Discuss the unusual births of Aphrodite and Athena.

Posted: September 9th, 2022

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1. At what point in cosmic history does Hesiod begin his account of world origins? Why do you suppose he makes Zeus a third-generation god? What are the implications of a universe ruled by a god who is not its creator?
2. What role do the Muses play in the poetry of myth?
3. Discuss the unusual births of Aphrodite and Athena. What are the paradoxes involved in the love goddess’s birth from an act of sexual mutilation and violence? How is Zeus able to give birth to Athene, and why does she issue from her father’s head? Which theories of myth are useful in interpreting these births?
4. What role does Gaea play in each change of divine administration? Why does she side with sons who overthrow their fathers? Why does she create Zeus’s most formidable opponent?
5. What significance do you give to the fact that most of Zeus’ early children are personifications of abstract qualities? Why does Zeus feel compelled to mate with so many females, both divine and human? In what sense is he “father of gods and men’? Why does he wait until after he has defeated all his enemies before embarking on his amorous exploits?
6. Every age reveals itself in the way it portrays the ancient myths. What does Goya’s portrait of Cronus say about his view of the world?
7. Do you think Goya was influenced by Ruben’s work? What are the similarities? The differences?
8. Notice the crouching attitude of Cronus, the prominence of the knee. But also notice how Rubens has placed the look of terror on the face and in the pose of the infant, and almost hidden Cronus’ face by having him look down. How does this differ from Goya’s handling of the subject? What is the age and pose of the victim in Goya’s version?
9.Also note the scepter in the right hand of Cronus in Rubens’ painting. Along the edge of all these grotesque elements lies the scepter, the conventional symbol of the god’s authority. What has Goya done with the god’s hands to give his particular slant to the image?
10. Create your own question for this chapter, answer someone else’s question, and comment on the answer given to your question.

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