About the Harvard Alumni College
Harvard Alumni College was begun in 1971 as a program to offer all alumni, their spouses, and other members of the Harvard community an opportunity to extend their knowledge and understanding of a wide range of subjects. In the course of nearly three decades, we have offered programs on topics ranging from politics to poetry, from the Arab world to astronomy, from health care to the human genome.
Alumni College this fall will reach into the semi-mythic past to the age of Agamemnon, Achilles, and Odysseus and to the telling of their stories in the great epic poetry of 8th century BCE Greece. Rediscovering Homer will provide the occasion for us to re-read the Iliad and the Odyssey and then come together to talk about what we find in them, under the guidance of a master teacher.
In keeping with our usual practice, we have planned an intensive program over the weekend in order to make the College accessible to working alumni. We have also kept the price of the program low. Tuition for Rediscovering Homer is $175. This includes all sessions on Saturday and Sunday, October 28 - 29, as well as continental breakfasts and luncheons on both days.
Please note: Space for this Alumni College is limited to 200 participants and will be awarded on a first come, first served basis.
Harvard Alumni College
Cambridge, MA 02138
About the Program
The format for Rediscovering Homer will be similar to the very successful Alumni College on Shakespeare we offered this past spring. Instead of a series of sessions with different presenters in each, we have enlisted Professor Gregory Nagy and a team of his graduate students for the entire weekend.
Professor Nagy and his team will lead us through a discussion of many aspects of Homeric poetry. Topics will range from the general and comprehensive the Homeric system of oral poetics and performance, the concept of the hero in Homeric poetry to the specific and intensive close readings of key passages, including Homeric similes, and of characters such as Briseis and Helen.
The first day will be built around a series of lectures that introduce these topics and the two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The second day will focus closely on the Iliad and the timeless question centered on its hero Achilles: what is a human life worth and how can we compensate for the death of a human being? This second day will include small group discussions addressing these pivotal questions.
Participants in the program will receive a package of materials including a schedule of sessions, suggested readings, recommended editions of the Iliad and Odyssey, and a guide to the specific passages in the Iliad that will form the basis of the small group discussions. Having done our homework, we will gather with Professor Nagy and his team on Saturday and Sunday, October 28 and 29, and together rediscover Homer.
About the Faculty
Gregory Nagy is the Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He served as the elected President of the American Philological Association in the academic year 1990-91. He is the author of The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979; new ed. 1999), which won the Goodwin Award of Merit, American Philological Association, in 1982. Other publications include Greek Mythology and Poetics (Cornell University Press, 1990), Pindar's Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond (Cambridge University Press, 1996), and Homeric Questions (University of Texas Press, 1996). After completing his appointment as the Chair of Harvard's Classics Department from 1994 until July 1, 2000, he began his new duties as Director of Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. (while continuing his professorial tasks at Harvard on a half-time basis). His special interests include archaic Greek literature and oral poetics, interests he integrates into his teaching of both graduate and undergraduate students. Professor Nagy has for more than two decades taught one of the most popular courses in the Core Curriculum, "The Concept of the Hero in Greek Civilization."
Casey Dué is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the Classics at Harvard. Her dissertation, "Homeric Variations on a Lament by Briseis," explores the oral tradition of Homeric poetry and the figure of Briseis in the Iliad. She will be the Head Teaching Fellow for the Harvard Core Course "The Concept of the Hero in Greek Civilization" in spring 2001. She is co-Editor for Publications at Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies and webmaster for the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature (www.fas.harvard.edu/~mpc). Forthcoming publications include "Achilles' Golden Amphora and the Afterlife of Oral Tradition in Aeschines' Against Timarchus," Classical Philology (2000), and "Tragic History and Barbarian Speech in Sallust's Jugurtha," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 100 (2000).
Mary Ebbott is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the Classics at Harvard University. Her dissertation, "Imagining Illegitimacy in Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry," examines the poetics of illegitimacy in ancient Greek narratives about nothoi ('bastards'). Her publications include "The Wrath of Helen: Self-Blame and Nemesis in the Iliad," in Nine Essays on Homer (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) and "The List of the War Dead in Aeschylus' Persians" (forthcoming, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology (2000)). She served as Head Teaching Fellow for the Core Curriculum course "The Concept of the Hero in Greek Civilization" in fall 1999 and is currently co-Editor for Publications for Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies.