Cover: The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours, from Harvard University PressCover: The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours in PAPERBACK

The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

Product Details


$28.00 • £24.95 • €25.95

ISBN 9780674241688

Publication Date: 01/07/2020


656 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

19 illus., 2 photos

Belknap Press


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[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

[Nagy] has managed to become an éminence grise without ever quite ceasing to be an enfant terrible… Nagy is a passionate close reader… Like the Iliad, Nagy’s book is an ambitious work in twenty-four installments, developed over a long period of oral performance, alluding to and reworking earlier versions (themselves fluid), before finally taking on a more lasting form.—Gregory Hays, New York Review of Books

Nagy’s zest for Homeric texts is boundless.—Nathan Heller, New Yorker

The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours is Gregory Nagy’s MOOC book. The massive open online course is one of the most significant developments in higher education in years and Nagy is one of the foremost Homerists of his generation, so the book deserves attention both as an academic publication and as a pedagogical experiment. Scholars already familiar with Nagy’s work will not find radically new insights here. What they will appreciate is a systematic and exceptionally lucid statement of the research he has carried out over the past four decades… One of the greatest achievements of Nagy’s research is that it powerfully illuminates the relationship between myth and cult.—Barbara Graziosi, Times Higher Education

There’s a vital subject at the heart of the book—more vital perhaps now than ever, since the concept of the ‘hero’ has been so overused and distorted in the 21st century that it scarcely has any meaning anymore, applying equally to Armed Services employees working in an accounting office in Qatar and elementary school teachers doing what they’d be fired if they didn’t do. Nagy exuberantly reminds his readers that heroes—mortal strivers against fate, against monsters, and, as we’ll see, against death itself—form the heart of Greek literature, the vital counterweight to the gaudy gods and goddesses who so often steal the limelight. He surveys the incredible feast of Greek literature from Homer and Hesiod to the tragedians (his extended analysis of Euripides’ Hippolytus, for instance, is a wondrous highlight of the book’s final marches) and overlays on top of that feast a neat but thin conceit of ‘hours’ characterized by certain ancient Greek concepts like Kleos, Memnemai, Akhos, Penthos, and Aphthito. The comprehensiveness of his coverage allows him to bring in every variation on the Greek hero, from the wily Theseus to the brawny Hercules to the ‘monolithic’ Achilles to the valiantly conflicted Oedipus, and that same sweep puts him in a perfect position to spot the linking factors and expound on them.—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly

Backed by formidable learning and a vast ecumenical sweep embellished with details—yet written in a winningly readable informal style—The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours offers to us penetrating considerations of the ways in which Greek classics continue to make themselves felt in our lives even today.—M. S. Nagarajan, The Hindu

This volume is a summation of the insights of a scholar who has devoted his life to these materials, and who has a deep, learned, and personal vision of the ancient Greek psyche, its values, and its manifestations in song and prose. The result is a stimulating tour of ancient Greek literature.—P. Nieto, Choice

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