The Iliad by Homer ~ Translation by Stanley Lombardo ~ 10/04

October 1, 2004 - 05:35 am
Well a bright good morning to you here on the first day of our epic journey! Although we did the Odyssey in 1997 I don't believe I have ever been more excited about a beginning book discussion, and want to welcome all of you here to our gathering of Greek ships on the shore, our encampment, 9 years into our siege of the city Troy.

We will hover, like the Greek gods, for one week, and then you'll be asked to choose a side: you'll find yourself with the Greeks, the Trojans, or the gods. At a signal later in the discussion you'll switch, and then you'll either be a Greek or a Trojan, so choose your side carefully!

We also are thrilled to welcome the great (there is no other term) Dr. Stanley Lombardo, whose incredible translation we'll be using, and the wonderful Dr. Mark Stone, whose class in the Iliad inspired this offering: their generosity makes THIS an unparalleled opportunity to learn, in several related fields. I am tremendously excited about this experience!!

Our army here is set, but can we conquer this 3,000 year old poem? Do you find it surprising?

My email is full of things like, "l I never read The Iliad, but I saw the movie, (or the Olympics), and I would like to try to read the original in translation, but I'm really starting on ground zero, WAS there a Homer? How does anybody know? WAS there an actual Trojan War? What's this about Helen? I am afraid I will appear too dumb."

Not to worry, other than our two distinguished guests, one in Classics, and the other in Philosophy, none of us are Iliad scholars, so we're all in this together, and the thing I like best about it is, we will all learn: that's guaranteed, we'll start at the very beginning, and together fill in the pieces. And knowing some of you as I do, I can't WAIT to hear your own takes on what's happening here. WOW! This is exciting!

The topics in the heading are not to be numbered on a paper, and answered all at once, by the way, they are intended to spark thoughts or jump off places for one week's discussion. You may suggest your own questions, too, for the group and we'll put them up, too.

This is a conversation. If one person advances a theory, please respond to him in kind and let's get an exchange of ideas flowing.

I think, depending on what it seems you all would like to start off with this morning, that we can put most of the questions on HTML pages and just highlight what we're focusing on at the moment, we'll try that later on.

Please bring all of your links to other sites and information here, please try to use a site connected in some way with a reputable source, it would help, for instance, if your link had the letters to .edu , or something similar, in it.

Jonathan will be collecting these and we'll put them all on HTML pages for reference, as you can see already beginning in the heading.

And now, as I sit here listening to Dr. Lombardo's voice reading Book 1, (see heading) it's time to begin!!

I am struck by these remarks (is your text numbered by the lines? This is from Book 1, lines 160-ff)

How are you going to get any Greek warrior
To follow you into battle again?
You know I don't have any quarrel with the Trojans,
They didn't do anything to me to make me
Come over here and fight, didn't run off my cattle or horses
Or ruin my farmland back home in Phthia, not with all
The shadowy mountains and moaning seas between.
It's for you, dogface, for your precious pleasure--
And Menelaus' honor—that we came here…
I never get a prize equal to yours when the army
Captures one of the Trojan strongholds.
No, I do all the dirty work with my own hands,
And when the battle's over and we divide the loot
You get the lion's share, and I go back to the ships
With some pitiful little thing, so worn out from fighting
I don't have the strength left even to complain.
Well I'm going back to Phthia now. Far better
To head home with my curved ships than stay here,
Unhonored myself, and piling up a fortune for you.

I thought this was very powerful, and expresses very clearly what Achilles' problem is, or does it? What's eating Achilles? This one section to me explains almost half of what's going on, but what is it saying? About the Greeks, about the customs of war, about leadership philosophy, pride, honor, and about what's really going on?

(PS: If you have the Lombardo translation, don't miss the Translator's Preface and the Introduction, I got lost in them on the porch yesterday in the sun and woke up much later reluctantly back in 2004, they are fabulous. We will be getting up questions for both Dr. Lombardo and Dr. Stone separately, I have a million on that interview alone in the heading, so bring your questions for either guest as we get rolling and we'll put them up also). A drachma for your thoughts! (I hope that's right haaha)

Yasou (hopefully Greek for Greetings!) Welcome, All!

