Discussion Forum: Week 6

This week we’ll be visit the library on Tuesday, and begin our discussion of the Odyssey on Thursday.

In your forum this week, you have two choices:

  • Option A: Click here to pick a question from the roundup of survey questions from Contribution Survey 3-4. Answer it if you can, or comment on how we might approach answering it; share your own thoughts, or link us out to further details.
    • First, check to see if anyone else has answered the question. You are welcome to join their conversation by replying to their comment.
    • If no one has addressed the question you’d like to answer, copy and paste it below and share your thoughts!
  • Option B: After our visit to the library on Tuesday, reflect on something interesting, surprising, noteworthy you encountered there. Share your thoughts or questions about something you learned or something you’d like to know more about!

This week, we will not have separate family discussions. Just post your comment in the Option A or Option B threads below.

Remember, you can be very brief in these comments, but you need to add something new (an observation, an argument, a quotation, a question). For full instructions on participating in the discussion forum, click here. Your comment should be submitted before midnight on Wednesday.


    1. How did the Greeks view different identity domains such as race, gender, etc, particularly those of minoritized identities ? How much do we know about the position of women in Greece during the time period these texts were written?

      Ancient Greeks did not have the same views on race as society does today. The Greeks more so had a concept of the “other”, which made up everyone else did that not identify with their culture and religion. Race was not a quality that defined “otherness”, and instead the”other” were considered to be barbarians and uncivilized, which the Greeks used to unite themselves against other peoples.

      1. I think that Emma brings up a very important point about the differences between modern perceptions of race and the ancient Greek perspective. In regards to the other part of the question, women definitely occupied a marginalized position, although their rights differed depending on the time and place. In Athens, for example, women were not considered citizens and were therefore unable to participate in political systems like the Assembly.

        1. I definitely agree with Deklan on this, I think we have a really interesting habit of trying to conceptualize ancient Greek life and viewpoints in a 20th century way. On the other hand, I know that women were expected to be at home and tend to the children, which makes me curious about the ways ancient Greek gender roles have laid the foundation for more modern roles.

          1. I totally agree with Zoe that although the Greeks may have had different ideas about gender than we do now, there were still clear gender roles for men and women in Greek society. As we discussed in class, kleos as a virtue was meant for men in battle and there was a clear difference in how the Trojan War was experienced from the perspective of the Trojan Women versus the soldiers who were men. Even in other myths such as the tale of Arachne, we see how weaving is a task traditionally done by women. And we also discussed in class that even though theater was a major part of Greek culture, all of the actors were men.

      2. I agree with your point about the Greeks’ perception of race. What we call “race” today is a relatively recent social construct that arose following European global expansion and colonialism in the late 15th century. While the Ancient Greeks were ethnocentric, they did not use race as a basis of discrimination. Rather, they valued other civilizations that were culturally similar to them. For instance, the Greeks held Egyptians and Nubians (who today we would recognize as different races) in high regard because their societies were deemed appropriately “civilized” per Ancient Greek cultural supremacy.

      3. I think the relationship that Ancient Greeks had with race, especially compared to more recent beliefs in the way it has evolved, is fascinating. The way that ancient Greeks’ portrayal of “racism” is focused on the people within the culture that did not fit into their schema of what it means to be genuinely Greek, instead of the modern term of race that was created in recent years as a mechanism to keep subordinate people within the country under control. My assumption was that Greeks are racist in the same way that people are in modern times, but that is simply wrong. They focused on the ones that they deemed unworthy to be Greek instead of ostracizing people solely based on the color of their skin.

    2. Why do we focus on Greek mythology so much when it’s so problematic?

      Though much of Greek mythology does grapple with themes of sexual violence, racism, and other forms of oppression, it is still important to study. In much the same way that we still study canonical literature even though many authors are known to have been racist and sexist, we should continue to study Greek mythology. It wouldn’t be beneficial to ignore this source of information on ancient societies, because we still want to know how and why these works came to be. So long as we acknowledge the pitfalls and problems with such stories, we can celebrate and analyze the technique and craft in the storytelling.

      1. I think studying Greek mythology is a way of studying ideological histories. We study history, even if it is incredibly problematic, so that we can recognize patterns in modern day and hopefully prevent those same problems. I think it’s similar with Greek mythology. The mythology of the Greeks clearly represents at least some of their ideas about the world, and by studying mythology, we gain insight into the Ancient Mediterranean’s viewpoint. In doing so, we can point out the many problems with their ideas and apply them to modern day. Additionally, the Ancient Greeks have influenced a lot of the modern day western world, and by grappling with their problematic ideas, we can question the base ideologies that so many societies were built on.

      2. Both Jessica and Claudia make really good points. Understanding the pitfalls and problems of greek mythology are important, because when you don’t look critically enough it’s easy to glamorize things and make mistakes (Like making up a greek goddess in a viral tumblr post). Literally speaking, we study greek mythology because it’s accessible. Greek society wrote a lot of stuff down, and it had the added benefit of being a society that wasn’t destroyed by white supremacy, so that’s my literal answer. More philosophically, I think this relates to a thing called historiography- the study of how we study history. It poses questions about why we’re taught the things that we are. As we’ve discussed in class, the role of white supremacy plays a big factor the historiography of greek mythology, but greek myths don’t really fit cleanly into a ‘modern’ ideology like that. That’s not to say that greek mythology shouldn’t be taught- it’s more of a situation where you need to think critically about who’s telling the story, and what their agenda might be. Almost more importantly, you need to ask about the people you’re not seeing- who’s perspective are you not getting? The Odyssey vs Women of Troy is a great example. If you had only read the Odyssey, like me, you would think that Odysseus was a pretty decent guy, and you want him to get back home. Women of Troy, and the accounts of the Trojan War show a totally different side of him- killing babies and enslaving women, while he pines for his own wife and infant son. After hearing everything he did, you kind of think that he had all his suffering coming.

      3. Although Greek Mythology can be extremely problematic in many aspects such as rape, misogyny, violence, slavery, and more, it shows the extremes of our experiences. I think that we still study Greek Mythology because it was a source of history and it is still important to acknowledge what the past is like to improve our future. Along with this, since Greek mythology is so clearly wrong in our modern eyes, it serves as a source to show exactly what not to do.

        1. I strongly disagree with Sophia. While it is true that Greek Mythology can be viewed as a source of history, it is also important to recognize that it has been used to justify harmful ideologies and behaviors. By continuing to study and celebrate these myths without acknowledging their problematic elements, we risk normalizing and glorifying behavior that could be potentially harmful and oppressive. Moreover, the argument that we study Greek Mythology simply because it represents what not to do seems to be misguided. It is not enough to recognize and condemn harmful behavior without actively working to create a better future, and in order to do so, we must actively learn from sources that promote values such as equality, justice, and compassion. Lastly, there are many other sources of history and culture that can be studied and celebrated that do not contain the same harmful elements as Greek Mythology. By focusing solely on Greek Mythology, we risk overlooking the contributions and perspectives of other cultures and societies.

          1. I also think its important to recognize that although there are many problematic themes within Greek mythology, the study of Greek mythology provides a unique lens through which to view the culture of an extremely influential civilization, and the problematic parts of their culture are just as important to who they were as what we don’t consider problematic today.

