Open House | From Homer to Virgil, with Gregory Nagy

“The poetry of Virgil, I take it as a given, rivals that of Homer. Historically, Virgil the Classic even displaced Homer the Classic in the Latin culture of the Roman empire (though not in the Greek) – already in the age of Virgil. But the question is: what is it exactly about the poetry of Virgil that made it rival the poetry of Homer in the first place – not so much as a Latin alternative but as an absolute classic in its own right? The answer, essentially, is to be found in the poetry of Virgil himself, especially in his epic masterpiece, the Aeneid.

Gregory Nagy, Homer the Classic

We were delighted to welcome Gregory Nagy for an Open House discussion in which he introduces Virgil’s Aeneid.

With reference to this conversation you might like to read the first chapter of Homer the Classic, ‘Homer the Classic in the Age of Virgil’, which is available online.

You can view the recording in the frame below, or visit our YouTube channel.

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

Mentioned in the discussion:

You can find the Latin text of Aeneid on Perseus, here, along with two different English translations, and notes.

Gregory Nagy

Gregory Nagy is the Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, and is the Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC. In his publications, he has pioneered an approach to Greek literature that integrates diachronic and synchronic perspectives. His books include The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry (Johns Hopkins University Press), which won the Goodwin Award of Merit, American Philological Association, in 1982; also Pindar’s Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Homeric Questions (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996), Homeric Responses (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003), Homer’s Text and Language (University of Illinois Press 2004), Homer the Classic (Harvard University Press, online 2008, print 2009), and Homer the Preclassic (University of California Press 2010). His latest work, Masterpieces of Metonymy, is now available online. He co-edited with Stephen A. Mitchell the 40th anniversary second edition of Albert Lord’s The Singer of Tales (Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature vol. 24; Harvard University Press, 2000), co-authoring with Mitchell the new Introduction, pp. vii–xxix. Professor Nagy has taught versions of this course to Harvard College undergraduates and Harvard Extension School students for over thirty-five years. Throughout his career Nagy has been a consistently strong advocate for the use of information technology in both teaching and research.

Image credit

Jean Restout Venus Ordering Arms from Vulcan for Aeneas, LACMA