Lecture 10: Perseus, Theseus, and Crete


I. Perseus

A. Origins and Family: Descendent of Io, and Libya and Poseidon
1. Zeus + Danäe ==> Perseus

2. Principal partner: Andromeda ==> Perses, Alcaeus (father of Amphitryon), Electyron (father of Alcmena), Sthenelus (father of Eurystheus)

B. Attributes

1. Cap of Hades

2. Winged sandals

3. Kibisis (leather pouch)

4. Scimitar

C. Major myths

1. Birth: Acrisius, Danäe, Dictys

2. The quest: Polydectes, Graeae, Gorgons (Stheno, Euryale, Medusa 1), Pegasus and Chrysaor

3. The rescue of Andromeda: Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Ceto, Phineus (scenes from Boscotrecase 1 2 3 4)

4. Return: death of Polydectes and Acrisius

D. Some perspectives

1. Folktale motifs: unusual birth; importance of the villain who tries to harm family; the quest: gets magical agents; fight for future bride from other suitors; hero marries and ascends to the throne

2. Initiation into manhood (Jung); four stages:

3. Freud and the Gorgon

II. Theseus and Crete

A. Origins and Family:
1. Poseidon / Aegeus + Aethra ==> Theseus

2. Principal partner: Phaedra (daughter of Minos); love affairs: Antiope ==> Hippolytus and Ariadne

B. Attributes

1. Sandals and sword (tokens of legitimacy)

2. Club (connection with Heracles)

3. Civility

C. Major myths

1. Travel to Athens: Six Labors (Theseus as Heracles)

2. Arrival in Athens (Bacchylides: nature vs. culture p.400-401)

3. Cretan Adventures

4. Later adventures

D. Some perspectives

1. Folktale motifs

2. Theseus vs. Heracles (cf. culture vs. nature) and Perseus (threatening woman theme)

3. Theseus: History of Athens and Crete (Minoan Civilization, c. 3500-1450 BC)

4. Religion: Cimon recovers bones of Theseus from Scyros (5th century BC)

5. Theseus myths as Athenian propaganda