Category: Pausanias reader
|January 19, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.01.18 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.11. I focus here on the details given by Pausanias at 1.17.3 describing a monumental wall painting in the sanctuary of Theseus. Depicted on this wall painting is the hero Theseus, who has just emerged from a deep-dive to the bottom of the sea. He is triumphantly holding in one hand the Ring of Minos and, in the other, the Garland of the sea-goddess Amphitrite, bride of Poseidon. The ring had been thrown into the sea by Minos, who challenged Theseus to recover it, while the garland was given to Theseus by Amphitrite, who had saved the hero from drowning and had thus made it possible for him to recover the ring. For the cover illustration, I have chosen a comparable mythological scene that was carved into a gem. It is a modern work of art. At the center is the hero Theseus, who is being carried along the sea-waves on the back of a dolphin and who is holding triumphantly a ring in one hand and a garland in the other—a garland of stars, it seems. This miniaturized scene as carved into a gem is comparable to the monumentalized scene that Pausanias saw painted on a wall in the sanctuary of Theseus.
|January 12, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2011.01.11 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.04. I focus here on a passing mention made by Pausanias at 1.17.2 about the picturing of a famous mythological scene: it is the Battle of the Athenians and Amazons, known in other ancient sources as the Amazonomakhiā ‘Amazonomachy’. I have already commented on previous references made by Pausanias, at 1.2.1 and at 1.15.2, to the fighting between the Amazons and the Athenians as led by their hero-king Theseus. Here at 1.17.2, Pausanias mentions a picturing of the Amazonomachy by the great Athenian artist Pheidias. For the cover illustration, I have chosen a close-up of a detail from the Amazonomachy as originally pictured by Pheidias. The detail comes from the so-called Peiraieus Reliefs, dating from the second century CE, which replicate faithfully what was pictured in the Amazonomachy of Pheidias in the fifth century BCE. We see in this detail a fleeing Amazon whose head is violently jerked backward by a pursuing Athenian who has grabbed from behind the woman’s hair, which has come undone and is flowing luxuriantly in the air.
|January 4, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.01.04 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2017.12.28. I now focus on what Pausanias says at 1.15.3 about a monumental painting that he saw adorning a side wall in the ‘painted portico’, that is, in the Stoā Poikilē. The painting represented the Battle of Marathon, and I show in the lead illustration here a zoom-in view of that painting as reconstructed by Carl Robert in 1895.
|December 28, 2017||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2017.12.28 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2017.12.21. Here on the cover page, I focus on what Pausanias says at 1.14.6 about the mystical birth of Erikhthonios. I show a painting that represents this birth as visualized in the fifth century BCE. Pictured here is the moment when the goddess Gē / Gaia, or Earth, who is the mother of Erikhthonios, is lifting her earthborn child and handing him over to the goddess Athena for safe keeping.
|December 21, 2017||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2017.12.21 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2017.12.14. Here on the cover page, I focus on what Pausanias will be reporting at 1.11.1, where we read that a Greek king named Pyrrhos-son-of-Aiakidēs claimed as his ancestor, counting twenty generations backward in time, the Greek hero Pyrrhos-son-of-Achilles. I marvel at what seems to me such an intriguingly short span of time separating the king in history from the hero in epic. Here on the cover, I show a close-up from a vase painting by an artist named Douris, dated at around 490 BCE, which pictures a moment when Pyrrhos the hero reaches out to receive the helmet of his dead father, Achilles. We see the profile of the young hero as he contemplates the helmet that he holds delicately in his hand. But the profile of the helmet that is facing him seems to have a face of its own—a dead face that is staring back at Pyrrhos, returning the young man’s gaze. The dead face is radiating its vision of death. I am reminded of the traditional pose in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1, where the young prince returns with his gaze the blank stare of death emanating from the skull that is facing him as he holds it in his hand.
|December 15, 2017||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2017.12.14 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2017.11.30. I present a revised translation of the text of Pausanias that I cover here, 1.5.1–1.8.1, with most sections followed by subject headings and, occasionally, by comments. From the end of 1.6.1 to the end of 1.8.1, there is a lengthy digression about the dynasties founded by Attalos and Ptolemy. But I will be focusing on a passage that occurs before that digression, at 1.5.4, where Pausanias makes mention of three mythological figures: they are Procne, Philomela, and Tereus (more accurately in Greek: Proknē, Philomēlā, and Tēreus). The tragic story of these three catastrophic figures is best known today from the celebrated version of Ovid, Metaphorphoses 6.401–674. The illustration here on the cover focuses on Philomela/Philomene, standing next to the web of tragic pictures that she has just finished weaving on her vertical loom.