Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece book report - detailed analysis, book summary, literary elements, character analysis, Gustav Schwab biography, and everything necessary for active class participation.
Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece are stories from Greek mythology focusing on the Gods and the people. The myth tells us about supernatural heroes and creatures. They serve to give us a proper model of behavior. There are also examples of non-proper models of behavior depicted through 'bad' and/or 'antiheroes' characters.
The author collected the stories for 20 years. In the introduction, he tells us about all the important characters from Greek mythology, the world's origins, and the Greek concept of the Gods.
In his stories, he listed who the heroes were, who the Gods were, and who were the 'half-gods'. The author narrates the most important stories and myths from Greek mythology which were processed in works of many Greek philosophers, writers, and historians.
Genre: a collection of short stories
Setting: Ancient Greece (Crete, Sicily, Phrygia, Athena) where the Gods resided; time is unspecified, even though we know that the stories were made centuries before
Point of view: third-person
Narrator: an unknown narration
Tone: depressed, suspense
Theme: every story speaks about a different kind of destiny
Daedalus and Icarus
Daedalus was from Athena and he was the most important artist of his time. He was very jealous and it was very important for him to save his position. He had a nephew who he murdered when he found out that he was a better artist than him.
Soon after Daedalus was arrested and sentenced to death. He managed to run away and he went to Crete. There he met king Minos who was amazed by Daedalus's art so he took him under his protection.
Daedalus wasn't satisfied with his life because he felt as if he was living in a golden cage. He wanted to run away but didn't know how because he could only run away on air since he was on an island.
Daedalus decided to make wings for him and his son. His son Icarus didn't listen to him and he flew so high that the warmth of the sun melted the wax on his wings causing him to fall to his death. Daedalus was crushed after his son's death.
He went to Sicily. There he was famous and accepted by everyone and the king of Sicily protected him from Minos.
Daedalus never felt happiness again because he couldn't get over his son's death. Daedalus was in the end punished for his son's death.
Philemon and Baucis
Philemon and Baucis were two old people living in Phrygia. Their life was filled with happiness, joy, and love.
God Zeus and his son Hermes went to Earth and they were disguised as ordinary people who came to visit Phrygia.
Since no one knew who they really were, they couldn't find a place to stay. People were rude to them and they rejected them until they stumbled upon Philemon and Baucis.
They offered them a place to stay and apologized for not having more to offer. Zeus decided to destroy Phrygia because the people of Phrygia were selfish, but he spared the lives of Baucis and Philemon.
The two of them asked Zeus to be their priest and to let them die together. Since they were so kind to him he decided to grant their wish.
A father rejected his female child Atalanta because he wanted a son. Atalanta grew up to be a beautiful young girl. She radiated beauty and bravery. Even though she was raised by hunters she decided to look for her parents.
When she had found them, they forced her into a marriage she didn't want. Atalanta challenged her potential future husbands to a race. The conditions were that the one who wins gets her hand in marriage and that the one who loses dies.
Many young men decided to compete but all of them lost except for one. Hippomenes was a young, handsome man and he won. Goddess Aphrodite helped him win so he got Atalanta's hand in marriage.
Zeus had a son named Tantalus and all the Gods really liked him. As time passed by he had gotten more spoiled and started misusing their kindness and he provoked their patience.
One time he prepared his son for a feast for the Gods and he put them on the table so they could try him. The Gods were furious and they decided to punish him
Instead of killing him, they made him stand on water, unable to reach it, and be surrounded by fruit, all of which he was unable to eat.
Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus was the son of Thracian King Oeagrus and Muse Calliope. His singing was outstanding and every chance he would get, he would take his lyre and start singing. Everyone and everything around him would run to him to the sound of his divine voice.
Despite being able to have any nymph he wanted, his heart was taken over by Eurydice. He loved her sincerely and she became his wife. The happiness seemed to be endless but it turned out to be short-lived. Eurydice went for a walk with her friends when she was bitten by a poisonous snake. Despite being young, her body couldn't handle the bite and she died. Her friends started crying so loud around her that the only thing that was heard in the forest was their screams.
