The Greek Myths
Robert Graves, classicist, poet, and unorthodox critic, retells the Greek legends of gods and heroes for a modern audience And, in the two volumes of The Greek Myths, he demonstrates with a dazzling display of relevant knowledge that Greek Mythology is “no more mysterious in content than are modern election cartoons.” His work covers, in nearly two hundred sections, the creation myths; the legends of the births and lives of the great Olympians; the Theseus, Oedipus, and Heracles cycles; the Argonaut voyage; the tale of Troy, and much more. All the scattered elements of each myth have been assembled into a harmonious narrative, and many variants are recorded which may help to determine its ritual or historical meaning, Full references to the classical sources, and copious indexes, make the book as valuable to the scholar as to the general reader; and a full commentary on each myth explains and interprets the classical version in the light of today’s archaeological and anthropological knowledge.
The curriculet is being added to your library
Introduction to the Penguin Classics Edition by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan's explanation of what Greek myths are and have been to centuries of human beings really puts into scope their significance. Riordan, himself an author of a series inspired by the Greek myths, presents Greek myths as timeless and appealing to all.
The Lightening Thief is the first of Riordan's Percy Jackson series. A film version (2010) followed the 2005 release of the book. (This annotation contains an image)
Riordan credits Robert Graves with deepening his understanding of the Greek myths, but who was responsible for turning him on to them in the first place?
Literature that is meant to instruct is called didactic. Many cultures have didactic texts (for example, the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, etc). As you begin to read these Greek myths, consider the lessons each one stands to teach. How might these stories have been used to teach, inform a public or sway society into a certain belief system?
What does Rick Riordan rely on in introducing this book?
Introduction by Robert Graves
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
What does this list of what true myths are not convey to you about the nature of true myths? How does Graves expect us to view true myths?
Graves is outlining for his readers a few important historical pieces that will help the reader in understanding the set of Greek myths that will follow. What have you read so far that seems to be counter to your understanding of how we came to have concepts of time, power, heritage, etc.?
According to Graves's account, where do modern concepts of time originate?
Hellenic refers to classical Greek culture. Pre-Hellenic would the cultures and civilizations in the areas that would become the Greek empire before the classical Greek empire arose. The fact that the Olympian system is being presented as a compromise between the two time periods suggests that many of the elements of classical Greek mythology come from much earlier time periods and cultures.
Which of the following arguments does the highlighted section support?
How would you summarize Robert Graves's approach to cataloging all of these Greek myths? How does he seek to present them to his readers?
This note is important to the rest of your experience reading this book. Much of the text is actually footnotes that go along with each myth. You will need to decide how you want to approach reading a text like this since there are multiple ways you might do so. Do you prefer to read the entire myth and then go back to look at footnotes? Do you like pausing to reference the notes before you go on? Try both ways and see which suits your style best, but be sure not to skip over the notes that accompany each myth.
1. The Pelasgian Creation Myth
The first five myths you will read are all creation myths. Creation myths tell the story of the origin of the earth and all creation. One Western example of a creation myth is the story in Genesis (the first book in the Bible) about how God created the heavens and the earth in seven days. Many (if not all) cultures have creation myths or stories that are used to explain the existential questions that most humans encounter: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? As you read the next four sections (five myths in all) think about the creation myths you are familiar with. How are these similar? What makes them different?
Which of the following does this first footnote explain?
2. The Homeric and Orphic Creation Myths
Because modern cultures are patriarchal, not matriarchal as Graves has pointed out, much of the culture in which the Greek myths originated in was, this annotation's reference to "proper relations of the sexes" is meant to explain the more equal role male and female characters played in this particular creation myth. There is, however, still a great emphasis on the role of goddesses and women in this myth.
3. The Olympian Creation Myth
What is different about the concept of reproduction in this myth as compared to the first two?
National Geographic recently reported on this lost fortress of the Garamantians. Visit the website to see the structure and to learn more about this ancient civilization. (This annotation contains a link)
4. Two Philosophical Creation Myths
What inference can you draw about creation myths across cultures?
5. The Five Ages of Man
Prometheus is said to be a Titan who sided with Zeus in the great clash between the Olympians and the Titans. He later was punished by Zeus for giving fire to mortals (humans). This painting depicts Prometheus's eternal punishment: to be chained to a rock and have his liver eaten day after day by an eagle after it has regenerated from the night before. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the five ages of man seek to explain? After reading the first footnote, what is likely the reason that the kinds of men who make up the five ages get gradually worse and worse?
6. The Castration of Uranus
A sickle is a sharp handled tool used to cut grains (or as a weapon in the case of this myth). This is an example of a neolithic sickle made from wood and flint. (This annotation contains an image)
7. The Dethronement of Cronus
View the following image of a ceramic container, called a pelike, of Cronus and Rhea from the 5th Century B.C. How does this depiction differ from the images the myth itself brings up? (This annotation contains an image)
Robert Graves argues that true myths are the narrative versions of depictions and performances left behind. How does the image of the ceramic container above compare to the narrative version of the story in this myth?
Io is the name of one of the planet Jupiter's moons. This moon is about the size of earth. Many of the names that you encounter as you read have been passed down through the ages to become celestial bodies, characteristics, and well-known figures. What does this say about the significance of these Greek myths? (This annotation contains an image)
What other important triads have been mentioned so far in this text?
8. The Birth of Athene
Libya is a country in North Africa. Crete is an Island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. If Cretan culture spread to Greece during the First Minoan Age impacting early Helladic Greece, what is significant about the fact that Northern African people and traditions had migrated to Crete as early as 1000 years prior? (Keep in mind that when you are looking at years in B.C. or before Christ, the years go backwards so that 4000 BC would have been before 3000 BC). (This annotation contains an image)
9. Zeus and Metis
Why might the myths surrounding both Cronus's and Zeus's offspring be so similar? What does this say about those telling the story as well as about the characters themselves?
10. The Fates
The three Fates are depicted here. Which of the descriptions of the Fates in the text is this image likely to be based on? (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about Aeschylus, Herodotus, and Plato?
12. Hera and Her Children
Both Cronus and Zeus married their own sisters. Zeus tricked Hera into marriage by disguising himself, "ravishing" her, and shaming her into marriage. This reflects a traditional belief that it is shameful to marry a woman who is not a virgin. The word 'ravishing' is an interesting choice here as it implies a sense of passion and abandon. Based on other information in this myth, it may be inferred that Hera was not a willing participant and was forced against her will.
Which of the following does this first footnote support?
13. Zeus and Hera
This image is a depiction of a statue of Zeus that is believed to have been in Olympia, Greece during the 5th Century BC. (This annotation contains an image)
Compare and contrast your understanding women's rights throughout American history with the rights of women as portrayed in these myths. How are they similar and how are they different?
14. Births of Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, and Dionysus
This ceramic container depicts Apollo with Maia, Zeus and the infant Hermes. Graves points out to his readers that Zeus's behavior coincides with the overthrowing of goddesses (like Maia- the earth goddess) in a variety of places in which the Hellenic Greek were successful in conquering local people and customs. (This annotation contains an image)
In which other work does an apple figure prominently?
15. The Birth of Eros
The Olympian family of Twelve consists of (in order of appearance in the image below) Aphrodite, Athene, Zeus, Hephaestus, Demeter, Hera, Apollo, Dionysus, Artemis, Poseidon, Ares and Hermes. (This annotation contains an image)
16. Poseidon’s Nature and Deeds
Which of the following best characterizes Poseidon based on this description?
Hecate is not often pictured with the head of a dog, but is frequently pictured as having three heads. Where else does the number three figure into these myths? What other numbers seem important? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is the character type we can infer from the Fury Nemesis?
