|Thalia is the goddess of festivity and banquets. She one of the three Graces and usually appears with her sisters dancing in a circle. (She who gives love, She who receives loves, and She who returns love). Very sweet, but occasionally banquets result in disasters and that is the topic of this module. Image: Sandro Botticelli's Primavera|
This vase shows gods, goddesses, nymphs and others processing to a house or temple where Peleus will celebrate his wedding to the beautiful sea-nymph Thetis. Thetis had many suitors, including several of the gods themselves, but when they learned of a prophecy that the son of Thetis would be greater than his father, the gods arranged for her to marry Peleus. Their son would be Achilles.
Peleus stands before the doors of the house. Dionysus faces the group and carries a wine bowl. The names of the guests are written alongside.
|Eris was not invited to the wedding party and the
consequences of this famous feast was The Trojan War.
Sophilos has signed the vase 'Sophilos painted me'. 580 B.C. British Musuem
| The Lapiths, a peace-loving people of Thessaly, were
celebrating the wedding of their king Pirithous to Hippodamia. The
Centaurs were invited but they began to misbehave. One of them, Eurytus,
full of wine, tried to carry off the bride and there was a brawl. Then Theseus,
the friend of Pirithous, who was
among the guests, drove the Centaurs off. The theme
symbolized the victory of civilization over barbarism and was used to
decoratethe metopes of the Parthenon.
|Pirithous, Hippodamia & the Centaur Eurytion,
Apulian red-figure krater C4th B.C., British Museum
(left) The wedding procession.
At the wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia all the gods were present; Harmonia received as bridal gifts a peplos woven by Athena and a necklace made by Hephaestus. This necklace referred to as the Necklace of Harmonia brought misfortune to all who possessed it. Notwithstanding the divinely ordained nature of his marriage and his kingdom, Cadmus lived to regret both: his family was overtaken by misfortunes, and his city by civil unrest. Cadmus finally abdicated in favor of his grandson Pentheus. Later, as king, he founded other cities. This, by the way, was the last banquet where gods and mortals mingled together.
|Tantalus was a son of Zeus who enjoyed cordial relations with the
gods until he decided to slay his son Pelops and feed him to the gods as
a test of their omniscience. Most of the gods, as they sat down to
dinner with Tantalus, immediately understood what had happened, and,
because they knew the nature of the meat they were served, were appalled
and did not partake. But Demeter who was distracted due to the abduction
of her daughter by Hades, obliviously ate Pelops' shoulder. The gods
threw Tantalus into the underworld, where he spends eternity standing in
a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he
reaches for the fruit, the branches raise his intended meal from his
grasp. Whenever he bends down to get a drink, the water recedes before
he can drink.
|One last last banquet for which I could find no image.||
Brothers Atreus and Thyestes
Atreus learned of Thyestes' and Aerope's adultery and plotted revenge. He killed Thyestes' sons and cooked them, save their hands and feet. He tricked Thyestes into eating the flesh of his own sons at a banquet and then taunted him with their hands and feet. Thyestes was forced into exile for eating the flesh of a human. Thyestes responded by asking an oracle what to do, who advised him to have a son by his daughter, Pelopia, who would then kill Atreus. When the child, Aegisthus, was born, he was abandoned by his mother who was ashamed of the incestuous act. A shepherd found the infant Aegisthus and gave him to Atreus, who raised him as his own son. Only as he entered adulthood did Thyestes reveal the truth to Aegisthus, that he was both father and grandfather to the boy. Aegisthus then killed Atreus, although not before Atreus and Aerope had had two sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus. Aegisthus will kill Agamemnon when he returns home from the Trojan War. Which begins another cycle of revenge.