The Greek Myths Characters

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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Robert Graves

This man is the editor for the Penguin classic edition of The Greek Myths Complete Edition used to generate the summary. This man was more than simply a scholar, although he was also that. He was famed as a poet of the English speaking world during the first half of the twentieth century. In addition to that, he writes an excellent introduction to the text and provides supplemental material to it. By doing so, he is able to properly contextualize the information so that readers can better understand it than they might otherwise. This enhances its ability to be used as a university textbook or something of this kind.

The writing is clear and good. He expresses a subtle bias of his own era and culture along with revealing what is or appears to be adept scholarship. He was born in 1895 in Wimbeldon, England. He was the son of an Irishman who was also a writer. His mother was germanic: Amelia Von Ranke. He served in the Welsh arm of the British military and made it to Captain prior to the end of his service. He obtained a teaching post in English in Cairo, Egypt. This led to his staying in that country permanently. Later on, he migrated to Majorca where he lived to the end of his days, an English writer living in Egypt.

Cronos

This is Time named as a god. This deity is associated with the planet Saturn. This being comes up early on the book in the form of the Grecian god. The editor Robert Graves also refers to him as Father Time. Cronos has also been spelled as Chronos, which is where the term chronology comes from. Chronos is also known as the husband of Rhea, and as the father of the Olympian deities. Among his children and the pair who double as brother-sister, and as husband-wife, Zeus and Hera. Cronos devoured his children to prevent a prophecy from taking place—one that indicated that a male child would overthrow him. When his wife deceived him by hiding the baby Zeus, this prophecy was set into motion. Eventually, the grown Zeus would lead his brothers and sisters in a violent revolt against Cronos and his followers. The ensuing struggle would become known as the Titanomachia, and would end with the overthrow of Cronos and his Titans and the creation of a new pantheon headed by Zeus. Cronos and his followers would find themselves imprisoned in Tartarus- a particularly hellish place outside time- forever. The story is probably a metaphor for the overthrow and replacement of old systems of religious worship by the new.

Zeus

This entity appears very early on in the book. The editor explains that he is first heard of as a demi-god, and that only later on was he upgraded to the status of a deity. Zeus as a god signifies a few important facts. One is that he is one of the first deities of a patriarchal rather than matriarchal outlook in the region's society. He is intimately associated with the city of Athens and with Mount Olympus. He is considered to be the father of the Olympian gods. He is the son of the gods Cronos and Rhea. He is known to have served as the husband of his sister. Some report this as having been a consensual arrangement, each is blamed depending upon the version of the story heard. Apparently, the two being spouses consolidated the power of the Olympians.

Zeus stars in numerous myths many of which have to do with his other love affairs.

Hera

This is a daughter of the deities Cronos and Rhea. She is also the mother goddess of the Olympian gods. She is known to have been both the wife and the sister of Zeus. There are various stories about how much of the activity within this relationship was consensual as it blatantly breaks the incest taboo.

This goddess is involved in numerous myths. Her sexual jealousy and her ways of interfering the other sexual relationships that her husband had are the source of substantial intrigue. There were times when she regretted her vengeful behaviors, but often enough she did not. Whether the other women were innocent or deserved their punishment for messing with a goddess's husband is a relevant issue that cannot be entirely cleared up here.

Hera had a number of powers. One of these was the ability to cause insanity. Her use of this power comes up primarily during a discussion of the god Dionysus's military activities. Goddess Hera intentionally drove at least two men crazy.

Agamemnon

This is a king of the ancient world. He was a warrior, husband, and father, and unfortunately he also doubled as a rapist. Within the context of this book, such behavior is viewed as a harsh but a mild alternative to death or dismemberment. Often it is a part of conquest. It also can but does not always enable women to retain political power and positions of wealth when they can recover from the psychological impact of it. The emotional effect has often been indicated by the number of murders of vengeance and lack of love towards husbands acquired in this manner. Agamemnon appears later in the book, in close association with the cities of Troy and Sparta.

Hephaestus

This deity is known to have not raped anyone. It is also true that he was not a warrior. He was born weak and he is ugly. He is a son of Zeus and Hera who was rejected shortly after birth because he was too feeble. He was rediscovered by his mother when she discovered one of his talents which had been nurtured by others. Once Hera discovered that her son had a valuable skill she treasured him, restored him to Olympus and provided him with superior equipment to what he had been using before. His smithing skills continued to improve, and with superior tools he was able to make even better things.

Metal crafts, both for the creation of swords and of jewelry and furnishings, is one of the most profound skills to come to humanity.

Hephaestus also grew up to be the husband of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Although she was not monogamous, she was faithful in a number of other ways, and the two never divorced.

Clytamnestra

This woman appears later in the book. She comes to terms with Agamemnon and ends up conspiring with another male member of her family to kill him off when he returns from a ten-year-long absence. It seems that rather than healing and forgiving, or even with these forces, his murder of the previous king and the baby heir and the rape of Clytemnestra led some of the people in her palace to determine to kill him off. They did manage to do this, although anyone of sense can see how they might have felt intimidated by Agamemnon, the king by force of arms and leadership of other soldiers. Robert Graves expresses that there was doubt that she loved this particular husband.

Medea

This woman was high ranking enough in society to have a rather political marriage. She is given the option of having Jason of the Argonauts for her lover or not. In her case, accepting him as her lover and as her husband have been united, so this one decision are the two conjunct. She opts to marry Jason, to the delight of some and the disapproval of others. She appears during the stories about the Argonauts which come late in the book.

Heracles

This is one of the Grecian heroes. There are 9 myths devoted to him in the book. These are called the 9 labors. He spent part of his life in slavery, and some of it as a free man. He is reported to have offended many people when he refused to die as part of his royal duties. This was severely frowned upon by some in an age and location where something of that order to be expected. This took place in a culture where the other spouse, especially the wife might be expected to commit suicide if her husband died for any reason. In other locations, there were occasions when a King might be asked to kill himself in order to save his city's people from an invader's mercilessness or something of that kind.

Dionysus

This deity is associated with revelry and intoxication. While present-day readers have many other views in mind, Dionysian intoxicants were normally limited to laurel-leaf until the improved access to alcohol occurred. Dionysus is also well known for the satyrs who, while not necessarily handsome, are apparently well endowed with any needed stamina or other sexually advantageous characteristics. These same abilities can be perceived as a bad thing by anyone who doesn't want them in that form.

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