The Greek Myths - Chapter 11, Sisyphus Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Greek Myths.
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Chapter 11, Sisyphus Summary and Analysis

Oracles are one feature of the ancient Mediterranean world. These were often priestesses who lodged at or near to temples. Temples were dedicated to one or more deities. Unlike Christ, who was not an oracle, priestesses and priests who were oracles used both trance states and ritualized forms of intoxication by eating laurel leaf. Oracles were dedicated to a given deity or deities. Sometimes oracles tended to fidget with the entrails of sacrifice victims prior to giving an articulate response to a query. The first oracle known in the region is to Dodonian Zeus. During these early chapters on the history of ancient Greece, it is very noticeable that Libya actually is mentioned as a source of much of the earliest cultural memories, myths and gods.

Alphabets get humans into incredibly important work which is mainly taken for granted except that it is carefully passed on from one generation to another - alphabets. The Pelasgian system is the first one mentioned here. Robert Graves explains that this alphabet was probably a simplified alteration of hieroglyphs. He provides a very brief summary of how the ancient Grecians formulated their 'alphabet'. Some of it came at one point, and then, further letters were added on later. The story is that the vowels were devised first, then came consonants. There is a brief analysis of how alphabets were devised among other peoples, including the druids who used trees and their names.

Sisyphus is introduced as a prestigious Corinthian. He is the son of a mortal named Aoelus. He has a herd of cattle, a powerful wife called Merope - who is a daughter of Atlas, the Titan. They have three children together. Nearby are two men described as twins; this is symbolic of their intimacy since each man claims to have a different father. Both claim to have been sired by a deity. Autolycus has the gift for thievery. Hermes, being the patron god of thieves, is legitimately viewed as the father in this case. His twin brother is a son of Apollo. Sisyphus was fed up with being robbed by Autolycus without being able to prove who had done it, and therefore was disabled from taking any legal recourse. In an effort to do something about this, he devised a new tactic. He marked the hooves of his cattle with a special designation. Other accounts say he marked the hooves with a symbol that read, "Stolen by Autolycus." For the first time, there was a technique that worked. Autolycus certainly did return to take more of the other man's cattle. For the first time, Sisyphus was able to go to Autolycus and to provide evidence enough for the others in the community that this was the case. Once others began to see the truth, Autolycus felt much better.

This section contains 476 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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