      4. I think that Jessica makes a good point and I think that the fact the Greek mythology contains so much bigotry makes it even more important to study. Learning about bigotries like racism, sexism, and sexual violence is how we learn how to be better people and what behaviors to adopt/avoid. If we disregard literature that contains discrimination and bigotry, we are bound to repeat it because we stay ignorant. Therefore, I think it’s especially important that we continue to study Greek mythology.

      5. I think another point we should add to this question would be that the stories and characters in Greek mythology are often captivating, with many tales featuring epic battles, larger-than-life heroes, and complex, flawed gods and goddesses. This makes the genre stand out in comparison to many contemporary novels, and makes the myths appealing to many people as a form of entertainment and a source of inspiration.

      6. I think Jessica makes a very good point in her response as to why we continue studying Greek mythology despite some aspects being extremely problematic. Something I wanted to add to the conversation is that it is necessary to continue studying Greek Mythology because it is very prominent in today’s pop culture. With constant references, retellings, and allusions to Greek myths today (Percy Jackson, Nike, “Achilles heel”, etc.) I believe it would be worse to not acknowledge its problematic past. Because Greek myths continue to be popular, it is crucial to learn about their history and shortcomings so that they are not lost in future generations to come.

      7. Greek myths are undeniably problematic, but that’s not to say that they shouldn’t be taught. As long as the appropriate content/trigger warnings are in place prior to lessons dealing with problematic material, there is nothing inherently wrong with teaching this content. A subject should not be glossed over or ignored due to uncomfortable material, because in doing so, one neglects the historical context for why these myths are the way that they are, and why they promote the ideas and practices that they do. A healthy discussion about these problematic aspects would help participants cultivate a better understanding of the social climate in which these stories originated. Ignoring parts of history, no matter how horrific, does injustice to those who suffered through such practices and customs.

      8. Here is a particularly interesting NYT article relating to this question. Padilla, a respected professor of Classics at Princeton, contends that we should dissolve the study of Classics all together because of the inseparable problematic core.


        He talks about finding classics early in life which started him on a path of education and led him out of poverty, but also having identity crises as a black man studying literature deeply entrenched with white supremacy. I will let you all read it for yourselves and come to your own conclusions. Here is an excerpt that wrestles with the perspective that we should continue to study Classics, though problematic, to learn from it.

        “Padilla argues that exposing untruths about antiquity, while important, is not enough: Explaining that an almighty, lily-white Roman Empire never existed will not stop white nationalists from pining for its return. The job of classicists is not to “point out the howlers,” he said on a 2017 panel. “To simply take the position of the teacher, the qualified classicist who knows things and can point to these mistakes, is not sufficient.” Dismantling structures of power that have been shored up by the classical tradition will require more than fact-checking; it will require writing an entirely new story about antiquity, and about who we are today.”

      9. Like many others have mentioned, it is important that we study Greek mythology even though it is problematic because, like many other problematic historical texts, by reading and having discussions as to why it’s problematic, we can acknowledge these problems while also making sure that history is less likely to repeat itself. I also think that Greek mythology in particular is important to study because so many people have already read it/enjoyed it so if we don’t continue to show why many of the ideas/stories in Greek Mythology are problematic, many people would still continue to idealize it and place it up on a pedestal where it does not belong. I think a good example of this is with Rick Riordan and his Percy Jackson novels. In his books, he ignores/fails to point out/furthers many of the problematic ideas and parts of Greek Mythology (a main one is racism). However, as many people did continue to read Greek Mythology and not just the version portrayed in Percy Jackson books, Riordan faced a lot of backlash. Subsequently, he, as well as many other readers, became aware of and more educated on a lot of the many problematic parts of Greek Mythology/the idealization of it. He now tries harder to make people aware of the racism and other problematic ideas existing in Greek Mythology. I think as students learning about Greek Mythology and the classics in general, it is our responsibility to continue to educate people/speak out about the problematic ideals/ideas present in these studies.

      10. I agree with Sophia. I think that it is important to acknowledge the sexual violence, racism, and sexism in greek mythology to learn from in order to improve the future. For the same reasons we study the holocaust and slavery, it is important to recognize the wrongs of these events so that we can improve the future rather than trying to erase them from history.

      11. I think that while there are major problems with Greek society, and the myths written about it, the field remains an important point of study. I believe this is partially because of the works of reception that permeate history many years after the original Greeks are destroyed, thus helping us understand how the interpretation of Greek myths has changed over time. Whether through modern video games, movies, and books or in Roman times when the entire Roman pantheon was essentially derived from the Greek gods, we can see their lasting influence. In the art world, there are thousands of works devoted to the reinterpretation of Greek myths such as the Birth of Venus and the many amazing sculptures by Bernini. So, while we need to reckon with the harmful narratives, we must also understand how Greek myth has shaped history and culture throughout the centuries since the fall of the Greeks.

      12. While Greek mythology is undoubtedly problematic it is still an important part of mythology to learn. Like any sensitive topic it needs to approached carefully, with proper content warnings and discussion. It is important to look at these problematic myths with a critical lens. Recognizing these pitfalls helps us to learn from them in the future and compare them to other myths.

    3. 2. Ancient Greek family composition (eg: whether inbreeding and polygamy were common).

      Ancient Greek families and relationships were for certain very different from what we would consider morally acceptable now. For example, Pederasty was seen as incredibly common and acceptable. While in my class on Ancient Rome we spoke about moral standpoints on inbreeding and came to understand that it was mostly frowned upon when it wasn’t the Gods being spoken about. These societies were both very close to each other, so I can assume these views were similar. I am sure though that incest in some cases was seen as acceptable, for example cousins (some still see that as acceptable). Over time sleeping with multiple lovers at least from a masculine standpoint has also been relatively accepted and common (that is for men to do, not so much women), so I can assume that polygamy surely happened, or more open, less monogamous relationships.

      1. I totally agree! Incest especially among cousins was common place and not at all looked down upon. I read a really interesting article about researchers who looked at the genome of people from the ancient mediterranean. The genome along with who people were buried with allowed the researchers to discover that on certain islands more than half the people married their cousin. This is a staggering percentage of people and is especially shocking as there isn’t evidence that other societies of the time or from before the time had customs of cousin to cousin marriage.

      2. I also agree, incest was common, as well as large age differences between spouses. What I find interesting was while family was important in these myths, in many of the versions that I have heard, when someone kills (either purposefully or accidentally) a member of their family, they are usually banished and have to seek atonement. While regular murder is typically not as harshly punished, the line is drawn for cannibalism, especially of family members. The story of Tantalus involves him killing his son and attempting to feed him to the gods resulted in punishment in Tartarus.

      3. I also think it is important to come back to the point that op made stating that inbreeding was frowned upon except when talking about the gods. This is interesting because it implies a full sense of faith in deities that may not have even aligned with the moral values of the people worshipping them. This disconnect is fascinating because was the differentiating factor solely divinity? In what ways were they viewing the morality of inbreeding among common people – since they frowned upon it how did they differentiate it from not frowning upon the gods? Was it a case of their gods can do no wrong? I would assume not based on how many myths show how two faced the gods could be in the eyes of the ancient Greeks. Was it about worshipping imperfect beings, or did this not break the ancient Greek view of the gods being divine/perfect? Did they equate divinity and perfection? Altogether this question just raises many more interesting questions to be explored.

    4. How accurate are a lot of these myths? If Troy was real, was Achilles based on a real person? Or is the entirety of the Iliad a legend? I know this was covered a long time back, but I still find myself wondering it with each new story, since they’re all so vivid and descriptive.

