Discussion Series: Homer’s Poetic Justice – Landing


Welcome to “Homer’s Poetic Justice”, an online lecture series organized and led by Professor Gregory Nagy, the current director of Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D. C. In the creation of this project he has been actively assisted by Teaching Fellows who have taught with him the undergraduate Core Curriculum course “The Concept of the Hero in Greek Civilization.” “Homer’s Poetic Justice” is an exploration of the concepts of justice, law, and morality as experienced by the heroes (and audiences) of Homer’s Iliad.

This series of five dialogues examines the major themes of the Iliad through the lens of a litigation scene depicted on the shield of Achilles. As these dialogues will show, the shield can be seen as a microcosm, exploring in compressed form the big issues of the Iliad. The biggest issue of them all is the one that the dispute on the shield most directly concerns: What is the price of a human life?

The series consists of four units, and features reading of the Homeric Iliad (in the beautiful English translation of Samuel Butler), lectures by the professor and teaching fellows, and questions to consider as you read. Previous experience with ancient Greek Literature is emphatically not required, and new-comers to Homer are heartily encouraged to explore this site! There are no prerequisites for this series, and all materials are available in English over the internet. To repeat, knowledge of Greek is not required.