Greek Myth: Myths of Death

  1. Grecian Views of Death, Dying and the Dead
    • - complex attitudes towards death and the dead
    • - bleak conception of the afterlife
    • - happiness must be achieved in this life
    • - a few mythical figures escape death: Elysian fields, apotheosis?
    • - katabasis : going down... recurrent motif (Persephone)

    - what does Pluto mean, why do ppl call him that
    - what is his other name
    - who is his wife
    - symbos
    - dangerous?
    - stands for
    - what kind of existence (humans) in Hades?
    • - Pluto means "enricher" (Latin Dis.). Called Pluto because ppl dont want him to hear them saying his name --> call attention to themselves.
    • - other name: Polynexos "all welcoming"
    • - wife Persephone
    • - Cornucopia "horn of plenty --> riches in Hades, precious metals under earth
    • - dangerous god, treat with great respect
    • - represents the difference btw body and soul (psyche) - breath of life leaves the body
    • - ghosts (eidola): shaddowy existence in Hades --> invisible, unhappy, dangerous
  3. Greek views of Death: a crossing over

    - what happened with Odysseus

    - what happens when you get down there
    Odysseus (Homer's Oddyssey) --> he is directed to go the Circe to speak to the prophet Tiresias. Sails to the shores of Ocean; summons ghosts of the dead by pouring libations. Sees first Elpenor (sailor/friend who had died before they set sail, asks to go back to bury his body). Next sees his mom Anticlea, but cant hug her because he is transparent

    - once you go down, cross over the river Styx, then the soul will be judged by Minos (mythical king of Crete) and Rhadamanthys (brother)

    - Aeacus - gatekeeper, Cerberus - many headed dog, guard of Hades
  4. Where do Great sinners go?

    Some examples?
    -Tantalus (Pelops)
    - Sisyphus (Thantaos)
    sinners --> Tartarus (place of great punishment)

    Tityus - tried to rape Leto. Placed in Hades having a bird devour his liver

    Tantalus - favorite of the gods, invited to eat with them, but arrogant and cut up his son Pelops and fed it to them to see if they would eat. Bring Pelops back to life. Tantalus --> food and water just beyond reach

    Sisyphus - smart, tattled on Zeus for sleeping with maiden. He told her dad. Zeus sends death - Thanataos. Sisyphys traps him and puts him in chains --> no one dying, Hades insnt getting food. Hades sends Zeus and Ares to go get him and let him go / get Sisyphys, but Sis. tells his wife not to pour funeral libations if he goes missing --> cant die yet. But eventually he does die and has to push a giant boulder up a hill every day
  5. Myth of Orpheus and Euryice
    Orpheus is the best player of the lyre. He falls in love with Eurydice. Before the wedding O's friends try to rape E. She flees and in the process is bitten by a snake, and dies. O. declares that he will go get her back from Hades. Plays his way into Hades, and Hades agrees to let her go if he doesnt look back once on his way out. As they're leaving he checks right at the end to make sure shes there --> see's the shade of her form turn around and go back.

    Then he hates other women, continues playing lyre. Some women get angry and rip him apart, The head, still singing floats down a river until finally Apollo quiets it

  6. - Plato's Myth of Er (Republic)
    Aeneas (Virgil's Aeneid)
    - metempsychosis: transmigration of souls - belief that sould stya in Hades and then eventually occupy another body

    - Plato's Myth of Er: hero almost dies, allowed to come back up and report what he has seen.

    - Aeneas - another katabasis; goes to Sibyl (golden bow) of Cumae and hears that he will be given something that will allow him to pass into hades. Needs to talk to dad Anchises to find out where to build Rome. Sees friend Palinurus who died, not buried, and his queen Dido who committed suicide b/c he left her.

    • Hears cries of great sinners in Tartarus: Ixion - throws himself into a cloud form of Hera (created by Zeus to see if he likes her). Semen on ground --> centaurs. Punished by being tied to a forever revolving ring of fire.
    • Danaids - King Danaus told them to kill their 50 husbands. have to fill a huge tup of water with a spoon full of holes

    Aeneid sees dad in the Elysium Fields.

    Needs to go back to earth, so does not drink from the River Lethe: makes you forget who you are --> transmigration of souls
  7. katabasis
    Theseus and Pirithous
    - Heracles
    • - Theseus and Pirithous: both wives die, want to marry the daughters of Zeus. Theseus chooses Helen of Troy, Pirithous wants Persephone. Go to Hades, he invites them for dinner, then flesh stuck to chair.
    • - Heracles comes down, T asks for help so Heracles rips him out of the chair, makes it, but left part of skin --> Athenians have slip hips. P stays.
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Greek Myth: Myths of Death
Myths of Death