A Cretan Odyssey, Part 1

2015.09.17 | By Gregory Nagy The concept of “the Cretan Odyssey”—or, better, “a Cretan Odyssey”—is reflected in the “lying tales” of Odysseus in the Odyssey. These tales give the medium of Homeric poetry an opportunity to open windows into an Odyssey that we do not know. In the alternative universe of a “Cretan Odyssey,” the adventures of Odysseus take place in the exotic context of Minoan-Mycenaean civilization as centered on… Read more

An unnamed woman’s lament as a signal of epic sorrow

2015.06.17 | By Gregory Nagy In Odyssey 8, Odysseus sheds tears both times when he hears the two songs of Demodokos about the Trojan War, paraphrased at verses 72–83 and 487–498. As I argued in what I posted for 2015.06.10, Odysseus is weeping because he recognizes that the stories told in these songs are signals of a sorrow felt by himself and even by Achilles. Read more

Feeling pain and delight while hearing a song in Odyssey 8

2015.06.10 | By Gregory Nagy This posting of 2015.06.10 continues from where I left off in the posting of 2015.06.03, where I was focusing on the audience’s reception of the first song of Demodokos. The song, as we saw, is paraphrased at verses 72–83 of Odyssey 8; and the reception, as we also saw, is described at verses 83–92, which I translated and analyzed in the previous post. Read more

To trace a thread of thought starting from a Homeric song that seems to have no ending

2015.06.03 | By Gregory Nagy This posting of 2015.06.03 continues from where I left off in the posting of 2015.05.27, where I was focusing on the first song of Demodokos, contained in verses 72–83 of Odyssey 8. In that earlier posting and in the even earlier posting of 2015.04.10, I described this song as a micro-epic that refers to the macro-epics of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. Read more

Who is the best of heroes, Achilles or Odysseus? And which is the best of epics, the Iliad or the Odyssey?

2015.04.10 | By Gregory Nagy I propose here to revisit one of my all-time favorite passages in Homeric poetry. This passage is a kind of micro-epic, basically ten verses in length, and we find it embedded in the narrative of Odyssey 8. We see in that part of the Odyssey what can best be described as paraphrases of three songs performed by Demodokos, the blind singer of the Phaeacians. The micro-epic… Read more