17. Hermes’s Nature and Deeds
A lyre is a stringed musical instrument. The one in the image below is made out of a tortoise shell, like Hermes's would have been. (This annotation contains an image)
From which people does Graves suggest we get boxing, gymnastics, weights and measurements, music astronomy and olive culture?
18. Aphrodite’s Nature and Deeds
Though you aren't reading a "story" per say, but rather a set of stories or myths that encapsulate the human experience, you can still look for and recognize how the gods, goddesses and mortals are characterized in these myths. Watch the video below to learn about ways to detect characteristics. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following does not accurately characterize Aphrodite?
Aeneas is the hero of Virgil's Aeneid. Aeneas is a Trojan hero who is credited with founding what would become Ancient Rome. Some consider Aeneas to be the first true hero of Rome. (This annotation contains an image)
Both the words hermaphrodite and androgynous come from these two characters. A hermaphrodite is someone born with both sex organs. Androgynous means of indeterminate sex (looking or seeming to be neither fully male or female). Graves points out that these concepts likely originated in the "transition from matriarchy to patriarchy." Why might this concept have helped with that change?
19. Ares’s Nature and Deeds
What lesson stands to be learned from the beginning of this myth?
20. Hestia’s Nature and Deeds
Delphi, pictured below in its present state, was the location of the temple of Apollo. Here, oracles, or a Pythoness, would be induced into a trance-like state. Priests would interpret the answers to questions that were asked of the oracle. (This annotation contains an image)
21. Apollo’s Nature and Deeds
What do Apollo's actions reveal about his nature?
Greek hyacinth is pictured below. Do you see any initials? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Graves's goal in including conflicting accounts of Apollo's origin?
Romulus and Remus were twin brothers raised by a wolf. They wanted to found a great city, but could not agree on the site, so Romulus killed Remus and founded Rome. The story of Romulus's death is that he disappeared in a storm. This was shortly after a ritual sacrifice and gave rise to the idea that he was actually killed for political reasons.
22. Artemis’s Nature and Deeds
Why might Artemis have asked for eternal virginity? Given that other figures have had their virginity renewed, do you think that Artemis wishes to remain a real virgin for all eternity?
The Celtic 'hounds of Hell' are pictured below. What does it suggest that Celtic (coming from the British Isles) myths became part of these Greek myths? (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the tone of the last footnote different from the previous ones?
23. Hephaestus’s Nature and Deeds
What does this information tell you about the importance of smiths?
24. Demeter’s Nature and Deeds
The highlighted sentence includes _________.
Graves explains in the footnote that Core, Persephone and Hecate are a reincarnation of the Goddess in Triad. Why does this underlying focus on Goddess worship remain despite the clear overthrow of matriarchal power?
How does the poem "The Garden of Proserpine" compare to the myth you just read about Persephone?
Visit the website below to read the poem "The Garden of Proserpine." Which images or concepts strike you as being connected to this myth of Persephone? (This annotation contains a link)
Watch the following video on personification in literature. Is this usage of personify the same as the personification you learn about in the video? What does it mean that Iambe and Baubo personify the obscene songs sung to relieve tension? (This annotation contains a video)
The pomegranate, in this instance, is _____________.
25. Athene’s Nature and Deeds
Myths serve many functions. The highlighted section reveals that the existence of a particular mountain can be attributed to Athene herself. These kinds of tidbits of explanation of everyday things are common in myths, fables, parables and anecdotes throughout cultures.
Which of the following is the best synonym for petulant in the highlighted sentence?
26. Pan’s Nature and Deeds
Pan is depicted as a half goat, half man. He is famous for playing his flute and playing tricks on others. (This annotation contains an image)
Pan is described as being very ugly. This account also shows that Pan struggled to find love. Which of the following human struggles does his character represent?
27. Dionysus’s Nature and Deeds
The Hyades are a cluster of stars directly below the more famous Pleiades. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following does it seem natural that Dionysus is associated with?
The movement of wine grapes throughout the ancient world accounts for Dionysus's travels in his youth.
What does the research of J.E. Harrison suggest?
John Skelton was an English poet from the 15th and 16th centuries. He was a poet laureate and favorite of Henry VIII. (This annotation contains an image)
What custom do we have that matches this custom?
Akhenaton was the Pharaoh of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and is believed to have died in 1336 or 1334 BC. Akhenaton is most notable for instituting monotheism. Egypt had been polytheistic (worshipping more than one God) until Akhenaton introduced the idea of worshipping only the Sun God Aten. (This annotation contains an image)
Which character flaw in Orpheus causes Eurydice's eternal death?
What does this name suggest about the nature of desire, love, or lust from the Gods? How does Ganymedes's role parallel that of women and Goddesses?
What might this myth be intended to teach its readers about the practice of sacrifice?
31. The Gods of the Underworld
Consider the impact of the setting on this myth. We might assume that the underworld is a dark or frightening place, but notice how Graves presents the setting and the characters. How does this influence the images that come to mind when you think of Tartarus, Charon, and Hades?
Based on the reasons Hades comes to "the upper air" or receives communication about the world above and Olympus, what warning might this myth have to offer its readers?
This drawing depicts Charon ferrying Psyche down the River Styx. Take a moment to study this visual representation. How does it compare the myth you just read? (This annotation contains an image)
How is the myth of the "Gods of the Underworld" enhanced or overshadowed but the image from the annotation above? Which medium makes a stronger impression on you? Why?
33. The Children of the Sea
How does this image of the Graeae compare to their description? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following means wide?
34. The Children of Echidne
The Hydra, like many of these other creatures, was a dreadful, multi headed monster. The Hydra could only be killed if all of its heads were removed. Heracles (also known as Hercules) is famed for having slated the Hydra. The image below depicts this event. (This annotation contains an image)
35. The Giants’ Revolt
Which of the following definitions of 'dispatched' could be used to replace it in the highlighted sentence?
Homer is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. There are conflicting ideas about when Homer might have lived. Herodotus claims he lived in 850 BC, while other sources have him alive much closer to the Trojan War which was much earlier in the 12th Century BC. The fact that this story is post-Homeric characterizes it as later and thus possibly less pure. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this story reveal about the Greek Gods?
37. The Aloeids
Cubits and fathoms are units of measurement. Cubits are based on the length of the forearm from the elbow to the middle finger. A fathom is equal to about six feet and is primarily used to measure the depth of water.
How does this first footnote help you to better understand the two myths that you just read?
38. Deucalion’s Flood
Many cultures, from the Hopi Indians to the Sumerians, have a flood story or myth. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the story of Noah's Ark (pictured below) parallels these flood stories. Why might so many cultures have a story similar to this? What does the idea of a great flood coming to clean away the bad things on the earth, suggest about ancient cultures? (This annotation contains an image)
This footnote explains that one difference between this flood story and the story of Noah is _________________.
39. Atlas and Prometheus
Atlantis is said to have been in the Atlantic Ocean. The legend of Atlantis has made it successfully into contemporary modern culture. According to this myth, Atlas ruled over an Atlantis that was larger than Africa and Asia put together and upon which agriculture was highly successful. Other legends have Atlantis existing under the sea. (This annotation contains an image)
In which of the following myths in this collection have you already learned about Prometheus as well as the question about whether or not he really created mankind?
The Atlantic Ridge is pictured below. How does Graves use science to challenge or support the myths he is presenting? (This annotation contains an image)
How does Graves use science and modern geography to support his readers' understanding of the Greek myths? Be sure to use specific examples in your answer.
What does Eos represent?
Watch the following video to learn more about what an allegory is. How is this myth an allegory? (This annotation contains a video)
The constellation Orion is pictured below. It is one of the most recognizable constellations and is visible throughout the world. The constellation is said to outline the shape of Orion pulling his bow. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the natural reason that Graves offers to explain the timing of the death of Orion in this myth?
