Classical Mythology Class, Day 14

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

Ovid on Deucalion

Apollodorus 1.7.2 on Deucalion

Apollodorus on Theban Wars

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes

Fragments of the Epigonoi

Fragments of the Thebais


Links to Blogposts

Fragments about Deucalion

Tydeus Eating Brains

Teiresias the Trans-prophet

Pausanias on Lykaon and lycanthropy


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.


Similar Myths



Gilgamesh Poems


Student Links



Image result for medieval manuscript flood myth
The Hague, KB, 78 D 43 fol. 10v Genesis 

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