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HarvardHome is a web-space that provides informative discussions and studies on multi-principle areas in electronic available materials (i.e. videos, pictures, lecture notes etc.). Under ‘history’ discusses several issues which are related to a variety of principles. Rediscovering Homer is an extremely insightful project-discussion in Homer’s epics and survived fragments. Professor Gregory Nagy is presenting the issue in an extreme level of detail. A more detailed review of the web-site under the title Rediscovering Homer will be presented in the forthcoming Tropaion’s Newsletter. For the moment, therefore, we will discuss on the Concept of Hero argued by Nagy.
Hero as Professor Burker stated in his celebrating work the Ancient Greek Religion, is a term not straightforwardly explained. The ancient Greek hero, as Nagy argues, “was a religious figure, a dead person who received cult honors and was expected in return to bring prosperity, especially in the form of fertility of plants (crops) and animals, to the community.” Therefore their cult and the involved rites and rituals have a close connection with the chthonic aspect of the Hellenic faith. In this case chthonic is not considered to be only the notion of the underworld but at the same time the idea of the earthly cosmos.
As a ‘literary figure’, the hero’s “life is that s/he undergoes some sort of ordeal. The hero, who is mortal, not immortal like the gods, must suffer during his or her lifetime, and, significantly, must die. Only after death can the hero receive immortalization in cult and in song.” In this case the literary perception of heroes is mainly point out the oral and written expression of men towards her/his life. Hero’s life is strangling against his/her fear of death in the perspective “to achieve the most perfect death.” Hence the moment of a hero’s death is a ‘perfect moment’ which documented in poetry and songs, the 'kleos'. Nagy states that 'kleos', “means ‘glory, fame, that which is heard’; or, ‘the poem or song that conveys glory, fame, that which is heard”.
In Iliad, Nagy points out that Achilles in his reply to Ajax and Phoinix was about the ‘telos’, death and ‘kleos’, glory (Il. 9, 410-16). For Nagy ‘kleos’ is a flower, an “unnatural flower, […] [which] will forever stay the same, never losing its color, aroma, and overall beauty.”
Conclusively after his brief introduction, Nagy, explains that “the songs sung for heroes and the cult honors given to them in worship and festivals, including athletic festivals, celebrated in their honor, are an attempt to provide compensation for the death of the hero.” Those honors as death are everlasting and for that reason they are the “way for the hero to be immortalized, to live on forever.”