The Colossus of Rhodes is one of the ancient seven wonders of the world. The image below pictures the statue as straddling the harbor at Rhodes. This would probably have been impossible given its size. (This annotation contains an image)
What tone does Graves take towards the Titans?
43. The Sons of Hellen
What central idea regarding the roles of men and women do you see developing here?
The Aeolian Islands are named after Aeolus (the God of the wind) and are located off the coast of Italy near Sicily. (This annotation contains an image)
Like other instances of the assumption of power by male figures, Aeolus became the God of the Winds, taking that title from Hera. What does this reflect about mankind?
Creusa's attempt to murder Ion, her son, is an example of _________.
45. Alcyone and Ceyx
A halcyon is a type of kingfisher. The legend of the halcyon is that it was a rare bird that had the power to calm the seas. What else does this myth reveal about the halcyon? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the purpose of this highlighted statement about the Mediterranean?
Watch the following video to learn more about the Koranic story of Solomon and the hoopoe. How does this story (or myth) compare to the ones you have been reading from the Greeks? (This annotation contains a video)
47. Erechtheus and Eumolpus
What might the three sisters represent?
Calais and Zetes are important characters in other myths. They are often called the Boread twins. Like the Harpies, they are personifications of the wind. (This annotation contains an image)
This second footnote would support which of the following statements?
Visit the following website to read about the myth of how the elephant got its trunk. What is different about these two explanations for the way modern day animals appear? (This annotation contains a link)
How does "The Elephant's Child" differ in its delivery of the story of how the elephant got its trunk from this myths description of how the crow came to be black?
The Golden Bough by James Frazer is a comparative text that is famous for its dispassionate approach to the myths and stories of world religions. Graves references the text here as a valuable companion to his own. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is an appropriate inference about the ancient Greeks based upon what you have read in these notes?
51. The Oracles
Many cultures and world religions have practices and beliefs that seem superstitious or far-fetched. Can you think of any of your own cultural practices or beliefs that rival the varied beliefs regarding that oracles that are described here?
How widely do the sacrifices to the Gods or oracles differ? How do more modern cultures reflect this practice of alms-giving? Use examples from the myths as well as from your knowledge of other cultures as you compose your response.
Inspection of entrails refers to the inspection of the contents of an animal's intestines and stomach. When inspecting entrails, one can see what the animal has eaten or partially digested recently.
52. The Alphabet
Graves's highlighted statement __________ the myth of the alphabet.
The idea that the power of sound has therapeutic or healing properties is evident in many ancient cultures. Visit the following website to read more about the power of sound. (This annotation contains a link)
53. The Dactyls
What is significant about the fact that the females sprang from the left hand and the males from the right?
The Olympics are held every four years as a result of this division. In what other ways can you see the legacy of the Greek myths in modern cultures? (This annotation contains an image)
54. The Telchines
What does the first footnote give as the reason that the Telchines' origin is unknown?
The vase below depicts Io as a cow with Argus. However, Argus does not appear to have a hundred eyes. Where do you see the eyes depicted on the vase? (This annotation contains an image)
Outline the major differences in the plot lines of the two versions of the story of Io.
According to the Campanile Reliefs, Phoroneus is also credited with bringing law to mankind. It is said that he arbitrated a dispute between Hera and Poseidon. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best summarizes the way this short myth characterizes Phoroneus?
58. Europe and Cadmus
The image below depicts the exact moment when Europe, seduced by Zeus as a bull, realized she was being carried away. What does this painting suggest about the mood of the event? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following does this story seem to really be about?
59. Cadmus and Harmonia
The lavishness of the gifts bestowed upon Cadmus and Harmonia, as well as the fact that the Gods attended at all, seems to suggest that Cadmus and Harmonia had great favor with the Gods (despite Cadmus's angering of Ares). What might be the reason behind all of this favor?
What seems to be the historical reason for so favorable a life for Cadmus and Harmonia?
60. Belus and the Danaids
Thesmorphia is the festival held in honor of Demeter and Persephone. The festival commemorated the third year when Demeter neglected her duties as the goddess of the harvest to mourn for the loss of her daughter. This feast was mainly one for women. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the symbolic meaning of the punishment given to the Danaids?
The Nile, which runs north through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea, is an extremely important resource in Africa. The river provided people in this area with not only water, but with transportation and the ability to grow food. Water, as evidenced in some interpretations of the punishment of the Danaids, is an important resource in these Greek myths. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following figures might Lamia have inspired?
Visit the website below to read W.B. Yeats's poem, "Leda and the Swan." Which of the three accounts of the myth does the tone of the poem most parallel? (This annotation contains a link)
How would you compare the tone of the poem with the tone of the myth itself?
Which of the popular expressions below most closely aligns with the lesson Ixion is prompted to learn in this myth?
Graves has used the word college now a few times to make reference to a group of people or organizational body. Do not be confused by what you might think the word to mean: a place of study where students earn a degree.
65. Pygmalion and Galatea
From how many sources has Graves deduced this short myth?
The ruins in the image below are of the ancient city of Troy. Famous as the location of the Trojan War, this myth predicts Troy's downfall. Troy is located in what is modern day Turkey. (This annotation contains an image)
What do Asopus's daughters represent?
Sisyphus is characterized as a wily character, one who had all sorts of tricks up his sleeve. Does he remind you of any other famous characters in literature?
What is likely the lesson to be learned from the myth of Sisyphus?
68. Salmoneus and Tyro
Salmoneus is punished for his hubris. Hubris is an important concept in Greek mythology and means great pride. Keep this in mind as you continue to read. Which other characters display hubris?
The water here is amongst which other forces which are said to be able to impregnate women?
The idea of the contest to win the hand of a maiden is popular in mythology and in many cultures. Especially given the value of the marriageability of a daughter, a king or other powerful person would often try to get the best suitor through contest.
Which of the following definitions of 'propitiated' makes the most sense as a replacement in the highlighted sentence?
The story of Jason and the Golden Fleece is a famous representation of the hero's journey. Remember the origin of the golden fleece when you read about the Argonauts later in this book. (This annotation contains an image)
To which God is the phrase "a sudden Bacchic frenzy" a reference to?
Moloch is an ancient Ammonite God who was associated with child sacrifice. He is mentioned in the Bible (as the note suggests) in Leviticus 18:21: "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch." What does it suggest about the stories in the Bible that this ancient Ammonite God is mentioned?
Which other transition do Helle's and Ino's drownings represent?
71. The Mares of Glaucus
Section One Quiz
The Minyans were a group of people in the Aegean area. Some scholars do not distinguish the Minyans from the Pelasgians which preceded them as a group.
To whom does Melampus owe the idea for Iphiclus's cure?
What is Malmpus's most unique quality?
This word "Demiurge" is a term that refers to an artisan-like figure who was responsible for helping to make and maintain the universe. Different from a creator or God, a Demiurge is more like an artist of the universe who works to keep it in check.
This famous statue depicts Perseus with Medusa's head. Which other heroes does Perseus remind you of? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the treachery of Cassiopeia?
The trope of the polar opposite twins in religious texts and myths is a popular one. Cain and Able, Romulus and Remus, and the ones mentioned here are all sets of twins with great differences. What do you think is the role of this popular trope? What does it call the reader to reflect upon or understand differently?
What is a pastoral allegory? Which clues in the text helped you to determine how to explain this concept?
74. The Rival Twins
Sparta is a city in Greece that was once the dominant military power in the region (650 BC). Sparta was the enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War and was later defeated in war by Thebes in 371 BC, ending its military reign. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the meaning of the word divine as it is used in the highlighted sentence?
