Notes from my Mythological Studies (for a Christian-based essay)

Leighton depicts Hermes helping Persephone to ...

Image via Wikipedia

Information from Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton.
6. Who were the graces and muses? For what were they famous?

Graces: Three beings, commonly treated as a “triple incarnation.” They were Aglaia (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth) and Thalia (Good Cheer) – daughters of Zeus and Eurynome. They would dance to Apollo’s lyre and  join their sisters (The Muses) in song.

Muses: Nine beings, also held to be in unison in certain pieces of literature, although separate beings in later works. They were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory) – Clio (Muse of History), Urania (Astronomy), Melpomene (Tragedy), Thalia (Comedy), Terpischore (Dance), Calliope (Epic Poetry), Erato (Love Poetry), Polyhymnia (Songs to the gods), and Euterpe (Lyric Poetry).

7. Who were the Erinyes and what were their duties?

Also known as the Furies, were devised by Virgil and given the underworld as their home. “Inexorable, but just,” the Furies were fierce pursuers of justice, overtaking wrongdoers and enveloping them in guilt and misery. Later they would become the Eumenides, “The Benevolent Ones.”

8. Pan & his Traits

Pan was the chief of the lesser god’s of earth. He was Hermes’ son and is described as a noisy, merry god, being part animal with goat’s horns and goat’s hoofs. He was the goatherds’ and shepherds’ god and the companion of the woodland nymphs in their dance and an exceedingly wonderful musician.

10. What were satyrs, centaurs, and gorgons?

The satyrs were much like the god Pan – un-human, and ugly, making their home in the forests and other wild places of the earth.

The centaurs were half man, half horse, and generally quite savage. One however, was an exception. A centaur by the name of Chiron was a wise, good centaur, tasked, often times, with taking care of the younger gods and raising them up.

The gorgons were three, two being immortal, the other (Medusa) remained mortal and would later be slain by Hercules on one of his grand labors. They were the daughters of Phorcys and are described as dragon-like creates who dwelled on the earth with the infamous reputation of turning men to stone with a mere turn of the head.

11. Who were the Sirens and the Fates? What powers did they have?

Sirens: The sirens were a dreadfully murderous bunch who lived on an island in the sea. With their enchanting, irresistible voices they would lure sailors to their demise. Only one hero who heard them was known to have lived, Odysseus, who ordered his men to tie him to the mast and stuff their own ears with wool.

Fates: The fates were Clotho (the Spinner of the thread of life), Lachesis (the Disposer of Lots, assigner of destiny), and Atropos (wielder of the sheers that cut the thread of life and brought about death). They were known to give men, at birth, both evil and good to have.

12. Who was Demeter?

Demeter (Ceres) was the goddess of the corn, being the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, the older sibling of Bacchus, the god of wine. She was also the mother of the famous Persephone who was taken away by Hades to be her bride.

13. Who was Persephone? Summarize the story of her abduction and explain how this incident explained the seasons to the early Greeks.

As introduced in Question #21:

Like the flowers Zeus sometimes placed before the maidens he deceived, Hades had placed a narcissus for the object purpose of drawing Persephone’s attention. After she had strayed far from her companions, his chariot rose up from Hades and took her away.

The dark lord, however, could not keep her forever. Upon the earth, a cold winter and famine had arisen from the fretting Demeter, who convinced the gods to force Hades to give up Persephone. Hades, however, would not give her up so easily. Just before she was to leave, Hades fed Persephone the seeds of a pomegranate, for any food eaten in the underworld would entrap its target and force them to live in Hades. From this point on, Persephone spent half a year with Demeter (Summer and Spring), and half a year with Hades (Winter and Fall).

14. Who was Dionysus? What is the connection between him and the maenads?

Dionysus was the last god to enter Olympus, born in Thebes to Zeus and the Theban princess Semele. “He was the only god whose parents were not both divine.” Dionysus, also called Bacchus, had a following of women frenzied with wine called the Maenads, or the Bacchantes.

15. Describe the creation of Earth and Heaven.

“First there was Chaos, the vast immeasurable abyss,

Outrageous as a sea, dark wasteful, wild.”

Such are the fitting words of Milton. The creation, as described by the Greeks, is a most vague one… things just, happened. There was no God in the beginning, according to the Greeks, as we know there truly has forever been. The Earth simply rose up in all her great beauty and the Heavens in the same accord – from them came the Titans, from them the gods, etc.

16. Who were the first creatures on Earth before humans?

The giant, colossal figures known as the Titans – children of mother earth and father heaven, as well as Cyclopes and other hideous monsters. Those with a hundred hands and fifty heads were destroyed by “Father Heaven.”


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Posted on 08/20/2011, in Literary Focus, Post-A-Day {2011} and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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