October 1, 2004 - 06:09 am
Hi Ginny,

And away you go again!!! I would love to read The Iliad. I wonder why. I have no knowledge whatsoever about this piece of literature. I do hear your joy and excitement.

As usual, I am willing to row away with you to some unknown shore and meet the gods and goddesses. So, last night my husband picked up my copy of Lombardo's translation from the library.

I read two paragraphs and knew I would need all the help I could get. This is why I am afraid to miss this wonderful opportunity. The help and fun is here for the taking. This is just too great.

I will go everyday and anxiously read the posts and maybe take notes. With your help I will come away richer in mind and spirit.

Thank you for taking the time and effort to invite Dr. Lombardo.

Your Friend Always and Constant Admirer,


Malryn (Mal)
October 1, 2004 - 06:32 am
Who was Homer?

"No one knows. Even the ancient Greeks were not able to agree about when and where Homer lived. One popular account was that he was born some time in the 8th century BC in Smyrna in Asia Minor, lived on the island of Chios, and died on the small island of Ios. Greek writers also claimed that he was blind, that his real name was Melesigines, and that his father was the river Meles and his mother a nymph named Kretheis.

"Though they could not agree about the details of his life, ancient Greeks did not doubt that there was a poet named Homer who had written the Iliad, the Odyssey, and possibly a number of other poems. Many modern scholars dispute even this. Scholars in the last two hundred years have established that the Iliad and Odyssey are products of a long oral tradition which became fixed sometime in the eighth century BC. How exactly the poems took their final shape (Was it the work of one person or several? Did the process involve writing?) is still a matter of speculation.


The Iliad: Reed College Humanities course

Malryn (Mal)
October 1, 2004 - 06:47 am
"The Greeks traditionally assumed that a single poet named Homer composed both the Iliad and the Odyssey, but we have no certain information about who composed these poems or how. Both the Homeric poems were composed in an oral poetic tradition that preceded the advent of writing. The Homeric poems were by far the most revered and influential works of literature in the ancient Greek (and Roman) world."

Identity of Homer and Greek Oral Poetry: Perseus Encyclopedia

Malryn (Mal)
October 1, 2004 - 07:26 am
Troy was originally known as "Ilium". As far as I can tell "Iliad" means "Story about Ilium".


October 1, 2004 - 10:32 am
Good morning all! I'm glad Ginny isn't losing her enthusiasm after the hard time we're giving her in Latin. Thanks, Mal, for your great links as always. It's great to start with the Reed College Humanities Course where my beloved niece (PatH's daughter) read Homer. It makes me feel very connected.

The introductions in Lombardo's translation are great. Perhaps we could get Dr. Lombardo's permission to post some excerpts. Especially on p. xxii where she "sums up the whole social system." It really explains what is happening in Part I.

Without that introduction, I would feel that Achilles and Agamemnon are acting like two spoiled children, and I wouldn't have anything good to say about either of them. I still can't like an ethos that passes women around like pieces in a chess game, but we can begin to see what's at stake here.

Here are two men whose whole justification for existance is bound up in honor. They have made a bargain that they will uncomplainedly court an early death in return for that honor. If that honor is not given them, then this bargain becomes meaningless and foolish, as does their life. Both men feel that honor threatened when their prize is taken away, and can't tolorate it.

In addition, Agamemnon's leadership is being threatened. If he backs down for fear of losing Achilles then he is saying that he is not the true leader of the Greeks.

And indeed he is not. I have read about medieval armies with a similiar organization. They did not have the concept of one leader whose orders everyone had to follow. Instead, each of these heroes is the leader of his men. They discuss in councel what they will do, but if someone doesn't agree, they and their men don't do it: they go their own way. This could have disasterous effects: we'll see if it does for the Greeks.