This Roman relief depicts the Dioscuri. What do you see that is either similar or different from the description of how the Spartans and others depict the Dioscuri? (This annotation contains an image)
What does Graves suggest is the historical reasoning behind stories of twins who existed in harmony?
The convention of suttee is the practice of a wife sacrificing herself at her husband's funeral. Since women in many ancient and even more modern cultures are considered the property of their husbands, this practice of ending ones own life in order to show devotion was commonplace. The fact that Gorgophone remarried is unique.
Which myth, that you read recently, does the highlighted paragraph remind you of?
Pegasus is a mythical winged horse as well as a constellation. (This annotation contains an image)
The Amazons are fabled to have been fierce women warriors. Stories of the Amazons have grown to be wide spread. Some even claim that the Amazons were so dedicated to battle that they would cut off their right breast so as to remove its hindrance to their aim. (This annotation contains an image)
What expectation or concept might have led the character Antiope to beg the King of Sicyon to marry her?
Below is one image of a statue of Niobe weeping. Remember the concept of hubris? What is the moral of this story? (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how Niobe exhibits the concept of hubris. What is the lesson to be learned in this story? Be sure to use examples in your explanation.
78. Caenis and Caeneus
The maypole is now a centerpiece of many May Day festivals throughout the country. Have you ever thought of the origin of such a practice? Watch the video below to see one example of a maypole dance. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following characteristics is celebrated in this myth?
80. The Calydonian Boar
The myth of the Calydonian Boar is depicted on this Athenian vase dating to 600 or 650 BC. This important myth details the famous hunt in which not only men, but the strong female Atalanta took down the boar sent to ravage the land by Artemis. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is this brand significant?
These agreements or separations between certain clans would have been the result of attempts to maintain loyalties, bloodlines and power. Here Graves points out that this literal interpretation has roots in a more figurative reality.
81. Telamon and Peleus
What would have driven Endeis to encourage Telamon and Peleus to kill Phocus?
"The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis" by Cornelisz Van Haarlem (1593) depicts the decadent scene described in the myth itself. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the visual scene of this famous wedding depicted in Van Haarlem's painting compare to the myth's version? Which one has a greater impact on you? Why?
The myth of King Arthur is a Celtic hero story. Watch the Disney version of the scene in which a young Arthur removes the sword from the stone. How does magic and or the idea of destiny seem to play into these stories? (This annotation contains a video)
From what source does Graves suggest that the story of Phocus's death comes from?
The Dog-star is the star Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Aristaeus celebrated for?
There is much to be learned about ancient cultures from these myths. What do you think about the role of both the olive tree and the honey bee in Crete and Greece now that you have seen them both come up a few times?
After reading the article, explain some of the ways in which the author's methods of clarifying or debunking a myth run parallel to Robert Graves'.
The idea of the famed "fountain of youth" is present in many myths and stories. One account often heard in the United States is that of Ponce De Leon's search for the fountain of youth. Read the article in the link below and then answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a link)
Midas's donkey-ears, though punishment, might have also connected him to the God Set and given him a connection to an entire people: the Hittites. (This annotation contains an image)
Use the define feature to read about the definition of ineffable. Which of the following words is an antonym for ineffable as it is used here?
84. Cleobis and Biton
Watch the video below on situational irony. Does this myth contain any irony? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following could be the message that this brief myth is meant to send to its reader?
The painted relief Graves mentions is pictured below. The flour-de-lys would go on to become a Christian symbol representing the tripartite. (This annotation contains an image)
86. Phyllis and Carya
Based upon this myth, what could you infer about the symbolism of the almond tree?
Listen to a modern interpretation of a hymn to Poseidon, played upon a lyre. What does this myth suggest about the power of music? (This annotation contains a video)
What does the dolphin symbolize in this myth?
88. Minos and His Brothers
The Minotaur is a creature that is part man part bull (a man with the head of a bull). The Minotaur is said to live at the center of the Cretan Labyrinth- a maze like structure built by King Minos. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Graves chiefly rely upon in his attempt to decipher the origins and underlying meanings of this myth?
Graves's footnote suggests that the labyrinth may have actually just been the palace at Cnossus, but many depict the labyrinth in the more classical sense (as shown below) as a maze. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the perspective or point of view that allows the "hoard of human heads and limbs" to be interpreted as it is in this footnote?
89. The Loves of Minos
The myth of the power of a king's hair is not unique to Greek mythology. In one popular story from the Bible, Delilah cuts of Samson's hair after seeking to learn the true source of his power at the bidding of his enemies (the Philistines). What similarities do you see behind the motive for cutting the golden lock of hair in this myth?
Which of the following is the correct sequence with which Graves presents the evidence for the argument that the love chase of the goddess was originally a murderous chase?
90. The Children of Pasiphaë
The stories of Ariadne vary greatly. She is most famous for being the object of Theseus's affections and for giving him the spool of thread which allowed him to overcome the Minotaur. She is also rumored to have been Dionysus's love. Ariadne appears in The Odyssey and is associated with both the Cretan Goddess Britomartis and the Olympian Goddess Aphrodite. She is seen as a counterpart to the tragic hero: a tragic heroine. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the driving factor in the decision made by King Aegus to kill Androgeus?
Where else does the serpent figure into mythology or religious practices? Think abut why the serpent figures into so many of our cultures, religions, and stories.
Given this conflicting role that the serpent can play (executioner and savior) as well as your knowledge of how serpents figure into a variety of myths and stories, what do you think the serpent represents or has represented to ancient peoples?
91. Scylla and Nisus
Ovid lived from 43 BC to 17 or 18 AD. He was a Roman poet who wrote the Metamorphoses which is still considered the preeminent collection of classical mythology. Graves gives Ovid high praise when he states that he is "rarely mistaken." (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following selections from the fourth footnote best conveys the tone or attitude of the author in regards to ritualistic sacrifice?
92. Daedalus and Talos
View the famous painting "Landscape and the Fall of Icarus" by Pieter Bruegel. How does this painting illuminate or confound your understanding of this popular myth? (This annotation contains an image)
Access and read the poem in the link below. William Carlos Williams, an American poet from the first half of the 20th century, wrote this poem in response to Bruegel's famous painting of the same title. What does Williams convey that the poem and the myth do not? (This annotation contains a link)
How do both Bruegel and Williams treat the myth of Daedalus and Icarus? Which aspects of their works of art convey their messages to the viewer/reader?
Llew Llaw is a hero from a Welsh myth who is said to have been a magician and a warrior. In the image below from 1877, Llew Llaw is depicted as having appeared in the form of an eagle. (This annotation contains an image)
Graves's exploration of ____________ supports his analysis of the origins of the Greek myths.
93. Catreus and Althaemenes
Why would Graves include an "artificial myth" in this collection? What does he mean by this?
Graves's explanation suggests that this myth is backwards because of which of the following?
95. The Birth of Theseus
In Peloponnesian Greece, Troezen was a city along the Aegean coast. Still a city today, Troezen is an important location in the myths that chronicle the life of the hero Theseus. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the tokens deposited for the son of Aethra (Theseus) symbolize?
96. The Labours of Theseus
Why is Theseus on this journey?
Watch the following video on the Hero's Journey. As you read about Theseus, chart the stages of his journey in preparation for questions to follow. (This annotation contains a video)
The image from an ancient vase below depicts Theseus beating Periphetes with his own club. Does the knowledge that Periphetes may have been a cripple change your perception of Theseus as a hero? (This annotation contains an image)
Graves's explanation of the origin of the turtle myth supports which of the following arguments?
97. Theseus and Medea
Explain Medea's role in Theseus's journey.
This footnote explains the connections of certain figures to birds. Consider the characteristics of each of the birds mentioned. Why is this important in helping you to understand the symbolism behind the representation?
98. Theseus in Crete
Hecalene could fulfill which of the following archetypal roles?
