History 104A, September 19: Fates, Hubris and Polis  + Bull Stories


          Last week, Friday -- before I start on that.  I wanted to remind

          you that your group meeting grades are posted on-line so that if you

          go up to my site, as indicated, go to western civilization, find the

          little green man sticking his tongue out at you that says grades, and

          then you have to listen to Yoda, you have nothing to fear but fear

          itself.  So they are there for the last two group meetings.  Of course

          again, while the first group meeting is beyond the deadline, if any of

          you missed the second group meeting, you have two weeks from last

          Friday to get the paper in for credit.  Any questions on that?  And

          the next group meeting is near the end of the month with the exam

          coming up right after.  The exam is on the 30th.  We are on schedule.

          It looks like we're okay to go.  And Pita, will remind me to make up a

          take-home question.  If he doesn't, then I won't have one ready for

          you.  You'll have a choice of one out of three essays to do.

          Q    Is that for the exam?

          A    I might need one as well.

               THE PROFESSOR:  It's not for him.  He's going to remind me for

          the class.  Somebody has got the e-mail me or I forget and then I

          bring it into class.  When I bring it into class, I give it to you and

          then you can go home if you'd like and prepare it.  However, you can't

          bring in the answer with you except in your head.

          Q    What about taking the exam early?

               THE PROFESSOR:  Oh in your case, you're taking it early.

          A    I told you about two weeks ago.


               THE PROFESSOR:  Yeah, I told you I would forget anyway.  That

          you'll take by my office.  It will be a different exam.

          A    I'll just remind you everyday.

               THE PROFESSOR:  When I walk out of here, it's not going to do me

          any good.

               As I was saying, I mentioned last week about the beginning of

          archaeology to prove that the Greek myths had some basis in fact.

          Obviously, there's no way to prove whether Hercules had 40 sons or not

          or if he ever existed, but we do have at least the identification that

          there was a City of Troy that was destroyed.  We do know that there

          was an advanced civilization in Crete.  And the Cretan civilization

          has always been fascinating to me for three reasons.  I've changed my

          order of the reason for fascination.  Years ago my order was

          different; but with age, the first order today that fascinates me are

          toilets.  They had running water and pipes and flush toilets

          basically.  Now, that's got to be an advance civilization.  I put that

          number one.  It used to be number three.  With age, I have to


               Number two, that always fascinated me about Crete was the men

          wearing their loincloths, always very tan with very narrow wastes and

          broad soldiers, participating in gymnastics.  That's now, number two.

          I think that was always number one.  But my number one is now three.

          And that was outfits the women wore showed their breasts.  That's

          number three.  For some of you guys, you can put that for number one.

          In fact, the style interestingly came into fashion at a point during


          the French Revolution when some of the pictures of the Minoan Cretan

          civilization began to appear, women started wearing very low cut with

          the sort of beehive Marge Simpson hairdos.  We still have the

          Simpsons; right?  That's still something you watch?  I have to keep up

          with whatever the new trend is.  I know the Smurfs are gone except for

          Ahmand over there.  The only reason we can pick on him is because he

          keeps his parents happy.  He told me that already.  He picks on me so

          it's even.

               In any case -- off the subject.  I'll never forget going for

          homecoming years back to my son's home college, Rutgers, and it was on

          a Saturday morning and they were just beginning to play the college

          soccer and all they talked about was that morning's episode of the

          Smurfs.  When you go to a real college, you'll be discussing the

          Simpsons or whatever the new show is, King of the Hill or Sponge Bob.

          A    Yeah, Sponge Bob.

               THE PROFESSOR:  All right.  Onward.

               The other element that fascinated me, of course, was the

          gymnastics.  Having coached gymnastics, obviously participating at

          some point, the fascination I had was that they were able to do their

          gymnastics vaulting over bulls.  They literally apparently had the

          bulls charging.  They would grab the horns as if they were vaulting

          horns, and they could do flips with catchers on the other side of the

          bull.  Now is that a lot of bull or not?  Nobody has been willing to

          test it out in recent years.  However, it is believed that the young

          people that were engaged were actually young people sent to Crete for


          tribute who were, in a sense, trained to perform in the bull rings, if

          you want to call it that way, to do the gymnastics because they were

          foreign slaves, if you will.  And that's where I wanted to go to with

          Theseus or the Greek myth that I said I would get to.

