I am a scribe who writes letters, and my writing gives me power: variations on a theme in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East

2020.01.24 | By Gregory Nagy §0. There is a story about a scribe who succeeded in seizing political power, at least for a while, precisely because he was a scribe. And this scribe could not have had even such a limited degree of success if he had not been a scribe. His name was Maiandrios son of Maiandrios, and his story is told by Herodotus, so-called father of history. According… Read more

Echoes of a Minoan-Mycenaean scribal legacy in a story told by Herodotus

2020.01.10 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This posting for 2020.01.10 picks up from where I left off in the posting for 2020.01.03, where I analyzed some aspects of ongoing research by experts who study the practices of scribes using the Linear A and Linear B scripts in the Minoan and Mycenaean worlds of the second millennium BCE. There I focused on a scribal practice, as reconstructed by these experts, of… Read more

About writings and rewritings by scribes: an e-dialogue with Hana Navratilova

2019.12.12 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the second illustration for my posting in Classical Inquiries 2019.11.22, I showed a picture of the ancient Egyptian divinity Thoth, who is the god of scribes and, more generally, of writing and wisdom. The picture shows him in the act of writing. This picture is a photograph of a three-dimensional model created in modern times as a re-enactment of a two-dimensional picture painted… Read more

About what kinds of things we may learn about mythology by reading about rituals recorded by bureaucratic scribes

2019.11.22 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This essay centers on a scribe working in the Mycenaean palace at Pylos who wrote a Greek-language text about protocols involving rituals. The scribe’s text, written on a tablet of clay in a form of writing known as Linear B, was accidentally preserved because this tablet, along with hundreds of other such tablets, was baked solid by a great fire that destroyed the palace… Read more

Can we think of Centaurs as a species?

2019.05.03 | By Gregory Nagy §0. Ιn three previous essays posted in Classical Inquiries, 2019.04.26, 2019.04.19 and 2019.03.22, I analyzed myths about Centaurs. Since they were pictured as half-man and half-horse, we could nowadays think of them as monsters. And, in terms of what we see in pre-classical and classical representations of Centaurs, such monsters were exclusively male, exhibiting the shaggy hormonal characteristics of exaggerated human maleness. Accordingly, Centaurs could… Read more