      From what I’ve learned in previous courses, Greeks did regard the heroes of the Iliad as historical figures, but whether or not the stories are actually real has been the question lots of scholars have tried to answer. Just one thing that it may be interesting to point out (make of it what you will) is that the descriptions of shields and weaponry in the Iliad are the instruments of battle that would be used by a Classical Greek audience-scholars know from archaeological evidence that late bronze age warriors would be using different armor and shields. There obviously lots of valid ways to interpret this (and ignoring it is definitely one of them) but it may well be that Classical bards changed details to make the battles seem less abstract and legendary and more like actual conflicts the Greeks would have participated in.

      1. I think this is a super important question to bring up and what you added was super great. There is definitely a historical aspect that is huge in greek mythology and all mythology in general throughout time. It adds directly to the fact that mythology often uses symbolism to tell a deeper truth. When those symbols are historic and able to be connected with by the audience it creates even more power. However is it possible that a hero as mighty and confused as Achilles or a man as brave yet as scared as Hector? One day these questions may be answered by research and science but for now there is no evidence of these great characters actually living thus why we know these stories as myth no history.

        1. I definitely have been thinking about this question too as we have progressed further in the course. The point that Avery made about the bronze shields certainly makes you think about loopholes and places in these stories that might not be historically accurate on their face (also the idea of heroes being as powerful as they were depicted.) However, this makes me think about all of the different types of religion and religious figures that exist in stories of religious texts. Greek mythology is definitely similar in that regard, where these myths gave, and still give, people something to believe in and feel connected to. The emotions and themes in many Greek myths can resonate with the average person and even inspire them. So whether or not greek myths are real doesn’t really matter if people choose to believe in some of the messages that are shared within them.

    5. Are there any other scenes that make you as emotional as the Hector Andromache farewell?

      To me, all the scenes in which Achilles griefs over Patroclus are emotional. Interpreting their relationship in any way, it’s undeniable that Achilles held Patroclus closest to his heart. They grew up together and spent many long years at war. One moment I find heartbreaking to read is after Achilles has slayed Hector and has completed his vengeance. Achilles says “But what am I thinking of? Patroclus’ body Still lies by the ships, unmourned, unburied, Patroclus, whom I will never forget As long as I am among the living, Until I rise no more; and even if In Hades the dead do not remember, Even there I will remember my dear friend,” (Hom. Id. 22.426-432). The desperation to see Hector dead for killing Patroclus has been fulfilled, yet all that remains is an abyss of longing and dejection within Achilles. His glory feels meaningless without Patroclus to share in it. I find it tragic that a love as strong as theirs would be cut off, leaving one to live without the other.

      1. Something that got me emotional and even angry was the discussion between Helen, Hecuba, and Menelaus. I was so shocked and angry that Hecuba willingly acted as the “prosecution” for Helen, I had to stop reading for a bit. I think my expectations to have some sort of female solidarity and even motherly love in this scene were completely subverted, and that’s what caused my emotions. It also made me interrogate my own stereotypes about women. When I think of a mother, I think of someone who is caring and calm. Hecuba’s “Kill your wife, Menelaus, and I will bless your name” (890) was especially profound for me. In this moment, Hecuba sort of took on a more male presence in my mind, ridding herself of the more stately, queenly, “feminine” figure I had seen her as previously. My mind went back to our discussion of how Trojan Women was written by a man, a man with his own preconceived notions about women.

      2. I agree; stories about the quest to avenge a loved one and “doing it for them” so to speak always are super emotional. Some of my favorite games like Octopath Traveller and XC3 have their own takes on this type of dynamic and story but it’s interesting to see that this archetype has existed since practically forever.

      3. I think something that greek myths did especially well was emotion and staying exceptionally animated when both sides are wrong do-ers but are also the victims. The Hector and Andromache farewell was gut wrenching as it was so expected and the two truly shared that understanding and that’s what i believe made it so sad. Achilles mourning Patroclus is also heart breaking as we see a man who has been so stubborn and prideful finally break and then fall into a deep pit of vengeance. What makes these scenes so sad is the two both had someone to live for, yet they both ended up losing in the end.

    6. The question of free will for the heroes still remains on my mind. Obviously Hector doesn’t feel like he has a choice of whether or not to fight, but is this because of his own personal feelings/the confines of society, or because his path is pre-ordained?

      I think it’s a combination of both. While his path is pre-ordained, the confines of society push him into his destiny as a result of his limited free will. He has to work within certain restrictions to fulfill these standards, standards that end up defining his destiny. If everything is the work of the gods, then these standards, the idea of glory, could have been influenced by the same gods that determined Hector’s destiny. So, even if he has the illusion of free will, everything in society is pushing him towards his ultimate destiny, and the constraints also determine his own feelings.

      1. I think that the points Abigail brings up about the determined elements of Hector’s path originating from a combination of the Gods and society are very interesting and something that has not received much attention in our class’ reading of the Iliad. I want to push back against the idea that “everything in society is pushing him towards his ultimate destiny, and the constraints also determine his own feelings.” Though there is no doubt external influences will carry weight and direct Hector’s or generally any Greek hero’s will; they, as individuals, nevertheless still have free will. At the end of the day, even if the Gods exert influence over the war and meddle in the lives of the mortals there are still mundane, daily choices and actions that people are capable of and this ability is not wholly eliminated simply because of extenuating circumstances like a war or the pursuit of glory and fame. It is also important to take into account the author’s power in writing the narrative and including embellished facets of angst and turmoil to attract a wider audience. Despite the language of prophecy and destiny permeating through many Greek myths, I still want to hold room for the idea that the characters are based off of very real humans with actualizable agency and autonomy.

        1. I think evidence supporting both of your analyses can be found in the text. And one may argue that these differences in views precisely capture the struggle that the ancient Greeks face regarding whether we have free will- an unresolved debate nowadays as well. Not only in the Illiad but many instances in other texts also emphasize a determinist view of human life. One cannot escape one’s fate, no matter how (i.e., Oedipus rex). It seems we can give contrasting yet compatible explanations of whether Hector has a choice to go back to the war or not- both Abigal and Lyvia’s arguments would work. Therefore, I want to invoke a new way of explaining this dilemma. By setting up the plot the way we read it today, Homer vividly expresses this dilemma that one may puzzle with. Moreover, the fact that we have this conversation again shows how this ongoing question penetrates through time into the minds of modern readers. Back in the day, ancient Greeks suffered from knowing whether one was free or not. Thus, we see many attempts in the literature to address that entanglement. This same kind of discussion we brought forth proves that such a dilemma persists and is very much relevant to our society, although there are no ancient Greek gods.

    7. I am still interested to see what gender roles were like in Greek mythology as the course continues.

      Going off of this; the gender roles present in The Odyssey are particularly interesting! Take Pennelope. On one hand, she stays at home, works on the loom and is often bossed around by men (including her son sometimes), yet she is also in charge of the household and executes clever plans to avoid choosing a suitor. There are also a handful of other female characters that show up in the Odyssey: Athena, Circe, Calypso, to name a few. Though how much they support or subvert gender roles can be debated as, at least for the three I mentioned here, they are immortal, powerful women and at the same time their main roles are either sleeping with Odysseus, giving him assistance, or both.

