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The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

Gregory Nagy

ISBN 9780674073401

Publication date: 07/15/2013

The ancient Greeks’ concept of “the hero” was very different from what we understand by the term today, Gregory Nagy argues—and it is only through analyzing their historical contexts that we can truly understand Achilles, Odysseus, Oedipus, and Herakles.

In Greek tradition, a hero was a human, male or female, of the remote past, who was endowed with superhuman abilities by virtue of being descended from an immortal god. Despite their mortality, heroes, like the gods, were objects of cult worship. Nagy examines this distinctively religious notion of the hero in its many dimensions, in texts spanning the eighth to fourth centuries bce: the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; songs of Sappho and Pindar; and dialogues of Plato. All works are presented in English translation, with attention to the subtleties of the original Greek, and are often further illuminated by illustrations taken from Athenian vase paintings.

The fifth-century bce historian Herodotus said that to read Homer is to be a civilized person. In twenty-four installments, based on the Harvard University course Nagy has taught and refined since the late 1970s, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours offers an exploration of civilization’s roots in the Homeric epics and other Classical literature, a lineage that continues to challenge and inspire us today.

Praise

  • [Nagy’s] analysis is fascinating, often ingenious… This book is a valuable synthesis of research finessed over thirty years… Complemented by a free online sourcebook, edited by Nagy, containing translations of all the ancient texts discussed, like an ancient hero it will provide a lasting legacy beyond the hora of its publication.

    —Francesca Wade, Times Literary Supplement

Author

  • Gregory Nagy is Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 752 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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