October 1, 2004 - 12:12 pm
Our undertaking the study of this great classic is a monumental task and I was unsure where or how to begin. Fortunately Ginny has taken the bull by the horns and opened up our discussion with Achilles literally blowing a fuse. He is ticked off and is making no bones about his displeasure with King Agamemnon's decision to take his "bounty", the lovely captive Briseis, away from him. Who can blame the guy? He's weary and tired from fighting and now he's PO'ed. Too bloody bad for Agamemnon that he has to return his captive back to her Daddy. Why does he retaliate and wish to enrage his loyal warrior Achilles? JoanK is right, they're acting like spoiled children. She's mine-- No, she will be mine! Oh please, where is the honor among fools?

October 1, 2004 - 12:21 pm
Well I'm going back to Phthia now. Far better To head home with my curved ships than stay here, Unhonored myself, and piling up a fortune for you.

What does that mean, "curved ships?"
Curved, as in arched and elliptical? Or curved, as in crooked and disfigured, perhaps even rotten, after being in battle for 9 long years?

Pat H
October 1, 2004 - 01:09 pm
JoanK and ALF explain very well why the disagreement between Achilles and Agamemnon is more important than the quarrel of two spoiled children. It is a struggle for status and supremacy. Briseis is a status symbol—prizes were distributed according to the importance of the recipients, and Achilles, as the greatest warrior, a king at home, and a descendant of Zeus, can’t tolerate the insult of having her taken away. With my frivolous mind, I can’t help thinking of the businessman being forced to give up the key to the executive washroom, but it really was a serious thing for the Greeks.

October 1, 2004 - 01:17 pm
Troy is a city in Asia Minor, presently in Turkey, and H. Schliemann was the archeologist credited with its rediscovery, although as usual in that field, a whole team worked with him on the "dig."

Epic defined: epic is a monumental form which recounts events with far-reaching historical consequences, sums up the values and achievements of an entire culture, and documents the fullness and variety of the world. ... One of its aims is to record the sheer numbers of people ... as in the "Catalogue of Ships" ... [or to] focus on a particular warrior's final monents on the battlefield. Source: Lombardo edition, introduction, p. xxi.

Shasta Sills
October 1, 2004 - 02:01 pm
There is an interesting article in the recent issue of "Scientific American" about some experiments that were made in reading the "Iliad" aloud. It seems that dactylic hexameter can get your heart beating in time with your breathing. But they were using a German translation. Would the same thing happen in an English translation? I have the Robert Fagles translation. Can I use that in this discussion?

Pat H
October 1, 2004 - 04:25 pm
It seems to be a precarious life being a Greek woman. The only things that make you valuable are your beauty and your skill at weaving. You have to get the beauty just right—attractive enough to end up with a good place in life, but not so beautiful that you are fought over or stolen away or, even worse, attract one of the Gods and end up as a tree.

Weaving is safer, as long as you are careful to avoid bragging to Goddesses. They don’t seem to have fought wars over the skilled weavers.

(Of course, there was Penelope, who was a skilled un-weaver.)

Pat H
October 1, 2004 - 05:35 pm
I'm not quite sure how I managed to post the same message 3 times, one without the last sentence. Sorry about that.

October 1, 2004 - 10:30 pm
And in that it, seems, to me lays a partial answer to who was Homer. As Marilyn has pointed out nothing is known about an historical Homer. And yet in those first words of calling on the Muse he reveals himself as a very understandable, real human individual. Why wasn't he specific? After the first line gods and goddesses are always identified whenever they play a role in the action. No one doubts their reality, and their close ties to the fates of everyone.

'Sing, Goddess.' Mark the capital G, in Dr Lombardo's translation. And what a wonderful translation. It would seem that Homer has, with that capital G, one of the muses in mind. One of the nine. Why not name her? Surely he must have known that there would be contention and dissension among the Muses for the honor of inspiring the epic of The Iliad. Somehow I think that calling on the Muse had become a mechanical ritual for Homer. It shows a nonchalant attitude. That necessarily raises the question of how seriously he took the transcendent cast of gods and goddesses which are so vital to the story.

