Crying at sunset on the eve of the Olympics

Ongoing comments on a Pausanias reader in progress

Gregory Nagy Editors: Angelia Hanhardt and Keith DeStone Web producer: Noel Spencer Consultant for images: Jill Curry Robbins The comments collected here represent Gregory Nagy’s ongoing commentary on Pausanias and will be continually updated with further comments. These comments are also to be found in A Pausanias Commentary in Progress = APCIP, co-authored by Gregory Nagy together with Greta Hawes and Carolyn Higbie. Each comment by each of these three co-authors has… 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

Pausanias as novelist: a micro-sample

2018.07.20 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this post, dated 2018.07.20, I have put together a working retranslation of the sad story of Komaithο, priestess in love, as retold by Pausanias at 7.18.8–7.20.2. Some essential parts of this story have already been paraphrased at §1 in the post for 2018.07.13, but now I need to look at the whole story. And, for that, I need to share my working translation,… Read more

A placeholder for the love story of Phaedra and Hippolytus: What’s love got to do with it?

2018.06.21 | By Gregory Nagy §0. When Phaedra sees Hippolytus for the very first time, she is already falling in love with him. That is what Pausanias seems to be saying as he retells the myth. The ancient Greek word that he uses in this context is erasthēnai, which is conventionally translated as ‘fall in love with’. I think, however, that this translation can be misleading—unless the relevant contexts are… Read more

Smooth surfaces and rough edges in retranslating Pausanias, Part 1

2018.06.14 | By Gregory Nagy §0. My experiments with translating Pausanias, as reflected in several essays I have posted in Classical Inquiries, have by now reached a point where I have finished retranslating most of Pausanias Scroll 1. In the present posting, I explain what I mean by “retranslation,” showing a sample. In this sample, I retranslate the original Greek wording used by Pausanias as he briefly retells a myth about… Read more

A placeholder for the White Goddess

2018.05.25 | By Gregory Nagy The Greek name for the mythological figure whom we recognize as the White Goddess was Leukotheā—a name that actually means ‘white goddess’. In the ancient myths that tell about this figure, however, she was not always a goddess: once upon a time, she was a mortal woman named Ino, wife of the hero Athamas and mother of the child-hero Melikertes. This Ino was considered to… Read more

A placeholder for the hero Amphiaraos

2018.05.04 | By Gregory Nagy Amphiaraos, a hero who is most prominently featured in ancient Greek epic narratives about the so-called Seven Against Thebes, has a special place in the writings of Pausanias, as we can readily see from a search for this hero’s name in a retranslation of Pausanias that has been made available online for free in A Pausanias Reader in Progress. Here I focus on a passage… Read more

Toward a more extensive commentary, on Pausanias 1.27.4–1.29.1

2018.04.26 | By Gregory Nagy This posting for 2018.04.26, on Pausanias 1.27.4–1.29.1, is a continuation of the posting for 2018.04.05, on Pausanias 1.24.8–1.27.3, but the format will now change. Besides the more focused comments that have characterized the postings on Pausanias so far, I will start to add some abridged comments that are more tentative, in need of more precision. A case in point, as we will see, is an… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.24.8–1.27.3

2018.04.05 | By Gregory Nagy I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.03.01. I will highlight here a ritual noted by Pausanias at 1.27.3 involving two Athenian girls who are selected annually to serve the goddess Athena. The word that refers to these girls in their overall role as servants of Athena is arrhēphoroi, hereafter transcribed as Arrhephoroi. After the annual service of the two Arrhephoroi is… Read more

A plane tree in Nafplio: decorating a reader for travel-study in Greece, March 2018

2018.03.22 | By Gregory Nagy This new reader, posted 2018.03.22, “decorates” an earlier reader posted 2018.03.07. As I once tried to explain by way of simile, the earlier reader was like a Christmas tree waiting to be decorated with ornaments. But now I adjust the simile by comparing the new reader to that famous plane tree so loved by Xerxes, mighty ruler of the Persian Empire, which he honored as… Read more

A reader for travel-study in Greece

2018.03.07 | By Gregory Nagy The essays in this reader are designed to supplement visits by travel-study groups to sites and museums in Greece. Each essay focuses on things to see-or at least to note if they cannot be seen-at sites to be visited. In cases where a museum adjoins a site, I offer a separate inventory of things to see. Wherever possible, I use as my primary ancient source… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.21.4—1.24.7

2018.03.01 | By Gregory Nagy I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.02.21. I picture here a modern version of the face of the goddess of Athens, Athena Parthenos, whose statue was seen by Pausanias, as he says at 1.24.7. This picturing of the statue surely cannot do justice to the “real thing” as seen by Pausanias. The experience of seeing a colossal gold-and-ivory statue of a… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.20.4–1.21.3

2018.02.21 | By Gregory Nagy I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.02.01. I focus here on a myth, highlighted by Pausanias at 1.21.3, about the eternal weeping of Niobe, petrified in her grief over the killing of her children by the twin divinities Apollo and Artemis. I show here on the cover page a close-up from a modern painting that pictures this Niobe as a towering… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.19.1–1.20.3

2018.02.01 | By Gregory Nagy I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.25. I focus here on another Athenian myth, as mentioned by Pausanias at 1.20.3, about the abandonment of Ariadne by her lover Theseus and about her seduction or—in terms of the mention made by Pausanias—her abduction by the god Dionysus. Pausanias at 1.20.3 mentions the myth as he sees it represented on a wall painting… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.18.1–9

2018.01.25 | By Gregory Nagy I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.18. I focus here on an Athenian myth, as narrated by Pausanias at 1.18.2, about the baby Erikhthonios and the young daughters of Kekrops, king of Athens. These girls had been chosen by the goddess Athena to take good care of Erikhthonios—and not to open the box in which the baby was hidden. But two… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.17.3–6

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… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.16.1–1.17.2

2018.01.12 | 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… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.15.1–4

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… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.14.1–9

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… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.8.2–1.13.8

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… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.5.1–1.8.1

2017.12.14 | By Gregory Nagy I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2017.11.30. 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… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.2.2–1.3.1

2017.11.09 | By Gregory Nagy My comments here continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2017.10.18. Among the many points of interest noted by Pausanias in this stretch of text is his reference at 1.3.1 to a myth about the abduction of the beautiful young hero Kephalos by Eos, goddess of the Dawn. Eos carrying away young Kephalos (named); kalos inscription (here unseen). Belly of an Attic red-figure… Read more

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