Saturday, February 10, 2018

Open Access Journal: Classical Inquiries

[First posted in Awol 12 October 2015, updated 10 February 2015]

Classical Inquiries
Classical Inquiries (CI) is an online, rapid-publication project of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, devoted to sharing some of the latest thinking on the ancient world with researchers and the general public.
Recent articles


The Oath of the Ephebes as a symbol of democracy—and of environmentalism

2018.02.08 | By Gregory Nagy
Inscribed on the surface of the stele that is pictured here is the wording of the so-called Oath of the Ephebes. This oath, it is argued here, connects the ideals of democracy with the ideals of environmentalism as it was understood in the ancient Greek world. Such an understanding, it can also be argued, needs to be studied for its relevance to the environmental crises confronting the world today.


Linear B po-re-na, po-re-si, and po-re-no-

2018.02.04 | By Roger D. Woodard
Opinions have varied and swayed regarding the interpretation of the Linear B term po-re-na. Whatever meaning is assigned, many would draw the forms po-re-si and po-re-no- into their interpretation of po-re-na, and vice versa. In this investigation I begin with the interpretation of po-re-na that appears most probable and reconsider po-re-si and po-re-no- on the basis of both internal and comparative evidence.


A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.19.1–1.20.3

2018.02.01 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.25. I focus here on another Athenian myth, as mentioned by Pausanias at 1.20.3, about the abandonment of Ariadne by her lover Theseus and about her seduction or—in terms of the mention made by Pausanias—her abduction by the god Dionysus. Pausanias at 1.20.3 mentions the myth as he sees it represented on a wall painting located inside the sacred precinct of the god Dionysus. According to the myth, Ariadne had slept with Theseus and is still asleep as Theseus quietly leaves her and sails off to Athens. Now Dionysus approaches from afar, preparing to seduce or abduct Ariadne. In the close-up from a modern painting of this myth, we see Ariadne asleep in the foreground, while Theseus is already sailing off in the background.

A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.18.1–9

2018.01.25 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.18. I focus here on an Athenian myth, as narrated by Pausanias at 1.18.2, about the baby Erikhthonios and the young daughters of Kekrops, king of Athens. These girls had been chosen by the goddess Athena to take good care of Erikhthonios—and not to open the box in which the baby was hidden. But two of the girls went ahead and opened the box—and they were instantly driven mad by what they saw. Then, in their madness, they killed themselves by leaping off the steepest part of the Acropolis. In the narrative of Pausanias, the holy mystery of what the girls really saw is left untold. In the narrative that we read in Ovid’s Metamorphoses 2.560–561, on the other hand, the secret is half-revealed: what you see from the poet’s wording, at the same time, is a baby and a snake. Some illustrators of this vision, as we see in the close-up picture on the cover here, press for a full revelation: the baby is really half human, half snake.


A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.17.3–6

2018.01.18 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.11. I focus here on the details given by Pausanias at 1.17.3 describing a monumental wall painting in the sanctuary of Theseus. Depicted on this wall painting is the hero Theseus, who has just emerged from a deep-dive to the bottom of the sea. He is triumphantly holding in one hand the Ring of Minos and, in the other, the Garland of the sea-goddess Amphitrite, bride of Poseidon. The ring had been thrown into the sea by Minos, who challenged Theseus to recover it, while the garland was given to Theseus by Amphitrite, who had saved the hero from drowning and had thus made it possible for him to recover the ring. For the cover illustration, I have chosen a comparable mythological scene that was carved into a gem. It is a modern work of art. At the center is the hero Theseus, who is being carried along the sea-waves on the back of a dolphin and who is holding triumphantly a ring in one hand and a garland in the other—a garland of stars, it seems. This miniaturized scene as carved into a gem is comparable to the monumentalized scene that Pausanias saw painted on a wall in the sanctuary of Theseus.


A sampling of comments on Pausanias: 1.16.1–1.17.2

2018.01.11 | By Gregory Nagy
I continue from where I left off in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.04. I focus here on a passing mention made by Pausanias at 1.17.2 about the picturing of a famous mythological scene: it is the Battle of the Athenians and Amazons, known in other ancient sources as the Amazonomakhiā ‘Amazonomachy’. I have already commented on previous references made by Pausanias, at 1.2.1 and at 1.15.2, to the fighting between the Amazons and the Athenians as led by their hero-king Theseus. Here at 1.17.2, Pausanias mentions a picturing of the Amazonomachy by the great Athenian artist Pheidias. For the cover illustration, I have chosen a close-up of a detail from the Amazonomachy as originally pictured by Pheidias. The detail comes from the so-called Peiraieus Reliefs, dating from the second century CE, which replicate faithfully what was pictured in the Amazonomachy of Pheidias in the fifth century BCE. We see in this detail a fleeing Amazon whose head is violently jerked backward by a pursuing Athenian who has grabbed from behind the woman’s hair, which has come undone and is flowing luxuriantly in the air.


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