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

An Iliadic Odyssey as a song of the Sirens

2020.09.18 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This short essay about the Odyssey of “Homer” is a playful experiment. But it is based on an even shorter essay that is quite serious in intent. That essay (Nagy 2020) appears in World Epics, an on-line site edited by Jo Ann Cavallo, whose own work on comparative epic I very much admire. She had asked me to submit a brief essay on 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

Apollonius of Rhodes and Homeric Anger

2020.07.24 | By Stan Burgess §0. There have been many recent studies of various aspects of anger in Greek culture, from Homer through the Hellenistic period, and beyond. However few have examined the role anger plays in the Argonautica. There right away a striking curiosity concerning anger stands out. Apollonius of Rhodes avoids the most common term of his day for anger, ὀργή. Through the Classical period and into the… 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

Plato’s Rhapsody and Homer’s Music: The Poetics of the Panathenaic Festival in Classical Athens

Second Edition online 2020, launched July 3, as a special issue in Classical Inquiries By Gregory Nagy Jump to Chapter 1 Jump to Chapter 2 Jump to Chapter 3 Jump to the Bibliography A note, by the author, about the Second Edition The first edition of this book, a printed version, was published in 2002 by the Center for Hellenic Studies; that printed version has been replaced by a corrected… Read more

Comments on comparative mythology 2, about an Indo-European background for ancient Greek myths about Hēraklēs, son of Zeus

2020.02.21 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the previous posting, Classical Inquiries 2020.02.14, I started to reckon with a view expressed by the linguist Georges Dumézil in a book with the title Apollon sonore, which he published in 1982, toward the end of an extraordinarily productive life. He makes it clear in this book that he views the ancient Greek myths about the god Apollo and the hero Achilles, prime… Read more

Comments on comparative mythology 1, about Apollo

2020.02.14 | By Gregory Nagy Inscribed, by the hand of Georges Dumézil, on the front page of a copy of his book, Apollon sonore, 1982.   §0. The posting for today, Valentine’s Day 2020.02.14, marks the fifth anniversary of my consecutive weekly postings for Classical Inquiries. I think of the new posting here as the beginning of a lengthy new series of intermittent comments on comparative mythology, modeled on the… Read more

Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XI, Homeric marginalizations of Hēraklēs as an epic hero

2019.10.04 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This essay, dated 2019.10.04, for which I give the abbreviated title TC XI, continues from the essay TC X, dated 2019.09.27, the subtitle for which was “A Homeric lens for viewing Hēraklēs.” In the subtitle for TC XI here, “Homeric marginalizations of Hēraklēs as an epic hero,” I view the term “Homeric” more narrowly than the term “epic.” To put it more accurately, I… Read more

Olympus as mountain and Olympia as venue for the Olympics: a question about the naming of these places

2019.07.06 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The question is, can we connect the name for Mount Olympus with the name for Olympia, the place where the festival of the Olympics was traditionally celebrated every four years? Aiming for a unified answer to this question, which seems simple only on the surface, I will collect here seven facts that may lead to a satisfactory formulation showing a genuine connectedness between the… Read more

On cases of wolfish rage experienced by Greek heroes

2019.05.24 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The Greek word that I translate here as ‘wolfish rage’ is lussa, which derives from lukos, meaning ‘wolf’, and which refers to the martial fury experienced by two of the foremost heroes in the Homeric Iliad, Achilles and Hector. The hero Herakles also experiences such fury in the drama Herakles of Euripides, but in this case it is evident that we cannot, strictly speaking, describe… 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 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

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

Achilles and the Apobates Race in Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Aulis

2018.03.26 | By Thomas Scanlon An exploration of the figure of Achilles in Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Aulis in relation to its historical context, particularly the Peloponnesian War. The Chorus §1. In the parodos of Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Aulis the chorus of Chalcian women describe Achilles among a list of Greek heroes at Aulis waiting to set sail for Troy (206–230). Achilles appears in this relatively long passage as running in… Read more

A sampling of comments on Pindar Isthmian 8

2017.10.05 | By Gregory Nagy Pindar’s Isthmian 8 highlights the hero Achilles, who is for us defined primarily by the Homeric Iliad—though he had been a prominent figure also in other epic traditions, as we see for example in the surviving plot-outline of the Aithiopis, ‘the song of the Ethiopians’, which was an epic belonging to a body of poetry commonly known as the epic Cycle. Also highlighted in Isthmian… Read more

An anchor comment on the tomb of Achilles at Odyssey 24.76–84

2017.01.03 | By Gregory Nagy The Homeric Iliad as we have it refers at least two times directly and two times indirectly to the tomb of Achilles, while the Odyssey refers to it one time directly. In the direct references that we see in the Iliad, it is made clear that this tomb starts off as a small-scale structure, located at the same place where a funeral pyre is constructed… Read more

A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 21

2016.12.15 / updated 2018.09.20 | By Gregory Nagy The momentum of Achilles continues to heat up. The Trojans are now retreating as fast as they can, heading back toward Troy to find safety there within the sacred walls of that ancient citadel. In their hurry to get away from the field of battle, their hasty retreat has quickly turned into a chaotic and humiliating rout. Achilles is right behind them,… Read more

Revisiting the question of etymology and essence

2016.06.02 | By Gregory Nagy §1. When I say etymology here, I mean the procedure of reconstructing a form by way of linguistics. This procedure is expected to start from a current phase of the given form and then to move back in time to an earlier phase—ideally, all the way back to the earliest phase. In terms of the etymology of the word etymology, what linguists hope to recover… 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

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