Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Review of Greek Myths Vol I by Robert Graves Part 2.9

General Information:

Name of Book: The Greek Myths Vol I

ISBN: 0-14-020508-X

Publisher: Pelican book

Year it was published: 1955

Overall theme:

"My method has been to assemble in harmonious narrative all the scattered elements of each myth, supported by little-known variants which may help to determine the meaning, and to answer all questions that arise, as best I can, in anthropological or historical terms. " (22)

13. Zeus and Hera

Issue: Marriage of Zeus and Hera, as well as the many of Zeus's infidelities, how nothing and no one was limited to him. Hera had power to bestow prophecy, and tried to punish those who copulated with Zeus. At one point she led a conspiracy against Zeus, but Zeus tied her by bracelets and placed anvils on her ankles but he set her free after everyone promised never to rebel. As a punishment, Zeus sent Apollo and Poseidon to build Troy for King Laomedon.

14. Births of Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, and Dionysus

Issue: Zeus had numerous affairs with nymphs and mortal women. This is a brief myth of how the gods Hermes, Apollo, Artemis and Dionysus were born; Hermes was a grandson of Atlas through Maia, Apollo and Artemis were born to Leto who descends from Coeus and Phoebe. Hera tried to prevent her from giving birth, but thanks to Delos and Artemis, she managed to do so. Dionysus came from the infamous myth of Semele, although he might have had different mothers too.

15. The Birth of Eros

Issue:  Debate on whether or not Eros was possibly the very first god and that the mother was possibly Eileithyia who was the goddess of childbirth, or that Eros could be Venus's son who was possibly fathered either by Zeus, Ares or Hermes, or Eros could possibly be Iris's and West Wind's son.

16. Poseidon's Nature and Deeds

Issue: Poseidon won the underworld, but just like Zeus, had numerous love affairs with different goddesses,  such as Demeter, nymphs and  and mortal women such as Scylla. He is described as quarrelsome and got into various disputed with goddesses and gods over land kingdoms. He boasted of creating a horse, which probably wasn't true, as well as as bridle. He is credited with creating horse racing.

17. Hermes's Nature and Deeds

Issue: When Hermes was born he instantly became a small boy and managed to steal Apollo's cattle. He also invented and created numerous things and even gave Apollo the lyre as well as a shepherd's pipe. In return he got cattle and golden staff. Zeus eventually makes Hermes his messenger. Hermes helps out the Fates and creates alphabet as well as astronomy, musical scale and other things. His sons include Echion, Autolycus, and Daphnis whom he eventually turned into a rock.

18. Aphrodite's Nature and Deeds

Issue: Aphrodite wears a magic girdle which causes everyone to fall in lover with her. She is also married to Hephaestus. One time Hephaestus hammered out a net and made the affair of Aphrodite and Ares public. There follows a conversation between the gods. Aphrodite bears sons for numerous gods. Zeus also causes her to fall in love with Anchises, to whom she bears Aeneas, as well as the tale of Adonis. The wife of King Cinyras boasted that Smyrna was more beautiful than Aphrodite. Aphrodite causes Smyrna falls in love with her father, sleeps with him and becomes pregnant. She turns into a tree and gives birth to Adonis, to whom both Aphrodite and Persephone fall in love with. Adonis is killed. Later Aprodite tries to weave something, but Athene complains about it and Aphrodite never tries to do it again.

19. Ares's Nature and Deeds

Issue: No one likes Ares except his sister Eris, Aphrodite, and Hades. Despite him being a war god, Ares isn't always victorious and thanks to him, there was a murder trial over Poseidon's son and threat of his own daughter being violated.

20. Hestia's Nature and Deeds

Issue: Hestia is a peacemaker and just like Artemis and Athene, she remains a virgin after Apollo and Poseidon wanted to be with her. Zeus gave her a position of hearth and she taught art of making houses and her fire is very sacred as well.

21. Apollo's Nature and Deeds

Issue: Stories of Apollo about killing Python, and killing the satyr Marsyas who never contradicted that he wasn't as good as Apollo. Apollo also had numerous paramours and isn't married. He gave children to many nymphs and mortal women, and in some cases like Daphne Hyacinthus, and Marpessa weren't successful. His son was Asclepius who was killed by Zeus's thunderbolt due to him resurrecting a dead man thus robbing Hades of a subject. Apollo also started to preach moderation and tamed the Muses.

22. Artemis's Nature and Deeds

Issue: Artemis remained a perpetual virgin as well as Hestia and Athene. She asked for many things from her father Zeus who promised them to her. She is a huntress goddess with sixty nymphs for her companions. Alpheius, son of Thetis dared to see fall in love with her but she refused his advances. She changed a nymph of her, Callisto, into a bear, or else Zeus had done it. Actaeon watched her bathe thus she changed him into a stag and killed him.

23. Hephaestus's Nature and Deeds

Issue: When Hera gave birth to him, she became embarrassed and threw him down. He was rescued by Thetis and Eurynome and his skills with smithy was discovered. Hera brought him up to Olympus where the two were reconciled, and even arranged for Aphrodite to become married to him. When Hera was hung, he reproached Zeus, causing Zeus to hurl him once more towards earth where he broke his legs and could only use leg supports. He created golden mechanical women who help him.

24. Demeter's Nature and Deeds

Issue:  Demeter is also an unmarried goddess, but she's not a virgin. She apparently bore a number of sons to different men, and also had a daughter named Core (also known as Persephone) who was abducted by Hades one night. She visited Celeus and Metaneira. By accident she turned one son into a lizard, and in order to make up for her mistake, tried to make Demophoon into an immortal unsuccessfully. She did bestow great gifts on the remaining three sons. She created a curse for earth. Zeus, unsuccessfully, tried to persuade her to remove it. Core was returned, but only for nine months because she ate seven pomegranate  seeds.

To be continued...

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