Essay Instructions: Mythology in the New World? Compare and contrast with "ancient" mythology. How does the timeline relate to other mythologies? (What happened earlier, later, same time?)
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Essay Instructions: In a carefully crafted response of a minimum of 250 words, discuss which of the myths outlined in these two chapters that you believe best represents the confrontation between male and female power in Greek mythology. Why do you believe this? In your discussion, refer to other myths in these chapters as points of comparison and contrast as you argue for your choice of myth. There is no "right" or "wrong" answer to this question.
From Chapter Five, "The Divine Woman in Greek Mythology":
1. Feminist scholars and archaeologists have demonstrated that there is evidence of goddess worship from the Paleolithic through the Bronze Age, but the fact that goddess worship was widespread in early Mediterranean and European societies does not indicate that these societies were matriarchal. The Great Goddess occurs in myth systems worldwide: in Greek myth, Gaea and Demeter; in Roman myth, Ceres and Terra Mater, in Egyptian myth, Isis, in Sumerian and Babylonian myths, Inanna and Ishtar. Before the male's procreative role was understood, the creative powers of the female were attributes of the Great Goddess, who is associated with three functions: life, death, and rebirth. The Great Goddess's triple nature is repeated in the patterns of heaven-earth-underworld and mother-maiden-crone. When agriculture was developed , the Great Goddess was identified as a grain or earth goddess, responsible for the annual agricultural cycle.
2. One of the goddess's symbols is the serpent, associated with the underworld and with rebirth because of its shedding of its skin. A related symbol is the World Tree, often depicted with a serpent twined around its trunk. The moon, which swells from crescent-shaped to full, disappears for several nights, and then reappears, is also associated with the goddess. In many myth systems, a moon goddess who mourns for a dead lover or child descends to try to reclaim the lost entity and then returns to the upperworld. The lunar symbol links life, death, and rebirth, and associates the physical and spiritual worlds over which the goddess presides. The vessel in its various forms (jar, vase, chalice, or cave), containing the secrets and waters of life, also symbolizes the goddess. The cow, sow, and birds may also function as goddess symbols. The division of the three aspects of the goddess into separate functions may in part reflect the invasion of Europe by martial, patriarchal, Indo-European cultures that worshipped sky gods. The goddess is absorbed into forms that are not threatening to the sky gods, such as virgin-wife-mistress.
3. Greek mythology, like many others, reflects the existence of an early creator goddess who gradually loses her powers. The original Great Goddess may have been relegated into the background in favor of other goddesses, or her powers may have been divided as she subordinated into various forms which did not challenge the newly-arrived male sky gods. The cow goddess is especially commong in ancient myth. In Greek mythology, the eastern princess Europa may have been such a cow goddess. Greek myth transforms the Great goddess in her death-wielding aspect into an old hag, such as the Gorgon, or into a witch, such as Hecate. The maid and mother aspects of the feminine triad reappear in forms subordinate to Zeus, such as Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite.
4. Patriarchy creates a new archetype, the hero, focusing on ondividual achievements that are linear and perpetuate the hero's reputation through time. Thus death becomes terrible as well as final, and the hero's aim is to achieve immortality and to resist accepting the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Gilgamesh in The Epic of Gilgamesh is such a hero, although he fails to achieve immortality. To justify, confirm, and retain its own power, patriarchy often transforms the postive attributes of the Great Goddess into negative attributes; an example is the serpent, a symbol of the renewal of life, that becomes a dragon with whom the hero must fight. Zeus's battle with Typhoeus represents the young god's battle with the World Serpent, who is an archetype of female power, knowledge, and rebirth.