Uncertainty on this point is made more evident in the lines immediately following. We will be hearing about:

'...incalculable pain, countless souls of heroes pitched into Hade's dark, their bodies left to rot as feasts for dogs and birds.' 4-6.

All this as a result of Achille's rage? Or Zeus' will? Does Homer expect the reader to decide the matter? Where's the accountibility here?

The shock of it all. 'Have you counted up the number?' One of the questions Ginny poses. Not exactly, but there must be a hundred occasions, when a mighty funeral oration might have been spoken by some eloquent Anthony. So many heroes.

Of course Ginny was thinking of the numbers involved with the catalogue of the ships. I make it 1146 ships. A coalition of 31 contingents. The Boiotians came with 50 ships, with 120 young men on each ship. That's 6000 men. It's not likely that the ships of some of the others, Agamemnon's 100 ships for example, would have been smaller. Nestor came with 90 ships. A reasonable estimate might easily be that 100,000 men came to fetch Helen. The crucial role of women should never be forgotten. If beauty was everything about a woman, it was bravery in a man that mattered. And what a theme that is in The Iliad: The problem of working up some courage. For nine years they procrastinated. No wonder they were demoralized. Odysseus, by the way, with his 10 ships, came with more wile than weapons.

I had forgotten what a fascinating book this really is. Who feels nostalgia for the Olympians? We have no need for them, thus proving them mortal after all. Except for the Muses. They're kept alive by those millions calling for help.


October 1, 2004 - 10:37 pm
More on the quarrel:

The sociologist Max Weber once said there are two sides to society. In every society people try to stay alive and to get the material things they need to do so. But, he said, a life spent staying alive is meaningless, since it always fails. So in every society people and peoples try to make life meaningful in the face of death.

His studies read like a catalog of some of the ways in which people make life meaningful in the face of death: religion, making the world a better place, increasing knowledge, passing things along to one's children. But he also talked about something he called status.

"Status", for Weber, is a sense of who you are. To people to whom it is important this sense gives meaning to their lives. People will die rather than do any thing that threatens this sense of who they are, since without it life is meaningless.

It is surely this sense that explains in part why some people fight so bravely on the battlefield. It can also be destructive. We see both Achilles and Agamemnon doing things that threaten the very endeavor for which they are willing to risk their lives when this sense of who they are is threatened.

October 2, 2004 - 02:21 am
Welcome, Hats, how glad we are to see you here, can't wait to hear your thoughts on this, you always see what I have missed, and we want everybody's frank opinions and thoughts and perspectives.

Welcome, Shasta, sure you can use another translation, we'll enjoy comparing them, for instance, what do ANY of you who have other translations have for "wooly Dream," in Book 1 line 10, and also "dogface?" (167). (Are your translations numbered by line?)

I like to come in once a day and read what you all have said (so please do not hesiate to talk to each other in my absence), and then go off and think about it, and so am up early churning your thoughts over and over only to see Shasta's article, and Jonathan's and Joan K's new thoughts this morning, wow. What super points you ALL raise, let's look at them first and then I want to challenge you on Achilles. I can see right now we need 4 camps, I have no doubt whose I would be in, let's look at Achilles again, I think something else is going on here (and probably am totally wrong, wouldn't be the first time, but we're about our honest reactions to what we're reading).

What I'm thinking of doing is highlighting what we're focusing on in red in the heading, and maybe putting the other questions on links, we'll work that out today, can't WAIT to get to what you've said. One thing for sure, it makes super fodder for the brain during the day, I'm enjoying going back in time. It seems so modern, tho, to me, does it you?

Hats, you are, as always, right on the mark, you read two paragraphs and immediately saw the depth and complexity, the thing is on many layers. I simply can't get OVER this morning how old it is. Thank you Malryn for that information on Homer and those wonderful maps (now in the heading) What was the original source for those maps? I love the way the characters are indicated on the individual areas, that's very fine, thank you.

