once Odysseus had to go, he knew the Greeks would need Achilles to win, but Achilles hated Agamemnon, and his mother knew that if he went to war he would win great glory but he would die there.

His mother, Thetis the sea nymph, sent him to Skyros and disguised him as a girl when Odysseus came calling.

Two different accounts of how.

1.Odysseus pretended to be a salesman and laid out girly stuff on one side of his blanket and weapons on the other. All the girls were into the girly stuff but only Achilles dressed as a girl was into the weapons.

2.Odysseus rings the alarm bell and when all the other women run and hide, Achilles takes up arms and runs to the front in drag.

Either way, he agrees to go to war and he takes his best friend/lover Patroklos as well as the Myrmidons his own crack commando army who were the first on the beach at Troy.

It took two years to get the army assembled in Aulis and to get the wind to blow so the Greeks could get to Troy, Agamemnon sacrifices his virgin daughter to the gods and makes his wife very upset with him.

At War:Paris vs. Menelaus:The war is a personal battle between the hulking war lord and the archer, pretty boy.

They agree to fight each other and let the winner take Helen to avoid a huge war.

Menelaus dominates Paris and when it is certain he is about to be killed, Aphrodite creates a thick fog, she swoops down and grabs him, pretties him up and delivers him to the bed of Helen for sexy times.

Meanwhile both armies realize the agreement has been broken and they start the battles again.

Achilles vs. Agamemnon.

Nine years into the war the Greeks won a battle and a priestess, Chryseis was taken by Agamemnon as booty.

Apollo sent a plague on the Greeks until she was given back.

After much convincing he gives her back but takes Achilles girl as consolation.

Achilles is outraged and he and the Myrmidon stop fighting.

Achilles also prays to mom to make things go badly for the Greeks (the rage of Achilles)Things are going very badly when…Nestor convinces Patroklos to lead the Myrmidon into battle wearing Achilles’s armor.

Patroklos is killed by Hector and the armor is taken as a prize.

Achilles goes mad with grief and even the Trojans can hear him howling.

Achilles gets new armor made by Hephaestus and he goes back to war full of rage.

Achilles vs. HectorWhen Achilles goes back to fight all the Trojans run behind the wall except for Hector.

Hector is chased around the wall three times before he turns to fight and is eventually killed.

His body is then dragged and derogated by Achilles who won’t return it for a funeral.

Priam guided by Hermes visits Achilles and convinces him to give the body back“I have just endured what no man has ever endured before. I kissed the hands that killed my son.”There is a truce during which the Greeks have games to honor the dead.

Achilles vs. ParisWith the help of Apollo, Paris shoots an arrow into Achilles’ one weak spot, his heal.

Achilles dies.

Odysseus vs. AjaxBoth of them want Achilles classy new armor, and when it is awarded to Odysseus, Ajax goes crazy and kills a bunch of sheep and then himself. See Ovid for their great debate.

OdysseusKnowing they are without their best warriors he uses his wits.

He recruits Neoptolemos, the son of Achilles to join the war effort.

He and Diomedes sneak iside the wall and steal the statue of Athena.

He comes up with idea for wooden horse.

Leaves it on the beach and send the ships off behind an island.]Sinon – An epic liar! Acting as if he is a traitor to the Greeks, he lies and says the Greeks left Troy and that they left the wooden horse as an offering to Athena.

Cassandra, Priam’s daughter, is doomed to see the future but never be believed.

She says don’t bring the horse inside the wall, but…To get the horse in they must rip down a part of the wall.

At night, the men inside sneak out, signal the other men and burn the city to the ground.

There was a lack of honor in winning a war by deceit and some of the gods were outraged at the pillaging and raping that went on.

Neoptolemos kills Priam in cold blood on an alter.

The Return Home•Menelaus gets Helen back and takes her to Sparta.

•Agamemnon takes Cassandra as booty. Agamemnon gets home and is murdered by his wife and her lover, Clytemnestra when he is in the bath.

Their son Orestes kills her and her lover as revenge.

•Neoptolemos takes Andromache as booty•Odysseus takes Hecuba as a slave. She snarls at him and the gods turn her into a dog so she can escape.Odysseus takes 10 years to get home – the story of The Odyssey.

References: Ancient Greek World by Ronald Mellor and Marni Mcgee