5. The most powerful manifestation of the Great Goddess is Gaea, the parthenogenetic source of the universe. Hesiod'sTheogony moves the cosmos toward concentration of power in the male when Gaea, in the second generation of gods, compromises with or yields to the masculine principle of reproducing sexually. LIke many other creator goddesses, she is associated with the serpent; an example is her association with the Python at Delphi, which we will be studying in a later module. The castration and overthrow of Uranus may represent the ritual motif sparagmos, the dismemberment (and often eating) of the sacrificial victim to ensure new life. Since the form of violence in Hesiod's story is castration, the reference may be more ritually specific to rites in which the male deity or consort is dismembered and consumed. And although the violence against Uranus may be interpreted as an instance of frightening Oedipal envy, from a feminine viewpoint it effectively perpetrates the power of the Great Goddess and of life itself.
6. The story of Persephone is a recapitulation of Gaea's and Rhea's experiences: a child thrust into the underworld or earth by a male deity who has his own priorities. Demeter's actions are less direct that Gaea'a or Rhea's, for she can only withold her grain and negotiate a compromise. The triad of Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate represents the three phases of a woman's life: maiden, matron/mother, and crone. The phases of the moon--waxing, full and waning--are also associated the life phases of the female and the menstrual cycle. Demeter has all the functions of the Great Goddess except for parthenogenesis; Zeus is Persephone's father. As a nature myth, the story of Persephone represents the life cycle of the seed, planted underground and sprouting in the spring. As an etiological myth, the story provides an explanation for the seasons. As a charter myth, the story sets up social practices from the Eleusinian Mysteries and male-initiated marriage to the setting of a place at the table in honor of Demeter.
7. The Eleusinian Mysteries were a nine-day event celebrated each September and October in Eleusis outside of Athens. Not much information is available about them because they were part of a mystery religion limited to initiates. Ritual may have included a hieros gamos (sacred marriage) and an epiphany of the Goddess revealing a seed of grain that symbolized rebirth. Participants in the mysteries were promised a joyful afterlife. The ritual may have incorporated worship of Dionysus during his festival, because he shares attributes with Demeter and Persephone. For more information about the Eleusinian Mysteries, see "Additional Resources" in this module. The Thesmophoria was a sowing ritual practiced by women only that involved placing sacrificed pigs in a gully with snakes, pine cones, and cakes baked in phallic shapes. After three days, women would descend into the pit and retrieve the material, which would then be mixed with seeds for next year's crop. The myth reconciles the Great Goddess with masculine principles through the mediation of Zeus, who arranges the compromise between Hades and Demeter for sharing Persephone. The Persephone myth also reconciles the Great Goddess with patriarch through the institution of marriage.
8. Demeter embodies the triple aspect of the Goddess as mother, grain goddess, and goddess of the mysteries, as wel as mother (Demeter), maiden (Persephone), and older woman (Hecate). She represents the life-giving power of the earth's soil. Her function as the Great Goddess is clear when she has sex with Iasion in a fertile field (an example of the hieros gamos motif), and she is effectively subordinated to Zeus and patriarchal rule when Zeus sires her daughter Persephone. Persephone has a triple aspect symbolized by Athene, Artemis (both are with her in the fields prior to her abduction), and Persephone herself. The Persephone myth upholds female values of self-fulfillment in terms of the continuity of generations and the bond between mother and daughter, as opposed to the masculine archetypal experience of individuality and hostility between father and son. The myth also presents the female principle as a source of agriculture. According to one myth, civilization owed its start to Demeter rather than to Prometheus. Prometheus's gift of fire (and thus civilization) makes humans more independent of the gods but also creates antagonism between the human and divine realms, while Demeter's gift emphasizes bonding, reconciliation, and contnuance.
9. The Persephone myth explores the psychology of the individual woman's life cycles, both as mother and daughter. Persephone was also known to the Greeks as Kore, the word for "maiden" in Greek. Persephone matures sexually and marries, and the pomegranate symbolizes sexual experience but may also suggest menstruation. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which probably dates from the seventh century B.C., tells about Persephone's abduction and Demeter's nurturing of the child Demphon and her attempt to make him immortal. As a charter myth, the story of Demophon models a way of achieving immortality through communion with Demeter.
