Thanks to www.jstor.org I recently had the pleasure of reading The Ilioupersis in Athens by Gloria Ferrari (They provide access to scholarly journals to independent researchers like myself.) Ferrari wrote an incredible article on the representations of the Fall of Troy in Athens. As we all know a lot of unpleasant things happen that night; murder and rape within the sanctuaries of the gods among those atrocities. The gods, particularly Athena were not pleased and many of the Achaeans didn’t make it home. Ferrari points out that a few honorable things did happen; Aeneas rescuing his father and the rescue of Aethra by her Athenian grandsons, the sons of Theseus, Demophon and Acamas. Ferrari wondered why the Athenians would portray in painting, pottery and in the metopes on the north face of the Parthenon such poor behavior on the part of the Achaeans. She makes the argument based on the minimal involvement of the Athenians in the leadership of the campaign and based on the good behavior of Aethra’s grandson, that the children of Athena could deny any wrong doing during the destruction of Ilium and blame all on the “Argives”.
Ferrari explains this all much better than I. It got me to thinking; so much of my research is on PanHellenic myths, recited to PanHellenic audiences at PanHellenic events. But here is a case where Ferrari was analyzing a PanHellenic myth from the perspective of one specific peoples. Local myths are often contrary to epic, but here she is studying the way one locale sees the epics. The distinction here is local myth vs. perspective on PanHellenic myth. A distinction I hadn’t made in my own studies.
A little aside here; I was taught ages ago that all dreams have three possible interpretations; the basis story line, how each person, place and thing in the dream represents an aspect of the dreamer and the universal, allegorical significance of each person, place and thing. I guess I’ve been missing the middle step in my studies of classical mythology.
Ferrari produced a short, well-written, well-referenced piece on a pertinent topic and I recommend it to all.