               The Crete, Minoan civilization did spread out over the

          Mediterranean and perhaps before the Mycenaean civilization took over

          that particular area of what we today call Greece.  In tribute, it

          appears that they demand from each of the cities once a year seven

          boys and seven young girls to sacrifice, according to mythology to the

          Mentor.  The Mentor was a creature that was half bull and half human.

          Now, the bull became sacred to Crete and symbolic of Zeus.  Often

          Crete had earthquakes.  Earthquakes sound like a bull roaring.  And

          Zeus was apparently hidden in a mountain cave in Crete by his mother

          to escape his father Kronos swallowing him and eating him because the

          fates had predicted that his son would kill him.  And so he got hid of

          him, but he didn't get rid of him.  He swallowed a big rock instead.

               On the island of Crete, the story went that there was a queen,

          Minos' wife whose name was Pasiphae, Minos being the king.  And she

          could not be pacified.  She was, to use a slang term, a nymphomaniac,

          although psychologists say they really don't exist, but then he didn't

          watch Sex In the City.  And from there, she decided to experiment.

          And she sort of wanted to have sex with a bull, but that was a bit

          dangerous and the bull wasn't really interested even if she looked

          like a cow.  So they had this great scientist -- you didn't learn it

          this way; right?  The story is basically there.  They had this great


          scientist named Daedalus.  Daedalus is famous for the destruction of

          Crete, developing wings to fly away with wax and feathers.  Of course,

          if you recall, he told his son not to fly too high.  But you know how

          sons are.  They disappear.  They're parents, and the son's name was --

          A    Icarus.

               THE PROFESSOR:  The sun melted his wings and he landed in the sea

          which was named after him, the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece on

          the left.

               In any case, the Daedalus invented, before we've used them in the

          breeding farms, a metal cow.  And today of course they use phony cows

          and things like that to get the experiment, but this is the first time

          we had a metal of it.  And Pasiphae got inside the cow.  The bull had

          sex with the cow but he really had it with Pasiphae.  And she bore a

          creature half man, half bull.  The story of course is bull, but in

          this case, that creature scared everyone, was devastating, and so

          rather kill the son of the queen, they placed the Mentor in a

          labyrinth.  The labyrinth was actually found, if you will, in a sense

          because apparently the palace of Knossos the capitol of Crete when Sir

          Arthur Evans dug it up, he found underneath, which some were used for

          the heating process, and the stones for building what in a sense could

          be called a labyrinth.  Well, every year the myth goes, the seven boys

          and seven girls were fed or sacrificed to the Mentor.

               Now, one of the cities that owed a allegiance to Crete was the

          City of Athens.  Athens existed in an Attica peninsula which is this

          upper area up here.  The king of Athens at the time of King Minos


          mythology-wise was a man named Aegeus A-E-G-E-U-S.  Aegeus was told

          that his son would return to him -- how did it go?  His son was left

          and his son was return missing a sandal, would save the city, and

          would become king, but in a sense, would kill his father or something

          to that effect.  In any case, his mother left with his son who's named

          Theseus.  They went north and lived near Macedonia.  And when Theseus

          was of mature age, he did return home, had lost his sandal, he was

          recognized by King Aegeus as his son, and Aegeus had no other heirs.

          However, in Athens, a semi democratic society at that time, the

          tribute, the seven boys and the seven girls names to be sent to

          sacrifice were drawn out of a pot, hat, whatever, by lot.  One of the

          seven boys that were chosen by lot -- everybody's name no matter what

          status went in -- was Theseus.  So the death ships with their black

          sail set forth to deliver the sacrifices to the island of Crete.  It

          had a black sail which Aegeus said if his son should be saved, that

          the sail should come back white so that he would know ahead of time.

          Aegeus lands on the island of Crete and there the princess of Crete,

          Ariadne falls in love with this good looking hero Schwarzenegger

          type and she speaks to Daedalus to help save him.  And Daedalus sneaks

          him a sword and provides him with a roll of thread or string.  So when

          he goes into the labyrinth, he will be able to eliminate the Mentor or

          escape and find his way back.  Theseus, sleighing the Mentor, follows

          the string back and rejects Ariadne, obviously like a true hero, like

          his true superstars like we mentioned before.  Supermen, heroes cannot

          have women impeding their greatness, so he leaves her.  She becomes


          distraught.  She leaves Crete and joins a Dionysian cult.  It's sort

          of like joining the Moonies.  And then the Dionysian cult is famous

          for its continuous drinking alcohol and sexual freedoms.  She goes

          nuts like a true scorned woman.  And he returns.  However, apparently

          he either forgets or he intentionally does not change the sail.  His

          father, Aegeus, looking out over the sea, hearing the ship is

          returning, notices a black sail, gets very upset, and jumps off the

          cliffs of Athens or Piraeus which is the port into the sea, and the

          sea is then named the Aegean Sea after Aegeus' suicide.  That of

          course is the mythology that Sir Arthur Evans was attempting to search


               Crete was a seafaring nation in its conquests.  It went out on

          the Mediterranean Sea and apparently did take control of these areas.

