What can anthropology tell us about the origins of humanity's oldest epic stories? And what can these epics, in turn, tell us about our undying fascination with heroes? Joining us to explore these topics and more are Gregory Nagy, professor of classics at Harvard University and director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC, as well as Leonard Muellner, professor emeritus at Brandeis University and director for publications at the Center for Hellenic Studies.
If you would like to learn more about ancient epics and heroes, Gregory Nagy has an online course you can take from Harvard, called “The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 hours.” It may just be the best online classics course available right now. And it is completely free to audit. Check it out at: https://www.edx.org/course/
For those of you looking for more podcasts on ancient Greece, History in the Making is a show that is definitely worth checking out. The first season covers the Classical Athens and the Peloponnesian War.
'Platonic love' is one of the most fascinating (and misunderstood) concepts to have come down to us from the ancient Greeks. Classicist Zina Giannopoulou joins us to set the record straight about the origins of the concept and what Plato's radical theory of love was all about.
In this episode we discuss the book that first introduced this concept of Platonic love – the Symposium by Plato. The Symposium is a philosophical dialogue featuring a cast of characters who try to answer the elusive question, what is love?
Zina Giannopoulou teaches classics at the University of California Irvine. She has written extensively on Plato and recently co-edited the Cambridge Critical Guide to Plato's Symposium, which presents the latest scholarship on Plato's dialogue.
If you are inclined to read the Symposium, we recommend the English translation by Nehamas and Woodruff.
This episode is introduced by Noah Tetzner, host of the “History of Vikings” podcast. Check out his amazing show on your podcast app or visit http://thehistoryofvikings.com/
Philosopher MM McCabe joins us to discuss the art of the philosophical dialogue, both as a literary form and as a practice between people in real-time conversation. What makes Plato's dialogues, for example, worth reading? And is there anything we can still learn today from the ancient art of dialectic?
MM McCabe is emerita professor of ancient philosophy at King's College London. She has spent much of her career writing about the philosophy of Plato. Her books include Plato's Individuals (1999), Plato and his Predecessors: The Dramatization of Reason (2007), and Platonic Conversations (2015).
For more information, visit the webpage for this episode at http://greecepodcast.com/episode16.html
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Mythology expert Richard Martin joins us to discuss why the Odyssey has been considered great story-telling by audiences across millennia.
As we talked about in episode 2 (on the Iliad), the Homeric epics came out of a long tradition of oral storytelling that stretched back hundreds of years into the Bronze Age. If there was a Homer, he did not just make up all these monsters and adventures up the top of his head. He inherited most of the individual episodes from the oral tradition. If we want to understand what makes the Odyssey great story-telling, we should look not for originality in the story per se, but at how the author weaves all the episodes together, puts them in a certain order to achieve maximum effect, and plays around with different tropes and formulas in order to tell a familiar type of narrative in an exciting way.
To find out more about the Odyssey (including our recommended translations) and about Richard Martin's books on mythology, visit the webpage for this episode at greecepodcast.com/episode15.html
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