This is an OLD book, (is it the first book of the Western World?) . "...the end of the first state of ancient Greek history , which is known as the Bronze Age, after the widespread use of bronze during that time, or the Mycenaean period...developed in the centuries after 2000 BCE..." "Mycenaean civilization reached its height at about 1600—BCE…and was destroyed about 1200—BCE."

The Iliad was written down for the first time in the 8th century BCE, but
...claimed to describe events that had taken place approximately five hundred years before. For the Greeks of the eighth century and afterward, these were works of history, authoritative records of their own past. A modern historian might be more inclined to label them historical fiction, thinking that whatever conflict lies behind the story of the Trojan War is more likely to have been fought over trade routes to the Black Sea then—as Home retells it—over the Trojan's theft from the Greeks of the world's most beautiful woman, Helen of Troy...Historians and archaeologists who have tried to match the culture described in the Homeric epics to what we know of Greek history from other sources have found that the culture unselfconsciously combines element of the Bronze Age with elements of the Dark Age…This can be seen in the depictions of combat that are a major feature of the Iliad While it is repeatedly mentioned that the weapons being used are made of bronze—which fell out of use for weapons after the Bronze Age, being replaced by iron—some of the specified implements and fighting practices belong to a late time.

(Murnaghan: Introduction l-liii).

(I have an awful time with this Introduction. You want to underline what is important so you end up underlining it all, and you can't find your place, so you put stars and then there are too many stars and you put arrows and the thing looks like a fight, itself. That has got to be the most succinct Introduction I have ever read, and I can NEVER go back and correct typos, but I'm pretty sure that the Mycenaean's are not spelled, as my Spell Check would like for me to spell them, Menapii). hahahaa

So it's clear just from that little snippet (and I agree with Joan, we need to quote the entire book, that Introduction alone is a course in itself), that this is an ancient document, a chance to be a time traveler to a distant land and time: a time where men were demi-gods and bronze weapons were used, and concepts foreign to us were employed: the gods intervened, for good or ill and men on the field of battle erupted in there any lesson here for us? When you think of the Bronze Age, do you think of cave men grunting over the fire?

What are we seeing here, instead? I think this is absolutely fascinating, and it somewhat frightens me that I find myself firmly on Achilles' side, see next post.

Malryn when you mention the Oral Tradition, what precisely did that entail? I see somewhere in the Notes in my edition that it would take 20 hours to present The Iliad, are we to believe that anybody had this thing memorized? The Introduction in my book seem to suggest it was embellished as the different tellers recited it out loud: that it grew with each teller, but how on earth could anybody even remember any of it, no wonder they wrote it down finally, and aren't we glad somebody did!?!

And thank you for the definition of The Iliad.

Joan, for people who don't have the Lombardo translation would you sum up the background given by Sheila Murnaghan and help us put these people in a historical context and perspective?

You said, Without that introduction, I would feel that Achilles and Agamemnon are acting like two spoiled children, and I wouldn't have anything good to say about either of them. Lovely, I would like to talk about JUST this, in the next post!

Ok great point, you say both Achilles and Agamemnon's entire self justification for existence is bound up in honor….and then you say "if honor is not given them…" Who is supposed to give this honor? What does it say of "honor" if somebody else has to give it TO you? Great point you make on the decisions in council, I am going to need all of you here to help me understand what Agamemnon is doing, if he were on a submarine in WWII, in my opinion, he would be relieved, that's my conception of what's going on. A Greek Captain Queeg, or do you all see Agamemnon that way?

Choose sides this morning, Agamemnon or Achilles and why?

Andrea, you say Achilles blew a fuse. And you say who can blame him and mention that he's weary from fighting, all super points. As a nurse, you are familiar with the effects of stress. What, we need to ask ourselves, would be more stressful than being on a battlefield for 9 years?!?!? And this is no ordinary battlefield. There is no triage or MASH unit here, if they stab you, you get to suffer endlessly and die, what a nightmare. And as he points out, he's out there day after day. More on this later on but BOTH Agamemnon and Achilles are under stress and they are both reacting, maybe over reacting, which one is showing more humanity here?