          Many of the drawings, the friezes, the paintings, if you will, had

          dolphins and various symbols some of which are symbols such as the

          double headed ox comes from Egypt.  There obviously were some ties

          with Egypt.  And some of these symbols from Egypt are believed to come

          out the Egyptian desert city.  Minoan language still has not been

          translated, but we do see on these friezes the priests of Minos or

          Mentor of Zeus who wore bull masks.  Again, it could have been just

          the mythology coming forth.  We do see on those drawings the

          gymnastics, the bull jumping, and so there is no reason to doubt that

          it did occur as fascinating and interesting as it is, but

          historically, young people are crazy and there's no reason why they

          could not have been engaged in that kind of activity.  I was looking


          at today's paper, they had apparently a circus down in Newpark and, as

          usual, most of the acts are Russian.  And you're talking 17, 18,

          19-year-old people with the ability to participate in this gymnastics

          and the Olympics finally banned these 11 and 12-year-olds from

          participating.  What's the age now?  16 for participation in

          gymnastics in the Olympics.  So that of course was part of the


               The other famous myth of the time or the one that we're familiar

          with is the story of Oedipus.  I'm trying to remember the myth part.

          Oedipus, if you remember, came from the City of Thebes.  Now,

          interestingly, there is a Thebes in Egypt.  And Velikovsky and some

          others identify the myth coming out of Egypt to Greece because it also

          deals with the sphinx coming out of Egypt as well.  The story goes

          that the king and queen of Thebes go to the oracle at Delphi.  And at

          Delphi, the oracles actually predicted things apparently with some

          sort of weird drug that they took from gases there.  And the priests

          would interpret and of course the interpretations were always sort of

          broad.  To the Greeks, fate was inevitable.  To the Greeks, the fates

          were higher than the Gods.  The Gods could not change fate.  So the

          Gods of Greece were not all powerful.  The fates were more powerful

          than the Gods.  To confront the Gods, to think you were better than

          Gods, or to -- no connection -- to think you were better than the Gods

          would be that you would be committing the highest of Greek sins called

          hubris.  Hubris in English terms refers to excessive pride.  If one

          went against the Gods when one committed hubris, you would be punished


          by the furies.  They would be furious.  That's where the word comes

          from.  In reality, when we talk of Greek tragedies, a Greek tragedy is

          not something that happens to somebody that as we use the word tragic

          today, hurtful, harmful, upsetting.  Tragedy was somebody who was

          stupid enough to go against hubris, to commit hubris, to go against

          the fates.

               What I've done and it's on-line and it will be injected into the

          lecture when it goes on-line today is just on the top of my head

          because I didn't have a lot of time and thinking.  And using some of

          the words in your book, I popped in a word list so it will help in the

          spelling for all of us.  That's what I'm putting up right now.  Since

          I don't trust quote/unquote PC's and they don't trust me and we don't

          get along well, I put it up on-line.


               We're been talking about fate and hubris, the fates and the

          hubris.  Back where we were the, the story of Oedipus Rex perhaps

          coming out of ancient Egypt.  The oracle at Delphi informs the king of

          Thebes that his son will not only kill him but marry his mother.

