Topic for Discussion

Dreams | Part 1: Dreams in Homeric epic

Night bore also hateful Destiny, and black Fate, and Death; she bore Sleep [Hupnos] likewise, she bore the tribe [phūlon] of Dreams [Oneiroi]; these did the goddess, gloomy Night bear after union with none. Theogony 211–212, adapted from Sourcebook[1] In the Homeric epics, dreams sometimes play an important part in the narrative. In this post we look at some examples, and how people react in response. Dreams are from Zeus… Read more

Emotions from Greek Antiquity

Recent Book Club discussion prompted me to think about how human emotions were depicted in some of the readings from Greek antiquity. In the Trojan Women, Andromache’s reaction to her son’s fate—death by being thrown out of the battlements—is not physical, a loud, wailing lament, but a subdued, courageous reaction. To get a proper burial for her son, she does not fight back vehemently when the child is taken. The… Read more

Hēraklēs and the Sea

Heracles’ tenth labor Figure 1: Hēraklēs sails across the sea in the cup-boat of the sun-god Helios. The hero wears a lion-skin cape and holds a club and bow in his hands.[1] During his numerous and formidable adventures Hēraklēs had to face the sea and to brave storms. In this post we are exploring some of Hēraklēs’ maritime journeys. He assembled large fleets for distant expeditions. While on one of… Read more

Mothers and sons in epic | Part 2: Mortal mothers

In part 1 we looked at divine mothers in epic. Now in part 2 we see the difficulty of being a mortal mother of a hero. Unlike some of the examples we looked at featuring divine mothers, these sons do not rely on their mothers or ask them for help, and the mothers seem to have no control over events or their sons’ lives. But as with the divine mothers,… Read more

Mothers and sons in epic | Part 1: Divine mothers

In these posts we are looking at the way the relationship between mothers and sons is portrayed in Homeric epic. In this first post we look at some divine mothers: Aphrodite, mother of Aeneas, and Thetis, mother of Achilles; Hera and Hephaistos, and the role Thetis played in caring for Hephaistos. Because Aphrodite’s and Thetis’ sons have mortal fathers, their sons are also mortal, and will die. Both these mothers… Read more