A working translation of Pindar Olympian 14

A sampling of comments on Pindar Olympian 14: highlighting Thalia as one of the three ‘Graces’

2021.03.06 | By Gregory Nagy §0. The three ‘Graces’ or Khárites, personifications of kháris, a noun often translated in a generalizing way as ‘grace’, are reverently addressed in a victory ode of Pindar, Olympian 14, as presiding goddesses of the city of Orkhomenos in Boeotia, named Erkhomenós (feminine gender) in the local dialect (Ἐρχομενοῦ, line 3). A young man named Asōpikhos (line 17), a native son of this city, is… Read more

Some variations on the theme of a recomposed performer in ancient Greek prose and poetry

2021.02.27 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This essay is inspired by a most admirable comment made in an article by Johanna Hanink (2015) about nostalgic attempts, in the early fourth century BCE, at recovering the charisma associated with the former glory days, as it were, of the Athenian Empire as it once had flourished, during most of the fifth century. At one point in her article, in referring to the… Read more

About Euripides the anthropologist, and how he reads the troubled thoughts of female initiands

2021.02.20 | By Gregory Nagy §0. I have long admired what I would call the anthropological insights of Euripides into aetiologies, that is, into myths referring directly to rituals that frame these myths.  Of course the very idea of linking anthropology with the poetry of Euripides is quite inaccurate in its anachronism, but the actual insights of this poet into the interweavings of myth and ritual—as anthropologists today tend to… Read more

Starting with Anacreon while preparing a compendium of essays on Sappho and her ancient reception

2021.02.06 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In consultation with the editorial team of Classical Inquiries, I am preparing to submit to them, for a hoped-for free-standing online publication, a compendium of my published essays on the topic of Sappho’s ancient reception. In essays I have published more recently on this vast topic, especially in Classical Inquiries, I have tried to track, more thoroughly than in my less recent essays, other topics that… Read more

Death of a Faun, by William Wootten

Hark at the shepherdess! Then note her unbelievable distress On finding how her much loved faun is dead. She listened as the shepherds said Her faun was mostly goat. In her lap, she cradled the cut throat And the horned head. She would have cut the shepherds’ throats instead.                            But now, the shepherds play And sing into the far-too-hot midday. They capture with their shady threnodies The shepherdess upon… Read more

Imagining a sensually self-assertive singing bride—while reading the songs of Sappho

2021.01.29 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This brief essay considers a situation where girls and women are having an all-night party in celebration of a bride who is getting married tomorrow, let us imagine. In previous essays, I have analyzed references, in a wide variety of ancient Greek texts, to such all-night partying, and I tried not to lose track, in these essays, of the facts of life. I am… Read more

Chorus of the Birds, by Paul Muldoon

From The Birds by Aristophanes Image by Duncan Cameron (@brokensharkcage) CHORUS: Dearest one, we love the dun of your coat, your reddish throat, you who are first flute of the forest. Let your voice ring out to Spring that it may be heard over the chorus of birds. Come, you who live in the half-light between the night-going-on-day or day-going-on-night, you poor creatures of clay, you poor spectres, you poor… Read more

Research in France on Homeric εὔχομαι since the publication of Leonard Muellner, The Meaning of Homeric EYXOMAI Through its Formulas, 1976

2021.01.23 | By Leonard Muellner §1. My revised doctoral dissertation (degree awarded in June, 1973) was published under the above title with revisions in January, 1976, and has been available online since 2017. Before it was written in 1972-1973, five detailed studies of the word had appeared, each of them taking and defending a different point of view on the meaning of the word in Homeric poetry and on its… Read more

Imagining a courtesan in the songs of Sappho

2021.01.22 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This essay, about imagining the existence of a courtesan in the songs of Sappho, refers not to various modern theories about references being supposedly made to courtesans by the “I” who speaks in her songs. It is, rather, about the imagined identity of Sappho herself in the ancient world. There existed, already then, various theories about the life and times of Sappho. I say… Read more

When self-praise connects the speaker to the universe: A diachronic view of the word eukhomai (εὔχομαι) in its Homeric contexts

2021.01.20 | By Gregory Nagy Poster for Academy of Athens Seminar 2020-2021. This text, https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/when-self-praise-connects-the-speaker-to-the-universe/, is to be read “live” on January 20, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. Athens time, as a contribution to a seminar series organized by the Academy of Athens for 2020–2021, “(Self-)Praise and (Self-) Blame in Ancient Literature” (Κέντρον Ερεύνης της Ελληνικής και Λατινικής Γραμματείας της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών, στο πλαίσιο του μηνιαίου σεμιναρίου του). My special thanks go to… Read more

