When self-praise connects the speaker to the universe: A diachronic view of…

About a perfect start for a world-wide web of song

2020.08.07 | By Gregory Nagy §0. Homeric poetry, at a pivotal moment where it represents the making of Homeric poetry itself, pictures a blind singer of tales in the act of starting his song. The singer is shown in the act of ‘starting from a thread [oimē] that had at that time a fame [kleos] reaching all the way up to the wide sky’. That is how I translate line… 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of this book, a printed version, was published in 2002 by the Center for Hellenic Studies; that printed version has been replaced by a corrected… Read more

Revisiting Plato’s Rhapsody: A contribution to a colloquium about Poetic (Mis)quotations in Plato

2020.06.26 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The text of this essay, as posted here in Classical Inquiries 2020.06.26, is a pre-edited version of my contribution to an online colloquium, Poetic (Mis)quotations in Plato, the collected essays for which will reside in a special issue of Classics@; the guest-editor of that issue is the organizer of the colloquium, Gwenda-lin Grewal. My essay here, presented for inclusion in that colloquium, is intended… Read more

Ecumenism and Globalism in the Reception of Ferdowsi and his Book of Kings: Evidence from the Bāysonghori Preface

2020.03.02, rewritten 2020.06.01 | By Olga M. Davidson A pre-edited and pre-typeset version of a chapter to appear in print, forthcoming. Cross-posted at Mizan. §A. The focus here is on two Persianate texts. The first is the Shahnama or ‘Book of Kings’, the monumental poem of a poet retrospectively named Ferdowsi, or ‘man of paradise’, who lived in the late 10th and early 11th century CE. The second text is in… 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

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

A personal checklist of memorable wordings in Parts I and II of Richard P. Martin’s Mythologizing Performance

2019.04.12 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In an earlier posting, Classical Inquiries 2017.12.09, I have already expressed the intellectual debt I owe to Richard P. Martin’s book, Mythologizing Performance (Cornell University Press 2018). In the present posting, I follow up with a checklist of memorable wordings culled from Parts I and II of Martin’s book, to be followed in a later posting by a complementary checklist for Parts III and IV.… Read more

Homeric problems and bibliographical challenges, Part 2: More on the performances of rhapsodes at the festival of the Panathenaia

2018.11.30 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This post, dated 2018.11.30, picks up from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.11.22. Here again I am dealing with problems I have encountered in figuring out the historical circumstances of Homeric performances by professional reciters called rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ at the seasonally recurring festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. As before, my starting point centers on what I have already formulated in a… Read more

Homeric problems and bibliographical challenges, Part 1: On the performances of rhapsodes at the festival of the Panathenaia

2018.11.22 | By Gregory Nagy §0. No one who claims expertise in the study of Homer will ever have the last word on Homer. But those who study Homer can still hope to come up with a cumulative formulation of their own understanding of Homeric poetry, and such a formulation, published at a given time, could be considered their own last word—or, more accurately, their latest word. In my case,… Read more

Martin Scorsese, master of fusing the visual art of film with other media: a brief example

2018.09.15 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this essay, I focus on the opening of the film Casino, 1995, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci. The story is based on the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, by Nicholas Pileggi, 1995, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. §1. For the creation of the opening, credit is shared: we read “Title Sequence… Read more

Draft of a declaration by the founding authors of A Homer commentary in progress

2017.11.12 / updated 2018.08.24 and 2020.01.19, 2020.07.27 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This draft of mine is meant as a first step leading toward a more formal declaration shared by the three founding authors of A Homer commentary in progress: Douglas Frame, Leonard Muellner, Gregory Nagy. The signatures for our joint declaration are represented by thumbnail images of the covers for three books of ours centering on Homer. The books are… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 24

2017.08.31 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy Before the Odyssey comes to an end, the Singer of Tales reaches back to what seems to be the beginning of the Iliad. It is as if the second epic, the Odyssey, could now restart before it ends by reaching back into the first epic, the Iliad. Still, there will be no restart here. The plot of that first epic had started… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 23

2017.08.23 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy After the killing of the suitors, Eurykleia rushes to the bedroom of Penelope, waking her up. The queen has slept through it all—the first good night’s sleep she has had in the longest time, she admits. Eurykleia goes on to tell Penelope that Odysseus has really returned and has killed the suitors, but the patient wife will need one more test, to… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 22

2017.08.17 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy At the end of Rhapsody 21, Odysseus has already passed, in rapid succession, two of three successive tests that needed to be endured by the true king of Ithaca. That is, he has already performed a stringing of his mighty bow and has already won an ultimate contest in archery by executing a perfect shot with the very first arrow that he… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 21

2017.08.10 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy Toward the end of Rhapsody 21, Odysseus will pass an all-important test set by Penelope: he will string his famous bow—which none of the suitors could string, no matter how hard they tried—and he will shoot an arrow straight through all the holes of twelve axe-heads lined up in a row for this one-time occasion, designed to be viewed as the contest… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 20

2017.08.03 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy Rhapsody 20 reveals the darkest thoughts of Penelope. There she is, lying awake in bed, unable to fall asleep, and now she starts to think the unthinkable, tearfully spilling her private thoughts by praying to Artemis: I want to die in the worst way, she confides to the goddess, so why don’t you shoot me with your arrows, putting me out of… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 19

2017.07.24 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy Rhapsody 19 is best known for a scene where Odysseus is recognized by his old nurse Eurykleia. She notices a tell-tale scar on his leg—the result of a wound that marks the moment in his youth when he was gored in a boar hunt. This scar can be seen as a sēma or ‘sign’ of the hero’s identity. [[GN 2017.07.22.]] “Euryclea Discovers… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 18

2017.07.19 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy In Rhapsody 18, Odysseus as a make-believe beggar is challenged by a most questionable character named Iros, who figures as a real beggar. What makes Iros so questionable is his similarity to characters who figure in a poetic form that can best be described as mock epic. [[GN 2017.07.20.]] “Ulysses Preparing to Fight with Irus” (1805). John Flaxman (English, 1755–1826) Purchased as… Read more

A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 17

2017.07.14 / updated 2018.10.13 | By Gregory Nagy Back in Rhapsody 16, Eumaios the swineherd had left behind in his shelter an unrecognized Odysseus and had gone off to the palace in order to contact Penelope; in the swineherd’s absence, Telemachus, left alone with Odysseus, could now get to see his father transformed into an idealized godlike hero, made visible through a luminous epiphany produced by the sacred wand of… Read more

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