The best of the Achaeans: concepts of the hero in Archaic Greek poetry

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Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999 - Fiction - 400 pages
Despite widespread interest in the Greek hero as a cult figure, little was written about the relationship between the cult practices and the portrayals of the hero in poetry. The first edition of The Best of the Achaeans bridged that gap, raising new questions about what could be known or conjectured about Greek heroes. In this revised edition, which features a new preface by the author, Gregory Nagy reconsiders his conclusions in the light of the subsequent debate and resumes his discussion of the special status of heroes in ancient Greek life and poetry. His book remains an engaging introduction both to the concept of the hero in Hellenic civilization and to the poetic forms through which the hero is defined: the Iliad and Odyssey in particular and archaic Greek poetry in general. Praise for the first edition:"This is a learned, clever, and disturbing book... One is left with the uneasy feeling that curtains have parted in the wind, giving glimpses of unsuspected realities behind the apparently simple face of Greek heroic poetry." -- M. L. West, Times Literary Supplement Gregory Nagy's book is brilliant, original, and filled with powerful, central, and useful insights. To read it with attention is to experience a radical revision of one's own view of early Greek poetry and of the primary themes of Greek culture." -- James Redfield, University of Chicago

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The Best of the Achaeans is intended for both nonspecialists
The First Song of Demodokos
form as well as the content of a wide variety of traditional media

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About the author (1999)


Gregory Nagy is Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. His books include Pindar's Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past, also available from Johns Hopkins.

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