Athenian Myths and Institutions: Words in Action by Wm. Blake Tyrrell, Frieda S. Brown

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By Wm. Blake Tyrrell, Frieda S. Brown

This ebook analyzes the relationships among Athenian myths and the associations that trained them. specifically, it examines how myths encode options on ritual, the code of the warrior, marriage, and politics. Combining conventional historic and literary feedback with the methods of anthropologists, feminist critics, and cultural historians, the authors learn particular examples of the epic and tragedy, in addition to funeral orations and the Parthenon marbles, to light up the methods mythic media exploited the ideals, innovations, and practices of fifth-century Athens, at the same time exemplifying and shaping that tradition.

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Greeks generally believed that Homer composed both the Iliad and the Odyssey; although there was no unanimity of opinion about where he lived or when, they accepted that there was a man called Homer. Modern views of Homer are vastly different. In 1795, Friedrich August Wolf in his Prolegomena ad Homerum contended that the Homeric poems were not written by the same man, nor was each poem written by a single poet. Convinced that without the aid of writing no one artist could compose either so long a work or one so well constructed, Wolf maintained that the poems, composed around 950, were a conflation of short songs assem- The Arete Standard as a Source of Mythmaking 43 bled by compilers and editors and preserved through memory until written down in the sixth century.

That is the place where the joy that a young man can give his father is won; that is the place of wealth, vengeance, and proven bravery. On the other hand, the scene in Peleus' house illustrates the obedience that the young should grant their elders. Patroklos has forgotten; Nestor reminds him not only to obey his father and counsel Achilles but to comply with the request of the old man sitting before him. Achilles' withdrawal perverts the normal expectations of the fighting, since the Trojans slaughter the stronger Greeks.

Mnemosyne enables him to be the repository of his culture's past, whether in the form of the deeds of gods and heroes or of precedents and customs. Zeus appropriates this power as his own by impregnating Mnemosyne with the 20 Athenian Myths and Institutions nine Muses. He benefits by gaming the mother's prerogative, memorization, something whose worth Ouranos and Kronos failed to realize. Zeus makes use of her memorization through daughters who live with him on Olympus, forever unwed, and who sing not for their own pleasure and profit but for the delight of their father.

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