How Homeric poetry may help us achieve a keener appreciation of Sappho’s…

A draft of an essay-in-progress about heroic beauty

2020.09.11 | By Gregory Nagy §0. I am putting together here a draft of some thoughts I have had lately about heroic beauty as expressed in the visual arts of ancient Greek material culture. My aim is to turn these thoughts, informal as they are for now, into a formal essay that I am preparing at the request of two dear colleagues who are organizing an art exhibit titled “Heroic… Read more

Crying at sunset on the eve of the Olympics

2020.08.28 | By Gregory Nagy §0. What we see here in the photograph I show for the cover of Classical Inquiries 2020.08.28 is a sunset at Olympia, site of the ancient Olympics. Backgrounded by the sunset and facing the camera stand three of a group of travelers who had accompanied me on a travel study program in March 2018, extensively documented in Classical Inquiries. I still remember, with fondness, the… Read more

Death of a ram, Part 2

2020.08.21 | By Gregory Nagy §0. I show here a picture of a ram being sacrificed. His throat is being slit. This picture, a close-up of a painting on a fragmentary vase now housed at the Getty Museum in Malibu, was noted by Gloria Ferrari Pinney in a brief essay that she wrote in response to an essay of mine. Both essays are posted in Classical Inquiries 2020.07.31. My new… Read more

Death of an Amazon

2020.08.14 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The picture I show for the lead illustration of this essay is a close-up of the face of a dying Amazon. She is Penthesileia, daughter of the war-god Ares. The close-up comes from an ancient Athenian vase painting that pictures this Amazon at the moment of her death, killed by the hero Achilles, with whom she is engaged in mortal combat, one-on-one. And, at… Read more

Death of a ram, death of Patroklos

2020.07.31 | By Gregory Nagy §0. A picture is worth a thousand words. That popular adage fits, to my mind, the picture I have chosen for the cover of my essay here—the word-count for which even exceeds a thousand, though not by much. The picture is a line drawing of an ancient vase-painting. The camera of the mind’s eye is zooming in—on a sheep’s head. It is the head of… Read more

About a scene pictured on the Bronze Doors of the Supreme Court, already pictured once upon a time on the Shield of Achilles

2020.07.24 | By Gregory Nagy §0. At the very beginning of my Introduction to The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours, at 00§1, where I talk about the “great books” of Greek literature that I will be analyzing, I say that I will also be showing pictures, taken mostly from ancient Greek vase paintings. As I now look back at the pictures in that book, first published online in 2013,… Read more

For anyone tempted to read the Homeric Iliad, all of it, in translation: some words about a book that can help with getting started

2020.07.17 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this brief essay, I talk about a book that can help get you started if you wish to make a personal commitment to read the Homeric Iliad, all of it, in translation. It is a book of mine that was first published in 2013 by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press under the title The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Thanks… Read more

The apotheosis of Hēraklēs on Olympus and the mythological origins of the Olympics

2019.07.12 | By Gregory Nagy §0. As I indicated in the previous posting, in Classical Inquiries 2019.07.06 (at II-G5), the aim of the brief follow-up essay that I offer here in the present posting, 2019.07.12, is to connect a myth about the apotheosis of Hēraklēs on Mount Olympus with a myth that credits this same hero with the original founding of the Olympics. Part I: The apotheosis I§1. At II-G5 of the… Read more

Sensations of agony and ecstasy while indexing a book about ancient Greek heroes

2019.06.28 | By Gregory Nagy §0. Authors who opt to write their own general index for their own book are conventionally instructed to concentrate on those things that their readers will want to look up in the book. Having just finished writing such an index for a second edition (2020) of my book The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours, the first edition for which (2013) had only an index… Read more

Artemis and a massacre at the Tree of Life

2018.11.01 | By Gregory Nagy §0. On October 27, 2018, eleven men and women were killed, and more were injured, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the city of Pittsburgh. It was widely reported about the massacre that the man who had opened fire on his victims was at the same time shouting his hatred for Jews, and that this hate was fueled by anger over the help offered… Read more

About the Green Ray of Jules Verne and Eric Rohmer

2018.10.28 | By Gregory Nagy §0. It is summer. A young woman and a young man are sitting side by side at a beachfront, looking out toward the vast sea that is facing them. They aim their gaze westward, viewing what seems like an infinite stretch of water that reaches all the way to the darkening horizon where the sea finally meets an infinite sky. As they watch the sun… Read more

Homeric Ainoi in Latin Literature, Part II: Quintilian

2018.10.19 | By Miriam Kamil §1. In the first part of this essay, I examined a passage from the Odyssey referred to in the text as an ainos. This was the improvised story told by Odysseus to the swineherd Eumaios in Odyssey 14, wherein Odysseus’ fictitious persona forgets and then obtains a cloak while out on ambush during the Trojan War. Eumaios intuits that he is hearing an ainos and correctly interprets its… Read more

