• Length:
    18 Weeks
  • Effort:
    5–8 hours per week
  • Price:

    FREE
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  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Introductory
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English

About this course

Skip About this course

Explore what it means to be human today by studying what it meant to be a hero in ancient Greek times.

In this introduction to ancient Greek culture and literature, learners will experience, in English translation, some of the most beautiful works of ancient Greek literature and song-making spanning over a thousand years from the 8th century BCE through the 3rd century CE: the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; songs of Sappho and Pindar; dialogues of Plato, and On Heroes by Philostratus. All of the resources are free and designed to be equally accessible and transformative for a wide audience.

You will gain access to a supportive learning community led by Professor Gregory Nagy and his Board of Readers, who model techniques for “reading out” of ancient texts. This approach allows readers with little or even no experience in the subject matter to begin seeing this literature as an exquisite, perfected system of communication.

No previous knowledge of Greek history, literature, or language is required. This is a project for students of any age, culture, and geographic location, and its profoundly humanistic message can be easily received without previous acquaintance with Western Classical literature.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • To read “out of,” rather than “into,” a literary text, which is the art of close reading
  • The definition of a “hero” in the Classical Greek sense, contrasted with modern concepts of heroism
  • The relationship between epic and lyric in the ancient Greek tradition
  • To explore the interaction of text and image in the ancient Greek tradition
  • About hero cult and the role of heroes as objects of worship in ancient Greece
  • About the connection between myth and ritual in ancient Greece
  • The concept of the hero as conveyed in dramatic performance and as activated through Socratic dialogue

Meet your instructors

Gregory Nagy
Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature
Harvard University
Leonard Muellner
Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies, Brandeis University; Chair of the Committee on Publications and Senior Fellow, Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC.
Brandeis University
Kevin McGrath
Associate of the Department of South Asian Studies
Harvard University
Keith Stone
CHS Fellow in Instructional Design and Comparative Ancient Texts, Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies
Harvard University

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