We are pleased to share the following links to scholarship, organizations, and resources that might be of interest to participants The Ancient Greek Hero, the free, open enrollment course taught by Harvard Professor Gregory Nagy and being offered through HarvardX. This list will develop over time, so please check back from time to time for the latest updates.
“Discovery Procedures and Principles for Homeric Research” by Leonard Muellner — This article in Classics@Issue3 offers an accessible introduction to Homeric research. Muellner shows how and why we must rebuild our understanding of Homeric diction by working inductively.
Digital Renaissance: Imaging the Iliad or view the Trailer — (via YouTube) This Emmy-nominated documentary tracks the effort to digitize the Venetus A, a deluxe medieval manuscript which is the oldest complete witness of the Iliad.
Sita Sings the Blues — a musical, animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic the Ramayana.
In modern times we tend to think about literature as verbal art that is composed by a single author using writing. But many examples of ancient Greek verbal art that we we will be reading together–including the Iliad and the Odyssey–are the product of an oral tradition. In such a tradition, verbal art comes to life in performance, not in a written text. Moreover, the moment of performance and the moment of composition can be one and the same moment. We need to think not only in terms of individual authors whose creativity generates poems, novels, and the like, but also in terms of poetic systems of communication that can generate and enhance creativity in authors. We will spend a great deal of time “brainstorming” together about such different kinds of creativity. As we will see, the concepts of composition-in-performance and recomposition-in-performance will be essential for understanding more fully the ancient texts we will be reading. But it is important to note that these concepts are not just ancient ways of doing things. Many cultures even today have living oral traditions in which performers compose epic-length songs about heroes and their deeds. Below are links to some of the resources related to the study of oral poetics. These may at first seem unrelated to our work, but the comparative study or oral poetic traditions (particularly the South Slavic epics studied by Milman Parry and Albert Lord) has been crucial to our developing a deeper understanding of ancient Greek literature.
The Milman Parry Online Collection — The Milman Parry Collection is the largest single repository of South Slavic heroic song in the world. Under the curatorship of Albert Lord, the Collection became a uniquely comprehensive archive of South Slavic and Albanian oral traditions, with important holdings representing many other traditions from around the world. The Collection’s core materials are the field recordings and dictated texts collected by Milman Parry (in part with the assistance of Albert Lord) in 1933-35, the Albanian epics collected by Albert Lord in 1937, and the field recordings made by Lord in subsequent years. Several hundred of the recordings and texts collected by Parry and by Lord are now available on-line. The Collection is currently housed in Harvard’s Widener Library under the direction of Stephen Mitchell, Gregory Nagy, and David Elmer. We encourage you to explore the many resources on the MPCOL website, such as Albert B. Lord Songs On-Line and videos of presentations given at the 2010 symposium, “Singers and Tales in the 21st Century: The Legacies of Milman Parry and Albert Lord”.
Institute for Ethnic Literature website: in English, in Chinese — “The Institute of Ethnic Literature (IEL) was established in 1980 in Beijing. It is affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Its research spectrum ranges over the following areas: 1) The literature of ancient and contemporary ethnic groups, oral and written; 2) Theoretical concerns relating to issues of literary evolution; 3) Literary relations among various ethnic groups, with an emphasis on comparative approaches; 4) Expressive cultures in combination with oral tradition and verbal art; 5) Literary theory and contemporary criticism; and 6) Collecting, recording, transcribing, translating, digitizing, and publishing oral texts and written works.” (from the IEL website)
Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
Ilex Foundation — “The Ilex Foundation is a non-governmental organization promoting the study of Mediterranean and near Eastern civilizations, and beyond. One of the Foundation’s main goals is to seek new directions in research and teaching through the application of information technology. The Ilex Foundation also collaborates with the CHS to publish, in print and soon also online, research and scholarship in the humanistic traditions of the Mediterranean and the Near East and shares such research with a wide audience.” (from the Ilex Foundation website)
Ancient Greek History
Cyropaedia — “Cyrus’ Paradise is the world’s first comprehensive, online, communal commentary or “communtary” for a Classical text: Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus (Cyropaedia). Cyrus’ Paradise incorporates contributions from all generations and communities, from high school and college students to advanced professors to amateur enthusiasts. Contributions take the form of multimedia (pictures, audio, video), grammatical and syntactical instruction, and discussion in the form of questions, comments, and blog posts. Because it is always growing, the communtary is designed to produce new readings of the text with every new participant. It may be used as a tool for scholarly research at any stage, from a prospectus to a polished article. It may also be used as an intermediate or upper-level Greek text.” (from the Cyropaedia website)