Percy Jackson’s visit to Lotus Hotel, viewed through a Homeric lens

From Homer’s Odysseus to Boiardo’s Orlando: Heroic models and underlying values in the Italian Renaissance romance epic

2020.09.30 | By Jo Ann Cavallo Inspired by Gregory Nagy’s playful experiment and thought-provoking introduction to the Odyssey, I’d like to join in the fun by responding to some of the points raised in his essay from the perspective of the Italian Renaissance romance epic. Orlando and Dragontina, from La morte di Truffaldino, based on Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato, by Teatroarte Cuticchio. Scandiano, Italy (July 1, 2001). Photograph: Jo Ann Cavallo.… Read more

An Iliadic Odyssey as a song of the Sirens

2020.09.18 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This short essay about the Odyssey of “Homer” is a playful experiment. But it is based on an even shorter essay that is quite serious in intent. That essay (Nagy 2020) appears in World Epics, an on-line site edited by Jo Ann Cavallo, whose own work on comparative epic I very much admire. She had asked me to submit a brief essay on the… Read more

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

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

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

Homeric Ainoi in Latin Literature, Part II: Quintilian

2018.10.19 | By Miriam Kamil §1. In the first part of this essay, I examined a passage from the Odyssey referred to in the text as an ainos. This was the improvised story told by Odysseus to the swineherd Eumaios in Odyssey 14, wherein Odysseus’ fictitious persona forgets and then obtains a cloak while out on ambush during the Trojan War. Eumaios intuits that he is hearing an ainos and correctly interprets its… Read more

On a ‘guessing song’ sung by Cherubino in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro

2018.10.04 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The devinalh, or ‘guessing song’, was a special kind of love song composed by troubadours in the song culture of medieval Provence and later adapted by master poets of the Renaissance, most notably by Petrarch. The devinalh is specially coded, so that only the one who is loved will understand—supposedly—the words of the lover who composes and then sings the song. The problem is,… Read more

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

2018.09.05 | By Gregory Nagy §0.1. Continuing my commentary on the film Ch’unhyang as a point of typological comparison, I will compare here, more broadly, the visual art of film-making with the verbal art of poetry and song as we see that art at work in the epic and lyric traditions of ancient Greece. In making such a comparison, I will highlight two general features of verbal art, metaphor and… Read more

Getting over Odysseus

2016.09.28 | By Keith DeStone Why does the epic narrative allow Telemakhos, whom it shows on a quest to connect with his father, to remain emotionally unaffected by the stories about Odysseus that he hears from Helen and Menelaos in Odyssey 4? Athena appearing to Telemakhos. Tako Hajo Jelgersma (Dutch, 1717–1795).Image via The British Museum. §1. With this posting I go back to the original mission of Classical Inquiries, which… Read more

Odysseus and Kingship: Commentary on Odyssey 8.166–177

2016.06.03 | By Douglas Frame An exploration of the relevance of Odysseus’s words about kingship in Odyssey 8 to the Ionian setting of Homeric poetry. “Ulysses before Alcinous,” 247x319mm, paper.Tako Hajo Jelgersma (1717–1795, Dutch). Photo via The British Museum.   166    ξεῖν᾽, οὐ καλὸν ἔειπες: ἀτασθάλῳ ἀνδρὶ ἔοικας. 167    οὕτως οὐ πάντεσσι θεοὶ χαρίεντα διδοῦσιν 168    ἀνδράσιν, οὔτε φυὴν οὔτ᾽ ἂρ φρένας οὔτ᾽ ἀγορητύν. 169    ἄλλος μὲν γάρ τ᾽ εἶδος ἀκιδνότερος πέλει ἀνήρ, 170    ἀλλὰ θεὸς μορφὴν ἔπεσι στέφει, οἱ δέ τ᾽ ἐς αὐτὸν 171    τερπόμενοι λεύσσουσιν: ὁ δ᾽ ἀσφαλέως ἀγορεύει 172    αἰδοῖ μειλιχίῃ, μετὰ δὲ πρέπει ἀγρομένοισιν, 173    ἐρχόμενον δ᾽ ἀνὰ ἄστυ θεὸν ὣς εἰσορόωσιν. 174    ἄλλος δ᾽ αὖ εἶδος μὲν ἀλίγκιος ἀθανάτοισιν, 175    ἀλλ᾽ οὔ οἱ χάρις ἀμφιπεριστέφεται ἐπέεσσιν,… 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

Feeling pain and delight while hearing a song in Odyssey 8

2015.06.10 | By Gregory Nagy Achilles, grieving and veiled. Thetis, with new armor. Athenian red-figure volute crater, Louvre G482. Photo Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons (public domain) Introduction §0.1. This posting of 2015.06.10 continues from where I left off in the posting of 2015.06.03, where I was focusing on the audience’s reception of the first song of Demodokos. The song, as we saw, is paraphrased at verses 72–83 of Odyssey… Read more

An Experiment in the Making of a Homer Commentary

2015.05.27 | By Gregory Nagy Taking a Shortcut in Analyzing the First Song of Demodokos in Odyssey 8 Detail from folio 12r of Venetus A: Διὸς δ’ ἐτελείετο βουλή ‘and the plan of Zeus started moving toward its fulfillment’. What triggers this programmatic declaration at the beginning of the Iliad is the fact that the narrative starts with the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles. §1. This posting, 2015.05.27, continues where… Read more

Mērionēs Rides Again: An Alternative Model for a Heroic Charioteer

2015.05.01 | By Gregory Nagy Introduction Rev. Dr. Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, Professor of Religious Studies (2004–2014) and Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies (2007–2014) at McGill University. [Image: William Porter] §0.1. The date for my putting together a posting for this week, 2015.04.30, coincides with the date of a special day set aside for celebrating the life and accomplishments of Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, whose premature death on 2014.06.14 deeply… Read more

Who is the best of heroes, Achilles or Odysseus? And which is the best of epics, the Iliad or the Odyssey?

2015.04.10 | By Gregory Nagy §1. In H24H, I speak about the complementarity of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey in foregrounding respectively Achilles and Odysseus as the best hero among all the Achaeans who came to fight in the Trojan War. (In this context, the ‘Achaeans’ are the Homeric prototypes of the historical Greeks, also known as ‘Argives’ and ‘Danaans’.) Here is the way I describe that complementarity: 9§12. A… Read more

A Roll of the Dice for Ajax

2015.03.13 | By Gregory Nagy Background §0.1. In the Homeric Iliad, the hero Ajax is second best in comparison with Achilles; in the Homeric Odyssey, he is second best in comparison with Odysseus. In the Iliad, it is made explicit that Achilles is ‘the best of the Achaeans’, while Ajax is only the second best. In Chapter 2 of my book The Best of the Achaeans (1979; 2nd ed. 1989),… Read more

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