By Gregory Nagy

Cato’s daughter Porcia has herself a really good cry

2015.08.12 | By Gregory Nagy The lamentations that the sisters and the wife of Cato had performed in mourning for him are symmetrical, in their dramatic force, to the lamentations that could have been performed by Porcia, daughter of Cato, for her husband Brutus. I cite here a most revealing passage I found in Plutarch’s Life of Brutus, along with my own translation from the original Greek. We see here… Read more

A historical Cato caught in the vortex of an ancient biography

2015.08.05 | By Gregory Nagy Renaissance Opera is notorious for taking liberties with the facts in its portrayal of historical characters. Vivaldi’s Cato in Utica is no exception. My presentation explores here some strikingly comparable situations in ancient biographies, which value the integrity of plot and character—seemingly at the expense of historical facts. A case in point is Plutarch’s Cato the Younger, which gives us the initial impression that it… Read more

East of the Achaeans: Making up for a missed opportunity while reading Hittite texts

2015.07.22 | By Gregory Nagy In this posting, I focus on the Greek form Akhaioí, a name translated as ‘Achaeans’. Together with the names Argeîoi and Danaoí, translated respectively as ‘Argives’ and ‘Danaans’, this name Akhaioí refers in Homeric poetry to Greek warriors who lived and died in the epic world of a heroic age. But what does Akhaioí really mean? Or, to put the question in another way, what… Read more

Herodotus and a courtesan from Naucratis

2015.07.01 | By Gregory Nagy In the History of Herodotus, at 2.134–135, we read about a beautiful hetaira or ‘courtesan’ named Rhodōpis. This woman, according to the reportage of ‘some Greeks’ as opposed to others (metexeteroi . . . Hellēnōn), commissioned the building of the third and smallest of the three pyramids at the site now known as Giza. Herodotus says that this reportage is incorrect. Read more