Friday, 20 May 2016

Maciej Paprocki - Trickster Athena as a granddaughter of Okeanos and Tethys

I'm please to share the second of the abstracts for Athena: Sharing New Research on 3 June, by Dr Maciej Paprocki of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München:

Trickster Athena as a granddaughter of Okeanos and Tethys.

Athena, the sovereign mistress of cunning intelligence, has many an opposite number among Greek deities: for example, Vernant and Detienne in their Cunning intelligence in Greek culture and society observe and discuss functional similarities and contiguities between Athena, Metis, Thetis, Hephaistos and Hermes—archetypal trickster deities, deft at binding magic (1991/1974: 140-144, 181-183, 300-305). In this presentation, I build on Detienne and Vernant’s observations and postulate that such deities form a fuzzy ‘trickster’ class in the Greek pantheon, linked by their shared matrilineal genealogy in Hesiod’s Theogony, descending them from Okeanos and Tethys.

Shadowy, sly shapeshifters learned in magical arts, (great-)grandchildren of Okeanos comprise some of the craftiest and grandest trickster gods of Greece: into their group one may include descendants by birth (Kalypso, Maia, Hermes, Athena, Prometheus, Kirke, Medea, Metis, Thetis) and descendants by adoption (Hera through Tethys and Hephaistos through Thetis and Eurynome). In the Theogony, Hesiod’s obliquely expresses his theological convictions through carefully planned divine marriages and resultant offspring. I argue that the poet instinctively understood functional similarities between trickster-type deities and thus traced their descent from Okeanos and Tethys, primordial gods of transformation and change: transcending Hesiod, the Okeanos trickster genealogy lingers in later Greek works, with authors conceptually juxtaposing these deities in their works.

Selected bibliography:

BRACKE, E. (2009), “Of Metis and Magic. The Conceptual Transformations of Circe and Medea in Ancient Greek Poetry”, PhD, Department of Ancient Classics, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

CATALIN, A. (2009), “On the Mythology of Okeanos”, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 143–150.

DELCOURT, M. (1957), Héphaistos ou, la légende du magicien, Bibliothèque de la Faculté de philosophie et lettres de l'Université de Liège, Vol. 146, Paris.

DETIENNE, M., VERNANT, J.-P. (1991), Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society, J. LLOYD (trans.), University of Chicago Press, Chicago [first published as Les Ruses de l’intelligence: La Mètis des Grecs in 1974].

KONSTAN, D. (1977), “The Ocean Episode in the "Prometheus Bound"”, History of Religions, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 61–72.

KORENJAK, M. (2000), “Die Hesperiden als Okeanos-Enkelinnen: eine unnötige Crux bei Apollonios Rhodios”, Hermes, Vol. 128 No. 2, pp. 240–242.

VERNANT, J.-P. (1970), “Thétis et le poème cosmogonique d'Alcman”, [in:] Crahay, R., Derwa, M. and Joly, R. (Eds.), Hommages à Marie Delcourt, Latomus Collection, Bruxelles, pp. 38–69.

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