How the first word in Song 1 of Sappho is relevant to her reception in the ancient world—and to various different ways of thinking…

2021.01.15 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this essay, extracting what I have learned about the meaning of the first word in Song 1 of Sappho in the overall context of studying, in previous essays, the ancient reception of Sappho, I will concentrate on the erotic power of floral perfumes—a power that is driven by Aphrodite and that is poeticized in Sappho’s songs with reference to two boy-loves of the… Read more

Leaning in, by Rachel Hadas

Translated to Greek by George Chaldezos   Students all too commonly misconstrue the poem in which Sappho calls that man equal to a god who, opposite you, leans in and      whispers, etcetera,   tending to assume it’s about two people: speaker/loved one? Beloved and man near her, bending close to her, whom the poet hears as,      heads close together,   they laugh softly? Wait: that makes three. Sweat’s… Read more

The theo-eroticism of mythmaking about Aphrodite’s love for boys like Adonis

2021.01.09 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In a previous study, I used the term theo-eroticism as a way of describing a kind of sexuality that gets transformed into something sublime by way of blending eroticism with divinity. In line with terminology used by exegetes of the Bible in their interpretations of some intensely erotic situations pictured in the Song of Songs, I experimented with applying the terms of such biblical exegesis to ancient… Read more

Back and forth from general to special kinds of erotic love, further variations on a theme of love-on-wings in Song 1 of Sappho and…

2020.12.25 | By Gregory Nagy §0.  In Song 1 of Sappho, as our mind’s eye views Aphrodite, goddess of erotic love, at the moment when she starts driving her chariot pulled by birds called strouthoi and travels with the speed of light, in a miraculous instant, all the way down from the bright heavens above, down to the dark soil of our earthly human existence here below, how are we to imagine these… Read more

Textiles and Cinders: Reconstructing the Process of Washing with Cinders in South and Central Italy in the 20th century CE* | Appendix to the…

2020.12.23 | By Rachele Pierini and Tom Palaima §0.1. How hard was it to whiten dirty clothes in the Bronze Age Aegean? This question arose during the November MASt seminar, while discussing Anne Chapin’s presentation about the visual impact of textile patterns in Aegean Bronze Age painting. Hedvig Landenius Enegren, one of the steady members of the MASt@CHS group, took forward the debate by providing information about the process of… Read more

MASt @ CHS – Friday, November 6, 2020: Summaries of Presentations and Discussion

2020.12.23. | By Rachele Pierini and Tom Palaima §0.1. Rachele Pierini opened the November session of MASt@CHS, which was the sixth in the series and marked one year of MASt seminars—you can read here further details about the MASt project. Pierini also introduced the presenters for this meeting: Anne Chapin, who joined the team for the first time, and the regular members Vassilis Petrakis and Tom Palaima. Finally, Pierini welcomed… Read more

From the heavenly to the earthy and back, variations on a theme of love-on-wings in Song 1 of Sappho and elsewhere

2020.12.18 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this essay, I start by considering the word strouthoi, conventionally translated as ‘sparrows’, in Song 1 of Sappho. At line 10, these birds are seen at the moment when they take wing and fly off. They are pulling behind them, as they fly, the chariot of the goddess Aphrodite, conveying their divine mistress from her heavenly home and winging their way, full speed, through… Read more

Some rose-colored visions of the dancing dawn goddess in the painterly art of Sappho and beyond

2020.12.11 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the “Tithonos Song” of Sappho, the fragmented text of which has of late been supplemented with newly-found additional papyrus fragments (text here), we read how the amorous goddess of the dawn, Eos, abducted the beautiful hero Tithonos to be her youthful lover—but she was unable to prevent him from slowly turning into an old man, deprived of his youth and beauty. This sad story… Read more

A sweet bird for the songs of Sappho

2020.12.04 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the title of this essay, the wording ‘sweet bird’ echoes what we hear in part of a poem by John Milton, Il Penseroso (1645/1646), later set to music by George Frideric Handel (1740), whose librettist merged the poem with Milton’s symmetrical L’Allegro (1645). So, Milton’s poetry became for Handel an extended song blending the mirth of L’Allegro with the melancholy of Il Penseroso.… Read more

Thinking of further desiderata while tracing the reception of Sappho in the ancient world

2020.11.27 | By Gregory Nagy §0. Following up on my previous essay in Classical Inquiries (Nagy 2020.11.20), I offer here some further thoughts about desiderata that occur to me as I proceed in making plans to write up, as a self-standing monograph to be published by Classical Inquiries both online and as a printed “pamphlet,” the results—to date—of my attempts at tracing the reception of Sappho in the ancient world.… Read more

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