    8. Why in some versions of the Trojan War is Helen kidnapped while in others she willing goes with Paris?

      Most Greek myths come from varying sources that span time periods and locations, and because of this there are going to be differences in the stories. As time goes on a story can get retold and mistold numerous times, and many of these new versions will be recorded and preserved until today. In The Iliad, Homer tells the story of Helen choosing to go with Paris, but in other texts she is kidnapped. Another example is that Homer writes that Aphrodite is Zeus’ daughter but in other texts she is the daughter of Uranus and rose from sea foam. There is not one true or correct way to recount a myth.

    9. Does modernizing greek myths detract from the original message of the myth, as modern approaches usually conform the characters to current political and social trends?

      Modernizing myths can help make stories more relatable to contemporary readers by adjusting the language and cultural context. This can make it easier for readers to understand the characters and themes, and draw connections between the myths and contemporary social/political issues. However, modernizing myths can also be lead to problems if it results in a distortion of the original meaning and message of the myths, and a complete loss of the historical and cultural contexts in which the myths were created. It can also lead to an oversimplification and misrepresentation of the characters in the myths. So modernizing myths can be a valuable way to keep the stories alive and relevant for contemporary audiences, but it is important to ensure respect for the original material when modernizing them.

      1. I agree with Samson’s point that modernizing myths can make them understandable and relatable to readers and also keeps the stories alive. While I do think that it’s important to understand the historical contexts of these myths and the messages the stories were originally meant to convey, I don’t think that distorting these meanings is necessarily a bad thing. For example, Eurypides’ Trojan Women doesn’t convey the same messages about glory that the Illiad does, but using a subversion of the myth gives his critique of his sociopolitical context power. In a similar vein, modern versions of myths that are feminist, queer, or BIPOC-centric make the stories relevant to people and gives power to both the myth and the message. Again, I do think it’s still important to make a distinction between this retold version of the myth and the “original” so that there aren’t misunderstandings about how the Greeks thought about these stories, but I also think the modern version can empower rather than detract from the messages of the myths. It’s also worth remembering that these myths were oral traditions and many versions existed, even in ancient times.

      2. I definitely agree with Samson’s points that modernizing myths can make stories more relatable and accessible to readers/audiences from later time periods & that we need to be careful in our attempts to “modernize” myths to avoid oversimplifying these complex stories.

        However, I think it’s also important to remember that, for many of the written versions of the myths that we often treat like true source material, these written accounts are already “modernized,” as most of these myths were around long before the 400’s BCE. We don’t really have access to any one “original version” of the myths, since they were passed down and around through oral tradition for such a long time before any of the versions of the myths were eventually written down as written forms of language were introduced to the region. As is the case with many (if not most, or even all) legends, the way an artist decides to frame their retelling of a myth can change the way that myth is received in subtle or very dramatic ways. The types of descriptors used (cunning & witty & crafty vs scheming & deceitful & cowardly), light changes in how actions are framed (they ran away together vs she was stolen), and even just which interactions are emphasized, etc. — all of these (and more!) can significantly change the messages being presented to the audience, even while the events of the myth stay constant, allowing the same myth to be used to push and/or reinforce different values for centuries. As such, it seems to me that while, yes, in more colloquially “modern” retellings from the last century we’ve used (and/or perhaps interpreted) Greek myths in a more diverse manner than what was seen in previous eras (like in the form of webtoons and brand names and fantasy series like those of Rick Riordan, etc.), the act of “modernizing” Greek myths and using the myths to push an agenda is far from being a novel concept.

      3. I agree that modernizing Greek myths can actually be quite valuable. As with any oral mythology from any culture, the individual myths are meant to teach a set of morals for the next generation. By modernizing these Greek myths, we can continue to understand poetic consequences of grief, rage, and love without exposing, and accidentally reinforcing, sexist and racist ideologies. In other words, we can remove the risk of these ancient stories and make them relatable for the current era. On the other hand, as Emma said, these modernizations should not be taken literally or a true representation of Greek culture. The Greeks did not value inclusivity in the way that Riodian tried to achieve later in his career; human slavery and sexual violence was normalize. Thus, in the historic context, the myths must be examined in their first hand source, not through the modernized version.

    10. I wonder if we could talk more about the formulaic phrases of epic poetry.

      I actually just read a very interesting article about formulas in Homeric epic. Basically, the author’s point was that many of the epithets and formulas distinctively fit the verse structure of the epic. Since the poet has to adhere to a specific meter, it’s often useful to have epithets that can be appropriately deployed in certain places to fit the meter. The article even mentioned that it’s been suggested that some epithets are ornamental, that is only used to adhere to the meter, rather than literarily-meaningful. This approach has met with some pushback, and I’m not sure that I agree with this analysis (particularly given our discussion of Hector’s epithet), but it is an interesting idea to consider.

      The article also mentioned that the “type-scenes” in Homeric epic, those that are repeated multiple times with small variations, allow the poet to have a basic structure with potential for adaptability. In describing a battle, for instance, the poet can use a type-scene rather than coming up with an entirely new way to describe the battle, but individual details can be added on or removed as necessary to fit the purpose of the narrative.

    11. It seems like everyone already knows what’s going to happen, so how does Cassandra’s future-telling but no one believing her work? Is this just not present in other versions of the story of the Iliad?

      The story of Cassandra telling the future but no one believing her is found in multiple other versions of the story of the Trojan War where she is cursed by Apollo to give accurate prophecies that no one would believe. I think this question goes beyond that explanation, though. Why are Cassandra’s prophecies not believed when it seems that figures in these stories are very willing to believe prophecies? In Euripides’ Trojan Women, this question is answered with Cassandra’s portrayal as insane. She is “crazed,” “passionate,” and in a “frenzy,” according to Hecuba. The other characters seem to not believe her because they see everything she says as the words of a person not in their sound mind. Euripides’ choice of explanation illustrates that when someone is seen as insane or not in sound mind, their words are dismissed and given no authority, even when they happen to be true. The situation also contributes to the dramatic irony of scenes involving Cassandra—the audience sees her warning other characters about what will happen, but they do not believe her, building tension and frustration.

    12. Why do we focus on Greek mythology so much when it’s so problematic?
      While Greek mythology can be incredibly offensive at times and perpetuate values and ideas that we see as offensive today, Greek mythology heavily influences modern culture and helps us to understand history better. It is important to study Greek mythology so that we can see the problematic nature of their stories and understand the power dynamics at play during this time

      1. I definitely agree with Evan about this. In my opinion, it is also just so rewarding and interesting to see and learn about the basis for this polytheistic culture that permeated various cultures and centuries. Further, it is important to interpret what is and is not problematic in the context that “problematic” is a subjective word. With that being said, it is also very intriguing to look at how the definitions of what was problematic changed since the times of Ancient Greece, especially how in some ways what was considered problematic by the Greeks may not have been considered problematic even by those that followed them.

