Wednesday, October 23, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes Hour 13

I am taking The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours online from Harvard with Professor Gregory Nagy.  Here are a few random notes from Hour 13 of the wonderful class.

Od 12:334  “therefore, I (Odysseus) went up inland that I might pray the gods to show me some means of getting away. When I had gone far enough to be clear of all my men, and had found a place that was well sheltered from the wind, I washed my hands and prayed to all the gods.”    Meanwhile his men at 359 “...killed the cows (of the sun-god Helios)and dressed their carcasses; they cut out the thigh bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set some pieces of raw meat on top of them. ".   Seems like Odysseus and Moses had some of the same issues with the troops and cattle . Ex 24.18  And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount”  Meanwhile Ex 32.8 “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto.”  What is it about unsupervised mobs and cows?

Nagy’s translation of Od 24.59 "weeping piteously, and they [the Nereids] clothed you [ Achilles] in immortalizing clothes... You were burning while clothed in the clothes of the gods, ".   I read once that God gave Adam and Eve animal skins to wear, represents giving their souls bodies.  Hence, Nagy’s “immortalizing clothes”  would represent the gods giving Achilles a body for his immortal life

Solon speaking to Croesus " just as no land is self- sufficient in what it produces. Each country has one thing but lacks another; whichever has the most is best. Just so no human being is self-sufficient; each person has one thing but lacks another. Herodotus 1.32

And Pontos begat trusty and truthful Nereus, eldest indeed of his children, but men call him old, because he is unerring as well as mild, neither does he forget the laws, but knows just and gentle purposes.  Theogony 234

“   "Where, from the standpoint of Homeric poetry, we never find out who's right
and who's wrong, because Homeric poetry doesn't use those criteria, those critical ways of judging things of what's right and what's wrong, what's dikaion, and what's not, what is dike, and what is hubris. In Homeric poetry, you don't have that.”
Nagy 13.CB22.1  in the textbook;  The Ancient Greek Hero In 24 Hours 





  1. The "immortal life" of Achilles is a bit of a problem for me. Because, if he does not really die but is simply moved to another place, Thetis should not be so heart-broken. Perhaps this life is just for the soul. On the other hand, other souls are also immortal, sort of. Some sources say that Achilles was sent to have his afterlife in a better place. However, according to our source, Odysseus after his expedition to Hades reports seeing Achilles' soul there, in a situation not a bit better than that of the other souls.

  2. Yeah, Achilles immortality would ruin the storyline in the Iliad, hence Homer doesn't mention that option until the end of the Odyssey. As to Achilles in Hades; our source for that information is not Homer and the Muses, but rather Odysseus himself bragging about his adventures over a glass of wine. Can we believe anything he says? particularly when it makes Odysseus look like The Best of The Achaeans. Bill