A Failed Understudy for the Role of Chariot Fighter: the Case of Koiranos, the King Who Never Was

2015.05.15 | By Gregory Nagy In the posting for 2015.05.08, where I studied the athleticism of heroic chariot fighting, I highlighted the example of Mērionēs in Iliad 17, who fights on foot in a situation where we might have expected him to be doing something else, which is, to be driving the chariot of Idomeneus, king of all the Cretans who fought at Troy. In the posting for 2015.05.20, I… Read more

The Upgrading of Mērionēs from Chariot Driver to Chariot Fighter

2015.05.08 | By Gregory Nagy In my posting of 2015.05.01, I analyzed the Homeric passage at Iliad 17.608–625 where a hero named Koiranos is killed while driving the chariot of Idomeneus, king of the Cretans. After the killing, which happens at verses 610–612, the hero Mērionēs suddenly appears at verses 620–621, as if out of nowhere, and he grabs the chariot reins dropped by the mortally wounded charioteer. Read more

Mērionēs Rides Again: An Alternative Model for a Heroic Charioteer

2015.05.01 | By Gregory Nagy 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 saddened me as her friend, colleague, and former teacher. But this day of celebration, at McGill University in Montréal, gives me the happy opportunity to tell about… Read more

The Vow of Socrates

2015.04.17 | By Gregory Nagy In Plato’s Phaedo 118a, we read this description of the very last seconds before Socrates died from the poison that pervaded his body after he was forced to drink the potion of hemlock that the State had measured out for his execution: Then he uncovered his face, for he had covered himself up, and said—this was the last thing he uttered—“Crito, I owe the sacrifice… 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 I propose here to revisit one of my all-time favorite passages in Homeric poetry. This passage is a kind of micro-epic, basically ten verses in length, and we find it embedded in the narrative of Odyssey 8. We see in that part of the Odyssey what can best be described as paraphrases of three songs performed by Demodokos, the blind singer of the Phaeacians. The micro-epic… Read more