Discussion must demonstrate that you have read the material.Please do not post g


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Discussion must demonstrate that you have read the material.Please do not post generic responses that don’t contain any specific references to the material you read, such as “I really enjoyed chapters 1 through 15 of Moby-Dick. It was interesting!” Do not summarize what you watched.
Examples: Your opinion about the themes and issues discussed in these stories, or ideas about what if anything the author is trying to teach, or what you think is the meaning behind symbols or metaphors you read.
making connections between these works of literature and other works of literature, either modern literature or older literature which might have influenced it. When we talk about ancient literature, a really exciting subject is Comparative Mythology — how and why very similar stories are being told across cultures, even in nations that had no contact with each other!
making connections between the literature and the world at the time it was written or on events that came later. read and answer questions:
Pan’s Labyrinth, a modern fantasy movie about a descent into a sort of Underworld (this site will ask you to register with your college info. It’s safe.)
early in this course I pointed out that some components of mythology are NOT references to real events that happened but rather about the universal human struggle, telling stories that embody our inner wonders, hopes, and fears. People like to write about stuff that scares them. When I was a kid (and throughout the Cold War) there were a thousand books and movies about the world being destroyed in a nuclear war. Nowadays, people are less scared of nuclear annihilation, but you see many stories about things that people are afraid of: genetic engineering or artificial intelligence gone wrong, environmental/ ecological disasters, oppressive fascist governments. Creating fictional narratives is a way to deal with the anxiety, and they tend to be popular because people who are experiencing the same anxiety find them interesting. I predict that in a few years you will be seeing a lot of thrillers and sci fi movies about outbreaks of disease, because that’s what is scaring us today. The most universal of all fears is the fear of death, because we all know that it is coming for each of us and everyone we love. A lot of young children experience some real terror when they learn about the inevitability of death and both children and grieving people ask some irrational questions like “why does this have to happen?” and “is there anything I can do to stop or reverse a death?” As adults, we stop asking these questions even though we never get a satisfactory answer. Myths often tackle just this issue, with heroes who try to conquer or cheat death in some way. We have already seen it with Gilgamesh (failed to save Enkidu), Rustu (failed to save his son Sohrab) and Isis (who DOES manage to bring back her dead husband/brother Osiris — but they are gods and therefore special). Most of the time, these myths repeat what people must come to terms with: even the smartest, the strongest, the most beloved among us has no chance against death.
I think this is best illustrated by Ishtar as she goes down to the underworld. Clearly she thinks because she is a goddess AND a queen AND a high priestess (jeez, Ishtar, save something for the rest of us) that her rank allowed her to just walk into the Otherworld and visit her dead brother-in-law. She decks herself out with seven items of ornamentation, the “seven me” (in this case “me” is a Mesopotamian word meaning something like “talisman” or maybe “lucky charm”). These ornaments were supposed to be magical protection as well as indicators of her social rank. But as she enters the Underworld they are all stripped away from her — indicating that in the Underworld, she is no better than anyone else. Orpheus is a kind of unique take on the “challenging death” story because he doesn’t try to fight death or outwit it — he merely uses the power of song to sway the hearts of Prosperpina and Pluto (the Roman names for Persephone and Hades). Do you think Pluto/Hades offered Orpheus a fair challenge? Does it remind you of Pandora’s box?
The Death of Baldr should resonate with anyone who has an overprotective mom. It’s also a turning point in the Prose Edda (which is our single most important source for Norse mythology) in which Loki, again fueled by resentment that his adopted brothers are more beloved than he is, changes from being a troublemaker to somebody truly evil. Do you think he crossed the line? When?
In which of these three stories did somebody actually manage to come back from the dead? And what kind of bargain did he or she have to make to escape?

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