Mythological Entry #13
DAY 1 — Nov. 27, 2018
[11:10 AM- 12:30PM]
Today is our first class back from Thanksgiving Break. We were expected to read the Hero’s Quest [p. 543–582] upon our arrival to today’s class, however, as most college students, I did not (do any work). As far as today’s discussion, we were supposed to talk about happiness and what we think it is alongside these two questions:
- How much of a “trickster figure” is Odysseus (compare our chapter on Hermes)?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a figure in society?
What I’ve come to realize is that this class tends to ask questions that there is no concrete answer to. For example, using today’s main question, “What is happiness?”. Yes, you can describe what makes you happy and how exactly you feel enlightened by whatever brings you that joy, but that does not explain to one what happiness is. Also, the term ‘happiness’ is relative to each and everybody’s own perspective so can there really be one distinct answer? Even Google doesn’t know how to define it, for there definition of happiness is “the state of being happy”. Carrying on with the reading, the introduction to this chapter, Odysseus and Quest Heroes, begins with a concise summary of Odysseus’s journey to becoming a quest hero. For those who aren’t familiar with The Odyssey, in a nutshell (if that’s even possible), Odysseus still hasn't returned home to Ithaca after the war in Troy. Due to this, many pursue and/or rather try to ramsack his palace AND wife — Penelope. As a result, Odysseus’s son — Telemachus — seeks out any word of his father to inform him of what’s taking place back home. Meanwhile, Odysseus is currently held hostage on an island with a goddess named Calypso, with whom he has relations with. As Odysseus is finally able to leave the island, while on board his ship, Poseidon makes sea travel difficult for him due to Odysseus previously stabbing Poseidon’s Cyclops son in his one eye. Next, Odysseus encounters the Phaeacians, where he told of all the things that him and his crew had to encounter. Once finished, they give him aid in returning home where Athena (who has been assisting him the most along his journey) helps him disguise as a beggar to avoid the men trying to overthrow him. He eventually reveals himself to Penelope and massacres all of the men who went against him. For this, Odysseus is forever considered a hero and according to CMIC, more specifically a quest hero. This type of hero is known for the adventure that he undertakes, a war he has won, and/or a kingdom he has ruled peacefully rather than being known for his remarkable birth or death. A quest hero is primarily devoted to describing a journey he undertakes to obtain an object or achieve a goal. An Anglo-American poet distilled six factors of a hero’s quest that help define this particular category of heroes.
- A precious object/ person to be found and possessed or married
- A long journey, undertaken by a hero
- The hero himself
- Tests and trials set for the hero that he must overcome
- “Guardians of the Object” who test the hero, or who may be “malignant in themselves”
- Human or animal helpers who offer the hero knowledge, magic, or other assistance that may be necessary for his success
The author then mentions that along with Odysseus, there are also other quest heroes that are dicussed further in this chapter. These quest heroes include Jason, Perseus, and Bellerophon.
To answer the first question, I would say that Odysseus is a trickster figure, but it is not in his nature as much as it is in Hermes. I say this with one particular scene in mind — when Odysseus pretended to be the beggar as he finally reached back home. Yes, he is playing a trickster figure role but he was helped by Athena. However, as he was pretending to be a beggar, he did play his role very well considering that in the end, he got exactly what he intended to in the first place (his palace and wife back).
Throughout today’s class, we shed light on a few of these:
sidenote~ What is so unique about all of these topics is that each person has their own specific story, however, they somehow manage to fall somewhere into another person’s storyline which makes it all the more interesting.
The Quest Hero: Apollonius Argonautica [Hellenistic Poetry]
- A book written by Apollonius of Rhodes — a Hellenistic poet, Homeric scholar, and librarian who served in the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It includes both the many adventures that Jason and Medea encountered on their return to Ithaca and devotes most of its verses to describing Medea’s growing love for Jason. After reading a few lines in class, we were taken back to our discussion about love or eros. At first, I was confused why we were primarily focusing on love when the topic of discussion was supposed to be happiness, but I feel like the two coincide at some point.
- Jason and Medea intertwine as she plays such a significant role in the stories that he is associated with, considering that not only were they married at one point but also the fact that she is the one solely responsible for his demise. However, there is much more to Jason than his failure of a relationship. His main story involves a golden fleece. Jason — son of King Aeson — was raised by a centaur far away in a mountainous region. As he returns home, he comes across his uncle Pelias (who has stolen the throne from its rightful heir — Jason’s father). Pelias who is at the time, making a sacrifice to his father, notices that Jason only has one sandal and recalls a time where he was advised to beware a man wearing such. Due to this, he sends Jason on a quest that he truly believes Jason will not survive in exchange for the throne. This quest is to retrieve the Golden Fleece that is guarded by a dragon 24/7 in Colchis. Jason agrees to this quest and boards the magical ship, Argos, with a wonderfully selected crew — The Argonauts. Along the way, Jason and the Argonauts encounter a series of adventures, but as they reach their final destination, King Aeëtes says that Jason can have the Fleece just as long he completes three nearly impossible tasks: 1) tame and yoke fire-breathing oxen and plough a field with them 2) plant the teeth of a dragon and then defeat the soldiers who spring up from the teeth 3) defeat the dragon who gaurds the Golden Fleece. With the help of Medea — daughter of King Aeëtes —who provides him with drugs to withstand the fire from the oxen, pills to make the dragon sleep, and a curse to cause the soldiers to fight one another, Jason is able to successfully accomplish all three of the tasks. He then sails back to Greece with the Golden Fleece AND Medea (who brings along her brother, Aspyrtus, but ends up dismembering him to stall her father).
