What is the myth of Perseus and how does he slay Medusa?

The Great Heroes before the Trojan War and poems from this Unit

Citing Edith Hamilton and the poems we’ve read (Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius, Oedipus by Sophocles), answer the following questions on great heroes before the Trojan war.

Answer each question making references to the Hamilton, Jung, an encyclopedia of myth, or any relevant poem:

1. What is the myth of Perseus and how does he slay Medusa? What weapons does he use and how is his shield symbolic of a mirror? Compare the ways that the poet Sylvia Plath talks about “The Mirror” or “Medusa” and the ancient myth of Perseus.

2. Describe the character of Hercules. What makes him heroic? How is he a melancholic hero? Compare his melancholia to that of Pizarnik’s “Mirror of Melancholy.”

3. What kind of a hero is Theseus? How are Theseus and his mythic labors different from Hercules’ twelve mythic labors? Why twelve? How do Theseus or Hercules prefigure and appear similar to other ancient Greek heroes that come after, like Odysseus or Oedipus?

4. Discuss the myth of Atalanta and the heroine huntress. What makes her heroic? How does she compare to other female goddesses like Aphrodite or Hera who are not necessarily heroic? Compare her the anti-hero as seen in the poems.

5. How do any of the poems we’ve read (for example, those by S. Plath or A. Pizarnik) relate to ancient Greek myths? Who is speaking in the poem? Why does the narrator not recognize their image in the mirror?

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