The Ancient Greek Hero

Ancient Greece in the Modern College Classroom

About the Seminar

The seminar, designed primarily for non-specialists, addresses the challenge of keeping alive in undergraduate education classical texts such as the Iliad, Odyssey, Homeric Hymns, poetry of Hesiod, and Histories of Herodotus that a generation ago were read and understood by every college graduate. Full-time CIC faculty members in all disciplines who have occasion to use classical texts in their courses are eligible for nomination.

Through close readings and discussions of translated Greek poetry, history, and philosophy, the seminar will explore what it means to be human. The organizing principle will be the study of a model of humanity, the hērōs (hero), as it can be reconstructed by way of textual evidence attesting to myths and rituals from throughout the ancient Greek-speaking world. Beginning with the Homeric poems, the seminar also will engage with works of Sappho, Herodotus, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Plato, providing participants who teach in a variety of disciplines with approaches to integrate the literature of ancient Greece into a wide range of courses. The schedule incorporates ample time for participants to take full advantage of the facilities of the Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS).

The seminar is made possible through the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Seminar Leaders

Gregory Nagy headshotGregory Nagy is Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature, professor of comparative literature, and since 2000, director of the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University. He previously served as chair of Harvard’s literature concentration, chair of the classics department, and president of the American Philological Association (APA). His publications include The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry, which won the APA’s Goodwin Award of Merit; Greek Mythology and Poetics; Pindar’s Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past; Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond; Homeric Questions; Homeric Responses and The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Since 2013, Harvard has offered his popular class, The Ancient Greek Hero, as a massive open online course through edX.

Kenneth Scott Morrell headshotKenneth Scott Morrell is associate professor of Greek and Roman studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to publishing articles and teaching courses on ancient Greek and Latin literature, he has participated in archaeological work in Greece, Israel, and Turkey and in initiatives related to the use of information technology. Morrell was an original member of the Perseus Project and has more recently been involved in Sunoikisis, an inter-institutional project to expand opportunities for the study of the ancient world.

Current Status

Approximately 20 full-time faculty members from CIC member institutions were selected by competitive nomination.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Current Status

Approximately 20 full-time faculty members from CIC member institutions will be selected by competitive nomination.

Selection of participants will be announced by Friday, March 15, 2019.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Nomination Information

Up to 20 individuals will be selected by competitive nomination. Participants must be full-time, long-term faculty members at CIC member institutions, so that what is learned during the seminar will benefit the institution for many years to come. CIC member institutions that nominate individuals must be in good standing and committed to renewing CIC membership for the 2019–2020 membership year.

The chief academic officer of the nominee’s institution must nominate the faculty member who wishes to participate. Each institution may nominate more than one individual, and faculty members of all academic ranks are eligible to participate. The seminar is open to individuals who have participated in previous CIC/CHS seminars, but preference will be given to first-time participants.

To submit a nomination online, please refer to the brochure and nomination form:

The nomination deadline is Friday, February 15, 2019.

Selection of participants will be announced by Friday, March 15, 2019.

Location and Expenses

The seminar will take place at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC. Housing will be provided at the center. Lodging, some meals, books, and other expenses will be covered by CIC, CHS, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The only expense to participants or their institutions will be transportation to and from Washington, DC, although CIC will provide participants a stipend of up to $400 to help offset the cost of travel and meals.

Contact Information

​For questions about the seminar or the nomination process, contact Stephen Gibson, CIC director of programs, at or (202) 466-7230.