Apollonius of Rhodes and Homeric Anger

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

About some kind of an epiphany as pictured in Minoan glyptic art, and about its relevance to a myth as retold by Pausanias

2020.05.29 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this posting, I start by showing a sketch of a picture carved into a gold signet ring originating from the palace at Knossos in Crete and dating from the Late Minoan era. The sketch, in line with conventions followed nowadays by archaeologists, flips the right-to-left orientation pictured on the signet ring itself, so as to show the picture that the ring would make… 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

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 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 XV, with a focus on Hēraklēs of Tiryns as military leader of the Mycenaean Empire

2019.10.31 | By Gregory Nagy §0. While analyzing comparatively the myths about Hēraklēs as a leader of people in general and of military expeditions in particular, I have outlined in the essay TC XII, 2019.10.11, the special relevance of Tiryns, a strategically vital stronghold of the Mycenaean Empire, as the designated place where this Strong Man is stationed in the course of performing his services for Eurystheus, king of Mycenae… 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

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

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

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

Ch’unhyang—typological comparisons from late-Chosŏn Korean song culture and modern Korean film culture

2018.09.05 | By Gregory Nagy §0. I focus here on two clips that I could describe as “lament-by-premonition” and “lament during moments of excruciating pain.” These clips will both involve a kind of comparison that is known as “typological.” Here is a working definition from H24H 3§11… typological comparison is a kind of comparative method that has to do with the study of parallelisms between structures as structures pure and… Read more

Blade Runner—further thoughts

2018.08.29 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The anguish of a replicant named Roy in the story of Blade Runner is only one example of the unseasonality suffered by artificial humans. I explore another example here, where a replicant named Rachael experiences the shock of being told that she is not human. Unlike Roy, who knew all along that he was not human, Rachael never knew. Once she is told that… 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

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

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 24

2016.12.31 / updated 2018.09.20 | By Gregory Nagy The Iliad ends with the funeral of Hector, not of Achilles. And it is Hector, not Achilles, who is lamented at the end. But it is Achilles who makes it all happen, since he has transcended his rage and has shown mercy to an old father. The tears of Priam had made Achilles think of his own old father, of his own… Read more

A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 23

2016.12.30 / updated 2018.09.20 | By Gregory Nagy The funeral that Achilles arranges here for Patroklos in the Iliad is in some ways a preview of the funeral that the Achaeans will arrange for Achilles himself beyond the time-frame of the Iliad. A high point of the funeral in Iliad 23 is a spectacular chariot race arranged by Achilles to honor his dead comrade Patroklos. But an earlier high point… Read more

A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 22

2016.12.24 / updated 2018.09.20 | By Gregory Nagy The time has come for Hector to die at the hands of Achilles, and his final moments of life are singularly grim. Achilles shows him no mercy, expressing the most brutal thoughts even before he vengefully finishes off the killer of Patroklos. Hector is forced to know in advance, before he loses consciousness to the death blow from Achilles, that his executioner… 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

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