Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

Gregory Nagy

ISBN 9780674241688

Publication date: 01/07/2020

Request exam copy

What does it mean to be a hero? The ancient Greeks who gave us Achilles and Odysseus had a very different understanding of the term than we do today. Based on the legendary Harvard course that Gregory Nagy has taught for well over thirty years, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours explores the roots of Western civilization and offers a masterclass in classical Greek literature. We meet the epic heroes of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, but Nagy also considers the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the songs of Sappho and Pindar, and the dialogues of Plato. Herodotus once said that to read Homer was to be a civilized person. To discover Nagy’s Homer is to be twice civilized.

“Fascinating, often ingenious… A valuable synthesis of research finessed over thirty years.”
Times Literary Supplement

“Nagy exuberantly reminds his readers that heroes—mortal strivers against fate, against monsters, and…against death itself—form the heart of Greek literature… [He brings] in every variation on the Greek hero, from the wily Theseus to the brawny Hercules to the ‘monolithic’ Achilles to the valiantly conflicted Oedipus.”
—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly


  • Nagy’s zest for Homeric texts is boundless.

    —Nathan Heller, New Yorker


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

Book Details

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

From this author