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

A statue who shakes her head no

2019.06.05 | By Manon Brouillet §1. In 1966 the popular French singer Michel Polnareff reached his first audience with the song La Poupée qui fait non. A big success, the song has been translated into Italian (“Una bambolina che fa no, no, no”), Spanish (“Muñeca que hace no”), and German (“Meine Puppe sagt non”). This doll, who has never learnt to say yes, keeps shaking her head from side to… 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

Lelantine War, Eretria and Chalkis, and the Contest of Homer and Hesiod

2018.06.01 | By Gregory Nagy This post is about a poetic competition or Certamen ‘Contest’ that took place, story has it, between Homer and Hesiod. In all attested versions of the story, Hesiod won and Homer lost. In some versions, as we will see, the setting for Hesiod’s victory was memorialized in the city-state of Chalkis, located on the island of Euboea, and this detail is relevant, as we will… Read more

On a new book by Richard P. Martin, draft of a Foreword written by an admiring editor

2017.12.09 | By Gregory Nagy Presented here is a preliminary draft of a Foreword I am writing for Richard P. Martin’s new book, Mythologizing Performance, to be published by Cornell University Press in early 2018. Richard P. Martin   As I write in the foreword to each book included in the series Myth and Poetics II, published by Cornell University Press, the driving force that inspired my original project of… Read more

A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 10

2016.09.15 / updated 2018.09.11 | By Gregory Nagy There is a pronounced shift in mood in Rhapsody 10. Unlike the narratives in the rest of the Iliad, this narrative focuses on how heroes behave at nighttime, as distinct from daytime. What dominates now is a poetics of ambush, which is a different kind of warfare. And a prime exponent of such poetics is the wolfish figure of Dolon. My comments… Read more

Some ‘anchor comments’ on an ‘Aeolian’ Homer

2016.09.07 | By Gregory Nagy In this posting I experiment with a special feature in my ongoing comments on the Homeric Iliad: the anchor comment. The topic, this time, is the idea of an ‘Aeolian’ Homer. Briseis (1899); sketch for a costume. Charles Bianchini (French, 1860–1905). Image via. In this posting for 2016.09.07, I experiment with a special feature in my ongoing comments on the Homeric Iliad. The experimentation already… Read more

A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 6

2016.08.04 / updated 2018.09.08 | By Gregory Nagy A high point here in Rhapsody 6 is a tearful scene of farewell for Andromache and Hector. The loving wife will never again see her husband alive. The scene is justly admired for its artistic portrayal of this tragically doomed couple, but the verbal artistry extends even further: also to be most admired here is the remarkable precision of poetic language in… Read more

A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 2

2016.07.01 / updated 2018.08.16 | By Gregory Nagy The narrative of Rhapsody 2 now follows up on the dire consequences of the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon as narrated in Rhapsody 1. Achilles has already withdrawn from the war because of his anger. So, now that this greatest hero of the Achaeans is out of the picture, what will happen next? How will the absence of Achilles affect the story… Read more

Homer in Houston

2016.03.07 | By Gloria Ferrari Pinney Notes for the panel discussion “A Poet or a God: The Iconography of Certain Bearded Male Bronzes” at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, February 25, 2016. Bronze head, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Photo by Rob Shelley. §1. The head lent to the exhibition of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures entitled Power and Pathos by the Houston Museum of Fine… Read more

Picturing Homer as a cult hero

2016.03.03 | By Gregory Nagy Introduction §0.1. This posting for 2016.03.03 in Classical Inquiries centers on the head of a bronze statue, dated somewhere between 227 and 221 BCE. The bronze head, on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC until 2016.03.20, is on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and a photograph of this head has been featured as the cover illustrations for two… Read more

Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies and the National Gallery of Art Collaborate to Shine Light on Ancient Greek Bronzes, Part 2

2016.02.29 | By Keith Stone Bronze head, 227–221 BCE. The head is said to be of Antigonos Doson in the guise of Poseidon, but Gloria Ferrari Pinney has argued that Homer is the correct identification. Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Photo by Rob Shelley. The editors of Classical Inquires are pleased to highlight a public event held at the National Gallery of Art on February 25, 2016 titled “A poet or a god: The iconography of… Read more

A variation on the idea of a gleam that blinded Homer

2016.02.25 | By Gregory Nagy Paul Buffet (French, Paris 1864–1941) Bust-length Study of the Blind Homer Colored gouaches over black chalk on thin, yellow oiled paper; Sheet: 12 5/16 × 10 5/8 in. (31.3 × 27 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Robert Tuggle in honor of Paul Jeromack, 2013 (2013.1122) Introduction §0.1. In the posting for 2016.02.18, I quoted the text of a story… Read more

Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies and the National Gallery of Art Collaborate to Shine Light on Ancient Greek Bronzes, Part 1

2016.02.23 | By Keith Stone Bronze head depicting Arsinoe II, Greek, Ptolemaic Hellenistic Period ca. 300–270 B.C.E. Photo by Rob Shelley. The editors of Classical Inquires are pleased to announce a public event held at the National Gallery of Art on February 18, 2016 titled “A priestess or a goddess: The problem of identity in some female hellenistic sculptures.” It was the first of two panel discussions coordinated with Harvard’s Center for… Read more

Just to look at all the shining bronze here, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven: Seeing bronze in the ancient Greek world

2016.02.18 | By Gregory Nagy Reconstruction of “Throne Room” at Knossos. Image: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Introduction §0. In Odyssey 4, as soon as the young hero Telemachus arrives as a visitor to Sparta, home of king Menelaos and his queen Helen, he feasts his eyes on all the shining splendor of their royal palace. As he takes it all in, he cannot resist saying out loud that he has… Read more

What is on Homer’s mind?

2016.02.11 | By Gregory Nagy “The Argo,” Konstantinos Volanakis (1837–1907), [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons§1. In the verbal art of Homeric poetry, we find two passages where Homer actually says that he has something on his mind. The first something is the good ship Argo in Odyssey 12.70 and the second something is the hero Odysseus himself in Odyssey 9.19. In the logic of the poetry, the master story-teller of… Read more

Pindar’s Homer is not “our” Homer

2015.12.24 | By Gregory Nagy The Monteleone Chariot (see below for image credit) Introduction 0§1. The author of an article on Pindar and the Epic Cycle makes the following claim (Rutherford 2015:451–452): “No extant Pindaric Ode uses as its primary narrative the story of the Iliad [. . .] or that of the Odyssey.” In the spot that I have marked here with a sign for ellipsis (“[. . .]”), however, this same author… Read more

The rhetoric of national literature in the shaping of the lives of poets

2015.12.18 | By Gregory Nagy The combined research of Nagy and Davidson on ancient “Life of Homer” and medieval “Life of Ferdowsi” narratives respectively has shown that the traditional “biographies” about these two poets, as transmitted by a vast variety of communities, can be studied as sources of historical information about the reception of Homer and Ferdowsi. Even though the stories about these poets’ lives are myths, the actual uses… Read more

“Life of Homer” myths as evidence for the reception of Homer

2015.12.18 | By Gregory Nagy The Lives of Homer as Aetiologies for Homeric Poetry §1. This inquiry centers on the surviving texts of ‘Life of Homer’ narrative traditions, to which I refer simply as Lives of Homer.[1] These Lives, I argue, can be read as sources of historical information about the reception of Homeric poetry. The information is varied and layered, requiring diachronic as well as synchronic analysis.[2] §2. The Lives… Read more

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