Posts Tagged by Athens
|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 22, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias reader, travel-study||
2018.03.22 | By Gregory Nagy
This new reader, posted 2018.03.22, “decorates” an earlier reader posted 2018.03.07. As I once tried to explain by way of simile, the earlier reader was like a Christmas tree waiting to be decorated with ornaments. But now I adjust the simile by comparing the new reader to that famous plane tree so loved by Xerxes, mighty ruler of the Persian Empire, which he honored as his very own Tree of Life by decorating it with ornamentation fit for a king—or, better, for a king of kings. The fame of the king’s beloved plane tree has been perpetuated by the corresponding fame of an aria composed by Handel for his opera about Xerxes. This aria, loved by lovers of music worldwide, features the intense countertenor voice of the king himself singing his song of adoration for his beloved plane tree: Ombra mai fu | di vegetabile, | cara ed amabile, | soave più. ‘Shade there never was | of any plant | so dear and lovely | or any more sweet’. To my mind, a fitting new symbol of this musical object of love may well be the plane tree gracing a corner of Syntagma Square in Nafplio: under its shade flourish countless memories of happy conversations about unforgettable travels in Hellenic realms. Such memories are now being encoded in the ornamentation for a new Tree of Life. The “ornaments” consist of photos, videos, and written comments contributed by fellow-travelers who participated in a travel-study program described in what follows.
|March 7, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias reader|
2018.03.07 | By Gregory Nagy
The essays in this reader are designed to supplement visits by travel-study groups to sites and museums in Greece. Each essay focuses on things to see-or at least to note if they cannot be seen-at sites to be visited. In cases where a museum adjoins a site, I offer a separate inventory of things to see. Wherever possible, I use as my primary ancient source the reportage of the ancient traveler Pausanias, who lived in the second century CE and whose Greek text is translated into English at a web-site entitled A Pausanias Reader in Progress. At that site, the original English translation of W. H. S. Jones and H. A. Ormerod (1918) is being gradually replaced by my own translation.
|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.
|February 23, 2018||By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary, Pausanias reader||
2018.02.21 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.02.01. I focus here on a myth, highlighted by Pausanias at 1.21.3, about the eternal weeping of Niobe, petrified in her grief over the killing of her children by the twin divinities Apollo and Artemis. I show here on the cover page a close-up from a modern painting that pictures this Niobe as a towering rock with the craggy face-yes, face-of a grieving woman whose sunken eyes are flooded with tears transformed into an eternal flow of fresh water pouring down from the mountainous heights above. Pausanias at 1.21.3 refers to this myth as he sees it visualized in artwork adorning a grotto embedded in the South Wall of the Acropolis and looming over the Theater of Dionysus. At this point, our traveler pauses for a moment to reminisce about a version of the myth that was local to his own homeland in Asia Minor, at Mount Sipylos near the city of Magnesia. Pausanias tells about a spectacular sight to be seen there: it is a natural rock formation that conjures, he notes guardedly, the sad profile of the eternally weeping Niobe.