The Classics and Humanism

Faculty insight: Gregory Nagy

Gregory Nagy sits down with Jenny Attiyeh of ThoughtCast to discuss classics like the Iliad and how studying the classics gives us a better understanding of humanism. Nagy is an Extension School instructor and the director of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC.

About the Greek classics video

Students of any age, eager to learn, have often looked back on the Greek classics to aid them in their study. The Iliad and The Odyssey are some of the premiere examples of classic literature that have offered students and scholars philosophical thoughts and intellectual debates for thousands of year.

While the plot of the Iliad centers around the Trojan War, The Odyssey operates somewhat like a sequel, following the Greek hero Odysseus as he travels home after defeating the city of Troy. The original oral traditions and history of both epic poems continue to be deliberated by scholars enthralled by the exciting narratives. With thousands of years between present day and their “original publication,” there is still much to discover about the classic hero and the ancient Greek civilization.

Gregory Nagy, a Harvard professor who offers his Harvard course Concepts of the Hero in Classical Greek Civilization online to Extension students, has been an avid reader of Homer for years and tries to read his work at least once a day.

While Nagy says that the will of Zeus is the plot of The Iliad, the book has certainly been discussed and contested since its origin.

Classics courses and degrees

Gregory Nagy’s books and website

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