cover of book

The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours
by Gregory Nagy
Harvard University Press, 2019
Paper: 978-0-674-24168-8 | eISBN: 978-0-674-24418-4
Library of Congress Classification PA3015.H43N338 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 880.9352


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

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