Homeric Ainoi in Latin Literature, Part I: Homer

2018.10.19 | By Miriam Kamil §1. I was a Teaching Fellow in the 2017 run of Greg Nagy’s annual course at Harvard, The Ancient Greek Hero. In this class, we examined the use of riddles in Homeric epic. The students learned about a sort of riddle called αἶνος, transliterated as ainos. Related to the verb αἰνέω (aineō) ‘to praise’, the word means, ‘praising speech’, or more basically, ‘speech act’.[1] But… Read more

Comments on the Pearl Fishers of Georges Bizet

2018.09.22 | By Gregory Nagy §0. One of the most popular songs in the vast history of opera is a two-man aria sung by a tenor and a baritone in Les pêcheurs de perles, or The Pearl Fishers, by Georges Bizet, with libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré. The formal title of this aria, commonly known in English as “The Pearl Fishers Duet,” is “Au fond du temple saint”,… Read more

Ch’unhyang—further typological comparisons from late-Chosŏn Korean song culture and modern Korean film culture

2018.09.05 | By Gregory Nagy §0.1. Continuing my commentary on the film Ch’unhyang as a point of typological comparison, I will compare here, more broadly, the visual art of film-making with the verbal art of poetry and song as we see that art at work in the epic and lyric traditions of ancient Greece. In making such a comparison, I will highlight two general features of verbal art, metaphor and… Read more

Ch’unhyang—typological comparisons from late-Chosŏn Korean song culture and modern Korean film culture

2018.09.05 | By Gregory Nagy §0. I focus here on two clips that I could describe as “lament-by-premonition” and “lament during moments of excruciating pain.” These clips will both involve a kind of comparison that is known as “typological.” Here is a working definition from H24H 3§11… typological comparison is a kind of comparative method that has to do with the study of parallelisms between structures as structures pure and… Read more

Blade Runner—further thoughts

2018.08.29 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The anguish of a replicant named Roy in the story of Blade Runner is only one example of the unseasonality suffered by artificial humans. I explore another example here, where a replicant named Rachael experiences the shock of being told that she is not human. Unlike Roy, who knew all along that he was not human, Rachael never knew. Once she is told that… Read more

Blade Runner—replicants are good to think with, while thinking about ancient Greek heroes

2018.08.29 | By Gregory Nagy §0. For studying the ancient Greek hero, I think that the kinds of things we see in the storytelling of films and other such contemporary media can be “good to think with.” The expression I have just used here derives from a commonly-used paraphrase of wording once used by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss in his book Le Totémisme aujourd’hui (1962). He was referring to… Read more

Thoughts about heroes, athletes, poetry

2018.08.10 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The picture on the cover makes me think about heroes, athletes, and poetry. What we see is an Amazon, riding on horseback, engaged in mortal combat with a male adversary. As I have shown in previous postings about Amazons, especially in my comments on Antiope, queen of the Amazons, in Classical Inquiries 2017.10.18, these female warriors were considered to be not only heroes but… Read more

More on the love story of Phaedra and Hippolytus: comparing the references in Pausanias and Euripides

2018.08.03 | By Gregory Nagy In the posting for 2018.06.21, I highlighted a painterly vision in the narrative of Pausanias about the erotic passion felt by Phaedra for Hippolytus. In that vision, Phaedra is viewing Hippolytus exercising naked. And the agent of the vision is the goddess Aphrodite. In the present posting, for 2018.08.03, I compare another painterly vision—this time, in the poetry of Euripides. In this vision, Phaedra is… Read more

Are Zeus and Hērā a dysfunctional couple?

2018.07.27 | By Gregory Nagy A sampling of comments on the Iliad and Odyssey includes an attempt of mine to analyze a scene in Iliad 14 where Hērā has a sexual encounter with Zeus on the heights of Mount Ida. In my comments on the wording of the goddess at the moment when she initiates her encounter with the god, at verses 200–210, I argue that this wording “derives from… Read more

“The mother, so sad it is, of the very best”: The lament of Thetis in Iliad 18

2015.10.29 | By Gregory Nagy 1778 marble relief by Thomas Banks, Thetis rising from the sea to console Achilles for the death of Patroclus; image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London §1. In this posting, I show the thinking that went into a self-evaluation exercise that I had put together for “Heroes X.” This thinking goes back to 2013, which was the date of publication for my book The Ancient… Read more

We're trying out a new look. 🎉 Let us know what you think! Hide.