After reading Chapter Five, you should be able to:
explain how the term "Great Goddess" reflects the evolution of the female divinity's role in Greek mythology.
discuss the prevalence of Great Goddess myths in ancient cultures.
discuss how the triple nature of the Great Goddess relates to the patterns heaven-earth-underground and maiden-maiden-crone.
recognize and explain the significance of the many symbols of the Great Goddess.
discuss the decline of the matriarch and rise of the patriarch in Greek mythology.
explain how the masculine model of experience necessitated the hero.
explain why the emergence of dualism accompanied the rise of patriarch mythology.
discuss Gaea's role as the original parthenogenetic goddess
recognize the tension between the masculine and feminine principles inherent in Gaea's creation of the universe.
use Freud's theory of Eros (Desire) and Thanatos (Death) to analyze Gaea's myth.
explain how Gaea manipulates her husband in order to retain her functions as the source of life and death.
explain how each of the Great Goddess's significant functions is ultimately and negatively reinterpreted by a patriarchal regime.
discuss the subordination of the feminine in Hecate's development as a mythological figure.
explain how Demeter negotiates her way through the same crisis her mother Rhea and grandmother Gaea once faced, only in a distinctly different world, the world of patriarchal rule.
describe how Demeter's most important rituals, the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Thesmophoria, reflect her two major functions.
identify the events which comprise the Eleusinian Mysteries and describe the spiritually cleansing function of this ritual for the individual participant.
explain how the Demeter myth reconciles the powers of the Great Goddess with patriarchy and also reconciles the forces of life and death.
locate manifestations of the goddess's triple function throughout the Demeter myth.
locate specific tensions between masculine and feminine values in the Demeter myth.
discuss the beginning of civilization as presented in the myths of Demeter and Prometheus.
recognize the physical and psychological stages of a woman's life in the myth of Demeter.
summarize the significance of the events in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.
From Chapter Six, "The Olympian Family of Zeus: Sharing Rule of the Universe":
1. Homer and Hesiod established the character and functions of the gods for the Greeks. Some of the deities, including Aphrodite, Artemis, Poseidon, and Hermes, who had been independently powerful even into Mycenaean times, were transformed during the passage of time into siblings or children of Zeus and thus subordinated to him. According to Homer, Zeus and his two brothers divided the owrld by casting lots. Zeus received the sky, Poseidon the sea, and Hades the Underworld. (All three gods ruled the earth.) Hesiod's focus, however, is Zeus's rise to power, so in his poem the division of the universe among the three gods is the work of Zeus alone. Unlike the rules of his father and grandfather, Zeus's reign is characterized by stability and order. Despite occasional temporary opposition, he is able to maintain his position by giving each Olympian the power of independent governance in his or her own sphere. Greek gods could have been organized in any number of ways. The fact that the Greeks conceived of their gods as being members of a family is significant, because Zeus's power over the family unit was extensive but neither unlimited nor unchallenged. Arrangement of cosmic rulers in a diverse family of divine personalities both projected Greek human social hierarchies onto Olympus and also helped explain the human experience of contradictions and oppositions in life.
2. Zeus is the king of heaven, the champion of justice, sworn oaths, and lawful order. He is also a sky god, the god who gathers clouds and creates storms and is associated with thunder and lightening. Zeus is the closest that the Greek religion came to conceptualizing a supreme being. He is in origin an Indo-European sky god, and the root of his name--dyeus--associates him with the bright light of day. His character is paradoxical: the dignified king of the gods also has an uncontrollable sexual appetite, suggesting that the power of Aphrodite can overwhelm the king of heaven. His offspring include gods such as Artemis and Apollo, heroes such as Perseus and Herakles, and divine abstractions such as the Muses and Graces, personifications of the highest vaues of civilization. One of Zeus's most important worship sites is at Olympia. The Athenian sculptor Phidias designed the god's statue, made of gold and ivory, for his temple there.
