The Hero as Savior in Classical Literature and Mythology

Triumphant Achilles dragging Hector’s lifeless body in front of the Gates of Troy. (From a panoramic fresco on the upper level of the main hall of the Achilleion) / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of sōzein and sōtēr The key word here is the[…]

The Hero’s Agony in the Bacchae of Euripides

Pentheus torn apart by Agave and Ino. Attic red-figure lekanis (cosmetics bowl) lid, ca. 450-425 BCE / Photo by Jastrow, Louvre Museum, Paris By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of agōn The key word here is agōn, plural agōnes. I give three[…]

Ancient Greece and the Garden: The Ideal Homeric Polis

Ancient Greek garden / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Annette Lucia Giesecke Chair, Department of Languages, Literature and Cultures Elias Ahuja Professor of Classics University of Delaware It is at dawn, the time of new beginnings, that the Phaiakian ship, with Odysseus onboard, draws near to the island of Ithaka. There the spectacular harbor of Phorkys,[…]

Heroic Aberration in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus

Mask of Agamemnon, from shaft grave V, grave circle A, c.1550-1500 B.C.E., gold, 12 inches / 35 cm (National Archaeological Museum, Athens) By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of atē The key word here is atē, the meaning of which can[…]

The ‘Three Revelers’ Amphora of Euthymides

Euthymides, Three Revelers (Athenian red-figure amphora), c. 510 B.C.E., 24 inches high (Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich) By Katarzyna Minollari / 08.08.2015 PhD Candidate in Art History University of Tirana, Albania Competition “As never Ephronios [could do]” wrote painter Euthymides after painting his new amphora (an amphora is a type of Greek vase in this shape). Euthymides had a clear[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy

By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University In considering the traditions of tragedy, it is important to keep in mind that the medium of tragedy in particular and of drama in general was the central context for the evolution of traditions in[…]

What Did ‘Hero’ Mean in Ancient Greece?

Dying Warrior sculpture from the East Pediment of the late archaic Temple of Aphaia in Aegina,c.500-480 BCE, Munich, Glyptothek / Photo by Barbara McManus, Creative Commons By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The key word here is sēmainein, which means ‘mean [something],[…]

Krinein: Defining the Cult Hero

Statue of the ancient greek historian Herodotus at the parliament of Vienna / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of krinein The key word for this hour is krinein, the “middle voice” for which is krinesthai, and the meaning of[…]

The Cult Hero in Homeric Poetry and Beyond

Detail of a relief depicting the “Apotheosis of Homer,” attributed to Archelaos of Priene, ca. 225 BCE–205 BCE. In the British Museum. / Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of “olbios” “Ulysses Departing[…]

The Mind of Odysseus in the Homeric Odyssey

Odysseus departs from the Land of the Phaeacians, painting by Claude Lorrain (1646) / Louvre Museum, Paris By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of “noos” This diagram shows the medieval understanding of spheres of the cosmos, derived from Aristotle, and as per the standard explanation by Ptolemy.[…]

The Return of Odysseus in the Homeric Odyssey

Illustration from Schwab, Gustav: “Die schönsten Sagen des klassischen Altertums” (1882) By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of nostos Odysseus and his crew escape the cyclops, as painted by Arnold Böcklin in 1896. / Wikimedia Commons The key word here[…]

The Sign of the Hero in the Visual and Verbal Art of the Iliad

The Triumph of Achilles by Franz von Matsch. Achilles is seen dragging Hector’s lifeless body in front of the Gates of Troy. / A fresco on the upper level of the main hall of the Achilleion at Corfu, Greece. By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of sēma[…]

Patroklos as the Other Self of Achilles

The body of Patroclus is lifted by Menelaus and Meriones while Odysseus and others look on (Etruscan relief, 2nd century BC) / Photo by Jastrow (Wikimedia Commons), Museo Nazionale Archeologico Nazionale, Florence By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The Meaning of Therapōn The key word here is therapōn, ‘attendant; ritual[…]

When Mortals become ‘Equal’ to Immortals: Achilles – Death of a Hero, Death of a Bridegroom

Thetis immersing her son, Achilles, in the River Styx by Antoine Borel, 18th century / Galleria Nazionale, Parma, Italy By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of daimōn In Greek mythology, Lamia, the Queen of Libya, was transformed into a child-eating dæmon.[…]

Achilles as Lyric Hero in the Songs of Sappho and Pindar

Achilles sacrificing to Zeus for Patroclus’ safe return, from the Ambrosian Iliad, a 5th-century illuminated manuscript. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Gregory Nagy Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director, Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University The meaning of aphthito- The key word here is aphthito- in the sense of ‘imperishable’. And, by the time we reach the end,[…]

Ancient Greece and the Origins of the Heliocentric Theory

Illuminated illustration of the Ptolemaic geocentric conception of the Universe by Portuguese cosmographer and cartographer Bartolomeu Velho (?-1568) / Wikimedia Commons      By (left-to-right) Dr. Milan S. Dimitrijevic, Dr. Efstratios Theodossiou, Aris Dacanalis, and Petros Z. Mantarakis Dimitrijevic: Research Professor, Astronomical Observatory Belgrade Theodossiou: Associate Professor of History and Philosophy of Astronomy and Physical Sciences, University of[…]

Sophilos: A New Direction in Greek Pottery

Left: Pedestaled krater, c. 800-770 B.C.E., 55.5 cm high, Greek, Geometric period, Rhodes. Right: Jug with a griffin-head spout, c. 675-650 B.C.E., 41.5 cm, Greek, orientalizing period both: © Trustees of the British Museum By The British Museum / 03.02.2017 Following the collapse of Mycenaean palace society and a period of relative poverty and isolation, Greece experienced[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Greek Vase Painting

Niobid Painter, Niobid Krater, Attic red-figure calyx-krater, c. 460-450 B.C.E., 54 x 56 cm (Musée du Louvre) By Dr. Renee M. Gondek / 09.09.2016 Adjunct Professor of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion University of Mary Washington Useful for scholars Pottery is virtually indestructible. Though it may break into smaller pieces (called sherds), these would have to be manually ground[…]