Posts Tagged by Herakles
|May 28, 2020||Posted By Roger D. Woodard listed under Guest Post||
2020.05.28 | By Roger D. Woodard
Ancient Indo-European warriors, possessed by combat rage, functioned properly as wielders of physical force and protectors of society; but such force was given to dark turns that could endanger society. Expressions of dysfunctional-warrior states meaningfully intersect with Greek medical notions of melancholía and suggest the nature of the prehistory of this diagnosis.[Essay continues here…]
|May 22, 2020||Posted By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy||
2020.05.22 | By Gregory Nagy
§0. In the previous posting, Classical Inquiries 2020.05.15, I highlighted details that I described as signatures of a Minoan-Mycenaean phase in the evolution of the figure known in classical and post-classical times as Athena. In that posting, I concentrated on the ancient acropolis of a city by the name of Phrixa(i) in the region of Triphylia in the Peloponnesus. When Pausanias, who lived in the second century BCE, visited that city, which was mostly in ruins by his time, he found that the local population was still holding on to an ancient practice of worshipping the goddess Athena as the personification of their acropolis, and I argued that this personification could be traced back to a distant Minoan-Mycenaean past. For the illustration in that posting, I showed what I think is a relevant picture dating from that same distant past. We saw in that picture what I would describe as a Minoan equivalent of an acropolis. That is, we saw an elevation fortified and crowned by a palatial building. We also saw a male figure standing on top of the elevation, whom I would describe as a Minoan equivalent of a hero known in classical and post-classical times as Hēraklēs. But what about Athena, patroness of Hēraklēs? As I will argue, the Minoan equivalent of Athena is really present in that picture: she is there, though she is not yet visible. She becomes visible, however, in the picture I show as the main illustration for the posting here.[Essay continues here…]
|May 15, 2020||Posted By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy, Pausanias commentary||
2020.05.15 | By Gregory Nagy
§0. In the previous posting, Classical Inquiries 2020.05.08, I noted the obvious fact that the acropolis of Athens was not at all the only such place that was sacred to the goddess Athena, and that the traveler Pausanias, who lived in the second century CE, visited a wide variety of other places that were likewise sacred, each in its own way, to goddesses likewise named Athena. As I engage in my long-term project bearing the title A Pausanias Reader in Progress, where I selectively retranslate the text of Pausanias, with annotations, I have been keeping track of these sacred places visited by our traveler. For the moment, I highlight one such place as described by Pausanias. In this case, I note details that I would describe as signatures, as it were, of an earlier Minoan-Mycenaean phase in the evolution of the figure known in classical and post-classical times as Athena. And I note also a detail that points to a Minoan-Mycenaean version of a related figure, known in classical and post-classical times as Hēraklēs, heroic protégé of the goddess Athena. In the illustration for this posting, I show what I think is a relevant picture, dating back to the glory days of Minoan civilization in Crete.[Essay continues here…]
Questions while viewing Greek myths and rituals through the lens of Pausanias, II: In Mycenaean times, was Athena a goddess who was worshipped only in Athens?
|April 24, 2020||Posted By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy||
2020.04.24 | By Gregory Nagy
§0. In classical Athenian visual art, we find representations of the goddess Athena in the act of conveying the hero Hēraklēs to Olympus in her chariot, as we see in the illustration that I have chosen as the cover for this essay. At first sight, it seems as if such an Athenian visualization of the hero’s apotheosis derives from an exclusively Athenian myth: after all, Athena is the goddess of the city of Athens—she is, as it were, Our Lady of Athens—and her very identity defines the identity of her city. In this essay, however, I argue that such a myth involving both the goddess Athena and the hero Hēraklēs is not uniquely Athenian—and that the goddess herself, in her role as charioteer of the hero and in other such roles, is not uniquely Athenian either. In other words, Athena was multiple, not unique to Athens. And one of the easiest ways to get a good sense of this multiplicity is to read through all of Pausanias, who conscientiously keeps track of the many different Athenas that are still being worshipped even in his time. Traveling around so many different locales of the Greek-speaking world in the second century CE, Pausanias finds different versions of myths and rituals linked with a goddess who is generally but not exclusively known by the name of Athena. And for me the only viable explanation for such multiplicity, as it survives into the first millennium CE, is to posit a pre-existing multiplicity of Athenas in Mycenaean times, that is, already in the second millennium BCE. Thus I have a negative answer to the question I pose in the subtitle of this essay: In Mycenaean times, was Athena a goddess who was worshipped only in Athens?[Essay continues here…]
Questions while viewing Greek myths and rituals through the lens of Pausanias, I: Did Athena, goddess of Athens, belong only to the Athenians?
|April 17, 2020||Posted By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy||
2020.04.17 | By Gregory Nagy
§0. In conversations about the ancient world, my sorely-missed friend Emily Vermeule was fond of asking this rhetorical question: in Mycenaean times, was Athena a goddess who was worshipped only in Athens? And there can be variations on such a theme. For example, I have a related question, formulated from a diachronic point of view. That is to say, I have a question that is formulated from the standpoint of an outside observer who is trying to view, over time, whatever evidence remains. And there are many obstacles that block such a diachronic view in this case, since the stretch of time to be studied is vast, extending from the second millennium before our era all the way into the first millennium and even later. That said, here is my question, as already worded in the subtitle of this post: did Athena, goddess of Athens, belong only to the Athenians? And there is a related question: was Athens the only place that was ever named after Athena? Further, here is yet another related question, with specific reference to the “classical” Athena as visualized in the illustration that introduces my comments: did this goddess always look like that?[Essay continues here…]
|April 10, 2020||Posted By Gregory Nagy listed under By Gregory Nagy||
2020.04.10 | By Gregory Nagy
§0. My essay here concentrates on myths about two Greek goddesses and on their roles as mothers or would-be mothers:
(A) The first goddess is Hērā in her role as mother or would-be mother of a serpentine Titan by the name of Typhon, alternatively called Typhoeus, who is destined to become a most dangerous menace to the sovereignty of Zeus.
(B) The second goddess is Athena in her role as would-be mother of a serpentine human by the name of Erikhthonios, alternatively called Erekhtheus, who is destined to become the ancestor of all Greeks native to the city of Athens. The ancient image that I choose as the lead-off illustration shows another goddess, Gaia/Ge or Mother Earth herself, who is seen emerging from underground and presenting her very own baby boy to the goddess Athena, who receives the child. Athena will raise the baby in her role as mother of a son she “never” had. Looking on, in the same image, is a figure whose upper half is human while his lower half is serpentine. He is known as Kekrops to the people of Athens. In this version of the many surviving visual representations of such a scene, the baby boy is not marked by any overtly serpentine features. In other versions, however, as we will see, the baby too, like Kekrops, is pictured as half-human, half-serpent.