3. The god Poseidon, brother of Zeus, represents the Greeks' fear of and respect for the storms of the Mediterrean. Poseidon competed with Athena for the patronage of Athens (and lost) and was the major reason that Odysseus experienced such difficulty returning to his home on Ithaca. His symbol is the trident, which he uses to generate huge waves at sea. He represents the brutal power of nature, and in addition to being the god of the sea is also the god of earthquakes. The animals associated with Poseidon are symbols of virility, the bull and and horses. His brother Hades rules the Underworld with his wife Persephone and wears a cap of invisibility. He is also associated with the gems and minerals of the earth. His epithet "many receiving" indicates that all human beings will one day be his guests.
4. Hera, Zeus's wife and older siser, is the patron of married life; her offspring are Ares, Eileithyia, Hephaestus, and Hebe. The queen of heaven, Hera alone retains the Great Goddess's ability to produce children parthenogenetically and gives birth to Hephaestus without sex. That he is physically impaired suggests to some scholars that her power is somewhat diminished. She is often portrayed as a jealous, nagging wife who is jealous of Zeus's many infidelities and resentful of his powers. Hera, who renewed her virginity every spring, may have descended from the Cretan snake goddess. Hera was celebrated with a famous cult at Argos, where she was associated with agriculture, adolescent initiations, and war, as well as marriage. The patriarchy interpreted Hera as the goddess of marriage, and her marriage to Zeus was permanent and faithful on her part, although always tense because their wishes often collided. In Greek myth, Hera rarely visits earth, but stays on Elympus trying to persuade Zeus to follow her intentions about human affairs. An exception to this is her disguising herself as an old woman to deceive Semele, one of Zeus's lovers and the mother of Dionysos.
5. Hera's frequent appearances in myth as a jealous wife who resents Zeus's power may reflect her response to his usurpation of powers that formerly belonged to the Great Goddess. On occasion she joined other Olympians in open revolt against Zeus. In a famous scene in the Iliad she enlists Aphrodite's help to seduce her husband in order to distract him from a battle in the Trojan War. Although she is always aware of her husband's suerior power, she never submits comfortably to his commands. She is contentious and often opposes him, another indication of her origin as a powerful, pre-Olympian, female deity, a representative of the Great Goddess. Her mythological position is complex and paradoxical, bacause as goddess of lawful marriage and legitimate childbirth she charters her own subordination.
6. Athena was originally a Bronze Age goddess whose name appears in the Linear B tablets. She, too, was probably descended from the snake goddess,and she is revered as a defender of cities; she is the patron goddess of Athens. Her virginity is a sign of her autonomy and independence, and she lives a life free of male of domination, with the exception of her father Zeus, with whom she has a particularly close relationship. She represents the wisdom that was characteristic of the Great Goddess: born from the head of Zeus, she combines his maleness with the domestic aspect of the female principle. According to Aeschylus's Eumenides, Athena established the first homicide court at Athens, and by doing so the goddess of practical wisdom advocated logical persuasion over brute force and bloody vengeance, both of which were the providence of the Furies and the less-civilized state of an earlier Athens. Although a virgin and the goddess of war, Athena is also closely involved in women's lives. The snake, which hides behind her shield, associates her with the Great Goddess, and she is the patron of weaving, the task of human women. As patron of wisdom and military victory, she also supervises women's tasks. Although usually self-disciplined, in one myth she engages in a beauty contest with Hera and Aphrodite that results in the Trojan War. Loyal to heroes who are intelligent and resourceful (Odysseus is the best example), she can be cruel to humans who offend her.
