19 December 2022 – Heroes in Greek Mythology

By | January 13, 2023

In the session we continued our topic of heroes from Greek mythology.

1/.  We completed the story of Jason and Medea.   Including Jason and Medea’s ruling of Corinth.

He had a close association with the gods with Hera, Atheni and Aphrodite who intervened in his life.

We again looked at where Jason shared characteristics in common with the heroes from Celtic, Germanic and Scandinavian myths and legends and where he seemed weak.  His partnership with Medea continued to be important.  They used deception and magic.

We also looked at the consequences of Jason’s decision to divorce Medea and take a new wife, breaking the oath he had made to the gods to keep faith with Medea.  This had an impact on the rest of his life.  The trust and protection of the gods was vital.  Even though a number of Medea’s actions are quite brutal she maintained a good relationship with the gods and ended her life immortal in the Elysian Fields whilst Jason’s breaking of his solemn oath to the gods meant they withdrew their favours and he spent his last years wandering, hated by all.  In old age he sat in the shadow of the Argo and was killed when it toppled over on top of him.

2/. We started the story of Theseus.

The early myths started in the bronze age and there were originally three characters called Theseus from different areas.  These became amalgamated into a single person; this was done deliberately when the Lapith clan became the senior clan of Athens around 6th C BC. What people wanted at that time was a hero and it was used for political purposes and promulgated by poets and storytellers.

We looked at the early years with Theseus’s father Aegeus going to Delphi to see the Oracle for advice on how to get a son, travelling to Corinth and meeting Medea and then travelling further with Theseus eventually being born to Aethra and raised by her father philosopher Pittheus.  We looked at the symbols and prophecies involved, he had sandals and sword from his father.  These were symbols of royalty and kingship and were part of the real rituals at the time.

Theseus was precocious, strong, intelligent and cultured.  When his mother judged the time was right for him to go to Athens, Theseus insisted on going down the notoriously dangerous coast road.    He wanted to prove himself and have adventures.  He would only react if provoked and any punishment he meted out would fit the crime.  The tale covers an astonishing list of feats and encounters some of which are very similar to those of Heracles.  We looked at the qualities of heroes to see where he matched up.

Meanwhile in Athens Aegeus had married Medea and she had given him a son whom she wanted to be king, so when Theseus arrived in Athens she plotted against him.   Her plot failed as Aegeus recognised Theseus as his son due to the sword he was carrying.  Medea and her son were given safe conduct form the city.

Last Updated on January 13, 2023