On some mystifying language used by Pausanias in referring to the Eleusinian…

A variation on the theme of Athena: The Palladium, as viewed by Pausanias on the Acropolis of Athens

2020.06.19 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This excursus is a commentary on a passage in Pausanias, 1.28.9, where our traveler, while visiting the Acropolis of Athens, refers to a statue of the goddess Athena there. He is referring in this case not to Athena Parthénos, that is, to Athena the ‘Virgin’, who was housed in the Parthenon. Nor is he referring here to Athena Poliás, that is, to Athena as… Read more

More about Minoan-Mycenaean signatures observed by Pausanias at sacred spaces dominated by Athena

2020.05.22, rewritten 2020.05.23 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the previous posting, Classical Inquiries 2020.05.15, I highlighted details that I described as signatures of a Minoan-Mycenaean phase in the evolution of the figure known in classical and post-classical times as Athena. In that posting, I concentrated on the ancient acropolis of a city by the name of Phrixa(i) in the region of Triphylia in the Peloponnesus. When Pausanias, who lived… Read more

Questions while viewing Greek myths and rituals through the lens of Pausanias, IV: Is Athena, viewed theologically, a person?

2020.05.08 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the previous posting, Classical Inquiries 2020.05.01, I asked this question: is “Athena” the name of a person or of a place? And my answer was: “Athena” is the name of a place that we know as Athens. I backed up that answer by arguing against the assumption that the city of Athens was named after a goddess who was already named “Athena”. Rather,… Read more

Questions while viewing Greek myths and rituals through the lens of Pausanias, III: Is “Athena” the name of a person or of a place?

2020.05.01 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In asking myself whether the Greek proper noun Athḗnē is the name of a person, that is, the goddess known to us as Athena, or the name of a place, that is, the city known to us as Athens, I venture into a way of thinking about the goddess and her city that has never occurred to me before. In all my research till… Read more

Questions while viewing Greek myths and rituals through the lens of Pausanias, II: In Mycenaean times, was Athena a goddess who was worshipped only…

2020.04.24 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In classical Athenian visual art, we find representations of the goddess Athena in the act of conveying the hero Hēraklēs to Olympus in her chariot, as we see in the illustration that I have chosen as the cover for this essay. At first sight, it seems as if such an Athenian visualization of the hero’s apotheosis derives from an exclusively Athenian myth: after all,… 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

The Oath of the Ephebes as a symbol of democracy—and of environmentalism

2018.02.08 | By Gregory Nagy §0. Inscribed on the surface of the stele that is pictured here is the wording of the so-called Oath of the Ephebes. This oath, I argue, connects the ideals of democracy with the ideals of environmentalism as it was understood in the ancient Greek world. Such an understanding, I also argue, needs to be studied for its relevance to the environmental crises confronting the world… 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: 1.1.1, the first two sentences

2017.10.10 (revised 2017.10.14) | By Gregory Nagy My set of comments on the first two sentences in the text of Pausanias 1.1.1 is divided into seven paragraphs, §§1–7. Among the many points of interest noted by Pausanias in these two sentences is his mention of a temple of the goddess Athena at the headland of Sounion—a mention that seems to anticipate what he will say at a later point about… Read more

Polycrates and his patronage of two lyric masters, Anacreon and Ibycus

2017.09.08 | By Gregory Nagy Paper presented at the symposium “Culture and Society in ‘the Lyric age’ of Greece”: A Joint Conference with the European Network for the Study of Ancient Greek History and the Network for the Study of Archaic and Classical Greek Song, Princeton University, September 8–9, 2017. Engraving of Polycrates and Anacreon. From Vorzeit und Gegenwart: Eine historische Lese-Gabe zur Unterhaltung und Belehrung für alle Stände (1832,… Read more

Things noted during eight days of travel-study in Greece, 2016.06.10–18

2016.06.24 | By Gregory Nagy Sixth century BCE representation of an animal sacrifice as depicted on one of the four wooden panels found in Pitsa. §0. Introduction During the eight full days of contact time for myself and the participants of a Harvard travel-study program, 2016.06.10–18 (who are all listed at the conclusion of my posting for 2016.06.16), I tried each day to focus on things to see—or at least… Read more

Mycenoan Crete—Archaeological Evidence for the Athenian Connection

2016.04.27 | By Andrew J. Koh Introduction As a budding doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, I was sternly, and repeatedly, warned that the Scylla of Aegean prehistory was the search for ethnicity in the archaeological record—i.e., equating pots with people—while Charybdis was reserved for any student who attempted to interpret this same archaeological record through the lens of well-known customs of classical and modern Greece. While the metaphor… Read more

Things noted during five days of travel-study in Greece, 2016.03.13–18

2016.03.24 | By Gregory Nagy Closeup of the “Charioteer of Delphi.” Greek bronze, ca. 470s BCE.Image by Helen Simonsson (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. §0. Introduction During the five full days of contact time for myself and the participants of the 2016 Harvard Spring Break travel-study program (who are all listed at the conclusion of my posting for 2016.03.16), I tried each day to focus on three… Read more

From Athens to Crete and back

2015.09.10 | By Gregory Nagy Introduction §0.1. In my posting for 2015.08.26, I spoke of a “Minoan-Mycenaean civilization,” not saying “Minoan” and “Mycenaean” separately. That is because, as we saw in the postings for both 2015.08.26 and 2015.09.03, some of the myths that we encounter about Minoan civilization as centered on the island of Crete are infused with elements that are distinctly Mycenaean as well as Minoan. And such an… Read more

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