    13. If heroes ultimately want to be remembered, would they be cool with it if they were remembered in a negative light?

      I think that the heroes would rather be remembered in a negative light than not remembered at all. Since, depending on the age of the story, the only option after death was the fields of asphodel, which were bleak and meaningless, being remembered was the only way these characters could resign themselves to the fact that they would be trapped there after they died. Being remembered was a way for them to metaphorically achieve life after death, and it would dispel the feeling that their lives would make no difference in the grand scheme of things. Some heroes might think that this was worth being a bad person. However, I think they would prefer to be remembered in a positive light if they had a choice. Although they are striving to be remembered in general, and anything is probably better than being forgotten, they are specifically striving to achieve kleos. This word has a positive connotation. Those with it are not only remembered but praised, idolized, and viewed as the epitome of what someone should be. So of course, wanting to be remembered in a positive light and wanting to be remembered for ones’ kleos go hand in hand. Yet it should be noted that the ancient Greeks’ definition of positive and negative are a bit different from ours. Sure we both view “glory” and “heroism” as good things, but in our times, these tend to refer more to saving people, while in ancient Greece, they referred more to prowess in battle (and killing people). For instance, someone like Alexander the Great, who fought battles everywhere he went and conquered people, was viewed as heroic and strong and probably full of kleos. But nowadays, we understand that people who attempt to invade other countries are indisputably villains.
      So, while heroes might be okay with being remembered in a negative light as opposed to not remembered at all, they would probably prefer to be remembered in a positive light, although we in modern times might disagree with the lights cast on these heroes by the ancients.

      1. I think this is a super interesting question, and I agree with a lot of what Cynthia has said. This question would be much simpler if we were talking about heroes in modern literature, but of course, we aren’t. As we’ve seen, Greek heroes are often depicted with complex personalities and flaws, and their actions could have both positive and negative consequences. While heroes may have wanted to be remembered positively, they also understood that their actions were probably also going to have negative consequences. I think the point about differences in what makes a good hero across time periods is really important here, with the perceptions of heroism and villainy changing over time. Greek heroes may have preferred to be remembered in a positive light, but that positive light also doesn’t necessarily mean they would be recognized as a “good person” today, it’s more likely they wanted to be idolized for their bravery or prowess in battle, even if that inevitably comes at the expense of others.

    14. I chose to answer this qiestion: “Why do we focus on Greek mythology so much when it’s so problematic?”
      As someone who loves English, history, Classics, and basically anything that involves analyzing a text, this question really piqued my interest. It could be argued that all texts worth studying are problematic, at least in some way. But I think the problematic bits provide us with a) something to talk about and b) something to feel, if negative. A good example is Trojan Women. We can feel and talk about these women for ages and ages.

    15. The alternate universes repeatedly mentioned in the Iliad are interesting to look into concerning how the Greeks think of fate and humans’ choices in it. Are the alternate universes examples of how humans are powerless over destiny, or are they outcries of defiance for the set path and struggle for other possibilities?

      I think the repeated mention of these “universes” are interesting in regards to the the idea of choice versus destiny. Take Achilles, who speaks of two different realities. He knows that if he stays and fights, he’ll die a hero, but if he returns home he will live long and will not be remembered. There are two possibilities in front of him, but in the end he follows the first one. How much agency he really had in that choice is unclear, but he at least takes a moment to acknowledge that universe where he leaves.

    16. Question: Why do we focus on Greek mythology so much when it’s so problematic?

      This is something I think about a lot! There’s been heated debate recently about whether or not Classics is actually relevant or important, and whether or not it deserves to be a field of study. Strong arguments have been made by scholars such as Dan-el Padilla Peralta (who I saw a lecture by at Princeton!) about the conservative, exclusionary nature of the field. “If one were intentionally to design a discipline whose institutional organs and gatekeeping protocols were explicitly aimed at disavowing the legitimate status of scholars of color,” he said at a conference in 2019, “one could not do better than what classics has done.” I’m all for dismantling the discipline of Classics, so long as we rebuild it as something better, something that focuses not only on Ancient Greece and Rome but on the other great ancient civilizations of the time—Persia, Egypt, Libya, Babylonia, etc.—and offers courses on their languages and mythologies, too.

    17. How did Greek People view homosexuality?

      Each city state had its own separate ideals, however, it was not entirely frowned upon. In this time period, it was very common for an older man to take a younger man under his wing to advise him, as well as have a physical relationship with him. Power dynamics were still very important in these relationships, and the older man would be in control. These relationships were respected enough that they can be seen depicted on pieces recovered from this time period. Women had much less autonomy in this time period and were expected to fulfill very specific roles.

    18. Question: I definitely left our discussion of Percy Jackson wondering how Riordan could have written the book in a different manner to appeal to his audience while still opposing white supremacy ideas.

      I think this is a question that a lot of people have been wondering and have actively asked Rick Riordan. I think he probably would’ve incorporated more people of color in the percy jackson series, though I think it should be noted that there was much more diversity in the sequel series (heroes of olympus). Moreover, for the new TV show that will be coming out on disney plus (they just finished shooting season 1), he has very adamantly defended the controversial casting of a black actress for Annabeth, a character he wrote to be white and blonde. He has called his fans out for “judging her [Leah Jeffries] appropriateness for the role solely and exclusively on how she looks”, stating explicitly to stop the racist backlash and hate. I think in this way he has both appealed to his audience while also opposing white supremacist ideas.

    19. What would a more inclusive version of Percy Jackson look like?

      I think that a more inclusive version of Percy Jackson would involve a greater representation of diversity and experiences in the story. Riordan could definitely incorporate more diverse characters as the main characters in Percy Jackson are predominantly white, so a more inclusive version of the story would involve more representation of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. In addition to the diversity of race, characters could have a diversity of abilities, or come from different socio-economic backgrounds. As we talked about in class, the Greeks were not all white so there wasn’t a need to make the Percy Jackson characters all white.

    1. An interesting literary work I found during my time in the library was the “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” by Damien Hirst. The book details his art exhibit in Venice, Italy, which is a fictional collection of treasures from the freed slave named Cif Amotan II (an anagram for “I am Fiction”), who traveled the world collecting artifacts, but his ship sank in his voyage. Many of these works were connected to ancient greek myths and serve as a fantastic fictional rendition of what possible ancient artifacts may look like had they been perfectly preserved. My personal favorite was “The severed head of Medusa,” which is a solid gold and silver artificat of Medusa’s head dissolving as her face shows what I would describe as a good impression of what many of her own victims would’ve looked like as they were turned to stone… very fitting! Some of the other artifacts are more mystical and new age where it adapts more modern styles and applies them to older figures of mythology.

    2. Something interesting I noticed during my time in the library was a graphic novel called Euripides the Trojan Women written by Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson. It was fascinating to see a modern retelling of the story of the women of Troy. An amusing part of the novel was how the authors drew and represented different gods. For example, Athene was depicted as a big pair of overalls, carrying an owl mask in one hand. Athene talks to Poseidon and exclaims that she wants to give the Greeks a dangerous voyage home because she feels sad for the Trojans. It was interesting to see how details from the story, like Athene’s motives to punish the Greeks, differ from Euripides’ original retelling.

    3. Something that I found interesting during my time in the library was about the construction of the Greek vases. I learned about the “black figure, red background” vases, and the “red figure, black background” vases. It was super amazing to see the intricate designs on these vases and how much detail there were able to put, in such a little space.

      1. I also found the distinction between the “black figure, red background” and “red figure, black background” to be really interesting. It amazes me that these vases have survived thousands of years and are still in such good condition. One piece that also stood out to be was labeled “Lagynos” and this was a different kind of style than the red and black figures and backgrounds. This was a wine jug that showed the change in Greek culture from the Classic (red and black design) to the Hellenistic period. The style of the jug, known as lagynos, is a more simple design and is all light-colors. This is a really interesting shift in style because it reflects the time period when Rome began to gain power of Greece.

