In this class we continue are examination of the establishment of a Panhellenic pantheon from the ‘microcosmic’ (or dramatic) perspective afforded by the Homeric Hymns. Unlike the previous investigations of Aphrodite, Hermes, and Demeter, the cases of Apollo and Athena present interpretive challenges and important opportunities for thinking about the diverse and sometimes conflicting roles gods can play in the narrative of myth and the ritual lives of ancient Greek audiences.
For both deities, we will consider how the narratives we have relate to cultic sites and certain rituals. In addition, we will consider popular narratives that are not integrated as well into the Panhellenic tales. Apollo, marked out in the Homeric Hymn as a mysterious god who establishes cult presences at Delphi and Delos, follows a heroic pattern in his narrative. Outside of the Hymn, he is a god of rage and punishment: we will consider his rapes and the children he fathers as different visions of Apollo’s character and important reflections on patriarchy and misogyny.
When it comes to Athena, her importance to her patron city is paramount. This deity does not have a narrative Homeric Hymn, but she is critical in the ritual life of the city and in Panhellenic narratives like the Homeric Odyssey.
Ancient Authors Discussed
Homer, Archaic Age
Hesiod, Archaic Age
Stesichorus, Poet, Poet, 6th Century BCE
Pherecydes, Mythographer, 5th Century BCE
Pindar, 5th Century BCE
Ovid, Roman Imperial Period
Porphyry, Philosopher, 3rd Century CE
Apollodorus, Roman Imperial Period?
Some Suggested Course Texts
Homeric Hymn to Apollo
Homeric Hymn to Athena
Homer, Iliad 24.1-120
Homer, Odyssey 1.1-80
Links to Blogposts
No Consent: The Death of Koronis
All About Athena: Names, Hymns, Prayers
Another Version of the Birth of Athena
Apollo’s Esteem for Human Beings
Modern Authors Mentioned
Other Articles for Additional Reading
The Leda Fresco–Rape or Romp? How to talk about Consent and Art
Eva Johanne Haland. 2012.“The Ritual Year of Athena….” Journal of Religious History 36: 256-284.
Sheila Murnaghan. 1995. “The Plan of Athena.” In Beth Cohen (Ed.), The Distaff Side: Representing the Female in Homer’s Odyssey (pp. 61-80). New York: Oxford University Press.
Mike Chappell. 2006. “Delphi and the Homeric Hymn to Apollo.” The Classical Quarterly 56, no. 2 (2006): 331-48.