Watch the following video which depicts the victory Theseus had over the Minotaur. (This annotation contains a video)
What does it mean that Minos "remitted the cruel tribute?"
Which of the following would be the most fitting archetypal role for Aegeus to fulfill?
These celebrations in honor of Theseus and his father may sound unique to us, but how are they similar to the sorts of events or heroes we celebrate?
The use of the maze clearly cuts across cultures and myths. How does it impact your understanding of these Greek myths to know that later cultures (such as the Roman, Scandinavian and Russian) borrowed ideas from the Greeks?
What is the role of Ariadne in Theseus's journey?
99. The Federalization of Attica
Graves makes mention in the footnotes to this section that the federalization of Athens and the heralding in of a new political era actually comes too soon to be true (in fact, several hundred years too early). What does this say about this myth, when it was recorded, and who it may have been recorded by?
At what point in the hero's journey is Theseus now?
100. Theseus and the Amazons
Do not be confused and picture the South American Amazon River or Amazonian people here. Amazon and Amazonia refers to a region some believe to be in the north of Africa (Libya) or in Asia Minor.
Why would Theseus make a sacrifice to Phobus?
101. Phaedra and Hippolytus
Aphrodite, remember, would be the exact opposite of chaste (use the dictionary feature to look up the word used to describe Artemis if you need some help). Aphrodite was the Goddess of Love. It is easy to guess why she would have scorned Hippolytus's devotion to Artemis. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following sets of words from the highlighted paragraph best conveys the mood of the scene?
The Egyptian Tale of the Two Brothers tells the story of Anpu (or Anubis) and Bata. the brothers work closely together and after trying to seduce Bata unsuccessfully, Anpu's wife lies to her husband claiming that Bata tried to seduce her. Anpu tries to kill Bata, but Bata flees. Though Bata does not die immediately and does gain reconciliation with Anpu, it is easy to see the similarities between the two myths.
102. Lapiths and Centaurs
How would you characterize Theseus thus far? Consider his journey and his feats, his faults and his strengths in your response.
103. Theseus in Tartarus
Remember that Tartarus is the equivalent of hell. What better test of strength than to defy hell? Is Theseus still acting like a hero?
Use the dictionary feature to look up the word desisted. Which of the following would be an appropriate synonym for desisted as it is used in the highlighted sentence?
104. The Death of Theseus
Academia is now a term used to describe those working in education (usually higher education such as in colleges and universities). Though one can study many things at an academic institution, philosophy and religion were some of the first areas of great debate and study in groups. This location preserved as "Academia" may be the precursor to Plato's Academy and other schools to follow.
Theseus's death seems ___________ for a hero such as himself.
Fennel is an herb with a large root bulb. Both the stalks and the bulb are used in cooking and are reminiscent of licorice in taste. The stalks are strong and, according to this myth, could have been used to make carrying devices such as a basket. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Graves introduce this final story about Theseus calling it extraordinarily interesting? Re-read the description of what is on the vase and offer your own summary as to why Graves has explained it as such in the final myth of Theseus.
This type of aside or "side story" has been typical throughout these myths. Do not let yourself be confused by this structural choice. Sometimes in the midst of one story, you will learn about a character's child's successes many years later, or, as now, you will learn the backstory of a new character introduced. What are some of the clues to look for that help you know when you are back on the original story?
Considering Oedipus's response to both Laius's and his own actions, which of the following might best characterize him?
The Judgement of Paris is one of the events that led up to the Trojan War. You will read about it later in this collection. What predictions can you make about The Judgement of Paris based upon the painting of the same title that is pictured below? (This annotation contains an image)
What stylistic feature does Graves employ in the telling of this myth that has not been present before?
106. The Seven Against Thebes
This uncle is the same Menoceceus who threw himself off the city walls at the prompting of the same Teiresias's prophesy that one of the Sown men must sacrifice himself in order for the plague that Oedipus had brought upon Thebes to disappear.
Which of the following customs that you have learned about is the name given to Evadne's actions?
The image below shows the excavation site of the graveyard near Eleusis that George Mylonas (a renowned Greek and Aegean archaeologist) is credited with having discovered. (This annotation contains an image)
107. The Epigoni
Now that you have read 106 of Robert Graves's Greek myths and many more of his footnotes, write a brief footnote that could explain this first paragraph in the myth.
Think back to your own footnote from the question at the beginning of this myth. Did you address the nature of Eriphyle's role in the decision to go to war? Did you write about what the anecdote revealed about women's vanity? Which other themes or ideas did you pick up on that aren't described in these footnotes?
Which of the following words is derived from the name Tantalus as well as his experiences?
Though this surrey isn't the icon which led to the establishment of the myth of Sisyphus, it was likely something similar (based on Graves's description). Given that so many other myths have been interpreted at various levels of incorrect, how might this image or icon have been differently interpreted by a viewer or mythographer? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following pieces of information does not support the argument that Tantalus is an oak hero?
109. Pelops and Oenomaus
The Black Sea is bordered by European and Asian countries. Notice its proximity to Greece. This should help you to understand the reaches of the empires and cultures during Hellenic times. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about ancient Greek culture based on the highlighted section?
This ritual performed by the devout of beating oneself with a whip or other weapon and offering one's blood to the Gods was practiced in many cultures and religions. A scourge was often a whip with sharp objects tied to the ends that were intended to rip the flesh upon contact. Flagellation is another term for scourging. (This annotation contains an image)
Graves's footnote explains that the horse usurped the ass (or donkey) upon its introduction. Which other transition does this mirror?
110. The Children of Pelops
The Herean Games have since made a comeback! Much like the Olympics, the original Herean games were held every four years. Based on the image of the Herean games that you see pictured below, do they mirror the original scope or purpose of the Hellenic Herean Games? (This annotation contains an image)
Use the define feature to look up the word 'catamite.' What does this word suggest about the relationship between Laius and Chrysippus?
111. Atreus and Thyestes
This cartoon illustrates the relationship between Atreus and Thyestes. In the first paragraph, we read that the royal house of Pelops becomes even more famous than the royal house of Perseus. Indeed, this royal family (that began with Tantalus) will be the family that produces some of the major players in the Trojan War. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best characterizes both Thyestes and Atreus?
The ruins of Mycenae are pictured below from an aerial view. Agamemnon, who later fights in the Trojan war, rules over Mycenae after his father Atreus. (This annotation contains an image)
If the myth of the golden fleeced lamb was a metaphor for the production of rain, what other metaphors can you see in these myths? Choose one metaphor and interpret it here.
112. Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra
Helen of Troy is said to have been so beautiful that she had a "face to launch a thousand ships." Her abduction did indeed launch a thousand ships and started the Trojan War. (This annotation contains an image)
What might motivate Aegisthus to want to kill Agamemnon?
Watch the first few minutes of this video to learn how Greek drama caused some of the myths and histories of the ancient world to evolve. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the "Ides of March" most famous for?
113. The Vengeance of Orestes
Leprosy is a disease which has been around since biblical times. Leprosy is actually a chronic bacterial infection that is treatable today. Before treatment was available, leprosy caused the afflicted nerve damage, loss of limbs, poor eyesight, and the tell tale growth of legions on the skin. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Electra think that no one else would have dared to make an offering of a ringlet of hair?
This footnote explains the origin of the fear of matricide (in the myth, even the Gods are unsure if Orestes will get away with it). Graves explains that this is a hold over from the pre-Hellenic custom of matriarchal rule. What ideas or practices involving women seem to counter act the respect inherent in this practice?
Summarize the purpose of this myth. What is it intended to teach?
114. The Trial of Orestes
This highlighted section is so filled with action, attempts by the Gods to intervene, verdicts and characters that it is easy to get completely lost! What strategies can you employ while reading to keep all of these things straight?