7. Artemis is a beautiful, self-sufficient, and independent goddess known as "the dangerous one"; her powers are threatening to male hegemony. One of the virgin goddesses, she is also a deity of paradox. Beautiful but frightening because of her independence, she defends any threat to her virginity ferociously. When the hunter Actaeon saw her bathing naked with her nymphs, she turned him into a stag that was devoured by his own hounds; this story is another example of the sparagmos motif. Artemis is associated witht the moon and Hecate because she has inherited the chthonic (earth-related) aspect of the Great Goddess, and in Asia Minor was associated with fertility. She is also known as the "Lady of the Wild Animals" becuse she is a guardian of creatures of the wild, as well as guardian of women's mysteries. The twin sister of Apollo, she is the patron of midwifery and childbirth because she helped their mother Leto deliver her brother Apollo. Greek women prayed to Artemis while in childbirth and were thought to be taken by her if they died in childbirth. Although Hera and her daughter Eileithyia are also associated with childbirth, Artemis is the goddess considered most in charge of this part of a woman's life. Like her brother Apollo, she is associated with archery and is patron of the hunt and protector of animals. She is known for for calling for bloody sacrifices; for example, she insists the Agamemnon sacrifice his daughter Iphigeneia before the Greek fleet can sail for Troy.
8. Aphrodite was initially a powerful creative force as an embodiment of sexual attraction and love, but under the patriarchal structure of Greek myth she is transformed into a lesser figure and represents the flirtatious aspect of love or the attraction of a mistress-figure. She is variously redefined from the powerful goddess of sexual passion to a wanton flirt, an adulterous mistress, or a whore--non-theatening roles from the view of the patriarchy. In a society that places great importance on marriage like that of the Greeks, she has no legimate social position. Her liaisons with humans usually have unhappy consequences; examples are Paris, prince of Troy; Anchises, the father of Aeneas, and Hippolytus, the son of Theseus. Aphrodite's affair with Adonis, her most famous human lover, was unfortunate for both of them. The story in its details is a charter myth for Aphrodite's cult at Paphos on Cyprus and also reflects the narrative of the dying vergetation. Aphrodite appearsmost significantly as the mother of Aeneas, the Trojan warrior who flees his burning city in order to found a new city in Italy, Rome.
9. Despite her youthful appearance, Aphrodite is a very ancient deity who participates in various archetypes: rising out of the sea, she is associated with the waters of life; her relationship with Ares, the god of war, signifies her dual role as goddess of love and war. Similarly to other goddess-consort relationships (other examples are Isis and Osiris, and Ishtar and Tammuz), Aphrodite's love for Adonis involves resurrection through love. Interactions of the beautiful Aphrodite with humans and divinities sometimes have tragic results. For example, she bribes Paris to choose her as the "fairest" of the goddesses and rewards him with Helen, another man's wife. The result is the Trojan War. The paradox of beauty and danger embodied in one character may represent the Great Goddess's functions as bringer of life and dealer of death. It may also reflect feelings about the complexity of the human female. Aphrodite's affairs sometimes cause problems for her as well. Adonis, her lover, is kept by Persephone in the Underworld and released annually to spend time with Aphrodite, much as Hades releases Persephone to go above ground on yearly basis. But Adonis is killed while hunting by Aphrodite's love Ares, who disguises himself as a boar. Adonis is transformed into an anemone, a flower that emerges each spring. Like his Near Easter counterparts Tammuz and Osiris, Adonis was the subject of a popular cult. Eros is the masculine counterpart of Aphrodite and, according to Homer, her son by Ares.
10. Hestia, under the terms of an agreement she made with Zeus, guards the Olympian hearth, never leaving her chosen place. As the principle of an unmoving center, she is crucial to any household, but the result of her static place on Olympus is that she has no stories of her own. She becomes much more important in Roman mythology, where she is known as Vesta and guards the sacred flame of Rome.
11. Apollo, the son of Zeus and Leto, represents both mental and physical harmony. He is the god of prophesy, whose oracle at Delphi was widely consulted throughout the ancient world. He is also the god of music and archery and an embodiment of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. In later myths, Apollo takes over the function of the sun god, Helios, and is the protector of the Muses. He is associated with both health and disease; his invisible arrows bring sickness, but his son Asclepius, the first doctor, represents his healing aspect. He is a god who is known for his distance from human beings; in Homer he is often called "he who strikes from afar."
