Published: Sept. 25, 2017

Talk by Greta Hawes
Tracking Heracles through Pausanias:
local myth and panhellenic knowledge

Monday, September 25
5:00 PM HUMN 250

Greek painting

Heracles is everywhere in Pausanias’ Description of Greece. He was the ‘panhellenic hero par excellence’, and innumerable local communities connected landmarks in their territories to his mythic adventures. Precisely because of his premier cultural status, Pausanias seldom recounts the best-known of his myths but assumes his readers already knows them. This situation offers a prime opportunity to think about what kind of mythic knowledge an educated Greek of the Imperial period was simply expected to know. In this paper, I develop three lines of enquiry, beginning with the basic knowledge of Heracles’ mythic data, taking in general ‘habits’ associated with him, and then ending with the narrative instincts which colour how he appears in Pausanias’ text, and how he impacted the physical landscape of Greece. I show that ‘mythic knowledge’ is in fact a more multifaceted concept than we might at first assume.

Greta Hawes is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the Australian National University, where she currently holds an Australian Research Council DECRA research fellowship. She is author of Rationalizing myth in antiquity (OUP, 2014), editor of Myths on the map: the storied landscapes of ancient Greece (OUP, 2017), and currently hard at work on a new book about Pausanias, landscape, and storytelling.