Open House | Monster Menageries of Homer and Hesiod, with Yiannis Petropoulos

We were pleased to welcome Yiannis Petropoulos, Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece, to an Open House discussion on ‘Monster Menageries of Homer and Hesiod’. He introduces the topic:

Liberally populating ancient Greek poetry, monsters cannot be taken for granted and should not be treated as preposterous irrelevancies. Their function, ‘meaning’, and the way in which Homer and other poets describe or fail to describe them are of particular theological/religious, anthropological, and compositional interest. In this talk I shall examine basic traits of a number of Homeric and Hesiodic monsters (terata, pelora) and touch on the apophatic (negative, privative) language of wonder, abomination and estrangement with which they are often evoked.

The webcast was recorded and is available for later viewing via the video frame below, or visit our YouTube channel.

To prepare for this discussion, you might like to read the following focus passages:

During the conversation Yiannis Petropoulos referred to a further passage from Odyssey 4:

Members can start and continue the conversation associated with this event in this Forum thread.

For further videos please visit the Watch page.

Further reading

Griffin, Jasper: ‘The Epic Cycle and the Uniqueness of Homer’, The Journal of Hellenic Studies Vol. 97 (1977) 39–53 (The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies), available on JSTOR.

Davies, Malcolm: ‘Description by Negation: History of a Thought-Pattern in Ancient Accounts of Blissful Life’, Prometheus 13 (1987), 265–84

Yiannis Petropoulos

Yiannis Petropoulos is Professor of Ancient Greek Literature, Democritean University of Thrace, and Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece.
In 2013 he was Visiting Professor of Classics, University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil, and is currently Research Fellow, Biblioteca Mindlin in the same university, working on monsters in early Brazilian ethno-history.

His latest book is Kleos in a Minor Key: The Homeric Education of a Little Prince, CHS-Harvard University Press, 2011, available to read online for free at CHS Publications.
His next book, which is in its final stages of preparation, is entitled Residents of the Via Negativa: Homer’s Cyclopes and other monsters.

Image credit

Series: The Labors of Hercules, pl. 11, Nicolo Van Aelst (Flanders, 1527-1612), Antonio Tempesta (Italy, Florence, 1555-1630), Italy, 1608. Los Angeles County Fund (65.37.17). LACMA