In this class we continue with our discussion of coalition narratives in the development of heroic myth. We start by focusing on destruction myths, a topic usually treated separately from heroic myth but treated here because at many places in the epic tradition the end of the race of Heroes is positioned as the destruction of mankind. We start by looking at flood myths in the ancient Mediterranean and then turn again to the Hesiodic ‘myth of the Ages’ and the fragmentary beginning to the ‘Kypria’ to examine how Greek poetry uses themes and language from destruction narratives to frame the Trojan War and conceptualize the disappearance of the Heroes and the transition to ‘modern’ human beings.
In the second part of the class, we will turn back to coalition narratives. Hesiod marks both the wars around Thebes and Troy as instrumental in bringing an end to the era of heroes. The narratives of wars around Thebes, that of the Seven Against Thebes and the Epigonoi explore and establish themes that are also central to the Trojan War. In fact, Greek poetry and myth make great efforts to make the Theban War narratives prior to the Trojan War tales. This is, in part, a result of the process of Panhellenization and the monumentalization of the stories we know from the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. We will close the class by anticipating how the central interests of the Theban tradition prepare us for the grander scale of the Trojan War.
Ancient Authors Discussed
Homer, Archaic Age
Hesiod, Archaic Age
Pindar, Early Classical Period
Pherecydes, Classical Period
Aeschylus, Classical Period
Sophocles, Classical Period
Euripides, Classical Period
Ovid, Roman Imperial Period
Apollodorus, Roman Imperial Period?
Pausanias, Roman Imperial Period
Some Suggested Course Texts
Hesiod’s, Works and Days
Apollodorus 1.7.2 on Deucalion
Apollodorus on Theban Wars
Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes
Links to Blogposts
Modern Authors Mentioned
Other Articles for Additional Reading
Chris McDonaugh and Stephanie McCarter. “Reimagining Antigone for the Age of Extremism.” Eidolon Dec. 11, 2017.
L. Koenen. 1994. “Greece, the Near East, and Egypt: Cyclic Destruction in Hesiod and the Catalogue of Women.” TAPA 124:1–34.
J. Torres. 2014. “Tiresias, The Theban Seer.” TiCs 6:339-356.
J. Marks. 2002. “The Junction between the Cypria and the Iliad.” Phoenix 56:1-24.
K. Mayer. 1996. “Helen and the ΔΙΟΣ ΒΟΥΛΗ.” AJP 117:1-15.
Davies, M. 1989. The Greek Epic Cycle. London.
Davies, M. 2014. The Theban Epics. Washington D.C.