Explore what it means to be human today by studying what it meant to be a hero in ancient Greek times.
In this introduction to ancient Greek culture and literature, learners will experience, in English translation, some of the most beautiful works of ancient Greek literature and song-making spanning over a thousand years from the eighth century BCE through the third century CE: the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; songs of Sappho and Pindar; dialogues of Plato, and On Heroes by Philostratus. All of the resources are free and designed to be equally accessible and transformative for a wide audience.
You will gain access to a supportive learning community led by Professor Gregory Nagy and his Board of Readers, who model techniques for “reading out” of ancient texts. This approach allows readers with little or even no experience in the subject matter to begin seeing this literature as an exquisite, perfected system of communication.
HeroesX participants are also eligible to register for Hour 25, an open-ended, community-driven companion project hosted by Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies.
Learners seeking university credit can enroll through Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education additional fees apply). Instructions for selecting this option are provided in the Welcome Unit of the project. HeroesX participants who enroll as students in the Division of Continuing Education course will write additional weekly papers and receive personalized commentary and guidance concerning both their writing and their close readings of the primary texts.
No previous knowledge of Greek history, literature, or language is required. This is a project for students of any age, culture, and geographic location, and its profoundly humanistic message can be easily received without previous acquaintance with Western Classical literature.
What you'll learn:
- To read “out of,” rather than “into,” a literary text, which is the art of close reading
- The definition of a “hero” in the Classical Greek sense, contrasted with modern concepts of heroism
- The relationship between epic and lyric in the ancient Greek tradition
- To explore the interaction of text and image in the ancient Greek tradition
- About hero cult and the role of heroes as objects of worship in ancient Greece
- About the connection between myth and ritual in ancient Greece
- The concept of the hero as conveyed in dramatic performance and as activated through Socratic dialogue