      2. I also found the vases really interesting for two reasons.

        1. While it doesn’t directly correlate to this course I really enjoyed that how our school come into possession of these vases was something that was very clearly detailed when they were introduced to us. I think that while its really amazing that we have such old artifacts and that alumni donated them, that it is super important for current students to understand that despite this that the brothers who donated them were not very ethical art dealers.

        2. I really enjoyed learning that the reason that these vases are black and red is that the Greeks did not paint them with things like paint or glaze, rather it was with Slip (watered-down clay). This partially explains why some of the older vases were red backgrounds and black figures, as the black was easier to see when painting.

    4. Two things stood out to me:

      1. How the pieces from the Special Collections would not be accepted at a museum, while Bryn Mawr had a more well-renowned collection.

      2. I also skimmed a really interesting book about the obsession people have with mythological villains. Personally, I am a big fan of Medusa so this really spoke to me. Monsters (and just villains in general) have played such a large role in media for ages. They embody the allure of danger, transgression, power, and much more, representing the fears and desires of humans.

      1. I also found the discussion around what makes a piece ‘museum worthy’ really interesting. Many of the pieces displayed looked very intricate and beautiful to me, so when the librarian dismissed them as ordinary and not very valuable I was surprised. One of the vases in particular was described as a collectible- not for us in modern day, but for ancient Greeks at the time. For whatever reason I’ve never imagined ancient Greeks as tourists, traveling the Athens and coming home with a keepsake, but this notion made them feel more relatable.

    5. I really liked the library visit! I thought it was super interesting. In my opinion, the coolest thing I saw were all the vases. My favorite one was the little cup with the owl on it. I think the origin of these vases are super cool, as they are from the people that worked for someone who is famous for stealing art. The vases were all super different, which I thought was nice to see, I liked the variety of colors too. The difference of colors has to do with the difference of composition, which I also thought was super interesting.

    6. Something interesting I learned in the library was how Greek vases changed over time, specifically how they changed from red on black to black on red painting of the vases. It makes me wonder what caused the change: was it the access to materials, newfound creative techniques, or simply stylistic choice? Some of the vases also depict mythological Greek events, which was very amazing to look at, since that must have taken an very long time and extreme attention to detail.

      1. I agree that this was a very interesting! I believe that the shift from black figure to red figure vase painting happened as people realized that they could include much more detail using the red figure technique. With the red figure technique, one painted the background of the vase using clay with a different consistency than that used to make the vase. This would show up black after the vase was fired, while everything else appeared red, allowing one to paint details on the figures using a brush and the watered-down clay.

    7. I was fascinated by the different artistic techniques utilized of the black figure vases and the red figure vases. Both had such fine lines and details. It seems really difficult to be so intricate with slip, watered down clay. I would be interested to learn more about the process of making these vases.

      1. I also found the process to be amazing. When the process was being described, I was in awe at what they could accomplish with the materials at hand. In my brain, it all sounds impossible to do without modern technology and it was a good reminder of the capabilities of people without needing tools to make everything faster.

    8. One of the books that caught my attention was Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe. From reading the blurb, I got a sense of how Greek mythology can be adaptable to the modern world in a way that is relatable for teens and young adults. It was difficult for me to relate to The Iliad or Euripides’ Trojan Woman because I have not experienced anything similar to what the women in these works lived through. As I flipped through the pages of Smythe’s work, it felt like I was reading a novel that I would’ve loved as a teenager; its familiar feel made me interested to read more and explore this topic further.

    9. I really liked our library visit! My favorite part was seeing the Greek pottery in person because my archaeology class had been going over vessels from the same locations and time periods, and I was able to recognize certain aspects of the vessels. Seeing the pottery also made me wonder what the preservation process is like, since they were seemingly in very good condition. Further, to what degree can an archaeologist fix or touch up the pottery before it becomes an anachronistic piece?

    10. Something that I found interesting from the library tour were the vases in the artifact portion of the tour. I learned about how some vases were made to be functional, while others were merely decorative. Some of the vases were “black figured” vases, which typically have a red background and black figures, and some where “red figured” vases, which have a black background and red figures. I also thought it was really cool how some of the vases had scene from greek mythology caved/painted on it. For example, there was a vase with Helena of troy on it, and another with a scene from the life of Peleus.

    11. One of the pieces I found interesting from today’s library visit was the comic book Age of Bronze: Sacrifice by Eric Shanower. This depiction of the Trojan War stuck out to me, as it was a new, creative way to engage with the topic in my opinion. The detailed images Shanower included and the language he uses throughout the comic book struck me as fascinating; there are instances of insults similar to those we read in the excerpts of The Iliad that are prevalent throughout the comic book.
      Based on what I read of the Age of Bronze, I believe that the description of the Trojan War in comic form could potentially introduce the topic to readers at a young age. Shanower’s depiction of the Trojan War ultimately left me with the following questions; Who is the intended audience for this piece? Is its purpose to allow younger audiences to engage with matters such as the Trojan War or is there a different objective here?

    12. One of the really interesting things that I thought about while looking at the vases from special collections was the fact that a lot of their ideas can still be seen in art and our culture today. I recognized two main ideas. First, the idea of layering light artwork over a darker color is one of the first ways that I remember learning how to draw in elementary school art class. Secondly, their usage of art as a useful item, such as a bowl or a drinks glass or decanter. It reminded me a lot about myths and the fact that the Greeks have created ideas that have ascended time and are so integral 2000+ years later.

    13. An interesting piece of work I found during my time at the library, was a book about Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. I was interested in the book because I feel like she hasn’t been mentioned much in the works we’ve read so far. While I was reading the book, I thought it was really interesting that it was believed that Aphrodite favored the Trojans, and also favored Helen and Paris. She is associated with physical adornment, beauty and intimacy(the book explains how she is the goddess of the mixing/blending of bodies). However, I had no idea that she also rules over two elemental realms, the sky and the sea–which is supposed to represent her role as a mediator, whose influence allows these two realms to interact or mix with each other. This really added a lot of depth towards my perception of Aphrodite as a goddess and how Greek goddesses/gods are associated with a range of themes and ideas, and that there is a level of depth within these themes as well that goes well beyond the contexts we think of based on conventional ideas about Greek god/goddesses.

    14. Something I found interesting in our visit to the library today was in a book called “Treasures from the wreck of the unbelievable” by Daniel Hirst. It’s not that I found it interesting, is that I found pieces within the book beautiful. There are pictures of Bronze statues covered in coral after years of being underwater. My favorite one is the Grecian Nude, because of how beautiful the bronze looks with the white coral. It’s mostly on the right side, and they somewhat branch out of the statue, so it looks like it’s slowly turning into coral and then disappearing. I love the idea of ‘Nature taking over’ and in this case it did, and it created something even more beautiful than the original sculpture itself.

      1. Hi, I also found that book the most interesting. As I opened it I didn’t not expect my quick skim through to become analyzing every picture. My favorites were statues wrapped in kelp compared to marble. I also looked at the drawings in the last sections, like ideas that were being sketched out, looking at what others were making working out or thinking out loud on paper rather than a statue. I loved this book and it was really interesting

    15. One of my group members recommended the book Autobiography of Red, and I was immediately drawn to the first section entitled “Red Meat: Fragments of Stesichoros”. The author’s post-modern repetition of “red” creates a compulsive rhythm that is very unsettling. The color red seems to pervade the entire space, bringing a dangerous and oppressive visual aura. Moreover, the metaphors used in the text are unexpected, yet appropriately employed, which remind me of the poems by Tranströmer. Before this book, I was unfamiliar with Geryon’s story, but now I am eager to explore the rest of the story.

