Plutarch

The Library as a garden of the Muses

2020.06.05 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the Candide of Voltaire, first published in 1759, the last words famously read: mais il faut cultiver notre jardin ‘but we must cultivate our garden’. Following such a mandate, I return here to cultivate a garden of my own delights—the idea of the ancient Library of Alexandria as a garden of the Muses. The occasion for my return is a feast day of… Read more

“Life of Homer” myths as evidence for the reception of Homer

2015.12.18 | By Gregory Nagy This inquiry centers on the surviving texts of ‘Life of Homer’ narrative traditions, to which I refer simply as Lives of Homer. These Lives, I argue, can be read as sources of historical information about the reception of Homeric poetry. The information is varied and layered, requiring diachronic as well as synchronic analysis. The Lives portray the reception of Homeric poetry by narrating a series… Read more

In an octopus’s garden: a story from Lesbos

2015.12.12 | By Gregory Nagy In Plutarch’s Banquet of the Seven Sages, the author imagines a remote time when conversations took place in the city of Corinth at a dinner party hosted by the tyrant of that city, Periandros, a historical figure whose lifetime can be dated to the late seventh and early sixth century BCE. The dramatic setting for this imagined dinner party coincides with the era of Sappho… Read more

Cato’s daughter Porcia has herself a really good cry

2015.08.12 | By Gregory Nagy The lamentations that the sisters and the wife of Cato had performed in mourning for him are symmetrical, in their dramatic force, to the lamentations that could have been performed by Porcia, daughter of Cato, for her husband Brutus. I cite here a most revealing passage I found in Plutarch’s Life of Brutus, along with my own translation from the original Greek. We see here… Read more