What does this cleansing ordeal suggest about the nature of purity or the Hellenic concepts of forgiveness?
How does this visual image of the Erinnyes compare to the written description of them? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following words gives you the best understanding of Graves's attitude towards Euripides?
115. The Pacification of the Erinnyes
Philemon was a playwright who lived in Athens from around 330BC until his death in 262 BC. He was rumored to have been 100 years old at the time of his death. Famous for his comedies which where wildly popular during his time, Graves here ask suggests that Philemon was a bit of a scholar and was, at the least, quite knowledgeable about Greek mythology.
116. Iphigeneia Among the Taurians
Consider what this brief aside about the Taurians suggests about them as a people? Why is this important to know?
Which misunderstanding allows Iphigeneia to save Orestes?
What do you think of Graves's suggestion that the mythographers here were trying to hide what would be considered heinous activities? Given that we have already read many myths in which women are raped, children are eaten by their parents, and human sacrifices are made, why try to conceal those things now?
How does Graves's suggestion that meteorites were paid divine honors undermine the credence one might give to these Greek myths?
117. The Reign of Orestes
Visit this archival document converted to an electronic copy on Google books to view the 1938 LIFE magazine article that featured the giant Watusi people (scroll down to pages 40-50). As you explore the article, consider how it presents the people it seeks to help its readers understand. (This annotation contains a link)
How would you compare Graves, or the mythographers that he mentions continually, to the reporters from the 1938 LIFE magazine? Consider the objectivity, purpose and scope of each writers' work as you compose your answer.
118. The Birth of Heracles
This set of myths seems to come out of place in the larger, mostly chronological set of myths that have preceded it. In fact, the next 28 myths will all be connected to the origins and feats of Heracles (whom we have already learned about while reading about Perseus). Think of this set of myths as being almost a separate set of stories that will weave in and out of time periods (and likely include characters) that you have already encountered. Don't be confused.
Which of the following is an accurate prediction about Heracles's future?
Graves explains time and time again that the relationship between king and tanist (the heir to a throne) is often riddled with power struggles, jealousy, and greed. The representation of this power through the use of twins would have been one way for cultures to promote their point of view. What are some of the other allegories that have been used in these myths to illustrate the power-relationships between rulers?
119. The Youth of Heracles
What would cause Alcmene to fear Hera's jealousy?
Which of the following is an accurate characterization of Heracles?
This is an interesting interpretation or characterization of vultures. Since vultures eat whatever is leftover of carrion killed by something else, they are not often thought of as the most noble of creatures. Heracles highlights another aspect of these scavengers. What does this reveal about Heracles's perspective?
120. The Daughters of Thespius
If Eros is the patron God of Thespiae, the Thespians are likely to honor and celebrate _______.
Heracles is often pictured this way, with the lions cloak and the club. Wearing this cloak not only would have caused Heracles to seem more powerful and frightening, it also represented the first of his great feats. (This annotation contains an image)
The map below depicts ancient Greece. Notice the names of the regions as well as the cities. How does this visual help you in understanding the events as they unfold? (This annotation contains an image)
What caused Heracles to wage war against the Minyans?
122. The Madness of Heracles
Watch Disney's version of the meeting of Heracles (Hercules) and Megara. What does this version include that is not evident in the written version? Why do you think these differences exist? (This annotation contains a video)
Who appears to be the Herald (the one to call the hero on to start his journey)?
123. The First Labour: The Nemean Lion
The image on the vase below depicts Heracles's first labor: the fight against the Nemean Lion. Notice the way in which the two are engaged. What does this tell you about how Heracles might have slated the lion? (This annotation contains an image)
Why do Molorchus and Heracles make the sacrifice to Zeus instead of the original plan?
124. The Second Labour: The Lernaean Hydra
The vase in the image below depicts the Hydra. As the text says, there are debates about the exact number of heads or the power of the Hydra to kill with its breath alone. This kind of exaggerated, mythic creature is not out of place in the Greek myths, but if it were to symbolize something else (as many things in these myths do) what can you guess it might represent? (This annotation contains an image)
What is your reaction to these explanations of what the Hydra might have been in comparison to your own guesses? Compose a response in which you describe your own interpretation and compare it to the ones given here.
125. The Third Labour: The Ceryneian Hind
The Ceryneian Hind was a deer-like creature, as pictured in the image on the vase below. Graves explains in the footnote that the Hind may have represented the chase for wisdom which explains why Heracles did not pursue her in order to kill her. Do you find it surprising that wisdom is characterized as a her? (This annotation contains an image)
126. The Fourth Labour: The Erymanthian Boar
What past event does this incident with the Centaurs recall?
127. The Fifth Labour: The Stables of Augeias
Watch the video below to learn about symbolism. What symbolism do you see in the highlighted paragraph? (This annotation contains a video)
What pattern do you see developing here? How do you think this will turn out?
128. The Sixth Labour: The Stymphalian Birds
Notice how frequently the author has used the word 'brazen' in the highlighted paragraph. use the define feature to look the word up. Are there one or two words you would have used in place of the too-frequently used 'brazen', or do you think the author was trying to make a point?
How does the tone of the paragraph titled "c" shift away from the first two paragraphs?
130. The Eighth Labour: The Mares of Diomedes
The act of creating a channel to cut through the plain and distribute water, is an important and ingenious decision made by Heracles. Irrigation would become something the ancient Greek and other civilizations of this era were famous for.
Use the define feature to look up the word annulled. Which of the following is the best antonym for annulled as it is used in this sentence?
131. The Ninth Labour: Hippolyte’s Girdle
A girdle is an undergarment worn by women that has evolved greatly over the years. In essence, a girdle is like underwear that is meant to hold the body in tight. The request to steal Hippolyte's girdle is both demeaning and sexual in nature.
Which of the accounts of how Heracles obtained Hippolyte's girdle would be most likely to be a remnant from matriarchal times?
How does this interpretation of the labors of Heracles change your perception of his feats? How does it change your understanding of these myths and of those who recorded and have interpreted them?
Which of the following is used as evidence to support the idea that the story of the Amazons was really about the struggle of the patriarchal system to usurp the matriarchal system?
132. The Tenth Labour: The Cattle of Geryon
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands. It is generally free from predators and dangerous animals, though this is more likely the result of location and isolation than of Heracles's actions (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the author go into depth regarding the origin or location of the Pillars of Heracles? What is the effect of not only the telling of the myth, but also on you understanding of its themes?
Pompeii is a now famous site that was once a well-populated city that lay in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. The city came to its destruction when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, covering the city and its inhabitants with fire and ash, so much so that many of the bodies left behind were preserved for centuries just as they had been situated at the time of death. Many of those remains can be viewed in museums and on the site of the ruins of Pompeii. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the reason for this feud between Heracles and Hera? After all, Heracles is named after her and was suckled at her breast?
Watch the first three to four minutes of this video version of The Epic of Gilgamesh. What similarities do you see between Gilgamesh and Heracles? (This annotation contains a video)
The author's discussion of word meanings mainly serves to support the argument that _______________.
133. The Eleventh Labour: The Apples of the Hesperides
This labor seems particularly cruel given the knowledge of Hera and Heracles's feelings toward each other. The golden apple figures into other myths (namely The Judgement of Paris). The image below depicts the golden apple tree along with its guardian, the serpent, (called a dragon in this myth) Ladon. What does this scenario remind you of? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best characterizes Atlas after reading this part of the myth?
Here, Graves is trying to communicate to the reader some of the questions regarding the perceptions of space and location during the time period when these myths were recorded. Without knowing exactly where the Garden of the Hesperides was located, it is hard to know what the ancient Greek considered the far west to be. The map below places the Garden of the Hesperides in Northern Africa. Considering what we call the Western world, how does this alter your understanding of the places and times of the ancient Greek? (This annotation contains an image)
This version of the story go Heracles and Atlas paints a much different picture of Atlas. Which characterization of Atlas do you support and why?