    16. During our time in the library, I found the vases and historical pottery to be fascinating. While observing, I came across a weirdly shaped small figure of pottery that I later learned was used to hold perfume. Both men and women during the time would use Olive Oil and herbs to create perfumes. On the front of the piece there was a figure of a woman getting ready for the day. It was fascinating to see that the pottery was not only used for food, wine and water but also for perfumes. I enjoyed observing each piece as they all had different stories being told on the clay. The library offers many artifacts I was not made aware of until today, each has a different yet unique historical reference.

      1. The small, oddly-shaped pottery piece was very interesting to me too because it did not fit the appearance of the other vases in the room! Along with my fellow students, we tried to guess its alternative function. Some hypotheses were suggested, such as it being a flask or a candle holder. However, Dr. Farmer took pity on us and explained that it was actually a perfume bottle, which fascinated our group. Additionally, I was intrigued to learn from Dr. Farmer that both men and women used perfume during that time. This knowledge sheds light on how gender norms have evolved over time.

    17. Something noteworthy that I observed when we had the chance to look at the Greek vases was the combination of functionality with art. When I envision a wine jug or decanter it is often the case the practicality is the main design principle. So it was very interesting to see how artistic expression overshadowed the simplicity in these containers making each unique in their own right.

    18. For me seeing “Olympians: Dionysos: The New God” was a new type of literature of Greek reception. It portrayed Greek mythology through a graphic novel which differed from the literature we have been reading. Looking at the complex Olympian family tree allowed me to find different connections between the family. Similarly compared to Percy Jackson I thought of how this graphic novel is idolizing the gods in a sense, essentially glossing over the evils they have done.

    19. One of the pottery pieces I looked at was a wine jug called a lagynos. I thought is was interesting that just based on the shape and decoration of the vase, it was possible to tell how the large vessels which were dominant in Greek pottery were replaced by smaller vessels such as this one, and experts used this as evidence that the culture and customs of dinner parties changed over time.

    20. I found the library visit to be interesting in a multitude of ways. I really enjoyed browsing the wide variety of books, and I took particular interest in the graphic novels presented. One of the graphic novels I took interest in was Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe. Her artwork and writing portrayed an interesting love story between Hades and Persephone with a modern twist. I found that this modern retelling was very engaging and made me want to read more and explore more of the complex relationship that Persephone and Hades have.

    21. I was most interested in seeing the variety of vases that Haverford had. I didn’t know much about the different utilities for Greek vases along with the different styles. It was very interesting learning about black figure vs orange figure vases and the time periods that both of those were made during.

    22. One thing I found interesting was the reason for the switch between black figure and red figure pottery. I never knew the technique of laying down glaze over pottery to do the colored figures, and how it was easier to do red figure because then the black glaze could be used to do detailing on the figures rather than be the figures themselves.

      I also found it interesting that the pottery with white sections tended to be used for feminine activities or funerals. Its just really interesting that those two things would correlate to me.

    23. One of the vases that we looked at was a perfume vase. It was interesting to learn that both men and women wore perfume in ancient Greece, which they made using olive oil as the base.

    24. My favorite part of the library visit was looking at the ancient vases the library has in Special Collections. My favorite vase was the one depicting Achilles’ father, Peleus, being hunted by the wild boar set out to kill him by his host family as a child. Interestingly, the artist depicted Peleus as a grown man which is the form in which more people would have described him. Its cool to think that the depiction of the story was entirely up to the artist, poet, or speaker, and this could alter the way in which myths are thought about when being passed on between generations. Plus, the intricate details on the vase were so cool, making a vase that was commonplace in Greek culture a priceless piece of art today.

    25. I was pretty surprised to see that there was a database for artwork and just how detailed and specific you can get with your search queries. Is there a similar database for music? Also, how much do we know about music?

    26. One literary reinterpretation of Greek myth that I found particularly interesting was a book called “Silence of the Girls” by Pat Barker. The story is a retelling the Iliad from the perspective of Briseis, the woman enslaved to Achilles and taken from him by Agamemnon. Throughout this section in the Iliad, I was intrigued by how vital Briseis is to the plot of the poem, yet how absent she is from the narrative. Barker’s book gives Briseis a voice with which to reclaim her humanity and tell both her story and the story of other women enslaved by the Greeks. Notably, Briseis and most of the women enslaved prior to the fall of Troy were not Trojan royalty, but normal women whose everyday lives had been destroyed; although this loss may seem less important that that of Hecuba, Andromache, Cassandra, and all the women of the House of Priam, the book attempts to show just how devastating this war was for every woman, regardless of class or status. It would be interesting to read this after having read Euripides Trojan Women and compare the methods each uses to illuminate the stories left out of the Iliad.

    27. I was truly surprised to find an entire book about the story of the cyclops. I ended up taking it out and it’s fascinating! I have never seen or heard of most of what is being talked about in the book, all of the art within the text is new to me. Many of the stories the authors summarize to give context to their arguments are as well. The debate about the different kinds of cyclops was especially interesting, and I can’t wait to finish the book.
      Also looking at the vases made me tear up a bit. I couldn’t stop thinking about how someone a long time ago had looked at these pieces and taken them home. in particular, the owl cup made me pause because I also collect cups from different locations! and someone from 2000 years ago did too!!

    28. I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me in the library was how colorful some of the vases were. It was one of the pieces, I forget what the function was, but it had these super faint lines of color that were extremely intricate. I think that in my own mind I had sort of always thought of those red figure and black figure vases, and was super cool to see some of that color.

    29. Something interesting I learned in the library is the greek vases. I learned that the coloring of people showed which period it came from, so people in black are from early greek history, people in red are from the middle history of the greeks, and then people in colors usually meant the later times of greek history. I also got an idea of how they drank and what they drank based on the size and shape of each vase. It was overall just interesting to see all of the figures we usually see behind the screen in real life.

    30. I read the introduction of a book titled, “Did the Greeks Believe in their Myths?” which set up some interesting arguments for the author to pursue in the rest of the book. The process of answering the question in the title is much more complex that I had originally imagined. Before diving into it, the author first asks the audience to consider what it even means to ‘believe,’ arguing that belief can take on some forms that do not always imply that a given myth was actually true. The author also comments that some myths, such as that Theseus fought the Minotaur, did not garner the belief of all Greeks. I think that the question of whether Greeks believed in their myths is difficult to answer given that each iteration of a myth, as we have learned, is a retelling of a previous iteration, and that it is difficult to trace a myth back to an original version that is definitively true or correct. These retelling can often change through time as a result of the tellers’ biases, which obscures the meaning that the Greeks would have ‘believed’ in so long ago.

    31. As someone who comes from an art background, I was most excited to see the college’s collection of Greek vases. While of course it was fascinating to see the stylistic progression as time went on and how other regions influenced style choices, I was most interested in the archival practices. It is interesting how for one, practices differ from collection to collection. While of course the standard now is reversible bonding, it is neat to see the ways that collectors thought to present the vases. It is incredible that they survived at all, and even more so that they survive with so much pigment intact. I liked to see the difference in the vases which had been bonded with clay to match the red base of the clay versus those which had been painted to blend into the rest of the image. On one hand, it is neat to see a complete image, I know this is often standard when restoring paintings, but on the other hand I do admire the pieces which do not blend because it is a testament to their survival and history.

