Friday, January 11, 2013
Book Review of Mythology by Edith Hamilton 3.7
Name of Book: Mythology
Publisher: First Black Bay
Year it was published: 1942
"The Greeks did not believe that the gods created the universe. It was the other way about: the universe created the gods. Before there were gods heaven and earth had been formed. They were the first parents. The Titans were their children, and the gods were their grandchildren." (24)
Part Three: The Great Heroes before the Trojan War
Observations: King Acrisius has a daughter named Danae, and one a prophecy was created that any child born to the girl would put the King to death. He built a bronze house with open roof where Danae was forced to live. Zeus came to her as a golden rain. She bore a son named Perseus, and King Acrisius now placed the two in a boat. Eventually they landed and a childless couple, Dictys and his wife, raised Danae and Perseus as their own. Polydictys, Dictys's brother, fell in love with Danae and desired her. At a wedding feast, Perseus proclaims that as a gift he will bring back the Gorgon's head, Medusa's in particular. Hermes finally comes to Perseus and shares his plan, that they must see the Gray Women and Perseus must steal their only eye and not give it back. Perseus gets outfitted with a lot of gifts and flies to face Medusa. The fight is successful and he slays Medusa, then on the way home rescues and marries Andromeda and accidentally kills his grandfather. He and Andromeda have a son named Electryon who was a grandfather to Hercules.
Observations: He is King Aegeus's son and has spent his youth with his mother. The father places some articles in a tree and tells the mother that should it be a boy and he could roll the stone away, he could claim him as his father. Theseus also refuses the easy way and prefers the hard way, and also he admires Hercules, who is his cousin. He has killed multiple evildoers and believed in 'eye for an eye'. Medea attempted to poison him unsuccessfully for Aegeus has recognized him. Minos controlled Athens due to his only son's Androgeus death, and fourteen maidens and youths were sent every nine years to be devoured by the Minotaur. Brief history of Minos's wife falling in love with a beautiful bull. Daedalus built the maze. Theseus goes and tells father that should he be successful the sails will be white, and should he fail the sails will be black. Ariadne, daughter of Minos, falls in love with Theseus and gives him a magic thread. He kills the Minotaur with his bare hands. He takes Ariadne with him and she either dies or is abandoned. Theseus forgets to hoist the white sail, his father commits suicide. Theseus becomes a king and makes Athens a democracy. More of Theseus's adventures follow, including a foray into the Amazon where he takes away either Antiope or Hippolyta who bears him a son named Hippolytus. More adventures such as about an unfortunate friend Pirithous and plan to carry off Helen of Troy as well as Penelope. Theseus ends up marrying Phaedra, sister of Ariadne. Hippolytus refused to be in love and refused to worship Aphrodite, thus she caused Phaedra to fall in love with him. Phaedra's nurse pleads for Hippolytus to love her but he refuses, and she dies, as well as writes a letter that Hippolytus raped her. Theseus banishes him, Hippolytus gets killed and truth is revealed by Artemis. Theseus ends up being killed by a king and a host.
Observations: While Athens admired Theseus, other Greeks admired Hercules. Hercules is described as physically strong and very self confident and easy-going and determined. Nothing defeated him. He is not very intelligent but was very emotional and temperamental which got him into trouble. It was believed he was the son of Amphiotryon but Zeus was his father. Zeus disguised himself as the woman's husband and fathered the child on her. A legend about snakes and how Hercules was destined for great things, and how he accidentally killed his music teacher, and many other adventures. He married Meagara and had three sons with her. A madness came over him and he killed them all. Theseus invites him to stay with him and urges him to forget about it. Hercules, on the other hand, consults an oracle and goes to a cousin of his to get purified. Eurystheus devises the twelve ingenious tasks which are briefly covered. Even after the twelve labors Hercules had more adventures and married Deianira. After more adventures and slavery, he finds a woman named Iole, whom its rumored that he loves her. Deianira gets jealous, creates a magic robe and kills Hercules as well as herself. Hercules becomes a god, marries Hebe and "enjoys" rest on Mt. Olympus.
Observations: Atalanta's father was disappointed that a girl had been born to him, thus he left her abandoned on a mountain and a bear took care of her. Atalanta became an adventuress and killed centaurs one day. She took part of the Calydonian Boar Hunt and thanks to Meleager got all the honors, although the men really resented that fact. Meleager died for slaying his uncles, and might have loved Atalanta. Atalanta had numerous other adventures and determined never to marry. However, one man, Minion/Hippomenes used a clever trick to win the infamous foot race and married her. The two became lions, don't know why, and prior to that, Atalanta had a child, Parthenopaeus.
To be Continued...