134. The Twelfth Labour: The Capture of Cerberus
The Eleusinian Mysteries are said to represent the three phases of the myth (which you have already read) of Demeter and Persephone. The three phases are the descent, the search, and the ascent. Though it may seem like the myth is derailed by this lengthy description of the Eleusinian Mysteries, it actually makes sense that Heracles's journey to Tartarus to capture Cerberus would begin in this way.
Which of Heracles's other labors required him to master, not kill, the creature to be captured?
The Egyptian Book of the Dead is the name for ancient Egyptian manuscripts (like the one below) that depicted the stories and myths of Egyptian culture. How does this image seem both similar and different from the sources which have informed many of the myths in this Greek collection? (This annotation contains an image)
How would you defend the argument that the arrangement of the labors matters greatly?
135. The Murder of Iphitus
In many ancient cultures, guests are often thought to be more important than oneself or ones family. There are numerous stories in Islamic, Christian and other texts that illustrate the importance of treating a guest with utmost respect. The story of Lot in the Bible (Genesis 19) is one such example. In this story, Lot is willing to sacrifice his two virgin daughters to a gang of men in the street before he will hand over the two guests who that day appeared at his door.
What is the tone with which it is said that Thebans call the stone "The Chastener"?
Section Two Quiz
Reaping is the act of harvesting wheat or other grains. This is done with a sickle (pictured below). The contest mentioned was a way for Lityerses to reap his harvest quickly without having to pay for the labor. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following themes is this tale likely to reflect?
This recalls the story of Andromeda, who was stripped and chained to a rock in order to satisfy the Gods who were offended by her mother's hubris. Andromeda is rescued by Perseus. (This annotation contains an image)
Which myth or story does this mirror?
This is almost surely meant to represent a larger conflict (as many of these myths do). What do you think would be the goal or purpose in capturing historic events (such as a war or conquest) by downplaying the event and calling it a fight or competition between two feuding sets of friends?
What might have been the symbolic meaning of the story that has appeared in numerous cultures regarding the disappearance of a hero into the belly of a beast?
138. The Conquest of Elis
The Isthmian Games were games held on the isthmus of Corinth. These games were pan-Hellenic, meaning they were played by peoples across the Hellenic domain. It is believed that the first games were held in 582 BC. The Isthmian Games, like the Pythian and Nemean Games were held the year after the Olympian games.
Which of the following is a probable reason that Heracles was able to defeat Lepreus in the duel?
Notice all of the connections between the dichotomies of spring vs. winter, solar vs. lunar, the king vs. his tanist, men vs. women. All of these parallels support and reinforce each other. Now that you have seen this over and over again, look for signs of this in the myths as you read them.
Explain the metaphor that Graves mentions here.
139. The Capture of Pylus
Pylus (or Pylos) is still a city in Greece (see image not he map below) it was also the site of the Battle of Pylus, a famous battle between the Athenians and the Spartans in 425 BC. (This annotation contains an image)
140. The Sons of Hippocoön
Which of the following synonyms would best replace purify in this sentence?
This account reveals just how far the gods would go to avoid matricide. This story is also reminiscent of the myth of Oedipus in regards to both incest and matricide. What difference do you see between the two myths? Why might these differences be important in showing a shift in perspective?
Is Heracles a "knight in shining armor" or a selfish rat? Consider his actions and use examples from the text to support your analysis.
Achelous, the river God, is pictured below with the horn of plenty or Cornucopia. (This annotation contains an image)
To which event is Heracles referring in the highlighted sentence?
Think of what bulls represent to society today? What practices, sayings, or representations of bulls are symbolic of something else? (This annotation contains an image)
Much like the interloper, the _____ is a stock character we have seen in these myths.
143. Heracles in Trachis
The attitude of King Amyntor seems almost ironic in such a time and age. Notice the lack of concern with which the myth tells of Heracles's prompt murder of the king, destruction of the city, and abduction of the princess.
With which season would the sacrificing of the plough ox coincide?
145. The Apotheosis of Heracles
Use the define feature to look up the definition of 'apotheosis.' Which definition helps you best understand what the title of this chapter forewarns? What can you predict based upon this title?
Which act would have allowed Deianeira to retain her life?
As a demigod, Heracles just barely didn't make it into the top twelve. Considering how much you have just read about him, why do you think he wasn't considered one of the twelve most important Olympians? After all, he was Zeus's son.
146. The Children of Heracles
Why are Heracles's children being expelled from Greece?
The term "Dark Ages" is usually meant to refer to time periods when not a lot of recorded history shows what a time period was like. The Dark Ages of Greece were marked by the fall of many Mycenean cities at the end of the Bronze Age. The Dark Ages are said to have lasted from 1100BC-800BC.
After reading all of these myths of Heracles, how has your understanding of the Heracles (or Hercules) changed from what you may be familiar with from pop culture?
Flax was the crop from which most clothing was made in the ancient world. The image below depicts flax harvesting by the Egyptians. As the footnote mentions, the flax industry was very important for the economies of the ancient world, so much so that the harvest and its surrounding festivities are immortalized in this myth. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following Goddesses would be likely to be celebrated during these harvest festivals?
148. The Argonauts Assemble
The myth of Jason and the Argonauts is the tale of the quest for the golden fleece. We are now moving out of the myth of Heracles and into this similarly epic myth which will include many myths and stories within itself. As you read, think back to the notes on the Hero's journey. Many of the same archetypes and themes will be present here too.
This footnote expresses _____________ the accuracy of Hesiod's account of Jason.
A fifty oared vessel is pictured below. Though the kind of ship needed to transport so many men as Jason and the Argonauts would likely have been bigger, this gives you an idea of the kind of ship the men are about to begin the journey with. (This annotation contains an image)
149. The Lemnian Women and King Cyzicus
The highlighted section includes a rare bit of _______________ that appears in these Greek myths.
Samothrace is a greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. As the footnote mentions, it was the location of the Helladic religion, of which there is little known. Graves suggests that Helladic peoples may have worshipped a Moon-goddess. The famous statue "The Winged Victory of Samothrace" is pictured below. This, too, suggests ties to a more matriarchal society. (This annotation contains an image)
150. Hylas, Amycus, and Phineus
Which of the following gives us a clue that this collection does not move in any chronological order?
How can you account for the widely different interpretations of what the harpies actually are?
Here is another representation of the Harpies (they are pictured in the air as half woman-half bird). How does this visual representation compare to the descriptions in the footnote? (This annotation contains an image)
151. From the Symplegades to Colchis
This myth covers a long period of time as the Argonauts sail on their ship, the Argo, to and past many locations. Unlike Heracles's labors and journeys, this group is really on one quest. Notice the sense of camaraderie and brotherly love and devotion that is mentioned in this myth. This sense of loyalty on the hero's journey seems not to have been present before this story.
How does the ending of this myth connect itself to the myths to come?
152. The Seizure of the Fleece
What does Medea's passion have to do with the success of Jason at winning the golden fleece? Why does he even have the favor of Hera and Athene?
The arrow is a ______________ for love.
Does this confuse you? Are Jason and Heracles actually the same person? We have already learned that Perseus and Theseus are often seen as different versions of Heracles, but how could their stories overlap if they are in fact the same person? Are you meant to read this literally? What figurative meaning could this have?
153. The Murder of Apsyrtus
Why are the Argonauts being pursued by Aeetes?
154. The Argo Returns to Greece
Can you think of any other situations in which fathers have been cruel to their daughters? Is Queen Arete's voicing of this complaint a surprise?