Orpheus cried with them and he used his sadness to write the saddest poems. The animals who heard him would grieve with him but nothing could bring back his beloved Eurydice.
The helpless Orpheus remembered a way to bring his wife back. He decided to go to the underground himself and ask the gods down there to let his wife live. Orpheus went to the doors of the underground, passed the shadows of the dead and he came to the throne by which he saw Eurydice. He decided to express his sadness in the best way possible so he started singing about his horrible faith and miserable life without Eurydice.
He only came to ask them to bring Eurydice back because his life was meaningless without her. Before hearing their decision he told them that if they don't bring her back they might as well take his life so that he could be with her.
Orpheus sang so beautifully that the shadows around him started to cry. Gods and people serving their sentence suddenly stopped doing everything and just cried silently with Orpheus. There were monsters and bearded people in the underground and even their hearts were touched by Orpheus's singing. The queen of the dead told Orpheus can take Eurydice with him as long as he doesn't look at her or turn around to check up on her until they leave the underground. She will follow him but he can't look back. In case he looks back Eurydice will stay in the underground.
Orpheus walked fast to the doors of the underground. Darkness was around him and he doubted his wife was still behind him. He tried to hear something but there was only silence. He was so scared that he just had to glance to see if she was behind him. When he did it he saw Eurydice disappearing in the darkness. He jumped and tried to catch her. The last thing she told him was "Goodbye".
Orpheus was petrified with fear and grief so he rushed down to the underground but this time he couldn't get past the river which divided the world of the living and the world of the dead. He spent seven days on the shore, without food or liquid and he begged the Gods to have mercy for him. Orpheus went to the forest and spent three years living in solitude. He especially stayed away from women because all of them reminded him of his late wife. One day, while he was sitting on a hill he started singing. The whole forest was listening to his song.
Up in the hills were the women celebrating Dionysus. They hated Orpheus because they despised all women except for his dead wife. They started coming at him, hitting him, cursing him, and throwing rocks at him. In the beginning, the animals still heard his song but when a rock hit him hard in the head he fell dead to the ground and it was as if his soul escaped through his mouth. The women left and the whole forest, including the nymphs, gathered around him. They grieved and then gave him a proper funeral and threw his lyre and head into the sea. They ended up on Lesbos where his head was buried and his lyre was hanged in the temple. That is the reason why that island had so many great poets and singers.
Orpheus's soul went to the underground where he was reunited with his beloved Eurydice.
Pyramus and Thisbe
Pyramus and Thisbe lived in Babylon and they loved each other but the parents were against their love so the lovers spent their days talking through a hole in the wall between their houses. One night they had set up a meeting and Thisbe came to the arranged spot first. She saw a lioness and she got very scared. While she was running to a cave, she lost her veil.
The lioness saw her veil and tore it apart with her bloody teeth. When Pyramus came and saw this and believed that the lioness killed Thisbe.
He was broken because of her death so he took his own life. Thisbe went out of the cave and saw Pyramus dead. The desperate Thisbe decided to take her own life as well.
When Oedipus was born his father, the Thebes King Laius, was told that his son will kill him and marry his wife Jocasta.
To prevent the prophecy from coming true, they decided Oedipus should be killed but the man who was supposed to do it, had mercy for him. Oedipus was raised by another king but he heard about the prophecy and decided to run away because he thought the king who raised him was his father and he didn't want to kill him.
When he entered Thebes, he killed an old man not knowing he was his father. After that, he saved the kingdom and got Jocasta's hand in marriage. They had four kids.
Oedipus ruled the kingdom and the people loved him but soon troubles started occurring and the cause of it was Oedipus.
Soon after Jocasta committed suicide and Oedipus ended up blind. His sons banished him out of Thebes and the only person standing by him was Antigone.
