In this episode, we will start our mythology series from English Plus Podcast by talking about the titans in Greek mythology, the creation story according to Greek mythology, the sources for Greek mythology and the nature of Greek mythology.
Disclaimer: I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and this problem will be solved. However, the service is pretty good and the transcript will prove to be almost perfect.
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[00:01:07] Welcome to a new episode. And this happens to be the first episode in a series. We are dedicating to mythology. And we will start with Greek mythology maybe because it is the most famous or the most influential historically, but we will continue to talk about mythologies from all around the world. But our start is with Greek mythology.
[00:01:32] Now we will talk in this episode about the Greek creation story. We will talk about the sources for Greek mythology and the nature of Greek myths. So in everyday conversation, people often use the word myth. To suggest that a story is untrue, but in our series, we will use myths to refer to a story that has meaning or significance beyond the story itself.
[00:02:01] And as we explore great myths from around the world, we will see that they are much more than just entertaining stories. These myths, carry the weight in their cultures by explaining the world and by investing everyday life with meaning today, thousands of years later, many of these myths still speak to universal human experience containing kernels of truth that seem to transcend space and time.
[00:02:34] And we will start with, as I said, Greek mythology, the most famous. Most influential mythology of all time, so, and where to start better than the Greek creation story. According to Greek mythology in the beginning, out of a gaping abyss three primordial elements emerged Gaia, the earth Tartarus at cave likes space under the earth and arrows sexual desire.
[00:03:05] Other beings came forth from these primordial elements, including Uranus, the sky Gaia and Uranus made it producing the first generation of gods. And these were the Titans. Now the Titans were physically imposing and very strong and they were virtually immortal. But their father despised them Uranus, banished them to Tartarus as if he was trying to unburden his own children, Kronos one of Uranus’s sons and the leader.
[00:03:38] If the Titans hated his father for this banishment. And with the help of his mother, Kronos attacked his father cutting off Uranus, his genitalia after Kronos defeated his father. He settled down with Raya, who was both his sister and his wife. The couple had several children, including the first generation of Olympian gods.
[00:04:01] And these were the most famous gods, the ones who would ultimately rule over earth from Mount Olympus, according to the Greek poet, Hesiod. The period of Kronos has rule was the golden age. The time when the first race of humans was created a race that predated ours of this golden age, he’s he, uh, drove men, lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief.
[00:04:32] When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep and they had all good things. They dwelled in ease and peace. Of course, this perfect age couldn’t last as in old stories. Peace doesn’t last for long, perfect age. They don’t last in the original story. Kronos worried that his children might do to him.
[00:04:55] He had done to his own father and in an effort to avoid this fate Kronos decided to eat his children, swallowing them one by one, as they were born. But when the youngest child Zeus was born, Bria decided to trick Kronos. She switched the baby with a stone, which Kronos swallowed without even noticing and Raya hid Zeus on the Island of Crete until he grew up when Zeus was grown.
[00:05:26] He returned home and forced Kronos to regurgitate his siblings. Then Zeus was joined by the other Olympic gods in an attack against Kronos and the other Titans, the battle of the Titans. And that was between the Titans and the Olympian gods. And that lasted for 10 years with Zeus as the ultimate Victor.
[00:05:48] After Zeus and the Olympians defeated the Titans. They forced the Titans underground bound with chain in the same prison where Uranus had previously held them captive later. The Olympians also vanquished a race of giants that Gaia bore in an attempt to restore the Titans to power. But from that point forward, the Olympian gods ruled having displaced the Titans forever.
[00:06:15] Well, how can we make sense of this Smith? What kind of a worldview imagines fathers swallowing their children or banishing them to the bowels of the earth. And why tell stories about a former generation of gods, a step removed from the Olympians? We don’t have definitive answers to these questions. We don’t know for sure.
[00:06:35] But we can draw at least two conclusions from these ancient stories. The first is that the stories depict a world of violence and hardship to live was to experience suffering, but the response to suffering was important. And second, the stories tell us that the Greeks valued the skills and qualities that enabled them to try and over violence, chaos, and aggression in this slide, the story of the Titans, but comes a kind of cautionary tale for future generations.
[00:07:09] It’s like telling the future generations that even the mighty can fall to sometimes at the hands of their own kin, it takes not only strength. But cunning and wisdom to survive for some Greek thinkers through direct connections between the Titans and humanity Olympia, Doris argued that humanity arose from the ashes of the burning tightened corpses after their defeat.
[00:07:35] Other writers implied that humanity was born out of the bloodshed by the Titans in their war against Zeus. These perspectives suggest that humanity contains a Titanic element that is at war with other elements within us. They also seem to place the Greeks in an uncertain relationship with the powerful get Capri gods who ruled their world.
[00:08:02] And now as this was the story of the creation, we will talk about the sources for Greek mythology and how we got it the way we have it today. Of course, when we talk about mythology, nothing is certain about the stories, but that doesn’t matter. What really matters is the impact of the stories and the meanings of these stories.
[00:08:24] That we have today, like most stories, because if you think about it, sometimes the original of the story is not important and the story itself and how true the story is, is not important. As long as it conveys a message or it tells us something, we learn something from it. Of course, we’re not talking about news because in the news we have to be accurate and we just convey what really happened.
[00:08:52] But here we’re talking about stories. In a way it is literature. So back to the sources for Greek mythology, the flowering of Greek mythology occurred during the archaic and classical periods from roughly 700 BC to three 23 BC. When Alexander the great died. Greece embrace poetry, Epic and theater. All of which included a heavy dose of mythology from about 700 BCE on Greece adopted the Phoenician alphabet and subsequently developed its own alphabet and began to keep written records around the same time.