12. Hermes, the son of Zeus and Maia, is a complex character who is Zeus personal messenger, and he is often depicted with winged sandals. Hermes invents both the lyre and panpipes, which is brother Apollo accepts from him. A traveler who crosses all boundaries, Hermes was representeed all over Greece by hermae, ithyphallic figures that guarded the gates and doorways from which journeys start. Hermes is also the god who leads the souls of the dead on their last journey to Hades, and is the only god who regularly visits the Underworld. He is the patron of travelers, traders, merchants, highwaymen, thieves, and gamblers. He also has a relationship with the paranormal and is associated with dreams and magic.
13. Hephaestus, the son of Hera, is a gifted craftsmen married to Aphrodite, who is unfaithful to him. He is associated with fire and volcanoes and is the only god who has a physical imperfection, a limp. Ares is the god of war in its aspects of cruelty and violence; Athena represents war in its aspects of victory and strategic planning. The Greeks worshipped but did not entirely respect Ares; the Romans, on the other hand, saw Ares, whom they called Mars, as the patron of their expanding empire. Dionysus, the only god who was born human, is the god of wine, intoxication, nonrationality, and ecstasy. He is the patron of tragic drama, and it is believed his rituals were the origin of tragic drama. Pan, who has the body of a satyr (half man, half goat), is a personfication of wild nature. He produces enchanting music with his panpipes, but can also strike humans with fear. Our word panic has its origin in Pan's name.
After reading Chapter Six, you should be able to:
sketch out Zeus's character in all of its complexity.
discuss the familial and political structure of Olympus.
discuss Zeus's ambiguous relationship with the Fates (Moirae).
recount Hera's dominant myths, including her parthenogenic birth of Hephaestus and her role in the creation of the Milky Way.
identify Poseidon's major functions and character traits and unexplain his unpopularity among mortals.
discuss Demeter's role as goddess of the fertility of the soil, and explain how this role is thematically evident in the myth of the Hades's abduction of Persephone.
explain why the ancient Greeks viewed Hades as neither good nor bad.
discuss Hestia as a personfication of the female ideal in a patriarchal society.
identify Athena's many contradictory functions and attributes, and discuss her complex relationship with the patriarchy.
tell the story of Apollo's birth, and describe his many functions and attributes.
explain the significance of Delphi to the ancient world.
explain how Artemis poses a threat to male hegemony.
explain why it is appropriate that Hermes is the patron of all who live by movement and mental agility.
discuss Hephaestus's position as the son of Hera (and only Hera) and the husband of Aphrodite.
explain why Aphrodite is seen sometimes as a flirt or whore, and at other times as the goddess of love and passion.
explain why Eros is described as the masculine manifestation of the love goddess.
recount the unique circumstances of Dionysus's birth and explain how and why his worship gave birth to drama.
discuss Pan's role in the workings of the ancient universal order.
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Total Pages: 11 Words: 3642 Bibliography: 11 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Essay
Essay Instructions: paper must discuss and consider the following;
What is the historical context for Egyptian Mythology? Why was it written? what types of bias does it contain?
Why is Egyptian Mythology important in understanding global history? What types of international issues does it raise?
What types of questions does Egyptian Mythology leave behind? how might historians go about answering those questions?
Excerpt From Essay:
Total Pages: 2 Words: 796 Sources: 4 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Research Paper
Essay Instructions: Individual Assignment: Foundations of Mythology Short Answers
Write 150- to 200-word responses to each of the following:
How is the word myth used popularly? For example, what does the statement, ?It?s a myth? mean? In contrast, how is the word myth used in the academic context? After considering the definition in your textbooks and course materials, write a definition in your own words.
Why do myths from different cultures around the world address such similar or universal themes? Think about how myths explain the unknown and the tribulations of mankind.
What is the relationship between belief, knowledge, mythology, and religion? Where do mythology and religion intersect? Where do they diverge? Think about the function of myth and religion in helping human beings cope with change, suffering, loss, and death.
How would you defend mythology?s relevance in contemporary culture? Think about familial and cultural traditions. Also, consider how mythology is used in the arts and in advertising to typify human experience.
Format your citations and references consistent with APA guidelines.
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