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

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 Greek goddesses as mothers or would-be mothers

2020.04.10 | By Gregory Nagy §0. My essay here concentrates on myths about two Greek goddesses and on their roles as mothers or would-be mothers: (A) The first goddess is Hērā in her role as mother or would-be mother of a serpentine Titan by the name of Typhon, alternatively called Typhoeus, who is destined to become a most dangerous threat to the sovereignty of Zeus. (B) The second goddess is… Read more

Comments on comparative mythology 7, finding a cure for the anger of Hērā

2020.04.03 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In a previous essay, Classical Inquiries 2020.03.20, I highlighted some ancient artwork picturing the hero Hēraklēs being breast-fed by the goddess Hērā after he was brought back to life after death. In the present essay, I will analyze the mythological background, showing that the ultimate benevolence of Hērā toward Hēraklēs, as manifested in the act of breast-feeding, had to be preceded by the malevolence… Read more

Comments on comparative mythology 6, trifunctionality and the goddess Hērā

2020.03.20 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In Classical Inquiries 2020.03.13, where I was testing the idea of trifunctionality in the Homeric retelling of the Judgment of Paris, I analyzed aspects of the goddess Hērā that point to her third function, which is fertility, to be distinguished from her first function, which is sovereignty. Here in Classical Inquiries 2020.03.20, I will analyze further such aspects pointing to the third function of… Read more

Comments on comparative mythology 5, an afterthought of Georges Dumézil about trifunctionality and the Judgment of Paris

2020.03.13, rewritten 2020.03.18 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the previous two posts, Classical Inquiries 2020.02.28 and 2020.03.06, I analyzed the idea of trifunctionality in the myth about the Judgment of Paris, especially with reference to the version of this myth as retold in Homeric poetry, at Iliad 24.25–30. In my analysis, I followed the formulation of Georges Dumézil in his book Mythe et épopee I (originally published in 1968),… Read more

Comments on comparative mythology 3, about trifunctionality and the Judgment of Paris

2020.02.28 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the previous post, Classical Inquiries 2020.02.21, at §9, I introduced the idea of “trifunctionality,” applied by the linguist Georges Dumézil in his analysis of myths about three kinds of “sins” committed by the hero Hēraklēs in the course of performing his otherwise exemplary heroic exploits. In terms of this idea, Hēraklēs committed his three “sins” by violating the three social “functions” of (1)… Read more

Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology X, A Homeric lens for viewing Hēraklēs

2019.09.27 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This essay, for which I give the abbreviated title TC X, connects in a special way with nine previous essays posted in Classical Inquiries, TC I through IX, which are all interconnected in their focusing on myths about the Labors and sub-Labors of the ancient Greek hero Hēraklēs. Also connected are two previous essays, published earlier in Classical Inquiries 2019.07.12 and 2019.07.19, about the… Read more

Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology IV, Reconstructing Hēraklēs backward in time

2019.08.15 | By Gregory Nagy §0. As I have argued in the posting for 2019.07.26, “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology I” (hereafter TC I), the myths about the Greek hero Hēraklēs and the Scandinavian hero Starkaðr are cognate, verbalized in cognate languages belonging to a language-family known to linguists as “Indo-European.” Viewed in this light, the term “Indo-European” can be applied not only with reference to cognate language-groupings like Greek… Read more

Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology III, Hēraklēs compared to a hero of the Mahābhārata

2019.08.08 | By Gregory Nagy §0. So far, I have been comparing Greek myths about the hero Hēraklēs with Old Norse myths about the hero Starkaðr, concentrating on details that these myths have in common. Now I add to the comparison some further details to be found in an Indic myth about the hero Śiśupāla as featured in the Sanskrit epic known as the Mahābhārata. This Śiśupāla is antagonistic with… 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

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

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

Sappho in the role of leader

2017.02.17 | By Gregory Nagy On the island of Lesbos, the voice of Sappho once had the authority to speak for the whole community in her role as leader of a chorus that sings and dances in the act of worshipping the goddess Hera. Detail of drawing by Glynnis Fawkes. This online essay is a preview of a more formal version, to appear in a volume edited by Sarah Brown Ferrario and… 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

Where it all comes together for me: a sacred space of the goddess Hērā

2016.03.16 | By Gregory Nagy Participants from the 2016 Harvard Spring Break travel study program explore the Hēraion. 2016.03.15 was a day when I revisited the sacred space of the goddess Hērā overlooking the Plain of Argos. I was in good company, accompanied as I was by a group participating in the 2016 Harvard Spring Break travel study program (they will all be listed at the conclusion of this short essay).… Read more

On the festival of the goddess Hērā at the Hēraion overlooking the Plain of Argos

2015.03.20 | By Gregory Nagy Looking over the Hēraion south-southwest toward Argos §1. In H24H 13§§11–22 (see also 11§17), I quote and analyze the narrative in Herodotus 1.31.1–5 [Greek | English] about two young men named Kleobis and Biton who pulled the wagon that carried their mother, priestess of the goddess Hērā, in a sacred procession that started at the city of Argos and reached its climax at the heights of the sanctuary… Read more

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