[00:09:33] Self-governing city States began to establish themselves. Throughout this critical period, the people of the Greek city States experienced several long violent conflicts, particularly between about 503 23 BCE. Here, we see similarities between the Greeks experience and the myths they tell about the first generation of gods.
[00:09:59] Probably the most famous author of Greek myths is Homer. Who is generally credited with writing the Iliad and the Odyssey, Epic poems focused on the Trojan war and its aftermath. There’s considerable debate about whether Homer was a real person or whether he was a composite of several poets. And that really doesn’t matter because again, maybe Homer was there as I do believe he was a person, but maybe he wasn’t.
[00:10:30] What really matters is the legacy we have. And we will talk about it as if Homer really existed. And if we assume that Homer really existed, he lived some time in the eighth century BCE. Another important Greek author was hazier, who is usually dated to around 700 BCE. Now the two complete poems of Hesiod we have are the Thiago Guinea, which describes the origins’ and activities of the gods.
[00:10:59] And the works and days, which focuses on the human world set against the theological backdrop of the theology, a group of later writings known as the orphan material includes poems and hymns stating from the end of the sixth century BCE through to the five century CE. Or fake material is traditionally attribute it to a mythical poet named Orpheus.
[00:11:23] But of course it is believed that multiple authors under this pseudonym, which was very common back in the day, some writers would present their writing under the umbrella of a famous name. So that they would assure their work would get exposure or horrific material has a dark note to it. At least a note of strangeness.
[00:11:46] It probably grew out of an idiosyncrasy Pratik, religious community, dedicated to the worship of Orpheus, a hero with superhuman musical talents who tried to rescue his wife from the underworld. Orphan material often includes writings that are not found in Homer or Hesiod and sometimes present different versions of stories told elsewhere.
[00:12:10] Now, in addition to written sources, we also find references to Greek mythology on ancient artifacts and architecture. For example, images from Greek mythology are often found on visas plates, bowls, and jewelry, public buildings, such as temples told the sacred stories of Greek culture on freezes meadow, bees and alters.
[00:12:36] Now, of course, we have a lot of sources to Greek mythology. And it comes from everywhere, but these are the main sources for the stories that we talk about and we brand as Greek mythology. And now what about the nature of Greek myths? Now the various sources we have on Greek mythology and history allow us to make several broad generalizations about the nature of Greek myth.
[00:13:04] First Greek myth reflects the world in which it originated. And a key aspect of this world is that it was local. And we tend to think of ancient Greek culture as growing out of one homogenous nation. But that wasn’t the case. The ancient Greeks didn’t think of themselves as Greeks at all, but as affiliated with a particular city States, such as Athens or Sparta, such loyalties were so strong that city States sometimes develop bitter rivalries with each other that occasionally erupted into war.
[00:13:40] Many of the myths now associated with important Greek gods and heroes probably originated as Indian visual stories that were first created specific cities and regions. But over time as traders traveled, communities migrated and various empires achieved conquest, individually tales and story clusters were shared and adapted.
[00:14:04] For example, many of the labors of hurricane, please. Are linked to specific places. It is possible that several of the stories originated as stories about local heroes, but as the Herrick Lee’s oral tradition spread it observed these local stories and replace the local hero with hurricane please. And this phenomenon is common in oral traditions.
[00:14:31] In addition to reflecting local identity, Greek mythology was meant to be instructive. The Greek myths include basic stories about the natural world and man’s world to it. For example, the Titans represented forces of nature, the wind, the sea and storms, and the defeat of the Titans, mythologized humanity’s ability to harness these forces.
[00:14:59] Greek myth also taught geography. The Odyssey, for example, the tour of the known world through or DC is history travels. Greek mythology set the stage for a human endeavor. It explained in story form the world in which the ancient Greeks understood. They had been born a world with natural social media and cosmic components in conflict with one another.
[00:15:26] But as we will see, it also speaks to modern audiences by issuing a kind of existential declaration human beings are not handed a blank slate. Instead humanity steps into the second act of a play already in progress with no scripts or clear stage directions. It’s up to humans to negotiate the various plots already underway and to figure out how to proceed the various Greek mythological figures, gods heroes, and mythical creatures provide advice and limited assistance.
[00:16:01] But they do not control the outcome. And in any case may or may not want to help, but also see that other cultures present alternative existential view use the one benefit of learning about many great mythologies together is that they invite us to come compare how different cultures have positioned humanity in the cosmos.
[00:16:23] And finally. Myths provide guidance. Their explanations are never primarily informational. They are meant to be transformational. We are meant to change how we live in light of the myths of our own culture. We think, and act in certain ways, based on how we are oriented to our fundamental life circumstances.
[00:16:46] Ms. Provides this orientation, it guides our choices by telling us where we belong in the cosmos and in society. Myths explain the nature of life and death. The nature of true love, even the nature of a well lived life. So that was the first part in our long series. Are we going to talk about mythologies from around the world?
[00:17:10] We talked about the Titans, the story of creation, the sources for Greek mythology. And the nature of Greek mythology. I hope you found the content of this year is useful. And I want you to stick around because more will come your way every week. We will have a mythology episode and we will continue. You talking about mythologies from all around the world.
[00:17:34] Don’t forget that you can get the transcript of this episode by using the link we provide in the description. And there’s also this short quiz that you can use to check your understanding of the things we talked about in this episode. And one last thing, don’t forget to support our show by becoming our patron on Patreon to help us create even more free e-learning content. [00:17:58] This was your host, Danny saying, thank you very much for listening to our episode today, and I will see you next time.