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The Birth of the Gods

Lecture 4A -- The Birth of the Gods Lecture

  Hesiod wrote two didactic (teaching) poems: The Theogony, meaning the "Birth of the Gods," and Works and Days, loosely cataloging the seasonal work done on farms.  Both of these works deal at times with the system of Greek mythology.

Chaos Theory:

Convection graph. Edward Lorenz.

Strange attractor 1: image

Strange attractor 2: movie

The Most Beautiful of the Deathless Gods

The Latin word Amor means love.  It is used to translate the Greek word Ἔρως (Eros), and they both refer to the love God better known as Cupid

  Hesiod claims that the muses first came to him when he was hearding sheep on Mt. Helicon, which a standard setting poets writing in his tradition.  His teaching about Eros describes a dangerous sort of love the wild passion that destroys the likes of Romeo and Juliet.  The idea of love as a tyrant goes back to the earliest Greek literature.  Hesiod is the first to tell us the story of Epimetheus and Pandora, the Greek Adam and Eve. 

In Hesiod's Theogony, for example, we find the following evaluation of Love:

In truth at first Chaos came to be, but next
wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundation of all the
deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus,
and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth,
and Eros ( Love), fairest among the deathless gods,                     [120]
who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind
and wise counsels of all gods and all men within their hearts.

When Virgil wrote "Omnia vincit Amor" [love conquers all], he did NOT mean that our love will overcome all our obstacles.  He meant that love overwhelms all of US.Love overrules our reason, "blurs sagacity," "overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all god and all men [and women] in their hearts."

Mutterrecht vs Vaterrecht.  Mother right vs father right.  Who is the primary parent who gets to decide what happens to the children?  J. J. Bachofen's theory.

Genealogy of the gods

Olympian Gods

Children of Kronos & Rhea

  1. Zeus was the head god, the god of thunder & lightning. He drew lots with Hades & Poseidon, his brothers, to choose territory. He got heaven & the universe; Poseidon got the sea; and Hades got underworld. They shared dominion over Mt. Olympus and the surface of the world.
  2. Hera was Zeus' sister & wife. She was very jealous of Zeus's affairs. As his wife, she reigned as the queen of heaven. Hera was the patron of marriage.
  3. Poseidon. God of the sea.
  4. Demeter. Zeus' sister. Mother of Persephone. Goddess of agriculture.
  5. Hestia. Zeus' sister. Goddess of family life & city hearth.

Children of Zeus and/or Hera

  1. Athena (= Minerva). The goddess of wisdom & crafts, both women's crafts (sewing) & men's (tool use, war strategy). She was born from Zeus' head after he swallowed Metis (mind). He swallowed Mentis after learning of a prophecy that if she had a son, he would displace Zeus (Hesiod 143-147).
  2. Hephaestus (= Vulcan) was born from Hera alone. He was the god of fire & metallurgy. He was also lame. He made thunderbolts for Zeus, and arms for gods & heroes. He Forged under Mt. Olympus & Mt. Etna, and the Cyclopes worked for him.
  3. Ares (= Mars). son of Zeus & Hera. god of war. His war frenzy contrasts with Athena's rational approach to war.

Children of Zeus & Leto

  1. Apollo. God of prophecy, purification, healing, sunlight, music
  2. Artemis. Sister of Apollo. Goddess of moonlight, hunting, animals. Originally a fertility goddess, she became a virgin goddess in Greece but remained a fertility goddess in Ephesus.
    Son of Zeus & Maia (daughter to Atlas, she was one of the stars in the Pleiades constellation (Hesiod 67, 149, 363)

Child of Zeus and Maia

  1. Hermes (= Mercury). Messenger of the gods. Wings on head & feet. Patron of speed & wits, not strength (Guthrie 91). Currently delivers flowers for FTD.

Child of Ouranos

  1. Aphrodite (= Venus). Goddess of love & beauty. Married to Hephaestus, had affair w/ Ares. Led Paris to take Helen (Hesiod p. 491). Only Artemis, Athena, & Hestia are immune to her (Hesiod xxxviii). Cronus castrated Uranus (heaven) while Uranus was mating with Gaia (earth). Cronus threw down Uranus' testicles; some of which landed in sea, causing foam. Aphrodite emerged from the foam. Predated other Olympic gods. However, in some versions of the myth, she is daughter of Zeus (Odyssey 8. 305).

The Creation of People

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