Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Actualizing Myths

I recently finished Robert Graves' Greek Myths, so I am posting some pictures from my trip last year to Greece. Nothing is more fun then reading a story and thinking I've been there! It also added a lot to my trip to know what happened at the places I visited. The whole time I was there I would think about how I had read about these places my whole life, and now I was seeing where it all happened!

I really like to read Greek mythology. I was introduced to Robert Graves' version of the myths by one of my professors. I decided I liked how he organized the myths and the notes he provides. This is on my favorite books list. I found this beautiful folio edition at one the used bookstores in Durham.

Glauke Fountain

Jason(of Jason and the Argonauts) sets off to obtain the golden fleece. Medea, Princess of the land was hit by an arrow from Eros to make her more helpful to Jason's quest out of love for him. She agreed to help him if he married her. After many happy years of marriage Jason wanted to divorce Medea to marry Glauke. Medea pretended to submit, and sent Glauke a wedding gift of a crown and robe. When Glauke donned them she burst into flames. She jumped into the palace fountain to try to put out the flames. She died.

Medea is one of my favorite mythological characters, so I was happy to see a place that was part of her story.


Legend has it that Perseus founded Mycenae. Agamemnon ruled there during the time of the Trojan War. He was involved in that war to retrieve Helen for his brother Menelaus. Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia for the wind to sail to Troy. After the war, Agamemnon returns to be killed by his wife Clytemnestra.

Temple of Apollo at Delphi

Delphi is where people would go to discover the gods' will through the Delphic oracle. Apollo was worshipped there because he slew the python(dragon) there. The Pythian games were played there. It was one of the four panhellenic game sites. The laurel crown was presented as reward for winning the games at Delphi. 

Temple of Poseidon at Isthmia

Posiedon was lord of the sea. This didn't stop him from trying to possess kingdoms on land. He was awarded the Isthmus after making a bid for Corinth. He was denied the city.

The hole Poseidon left in the acropolis when claiming Athens

Poseidon also attempted to possess Athens. He claimed possession by thrusting his trident into the acropolis, and sea water spouted out. He later lost the city to Athena who planted an olive tree there. They would have fought for the city, but Zeus intervened. The goddesses voted in favor of Athena, and the gods in favor of Poseidon. Zeus didn't vote as arbiter, causing Poseidon to loose the vote by one.

Temple of Zeus at Nemea

Nemea was the site of the Nemean Games, and was one of the four panhellenic game sites. Herakles fought the Nemean Lion as his first labor. The lion was preying on the people living there. After trying and failing to kill it with any of his weapons, Herakles decided to wrestle with the lion. The lion managed to bite off one of his fingers, but Herakles choked it to death. Herakles took the carcass as proof of defeating the beast.

Herakles was at a loss how he should skin the lion. He finally figured out with divine inspiration to use the lion's claws to skin it. He then wore the lion as armor making the parts of him covered with it invulnerable.

Part of the reason I love to travel is to see the places I read about. I find it exciting to go and see if the places are real, and not just something from imagination. Mythology is one of my favorite subjects to read. Particularly where myth and history are blurred together. The sites I visited often fit well in this area. This was a great experience! Tell me if there are places you have visited that you read about. Did your visit live up to your expectations?

1 comment:

  1. It was very cool to see these places where so many stories from antiquity were born! I particularly liked the story about Poseidon claiming possesion of Athens by thrusting his trident through the acropolis floor. It seems indicative of their culture, and how human-like and involved they viewed the gods, to have a clash between them result in damage to a structure the Athenians had themselves built.