- All we have previously pointed out in regard to Medea is how she killed her own children in spite of her torn relationship with Jason. But what we should really be discussing is how she developed in stature from a subservient female helper to a female hero who stood alongside Jason throughout his quest. **sidenote: I wish I had read all of this chapter before representing Medea in a mock trial that we previously had in class. I probably would have still lost though, because it doesn't justify the fact of the matter but still… There are numerous things that she did for Jason out of love, but in the end we see yet another shift in which she goes from being the princess of a non-Greek kingdom to being a villain. Medea by herself expresses the overlapping of categories among females, foreigners, and villains that this chapter is trying to portray in accordance to the quests of Greek heroes.
Pelias — king of Iolkos
Aeëtes — king of Colchis
Apsyrtus — Medea’s brother
DAY 2— Nov. 28, 2018
[7:30 PM- 10:30PM]
For tomorrow’s last class discussion, we will continue with The Hero’s Quest [pp. 582–601] and review for the FINAL EXAM that takes place on December 4th. We will briefly touch on these following questions as this journal comes to an end:
- How does a human life (or a portion of a human life) resemble a quest? How is college life like a quest, for example?
- Is it possible to structure one’s life like a quest? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
As for the first question, I believe that this analogy of human life resembling a quest is actually perfect. From the time we are born until our death, we are on this journey to be something; we aspire to do something within our lives whether that be finding true love, becoming a certain profession, or even establishing a sense of peace. However, similar to the quest heroes that we have read, we do encounter adversities that we must overcome. Along our quest to success (whatever that may be for you), we come face to face with challenges that may include villains or simply just someone/ people who try to hinder or stall you from achieving your goal and aslo helpers who aid you along the way. College life is like a quest because (speaking for myself and some others) you are no longer guided and sheltered by your parents which causes you to start thinking for yourself. Even though one’s parents may aid them as far as financial matters and support every now and then, you are now forced to start making personal decisions whether they may be good or bad because no one is longer in your face telling you what your next step should be. College is the first big step to embarking on a long adventure that will influence the rest of your life, and along the way there will be countless tests (physically and mentally) and trials that each student handles in their own way. Although this sounds tiring, now that your parents are no longer doing everything for you, you are forced to take one step forward in your path to success, but also you see that there are more resources and people out there to better help you get to where you want to be in life. The ending of this chapter, and the last reading that we will do for this class, ends with one of my most memorable authors — Zora Neale Hurston. CMIC inserts an excerpt from her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (A GREAT READ in which the main character embarks on a journey that includes a plethora of trials and tribulations, in which they point out that similarly to Odysseus, the main character Janie shares an essential trait that distinguishes her from other quest heroes and heroines. Odysseus and Janie as well as each human in today’s world are the narrators of their own tales of survival. I would also like to include that we (even though I do believe in a higher power) are the prophets/prophetesses of our own lives.
The last question, I am unsure as to what it is asking. However, I do not think that one can shape their life to be like a quest, it just kind of is already. If that is not what was being asked then maybe the question is suggesting that one sets up/plans their whole life ahead of time. I feel like everyone who cares about their future does this at some point in their early life, but along the way, most start to realize that something that they planned for themselves is no longer what they want or they fail at something that was set for their future life. The advantages to doing this, is that you’re not just dillydallying and living in the moment at all times, because there are certain things that you actually have to be motivated and plan ahead for (i.e. college) but the disadvantages to it is that most things in life do not go accordingly.
DAY 3— Nov. 29, 2018
[11:10 AM- 12:30PM]
AHHHHH THE LAST DAY!
As this class has been a long, laborious journey in which I have definitely had more rough than smooth sailings (due to our dreadful weekly quizzes), I can genuinely say that I enjoyed this class although it may have not seemed like it due to my constant tiredness at 11:10 AM. However, I did learn a lot throughout this course that I probably would have never thought about learning nor ever took time out of my day to think about in regard to certain topics, but this class challenged and enforced me to do so. I also very much enjoyed writing these journals, as they allowed me to say everything that I do not in class. But a very big shout out to Dr. Norman Sandridge (my professor) who made this course everything but boring. Anyways farewell to these weekly submissions on Medium, and I hope whoever has been keeping up with my journals (because I definitely have received some claps lol) does not miss me too much :) Toodles!