The Ancient Greek Hero

Gregory Nagy, Leonard Muellner, Kevin McGrath, Keith Stone, HarvardX

Discover the literature and heroes of ancient Greece through the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, the tragedies of Sophocles, the dialogues of Plato, and more.

Explore what it means to be human today by studying what it meant to be a hero in ancient Greek times.

In this introduction to ancient Greek culture and literature, learners will experience, in English translation, some of the most beautiful works of ancient Greek literature and song-making spanning over a thousand years from the 8th century BCE through the 3rd century CE: the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; songs of Sappho and Pindar; dialogues of Plato, and On Heroes by Philostratus. All of the resources are free and designed to be equally accessible and transformative for a wide audience.

You will gain access to a supportive learning community led by Professor Gregory Nagy and his Board of Readers, who model techniques for “reading out” of ancient texts. This approach allows readers with little or even no experience in the subject matter to begin seeing this literature as an exquisite, perfected system of communication.

No previous knowledge of Greek history, literature, or language is required. This is a project for students of any age, culture, and geographic location, and its profoundly humanistic message can be easily received without previous acquaintance with Western Classical literature.

What will you learn

  • To read “out of,” rather than “into,” a literary text, which is the art of close reading
  • The definition of a “hero” in the Classical Greek sense, contrasted with modern concepts of heroism
  • The relationship between epic and lyric in the ancient Greek tradition
  • To explore the interaction of text and image in the ancient Greek tradition
  • About hero cult and the role of heroes as objects of worship in ancient Greece
  • About the connection between myth and ritual in ancient Greece
  • The concept of the hero as conveyed in dramatic performance and as activated through Socratic dialogue

Dates:
  • 15 August 2019
Course properties:
  • Free:
  • Paid:
  • Certificate:
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  • Video:
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  • Language: English Gb

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