Greek Heroes in and Out of Hades

Greek Heroes in and Out of Hades

By (author) Stamatia G. Dova

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Greek Heroes in and out of Hades is a study on heroism and mortality from Homer to Plato. Through systematic readings of a wide range of ancient Greek texts, Stamatia Dova offers innovative hermeneutic approaches to heroic character and a comprehensive overview of the theme of descent to the underworld in the Iliad and the Odyssey, Bacchylides 5, Plato's Symposium, and Euripides' Alcestis.

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  • Hardback | 242 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 521.63g
  • 02 Aug 2012
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD
  • English
  • 1 black & white halftones
  • 0739144979
  • 9780739144978
  • 1,391,701

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Author Information

Stamatia Dova is Associate Professor of Classics and Modern Greek Studies at Hellenic College in Brookline, MA, and Associate in Hellenic Literature and Language at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. Her research interests include Homeric epic, the concept of the hero in ancient Greek civilization, ancient and modern Greek language pedagogy, and reception studies.

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Review quote

Dova (Hellenic College and Center for Hellenic Studies) considers key aspects of the ancient Greek hero in relation to his mortality, primarily by reference to the type-scene of the katabasis. Her study centers on Odysseus, Heracles, and Achilles, across the genres of epic, lyric, tragedy, and Platonic dialogue, and takes as its starting point Odysseus's confrontations with Achilles and Heracles in the underworld in Odyssey 11. A series of brief, closely focused discussions sets these heroes in relation to Agamemnon, Meleager (in Bacchylides 5), and Alcestis (in Euripides's drama of the same name), and combine to articulate a cumulative argument that distinguishes between Odysseus's success in tampering with the limits of mortality (in the Odyssey), Heracles's attainment of an Olympian alternative to mortality (in Bacchylides), and Achilles's acceptance of his mortality (in the Iliad). Dova is at her most interesting in the final chapter, where she trains her attention, and philological methods honed in reading Homer, on Euripides's Alcestis and Plato's Symposium to discern a dialogue between genders and genres that sheds light on the epic heroes precisely through inversion of the heroic model. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. CHOICE In Greek Heroes in and out of Hades, Stamatia Dova offers the lover of Greek poetry and philosophy a lavish feast of epic, lyric, and tragic poetic fare. ... One of the highlights of the book is Dova's complex recasting of the hero Odysseus from his traditional framing. ... Dova's Greek Heroes in and out of Hades is a rich work that will satisfy many a classical scholar's palette... [P]hilosophers and classicists... are in for a rare treat. Nordicum-Mediterraneum A thought-provoking and timely work on an important but, in a number of cases, underexplored topic. This engaging book, written with commendable sensitivity, markedly contributes to our understanding of the intricate and elusive concept of the hero in archaic and classical Greece. I have nothing but praise for Dova's achievement. -- Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, The Johns Hopkins University Dova's book on the poetics of katabasis is exemplary in its demonstration of Homer's sophisticated engagement with previous and contemporary poetic traditions. It also shows with great originality and detail that Homeric and alternative epic paths can be developed and combined in other genres such as lyric poetry or tragedy. The heroic journey to Hades was a topic in which ancient poets made their best to portray their particular visions of man and cosmos, and this book is a fascinating exploration of some of their finest achievements. -- Miguel Herrero de Jauregui, Universidad Completense de Madrid Stamatia Dova is an expert guide into the poetic and ritual depths beneath Greek concepts of heroic death, eternal glory, and the life well lived. In a series of meticulous and sensitive close readings of many key texts, large and small -from Orphic tablets to Homeric epic, lyric poetry, and Athenian tragedy- she traces the central importance of descent to the underworld and its varied interconnections with major concerns like love and self-love, the inescapable facts of suffering and the discovery of transcendent values. Her path-breaking analysis of the speech-genre of makarismos anchors a wide-ranging study of what it means to be called 'blessed' in an ancient Hellenic context. Anyone interested in the roots of Western approaches to the problems of living will find this book absolutely illuminating. -- Richard Martin, Stanford University

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