Category: Pausanias commentary
|June 14, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.06.14 | By Gregory Nagy
My experiments with translating Pausanias, as reflected in several essays I have posted in Classical Inquiries, have by now reached a point where I have finished retranslating most of Pausanias Scroll 1. In the present posting, I explain what I mean by “retranslation,” showing a sample. In this sample, I retranslate the original Greek wording used by Pausanias as he briefly retells a myth about the sad death of an Amazon named Hippolyte.
|May 25, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.05.25 | By Gregory Nagy
The Greek name for the mythological figure whom we recognize as the White Goddess was Leukotheā—a name that actually means ‘white goddess’. In the ancient myths that tell about this figure, however, she was not always a goddess: once upon a time, she was a mortal woman named Ino, wife of the hero Athamas and mother of the child-hero Melikertes. This Ino was considered to be a hero in her own right: she was in fact worshipped as a cult hero in the city of Megara, as we read in the text of the ancient traveler Pausanias, who lived in the second century CE. When our traveler visited Megara, he saw there a hērōion ‘hero-shrine’ that had been built in honor of Ino. But, Pausanias adds, this female hero was also known in Megara as the White Goddess. How can that be? In the present posting, I offer a possible explanation.
|May 4, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.05.04 | By Gregory Nagy
Amphiaraos, a hero who is most prominently featured in ancient Greek epic narratives about the so-called Seven Against Thebes, has a special place in the writings of Pausanias, as we can readily see from a search for this hero’s name in a retranslation of Pausanias that has been made available online for free in A Pausanias Reader in Progress. Here I focus on a passage where Pausanias first mentions the existence of hero cults established in honor of Amphiaraos. In the context of this passage, we see also the traveler’s first mention of a myth about this hero.
|April 26, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.04.26 | By Gregory Nagy
This posting for 2018.04.26, on Pausanias 1.27.4–1.29.1, is a continuation of the posting for 2018.04.05, on Pausanias 1.24.8–1.27.3, but the format will now change. Besides the more focused comments that have characterized the postings on Pausanias so far, I will start to add some abridged comments that are more tentative, in need of more precision. A case in point, as we will see, is an abridged comment on what Pausanias at 1.28.7 says—and does not say—about the Cave of the Furies, situated at “ground zero” underneath the Areopagus in Athens. A photograph of that cave is shown here at the start of the post. Standing somewhat tentatively in front of that cave is the writer of all the comments that follow.
|April 5, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.04.05 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.03.01. I will highlight here a ritual noted by Pausanias at 1.27.3 involving two Athenian girls who are selected annually to serve the goddess Athena. The word that refers to these girls in their overall role as servants of Athena is arrhēphoroi, hereafter transcribed as Arrhephoroi. After the annual service of the two Arrhephoroi is concluded, they are replaced by two new Arrhephoroi, and the cycle is repeated, notionally for all time to come. The concluding event of the service performed by these two annually renewed Arrhephoroi is the ritual that I will highlight when I get to my comments on Pausanias 1.27.3. In this ritual, as he describes it, the two Arrhephoroi descend from the top of the Acropolis to a sacred space down below—while carrying on top of their heads containers that contain things that cannot be mentioned. Pausanias is being ostentatiously guarded here about revealing the full significance of the ritual, which as I argue can only be understood by way of correlating it with the myth about the daughters of Kekrops—a myth to which Pausanias himself refers at 1.27.2, and this reference occurs, most pointedly, right before his description of the ritual. The aetiological connection of ritual and myth here, as I also argue, is in some details so old as to reveal traces of a Mycenaean tradition.
|March 1, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader|
2018.03.01 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.02.21. I picture here a modern version of the face of the goddess of Athens, Athena Parthenos, whose statue was seen by Pausanias, as he says at 1.24.7. This picturing of the statue surely cannot do justice to the “real thing” as seen by Pausanias. The experience of seeing a colossal gold-and-ivory statue of a divinity is comparable to experiencing a Wonder of the World, as Pausanias is moved to say indirectly at a later point, 5.10.1-2, 5.11.9-10, with reference to the statue of Zeus at Olympia. We read there the impression that Pausanias experiences when he sees at Olympia another colossal gold-and-ivory statue that matches in wonder what he saw earlier in Athens. He says that no measurements, no objective descriptions, can come to terms with the infinite grandeur of such absolute divinity.