    32. During the visit to the library, I came across a book called “The Lost Books of the Odyssey” by Zachary Mason. The book contains several short stories pertaining to Odysseus’s journey back home. These stories, however, were revisions the Homer original or alternative episodes. For example, one of the stories was about Odysseus hallucinating about Penelope marrying one of the suitors, making him a stranger to Ithaca. Eventually, however, he snaps out of it and becomes more determined to journey home. Although I only got through a few stories, it was really interesting to see a reimagination of the age-old text

    33. One thing I found very interesting was the process of producing the vases. The Leagros Group was attributed with the production of a couple of the vases as far as I can recall including a black-figure neck amphora depicting Maenads and satyrs. I researched the group a bit more and found out that this group of black-figure vase painters was so important that they even had a period of time named after them called the Leagros period. The group has over 400 vases ascribed to them that have been found. It’s amazing how detailed and complex some of the large-format images are on the various vases they’ve made. They also seemed to incorporate what-was-then-contemporary artistic strategies of red-figure style into the black-figure style that they used, like more detailed musculature and drapery.

    34. I was astounded at my emotional response to the vases. Both me and my friend Ana were commenting on how remarkable it was that these pieces of history were right in front of us. Not only that, but not separated by glass. Seeing the details close up was really emotional because I felt so connected to this ancient world in a way that I’ve never felt before. Overall it was an amazing experience!

    35. One thing that I find interesting about Greek vases is that most of the paintings are symmetrical. This reminds me of a lot of ancient architectures and paintings that use symmetry as an aesthetic, like the Forbidden City, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

    36. One work of literature I was able to examine and read multiple pages of in the library was Helen of Troy: From Homer to Hollywood by Laurie Maguire. This book explained the literary roots for the legend of Helen, and how she has been depicted in popular culture, including movies and dramas. The book dedicated entire sections to specific segments of Helen’s body, including the notion that her beauty may have been thought of as an androgynous beauty, rather than that of only a woman. Thus, the book actually challenged the classical notion that she is only the world’s most beautiful woman, but also the world’s most beautiful person. Of course, she noted that modern reflections of Helen have paid no attention to this, portraying her as the populous would expect, a woman. Thus, it was intriguing to see that despite the overwhelming descriptions surrounding her femininity, there were additional sources comparing her to the beauty of men as well.

    37. One book I found interesting was “Greek Gods, Human Lives” by Mary Lefkowitz. It consists of the differing depictions of the gods throughout several Greek myths. Providing analysis on how despite the gods influences in all the epics and stories as obstacles with which the heroes are taught lessons or punished for immoral acts, the book discusses how they can also be characters unto themselves. Their actions are all too human. I found this premise interesting for the different portrayals of the gods in myths in and outside of the ones we’re studying.

    38. Something I found interesting at the library was definitely the vases and the comics. I know seeing them on pictures is great but actually seeing them in person. Seeing all the close up details the color and the designs. It’s really cool to look at even though we couldn’t touch it. I found it funny that it was stolen because it’s relics that are from greek mythology. The colors and the way it was painted and the reasoning was so simple but it made sense. You could also really see the art really does change after time with the cracks.

      I really loved the comics beause I just love comics so seeing the greek myths in comic form where so cool. I found it for fun to read with the colors of the drawings of the greeks goddess and gods. Especially depending on the author and their way of drawings like the Athena comic vs the Lore Olympus.

    39. One thing I found interesting at the library was a book titled women in classical video games. Although I did not get to read much I saw a lot of interesting facts such as that even though it is perceived that more men play video game the demographic of players gender wise is actually very close to even.

  1. Something interesting that I found at the library was in a book about the Amazons by Adrienne Mayor. She describes the Amazons as a group of strong, free women in Greek literature. She points out that the earliest use of the Amazones was in Homer’s Iliad, as a way to describe a group of people. The Greeks always used female endings in words to describe a group of women, however they did not when describing the Amazones, which you would assume they would have. This confusion in language led scholars to misinterpret the Amazones. While modern interpretation of the Amazones assume them to be a group of only women who were hostile towards men, early interpretations, texts, and artwork depict an entire group of both men and women. Homer’s Iliad is the first use of Amazones, and helped make them notorious for being strong free women.

  2. I was really interested in looking at some of the photos of historical artifacts in the graphic novel section of the library. When looking at the vases in person, I was curious about how they were restored and kept in such amazing condition while being so ancient, some dating back to 500 BCE. In one of the graphic novel journals, it was really fascinating to see a photo series tracking the restoration of a Grecian sculpture of a woman. The sculpture was found in a wreck under water, and originally it was covered in sea matter such as moss and coral, barely recognizable. After much cleaning, it was restored to an all matte black state and in pristine condition. Seeing the before and after was very shocking.

  3. During today’s visit to the library I had the opportunity to explore photographs of sculptures and jewelry that are related to greek mythology. In the book “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” by Damien Hirst I was able to explore numerous pieces of ancient art that have elements of greek mythology including sculptures of Cerberus, the three headed dog, a sculpture of Medusa and many others. These pieces of art are part of an art exhibit that is based off a story of a freed slave who traveled the world and collected many pieces of various cultures. I find that this art collection and this book, which included a series of photos of this collection, are incredibly platforms to preserve greek myths and greek characters.

  4. Something that I learned today during our visit to the library was about the vases that were on display and how some of them were restored. For example, the vase supposedly depicting the kidnapping of Helen was restored/put back together, and the evidence of that process can be seen on the front of the vase where some parts of the art/paint are missing and there are visible cracks that have been fixed. Additionally, I learned that in the process of restoring ceramics a certain “glue” is used to make it possible to easily remove a piece in the instance that that piece was placed incorrectly. It was super interesting to hear about this process, look at the different vases and learn something new!

    1. I also learned how the vases were restored! This was interesting to me because the vases are so old, they are bound to get cracked and broken but the process I found very intriguing. The librarian was describing how if the vases were restored today, the glue would be removable in case it was not in the right spot. However, before this glue people would just have to guess where to put the pieces, and they might have been wrong. Additionally, some restored vases do not continue the design but instead leave gaps but that is up to the person who restored it. Further something new I learned about vases is the designs and red figures with a black background and black figures with a red background. It was really interesting to look at all of the designs and how intricate they were.

    2. As someone who is very clumsy, I was also wondering about how the vases were restored in the case that they were broken. I think it was super cool to see how well the glue was color matched to the vase. Restoring the vases is like an artwork in and of itself as those who are trying to restore the vases have to maintain the integrity and artistic nature of the vase.

  5. At the library I was drawn to the book Women in Greek Myth by Mary R. Lefkowitz. I learned that many myths described the being that created the universe as female, who then created a male being to rule. I found it interesting to see how Greek beliefs about gender roles was reflected in their mythology.

  6. During our library visit, I came across an interesting literary work titled, The Penelopiad, written by Margaret Atwood. This book tells the story of the Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus’ wife. It was very enlightening to see the story told from her side, especially because we just started reading the original work for class. It demonstrates the different ways that a story can be biased and shows that there are sides which are not told. From the beginning part that I read, Penelope explains her reasoning for telling her true account of the story. She is speaking in retrospect from the afterlife, instead of as events unfold. I think this book would be a good supplement to our reading of the Odyssey because it shows the story from a female perspective.

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