          Following the Greek tradition, when the child is born, the Greeks

          practiced infanticide meaning that they had the option of putting a

          child, once born, onto the mountainside where the child would either

          be taken up or down to Hades or they could be adopted if somebody

          found the child.  In the democratic societies, babies were determined

          as to whether they would be placed on the mountainside by their

          parents.  In the autocratic societies such as Sparta, the kings would


          decide which children should be placed on the mountainside because

          they either would turn out to be poor soldiers or, for women, poor

          breeders.  The parents of Oedipus placed him on the mountainside

          outside of Thebes and a couple who came from the north found the baby,

          adopted him, but never told him that he was adopted.  When he was of

          mature age, Oedipus went to the oracle of Delphi to learn his fate and

          was told that his fate was to kill his father and marry his mother.  I

          think most of you are somewhat familiar with the myth.  And he dives

          to leave his parents who he thinks are his natural parents and heads

          out on an adventure.  In Thebes or around Thebes at the time there was

          this devastating monster who was destroying the land, eating the

          crops, and killing anybody it encountered.  And this was called a

          sphinx.  Oedipus, on the road, encounters the sphinx who is a wise ass

          and decides that he will always give people a chance if they can

          respond to his riddle.  Riddle me that and -- nobody knows what riddle

          me this and riddle me that comes from?  The old Batman series.  Never

          mind.  And so with what the sphinx says to Oedipus -- what crawls in

          the morning -- I'm sorry -- what walks on four legs in the morning,

          walks two legs in the afternoon, and walks on three legs in the

          evening?  And Oedipus thinks a while and does respond with the right

          answer which is?

          A    Man.

               THE PROFESSOR:  Or he doesn't mention women but we can throw that

          in.  When they're young, they crawl.  When they're mature, they walk

          on two legs.  And when they're old, they walk on three using a cane.


          Because his riddle has been discovered, the sphinx self-destructs,

          jumps into a chasm and kills itself.  However, as he's proceeding, he

          encounters and nobleman with his retainers and they challenge him and

          like typical noblemen, seeing a commoner, they're wise asses, but he

          doesn't put up for it and he wipes out the king and his retainers,

          which is of course really his father.  Being a hero and having

          destroyed the sphinx, when he returns to Thebes the queen is without a

          husband.  And so she marries Oedipus not knowing of course that it is

          her son.  And of course that leads to the Freudian term the Oedipus

          complex which, does anybody know what the term is when you want to

          kill your mother and marry your father?

          A    The Electra complex.

               THE PROFESSOR:  In any case, Oedipus -- I'm sorry.  They find out

          later after burying a couple of children and Oedipus, not realizing

          that he has not been able to overcome his fate, he has committed

          hubris by attempting to avoid his fate and therefore must be punished

          by the furies.  But in response to his own punishment, he tears out

          his eyes in grief and now walks around guided by a cane with the

          furies attacking him, and one of his daughters at least helping to

          guide him around for the rest of his life in pain and in misery.  That

          is the story of Oedipus that encounters and deals with two of the main

          three elements that really describe Greek life -- fate, hubris, and

          the third one is there as well, but I didn't quite mention it, polis


               The polis refers to a city state the Greek society until


          Alexander the Great is broken into many city states.  They are cities

          that have land around them.  And as we move into the so-called Achaean

          period after about 800, these city states always Crete sort of empires

          by founding colonies and starting at around 800 maybe earlier, Greek

          cities spread out throughout this area that you see the dark orange.

          And there are many Greek cities, by the way.  And it doesn't really

          show it very well here.  In Egypt as well in what are called gnomes.

          And these cities are related and tied to the mother polis.  Sometimes

          of course breaking off, but have the identity of the polis is

          important and to the motherland is important, to the mother city,

          because it really provides a sense of belonging, a sense of community.

          Thebes was a polis, a city state with a sense of community.  Your

          whole life was centered in the city.  The worse punishment perhaps

          even worse than death for a Greek was to be thrown out of the city and

          denied citizenship.  And the word used was ostracism.  Once

          ostracized, you were a man or a woman without a nation, without a

          country, or in Greek terms, without a polis.  Of course today we see a

          little of that, well a lot of that I suppose with nationalism.  We

          can't really use the term nationalism -- I'm not sure if there was a

          word for it, but it's in a sense identified with that same nationalist

          identity.  And of course, the Greeks had a chauvinism as well, which

          was their city was better than all others and would dominate in the

          future.  So again, the principle.

               The Greeks themselves refer to themselves as graeci.  However,

          the terms given through the Roman, a more common use continuously are


          the Hellenes.  Does it come from Helen of Troy?

          A    No.

               THE PROFESSOR:  I'm not sure.  Maybe and maybe not and maybe that

          was a sense of the myth that came with it.  During the period of

          Alexander and afterwards, we refer to it as the Hellenistic period.

          Please do not confuse Helen and Hellenistic.  The Helen period is the

          period from I guess you'd say Troy, Mycenae down through Philip of

          Macedonia and that is the fourth century, the middle of the fourth

          century, Philip of Macedonia being Alexander of Macedonia's father, so

          from about 1200 to about 350 BCE it is the Hellenes period.  After

          that, for about 200 to 300 years, it's the Hellenistic.

