By Wm. Blake Tyrrell, Frieda S. Brown
This e-book analyzes the relationships among Athenian myths and the associations that knowledgeable them. specifically, it examines how myths encode options on ritual, the code of the warrior, marriage, and politics. Combining conventional historic and literary feedback with the methods of anthropologists, feminist critics, and cultural historians, the authors research particular examples of the epic and tragedy, in addition to funeral orations and the Parthenon marbles, to light up the methods mythic media exploited the ideals, innovations, and practices of fifth-century Athens, concurrently exemplifying and shaping that tradition.
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Extra resources for Athenian Myths and Institutions: Words in Action
Gaia conceives the ruse of the sickle and ambush, which Hesiod calls a "deceitful evil trick" (dolie kake techne). Kronos is deceived (dolotheis) into disgorging Zeus and the other Olympian gods. Variations of the phrase dolie kake techne occur six times, five in the narrative of Prometheus' carving trick. Prometheus lays out the white bones "in a deceitful trick" (540) and, in addressing Zeus, does not forget his "deceitful trick" (547). Zeus recognizes the "deceit" (551); anger comes over his spirit when he sees the ox's white bones "in deceitful trick" (555).
The warrior seeks combat among the foremost fighters where his arete may be seen and his boast to be the best at something may be proven. He fights to attain the respect that brings honor and material gains and softens the inevitability of death. Through fighting he becomes like a god among men and achieves the mediated immortality of his culture, remembrance through songs like Homer's. But men are not gods, and all men die. Unlike the majority, however, the warrior chooses to die on his own terms for honor.
For the warrior, arete meant, first and foremost, prowess in battle or, specifically, the capacity to kill an opponent. Simonides of Chios (c. 556468) voices the values of the warrior's code in this epitaph composed for the Athenians who fell fighting the Persians at Plataea (479): If to die nobly holds the greatest meed of excellence, fortune hath blessed us above all others. 253). 41 42 Athenian Myths and Institutions The warrior strove to be best (aristos). He vied in intense competition with other aristoi to win the most glory possible and to stand out from the group.
Athenian Myths and Institutions: Words in Action by Wm. Blake Tyrrell, Frieda S. Brown