What seems to be the turning point for the Argonauts?
Why might the mythographers have had a poor sense of geography?
Use the define feature to read the definition of variegated. Which of the following is an antonym for variegated?
156. Medea at Ephyra
The relationship between Medea and Jason seems unique in comparison with the other relationships between powerful men and women in this collection. Which of the two seems to have the upper hand in the marriage? Why do you suppose that is?
What is the end consequence of Eros's arrow in Medea's heart?
158. The Foundation of Troy
The debate over the origins of the people of Troy is important because many of the warring city-states of ancient Greece lay claim to the lineage of the famous city. As you read each of these claims, consider what difference it makes in the myths that you will now be reading about the Trojan War.
The Trojan War has already been mentioned in this collection of myths along with many of the key players and events. Which of the following clues from this myth hints at the fate of Troy?
Cassandra is an important figure in the Trojan War. Keep in mind her power and her curse as you continue to read about the fall of this great city. (This annotation contains an image)
What seems most salient or consistent about the different accounts of the founding of Troy? How does the author present this important aspect of the Trojan War to his readers?
159. Paris and Helen
This oath will prove to be important, as you may well know that Helen will be the cause of many unfortunate events. By insisting that all of Helen's suitors swear to protect her chosen husband against any who resent his good fortune, Tyndareus was insuring protection for his future son-in-law, protection he will turn out to need.
Which other character has faced a similar 'exposure' as Paris?
What is the main difference with the way that Aphrodite approaches Paris vs. the promises and approaches of Hera and Athene? What does this say about Paris and his characteristics?
What piece of insider knowledge does Aphrodite have that makes her plan seem plausible?
Keret, the epic poem mentioned in the 2nd footnote, is from the late Bronze Age 1500-1200 BC and originated in what is now known as Syria. This epic survives on three clay tablets written in cuneiform script. (This annotation contains an image)
How might this information change your understanding of the events of this myth? If this is not, in fact, the way this story begins, does it matter all that much in the end?
160. The First Gathering at Aulis
This story is the now-famous reasoning behind the name of the tendon at the back of the leg and ankle. The Achilles tendon is pictured below. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Achilles, you may be able to guess why this area on his body will be important. (This annotation contains an image)
What event has precipitated this reaction to the disappearance of Helen?
The Wooden Horse refers to the giant gift given to the Trojans that was filled with Greek soldiers ready to come out of the horse at night and attack the city. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best characterizes Odysseus based on the footnotes provided by Graves?
The description of the shields used by the Greeks is far from the typical image of a rounded metal shield. How does Graves use language to convey the sense that these shields were more a burden than a help? (This annotation contains an image)
161. The Second Gathering at Aulis
The statue in the image below depicts one of the scenes of Iphigeneia's sacrifice. Which of the scenario's do you think it shows? (This annotation contains an image)
Write a brief prediction of what will happen to Achilles. Mirror your writing after the structure and style of these myths. Be sure to consider everything you know about Achilles.
162. Nine Years of War
The 2004 movie Troy depicts the opening battle scenes in the following clip. What does the movie leave out or change? Watch the first minute of the film to find out. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the use of mythical elements contribute to the tone of the highlighted passage?
This myth covers the beginning and the first nine years of thee Trojan War. While many deaths are calculated, many victories described, it is with the death of Palamedes that the chapter ends. What does this say about the significance of this character?
What is the tone of the third footnote?
163. The Wrath of Achilles
Achilles's anger is a now famous story. Though some argue that he was upset over the loss of Briseis, that seems unlikely given the culture. Whatever the reason, his refusal to fight precipitates some of the more famous stories of the Trojan War.
Use the define feature to look up the word 'auspice.' Which of the following could not be used to replace the word auspice in the highlighted sentence?
Watch this brief clip of the fight scene between Achilles and Hector. Now that you have read this scene, consider the different ways in which film and writing relay events, emotions, and characteristics. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the versions of the fight scene between Achilles and Hector appeals to you more? Why? What does the other version omit that informs your choice?
164. The Death of Achilles
This story of Penthesileia's shows with what lack of accord the Greek fighters in the Trojan War sometimes behaved. Unlike the Argonauts who had sworn an oath to each other to fight always as brothers, this group of warriors seems plagued by petty arguments, individual pride, and the obstructions caused by the presence of women.
How does Graves relate the size and scope of the Trojan war?
A cairn is, essentially, a tower of rocks. many hiking trails are marked by cairns like the one pictured below or even as simple as four or five rocks stacked on top of each other. The cairn that marked the grave of Achilles was likely a much larger monument than this. (This annotation contains an image)
According to one of the versions of Achilles's death, ___________ was actually his undoing.
165. The Madness of Ajax
Notice the ways in which these myths reveal that the Gods and Goddesses seem to use mortals like pawns in a game of chess. What does this structure suggest about the beliefs of mortals and immortals in ancient Greece?
What was the cause of Ajax's suicide?
166. The Oracles of Troy
Does it seem at all contradictory or suspect to introduce a section with the phrase "The truth is...."? Which aspects of the story, within just the highlighted paragraph, make it difficult to take this at face value?
Helen is the reason this war is even happening. What choice could have been made here that would have shown more wisdom?
167. The Wooden Horse
Use the define feature to look up the word 'proverbial.' What does it mean that something has become proverbial? What other events or actions that you can think of have become proverbial?
Priam is here displaying his ___________.
This footnote reveals important criticism of Homer's version of the Wooden Horse story. Given the impracticability of the mythical version of the Wooden Horse, it seems likely that Graves's suggestions about the translation of the use of horses would make sense. However, as far as stories go, this remains one of the most memorable features of the myth. In this case, which do you think it more important: the truth or the story?
Explain the irony in calling Epeius's courage bravado.
168. The Sack of Troy
Look closely at the image below of the painting titled "The Sack of Troy." What does the artist do to express the degree to which the city was destroyed and ravaged? How do his choices as a painter express differently what the myth expresses in words? (This annotation contains an image)
Which emotion might the Councils's debate over the fate of Polyxena be meant to represent?
Who is the wife of Odysseus?
Walter Leaf was an English classicist who published an edition of Homer's The Illiad that was long considered one of the best translated English versions. (This annotation contains an image)
169. The Returns
How does the contest in the highlighted section differ from the kinds of contests we've seen between men up to this point in these myths? What about the end result? Why might his cause Calchas to die of a broken heart?
Explain the lesson to be learned from this part of the myth so far. What actions or events influenced the fates of those heading home?
This is an interesting principle: to blame the Gods for the denial of safe return for the victors of war. Why might people need this explanation?
Which words express the author's tone in the seventh footnote?
170. Odysseus’s Wanderings
The map below charts the route of Odysseus. These last two myths summarize the whole of the Odyssey, an epic poem by Homer. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted selection contains ______________.
Visit the website in the link below and read both the introduction and the text of Patrick Henry's Speech in the Virginia Convention. Notice the allusion Henry makes to the sirens. He is referring to this myth. (This annotation contains a link)
To what purpose does Patrick Henry make allusion to Odysseus and the sirens? How does he reference this classic text for his own goals?
This footnote calls into question the origins of the story of the Odyssey. More specifically, it asks the reader to consider the particular way in which the myth was recorded (supposedly by Homer) and attributes some of its events and features to a female source. What might have prevented the story from having been openly attributed to a woman to begin with?
Here we see the apple appear again. What does it symbolize here?
171. Odysseus’s Homecoming
Penelope recalls the image of the faithful wife waiting by the sea for the return of her husband. Though in this culture it would have been no wild thing for her to have remarried or for Odysseus to have taken other lovers or wives while on his journey, neither have.
What does this disguise and secrecy add to the plot of this story?
Section Three Quiz