The hero’s body in Sophocles

“I come with a gift for you,my own shattered body…no feast for the eyes,but the gains it holds are greater than great beauty.”Oedipus at Colonus 649-651, trans. by Robert Fagles “If he is really dear to you, and your heart mourns for him, allow him to be beaten down in the harsh crush of battleContinue reading “The hero’s body in Sophocles”

The hero in Aeschylus’ Oresteia

Gregory Nagy writes about how examining the hero’s importance and role in the ancient world can shed light on the meaning of ancient texts. His analysis of Aeschylus’ Oresteia inspired me to see these plays in a fresh way. It relies, in part, on accepting two thing: a) heroes are not morally perfect; their larger-than-lifeContinue reading “The hero in Aeschylus’ Oresteia”

The Aeneid and a new kind of hero

“Wars and a man I sing—an exile driven on by Fate,he was the first to flee the coast of Troy,destined to reach Lavinia shores and Italian soil,yet many blows he took on land and sea from the gods above—thanks to cruel Juno’s relentless rage—and many losseshe bore in battle too, before he could found aContinue reading “The Aeneid and a new kind of hero”

5 favorite books about the ancient world

Today I’m sharing a few works of Homeric scholarship that have transformed my understanding of the poems. When I was thinking about them, I visualized the rosebuds on my desk that have been slowly opening up. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours by Gregory Nagy. Nagy approaches the poems through significant ancient Greek words,Continue reading “5 favorite books about the ancient world”

A visit to Delphi

“Then you raced up a mountain ridgeand came to Krisa beneath the snows of Parnassos,where the shoulder of the mountain turnstowards the west, with a rockhanging over from aboveand a hollow rugged glade running underneath.There the lord Phoebus Apollodecided to make his lovely temple.” Hymn to Pythian Apollo, trans. by Jules Cashford One of myContinue reading “A visit to Delphi”

Favorite ancient classics

My friend Mariana recently asked me to share three favorite books. It’s always difficult for me to pick favorites, as a general rule. I love so many books, for such different reasons. The moment I commit to one, I think about all the others I didn’t pick and wonder why. If you’re here at thisContinue reading “Favorite ancient classics”

Longing for completion

“They sing of Letowith her lovely ankles,how she gave birthto the best of childrenof all the gods,supremein what they sayand do.”Hymn to Artemis, trans. Jules Cashford This sculpture lives at the archaeological museum on Delos and, according to the placard at its base, depicts Leto. Her ankles are covered by her dress, if anyone isContinue reading “Longing for completion”

Erinna and ancient lament

“… Baucis, these tears are your embersand my memorial, traces glowing in my heart,now all that we once shared has turned to ash …” (Erinna, trans. Josephine Balmer) These lines are from The Distaff, a 300-line hexameter poem that survives only in fragments. It’s attributed (though debated) to Erinna, an ancient Greek women whose poetryContinue reading “Erinna and ancient lament”

What is ancient Greek heroism?

“and the rest of Asia imperishable fame.” “And all the elder women shouted aloud/and all the men cried out a lovely song/calling on Paon farshooting god of the lyre,/and they were singing a hymn for Hektor and Andromache/like to gods.” These lines, all from Sappho fragment 44, refer to the marriage of Hektor and Andromache.Continue reading “What is ancient Greek heroism?”