You are here

Words and Time: A Brief Introduction to a Concise Inventory of Greek Etymologies

Submitted by Catherine M Connors on February 21, 2016 - 9:55pm
photo of the collaborative team

Early in Winter term 2016, a large group of faculty, students, alumni and friends gathered for a spacious and thought-provoking talk by Professor Gregory Nagy, visiting as this year's John B. and Mary K. McDiarmid Lecturer. Nagy's ‘Rethinking of Sappho in light of the Newest Fragments’ used recently deciphered papyrus fragments to add to what is known of the most famous female Greek poet, illuminating how the songs of Sappho both mark particular occasions and celebrate the power of song itself to capture and transcend the passing of time. Central to Nagy's arguments were several analyses of the ways that the history of particular Greek words can reveal larger stories of culture.

In anticipation of the occasion of Nagy’s visit, during the Autumn Quarter, with the support of the Simpson Center for the Humanities, Olga Levaniouk led an interdisciplinary micro-seminar titled ‘Greek Etymology as Cultural History in the Work of Gregory Nagy’.  The seminar participants produced an accessible inventory of some of Nagy’s most significant writings on the etymological development and cultural and poetic significance of Greek words.The project, A Concise Inventory of Greek Etymologies, will appear under the editorship of Olga Levaniouk as volume 18 of Classics@, an on-line journal published by the Center for Hellenic Studies ( The project promises to be an extremely useful resource for all those interested in the many kinds of stories that words tell.  Students discuss their process and findings here

and previews are posted here