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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

047 - Herakles: From Zero to Hero

In this episode, we discuss the iconography of Herakles, his early myths, his infamous twelve labors, his later life, his heroic persona and how he was worshipped as a pan-Hellenic divine hero, and his role as an apostle of Hellenism in the west

Cultic termsheroes theos (divine hero), Herakleion (Sanctuary of Herakles), Kynosarges (Athenian sanctuary of Herakles outside the city walls), Herakleia (festival to Herakles celebrated in the month of Metageitnion, or late July/early August), nothoi (non-citizen Athenians, who were the only ones who could be priests of Herakles), Alexikakos (as warder off of evils), oinisteria (ceremony given by Athenian boys embarking for military training), thiasoi (small cults that met regularly to celebrate Herakles), Iolaeia (festival at Thebes celebrated in honor of Iolaos, the nephew and lover of Heracles), Kallinikos (of the Beautiful Victory), Thasios (of Thasos)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

046 - Monsters and Heroes

In this episode, we discuss the importance of heroes in Greek mythology, the creation of various beasts and monsters, and the lives and accomplishments of various mythic heroes who often times fought against these monsters; including Cadmus of Thebes and the Ismenian Dragon, Perseus of Argos and the Gorgon Medusa;  Bellerophon of Corinth, Pegasus, and the Chimaera; the cursed family of Pelops and the Oath of Tyndareus; the Lapiths, the Centaurs, and the Centauromachy; Meleager, Atalanta, and the Caledonian Boar Hunt; and the troublemaking of Pirithous and Theseus

Monday, June 5, 2017

045 - Music and Victory Odes

In this episode, we discuss the various types of ancient Greek musical instruments during the Classical Period and how and for what purpose they were used; and the lives and works of the three great 5th century BC lyric poets who pioneered the genre of the epinikion (victory ode)—Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC), Bacchylides of Ceos (ca. 525-ca. 450 BC), and Pindar of Thebes (522-443 BC), as well as their connections with the lesser known poets Corrina of Tanagra, Lasos of Hermione, and Timocreon of Rhodes

526 BC - Simonides was drawn to Athens and the court of the tyrant Hipparchus
514 BC - Upon the assassination of Hipparchus, Simonides traveled north to Thessaly, where he received patronage from the Scopadae and Aleuadae, the two most powerful aristocratic clans (while there he developed his "memory palace")
498 BC - Pindar received first commission by a ruling family in Thessaly to compose his first victory ode (labeled Pythian Ode 10)
490s BC - Bacchylides (the nephew of Simonides) received his first commissions from Athens for the great Delian festival (known as Ode 17) and from Macedonia for a song to be sung at a symposium for the young prince, Alexander I
490 BC - Simonides composed an epitaph honoring the Athenian war-dead at Marathon
490 BC - At the Pythian Games, Pindar met Thrasybulus, nephew of Theron of Akragas and formed a lasting friendship, paving the way for his subsequent visit to Sicily
480s BC - Pindar and Bacchylides compete to write victory odes for the Aeginetans
480 BC - Simonides composed an epitaph honoring the Spartan war-dead at Thermopylae
470s BC - Simonides, Bacchylides, and Pindar traveled west to Sicily where they received patronage at the courts of the tyrants, Hieron of Syracuse and Theron of Akragas
476 BC - The rivalry of Bacchylides and Pindar reaches high point when Pindar composed a poem for Hiero’s first victory in the chariot race at the Olympic Games (known as Olympian Ode 1), and Bacchylides composed an ode too for Hieron (his Ode 5) free of charge in the hope of attracting future commissions
470 BC - Bacchylides received the commission to celebrate Hieron's triumph at the Pythian Games (which would be his Ode 4), and taking a page out of his rival’s playbook, Pindar too composed an ode free of charge for Hieron’s victory (his Pythian Ode 1)
468 BC - Simonides died while at the court of Theron of Akragas
468 BC - Bacchylides was commissioned to celebrate Hieron’s second and most prestigious victory in the chariot race at the Olympic Games (his Ode 3)
465-440 BC - Arkesilaos IV served as a client king of Cyrene under Persian authority, was the eighth and last king of the Battiad dynasty 
464 BC - Diagoras of Rhodes wins boxing contest at Olympics (Pindar's Olympian Ode 7)
462 BC - Pindar composed two odes in honor of Arkesilaos IV's chariot race victory at the Pythian Games (his Pythian Odes 4 and 5)
447 BC - Athens was defeated by Thebes at the Battle of Coronea (possible influence for Pythian Ode 8 where he describes the downfall of the giants Porphyrion and Typhon)
440 BC - Pindar died while attending the Nemean festival in Argos

Greek wordsmousika (literally "music", but also included all the arts under patronage of Apollo and nine Muses), mousikos (epithet synonymous with good taste), amousikos (described a person who lacked refinement or education), lyra (literally "lyre", a stringed instrument similar to small harp), plectron (a pick to play lyre), zugon (the crossbar of lyre), kithara (a bigger box-framed string instrument similar to a guitar), barbiton (a taller, bass-like version of the kithara), phorminx (a stringed instrument with crescent shape box), aulos (double-piped wind instrument), auletai (aulos player), monaulos (a single pipe wind instrument)monos (single), plagiaulos (a single pipe held horizontally, like the modern flute)plagios (sideways), askaulos (a pipe with a bag to allow for continuous sound, like a bagpipe), askos (wine-skin), phorbeia (leather strap worn around the head to help support the lips while blowing), syrinx (aka the Panpipes, a series of pipes that were bounded together with different lengths for different sounds), salpnix (a very long, slender bronze trumpet-like instrument), tympanon (a type of frame drum or tambourine), krotalon (a kind of clapper or castanet), koudounia (a bell-like percussion instrument), kymbala (cymbals), sistra (rattles), choregeion (school where choirs were trained), 
epi nike (upon a victory), ode (song), skolia (drinking-songs), partheneia (chorus of young girls)

Primary Sources:
Text/Simonides' Epigrams
Text/Bacchylides' Dithyrambs
Text/Bacchylides' Epinicians
Text/Pindar's Olympian Odes
Text/Pindar's Pythian Odes
Text/Pindar's Nemean Odes
Text/Pindar's Isthmian Odes
Text/Pindar's Fragments