His sons asked for his help but he had no mercy for them. He left the gods to decide what to do with them. Gods' verdict was death for Oedipus.
The author emphasizes one character's faith and he is less concerned with describing the characters. The moral of the story isn't clear and everyone must take their own conclusion out of the story.
Through certain faiths, in these stories, the author gives a lesson that covers all of our lives. The Greek myths were famous and well present in many works of western literature. We can see that there are myths about people, language, kings, leaders, heroes, and the origins of the world.
The language and the style in these stories are recognizable and the stories are concise and symbolic.
The morals of these stories are different but in general, they present people's lives, virtues, and flaws in order to teach us a lesson. In myths, all the bad behavior is punished and the good rewarded. Life is the same for all and the same laws apply to all.
Faith has greater strength and it is important in defining life because we can't avoid it. All who try to do so will be punished by Gods.
The characters are poorly described because the author asked us to draw on morals from these stories. Even though the characters have flaws and virtues as all others, their destiny is the most important.
Daedalus - intelligent and resourceful. He had many capabilities and was able to find his way out in what seemed to be impossible situations. He loved his freedom most of all and the only person he cared about was his son. He was vain and jealous and he was punished for it. He paid his ingratitude for the divine gift he had with his life.
Icarus - is rarely mentioned and his description was very short but he is crucial for understanding Daedalus's story. He was Daedalus's son, Icarus was disobedient and very brave. For believing in his abilities and not listening to Gods, he died.
Philemon and Baucis - honorable people and role models. They lived modestly and were rewarded for their kindness.
Atalanta - a beautiful and strong young woman. She was described as a person with many virtues. Her parents disappointed her by leaving her only because she wasn't a boy. Their actions left a big trace on her. She stopped believing in love and marriage. She still decided to marry the one who wins in a competition just because she thought it was impossible. In the end, the man who did win, with goddess Aphrodite's help, swiped her off of her feet and she married him.
Tantalus - was ungrateful and he always wanted more. Despite gods giving him all, he wanted more. He had a high opinion about himself and thought he was better than gods and he was punished for it.
Orpheus - Aegarus and Calliope's son. He was a divine singer and Apollo made a lyre for him. He sang so beautifully that the whole world listened to him. Orpheus loved his wife Eurydice more than anything but she died soon after they wed. Orpheus tried to get over her but he couldn't so he decided to go to the underground and ask for her back. His action doesn't only show his true love but also his courage. He was resourceful and knew how to move the gods; with his voice. His love and lack of faith cost him Eurydice for the second time. When
When Orpheus died he was reunited with his only love.
Hades - ruled the underground with his wife, the queen of the dead, and they decided to show some mercy for Orpheus and let him take Eurydice. Their mercy had a rule and Orpheus broke it so they took her again. Hades had no more mercy for Orpheus but when Orpheus died he let him spend eternity with his wife.
Pyramus and Thisbe - seem to be victims of unfortunate circumstances and their story shows us the consequences of jumping to conclusions. They thought that they pulled all the strings and were impatient.
Oedipus - a victim of his own tragic destiny. Sometimes we are unable to change the course of our lives and this is the moral of the story about Oedipus.
Gustav Schwab was born in 1792 in Stuttgart, Germany. He was a publisher, writer, and pastor. Schwab wrote many poems.
He used his time spent at university to better his knowledge of literature and he founded a book club with his friends so that he could socialize with other poets. After his studies, Schwab worked as a professor and a pastor.
He loved ancient Roman and Greek literature as well as German literature. His most famous works are: "Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece" and "Das Buch der schönsten Geschichten und Sagen".
"Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece" are founded on legends and myths of Ancient stories. It has three parts and it is classified as a book of stories. This work was translated into many languages and, despite some modifications by the author, it is very authentic.
The work "Das Buch der schönsten Geschichten und Sagen" is a book of German sayings and folk stories.
Gustav Schwab died on November 4, 1850.