Introduction

The readings, all in English translation, are the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, seven tragedies (Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, Sophocles' two Oedipus dramas, and Euripides' Hippolytus and The Bacchic Women), and two dialogues of Plato (the Apology and the Phaedo, both centering on the last days of Socrates); and from the dialogue On Heroes by an eminent thinker in the second sophistic movement, Philostratus. The recorded lectures are from the HarvardX course The Ancient Greek Hero. The contents are divided into 24 Hours, a term referring to the number of hour-long class meetings in the academic semester. All the texts are freely available on the multimedia interactive HeroesX website. This site also includes the Sourcebook (masterpieces of Greek literature with tools to track over 70 key concepts in ancient Greek civilization); The Ancient Greek Hero, a six-hundred page book which covers everything in the course; a full set of complex self-assessments; videos of textual close reading for each Hour; hundreds of video dialogues on the weekly focus texts and transcripts for all these videos plus audio files for every video; video clips from movies which we quote; images from vase painting; multimedia annotation tools to engage deeply with every focus text and image; and 24-hour access to discussion forums moderated by the Board of Readers and HeroesX participants from all over the world. When the course ends, students are invited to participate in Hour 25, a free, open-ended companion project hosted by Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies, with live video dialogues.

Meet The Author

Gregory Nagy

Gregory Nagy

Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University

Gregory Nagy is the Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, and is the Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC. In his publications, he has pioneered an approach to Greek literature that integrates diachronic and synchronic perspectives. His books include The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry (Johns Hopkins University Press), which won the Goodwin Award of Merit, American Philological Association, in 1982; also Pindar's Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Homeric Questions (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996), Homeric Responses (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003), Homer’s Text and Language (University of Illinois Press 2004), Homer the Classic (Harvard University Press, online 2008, print 2009), and Homer the Preclassic (University of California Press 2010). He co-edited with Stephen A. Mitchell the 40th anniversary second edition of Albert Lord’s The Singer of Tales (Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature vol. 24; Harvard University Press, 2000), co-authoring with Mitchell the new Introduction, pp. vii-xxix.

Professor Nagy has taught versions of this course to Harvard College undergraduates and Harvard Extension School students for over thirty-five years. Throughout his career Nagy has been a consistently strong advocate for the use of information technology in both teaching and research. Besides teaching at the Harvard campus in Cambridge, MA, Nagy is also the Director of Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.

Kevin McGrath

Kevin McGrath

Associate in Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University.

Kevin McGrath is an associate of the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University. His research centers on the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata. He has published four works on this topic: The Sanskrit Hero: Karna in Epic Mahabharata (Brill, 2004), Stri: Women in Epic Mahabharata (Harvard University Press, 2009), Jaya: Performance in Epic Mahabharata (Harvard University Press, 2011), and Heroic Krsna: Friendship in Epic Mahabharata (Harvard University Press, 2013). Two more works are forthcoming, Raja Yudhisthira, Kingship in Epic Mahabharata and Arjuna Pandava, The Double Hero in Epic Mahabharata.

McGrath is also Poet in Residence at Lowell House and his most recent publication is Supernature (The New Book Press, 2012). He does fieldwork in the Kacch of Western Gujarat and studies kinship, landscape, and migration; some of this material was recently published as In The Kacch, A Memoir of Love and Place (McFarland, 2015). The hero as a figure for humanistic analysis is the focus of much of McGrath's scholarly work, particularly as expressed in the poetry of Bronze Age pre-literate and pre-monetary culture. Presently he is working on the topic of the fiction of the hero, how it is that heroic narrative supplies truth for a community.

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