               Those who were not Greek, translation, did not speak the Greek

          language, were known as barbarians, non-Greek speaking.  It was a

          derogatory term.  It was an insulting term.  As the Greek cities

          emerge, they begin to develop various forms of government sometimes

          passing from one to the other.  And when we say they're emerging, as I

          say, we had the great period of Greece in the Mycenae area was about

          1100 BCE 1200, if you will, we enter what's called the dark ages of

          Greek.  Perhaps they never existed, as I said, with Velikovsky.  As we

          move out of the dark ages, at around 800, we see an Egyptian influence

          because the statues and the Gods begin to have an Egyptian striped

          body, very squarish, with the left foot forward.  The left foot was

          always forward.  However, as we move outside into the Akkadian period,

          600 or 500 BCE, we begin to see a more natural appearance in the

          sculptures because the Greeks used an idealism.  So with the city


          states, starting around 800s, we begin to see the emergence first of

          what we might call monarchies, absolute monarchies.  One person rules

          with absolute power.  From this we begin to see the emergence of

          limited monarchy that develops in many of the cities into aristocracy,

          meaning ruled by the best usually through blood, being born that way.

          By the way, monarchy is inherited ruled generally defined.  However,

          in many of the Greek cities, the monarchs were actually elected.  In

          fact, Sparta had two kings, one for military and one for political

          actions.  From aristocracy often came oligarchy or ruled by the few.

          And during the oligarchy, you began to see the emergence of despots

          and tyrants.  The Greeks had different terms or different meanings.

          We often use the term despot.  A despot was a person that ruled for

          themselves in an autocratic fashion and could well be quote/unquote

          evil.  A tyrant ruled for the people and generally provided for the

          people.  And tyrants were the ones who introduced in some of the Greek

          states of course most formidable democracy by creating a writing,

          Constitutions that were given to the people to provide them certain

          rights.  And the Greek cities began to develop constitutional forms of

          government that described their form of government.  In the sixth

          century, at around 595, in ancient Athens a tyrant by the name of

          Solon; Solon gave the City of Athens a Constitution.  The Constitution

          was the beginning of a people's government.  Democracy means

          government of the people, Ocracy meaning government and demos meaning


               I forget to mention that some of the Greek societies, some of the


          Greek cities also developed theocracies.  They're dedicated to certain

          Gods and the priests of those Gods ruled.  In fact, early Athens had

          an element of theocracy in it.  The God of Athens was Athena.  And

          according to mythology, he was born out of the head of Zeus which made

          her intelligent.  She was the Goddess of wisdom.  He had this

          tremendous headache, split his head open and out popped his daughter.

          Don't try it.  In Athens, she took her staff and broke the ground up

          at the height of Athens called the acropolis.  The acropolis was up at

          the top of the city.  Usually Greek cities in the early years were

          built on a plateau or on a mountain to protect them from invasion.

          There she gave Athens the olive tree.  And to Athens, the olive tree

          gave the city lots of wealth, not just the eating of olives, but olive

          oil used for cooking and used for everything else including I guess

          sun bathing.  Athens traded that olive oil and the olives throughout

          the Mediterranean.  And since it was near the Aegean Sea, it became a

          seafaring port.

               Democracy tends to develop in seafaring nations.  Does anybody

          know why?

          A    Because they have so much outside influences.

               THE PROFESSOR:  The outside influences, including contacts with,

          if not migration from or immigration from other cultures, which means

          with that they are more open to understanding other peoples.

          Landlocked nations tend to be more autocratic and conservative because

          they're closed, their traditions are closed.  You go out to the

          farming belt of America and Indiana or where and people are extremely


          conservative -- I was talking to somebody the other day and he said he

          went to Atlanta and he found Atlanta 100 times more liberal than where

          he lived in Indiana in a rural community where he taught at a college.

          People know your business, even if they're 10 miles away, they know

          everybody and what's going on.  In a city, you're lost.  You generally

          don't even though your neighbors.  You're given the freedom to act

          often as you want to act.  And so the coasts tend to be liberal.

          They're the blue states.  And the center tends to be, as we saw in the

          last election, the red states.  And that has been common historically

          to the extent that one of the trends in history -- I didn't realize it

          was that close.

               One of the trends in history we're going to talk about from time

          to time is land power versus sea power and the conflict between the

          seafaring nations and the landlocked nations.  We'll talk about Sparta

          as a landlocked nation, conservative Athens as a seafaring nation,