Good question on curved ships, I'll put it in the heading. Newsweek or Time one did a huge article on the movie Troy and they have a scene from the movie of what looks like a million ships pulled up to the shore, I would KILL for that photo. If any of you can find it you win the…golden scepter for a week!

Pat, great points on the role of women in this piece! We tend to overlook the role of women, focusing as we are on the men, the heroes, the warriors, but Homer does not, clever you to bring that up. The whole system of "spoils in battle" is one we need to understand more, also. Of course we are way above that in the 20th century, right? I am thinking specifically of the Amber Room now.

Did any of you find it ironic that this blow up between the ranks came as the result of another woman's being spirited off? We will want to watch, and I do hope some of you, like Pat, are on the alert for the role of women in this thing, I wonder what part it will play?

Great point, Pat, about the modern day parallel of the executive washroom!!!!! This one's a washroom with a twist, isn't it?

Mippy thank you for that background on Heinrich Schliemann, that whole story is fascinating, have any of you read his book? Do any of you know the background of how he found "Troy," or , was it 9 layers of Troy? I had his Mask of Agamemnon ready to go here as an illustration, when I read it actually dates from another time, such disappointment@! Isn't he who said I have looked on the face of Agamemnon?

Great definition of the Epic, what are some of its characteristics?

Shasta, than you for mentioning that fascinating article. The Iliad is written in Dactylic Hexameter, a line of 6 "feet" or stresses. Can any of you show how a Dactyl is represented or present what a line of it would look like in English verse? I thought the Translator's Notes here were fascinating, what meter is your own translations if you have different ones, composed in? That is an excellent question, Shasta, and I'll put it in the heading as well.,

Jonathan, what an interesting take on "Goddess," and who that might be? Which one do you think it might be? Another excellent question, and into the heading: why wasn't he specific?

If you all are using different translations, what do YOU see as the second and third words of this book? Lombardo has "Sing, Goddess,"

I agree, Jonathan, this time around the translation really stands out for me, it's lyric in its own right.

All this as a result of Achille's rage? Or Zeus' will? Does Homer expect the reader to decide the matter? Where's the accountability here? THAT is an excellent question and will also go into the heading asap!

Thank you!

Golly moses, DID you actually count up the ships and men? 100,000? Over one woman? Or maybe NOT?

Thank you for that! I was hoping somebody would.

….was bravery in a man that mattered. And what a theme that is in The Iliad: The problem of working up some courage. For nine years they procrastinated. No wonder they were demoralized. Oh good point good point.

ARE they procrastinating or have they been fighting? IS there something here being said to US 3,000 years later? Something we can learn from, even IF we are not engaged in battle every day….or are we?

Joan K, wonderful points on Weber and status and the need to make life meaningful and why. I think you are putting your finger right ON the point here:
"Status", for Weber, is a sense of who you are. To people to whom it is important this sense gives meaning to their lives. People will die rather than do any thing that threatens this sense of who they are, since without it life is meaningless.

We have to figure out WHY Achilles erupted, where he gets his status from, why it's threatened, and if he was justified? We have to tie into what's going on, once we understand the context it's even more inexplicable, let's look more closely at Achilles and Agamemnon today!

October 2, 2004 - 03:23 am
"But what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has not…" ("My Way,"—Frank Sinatra)

Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.—William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
"Who do you trust, who do you trust?"---Jack Nicholson as The Joker: "Batman."

I can't believe I’m starting this post out with two of my least favorite people on earth, Frank Sinatra and William Faulkner, but maybe that's as good a way as any to plunge into the subject this morning: what is a MAN?

Earlier Joan mentioned Weber:
His studies read like a catalog of some of the ways in which people make life meaningful in the face of death: religion, making the world a better place, increasing knowledge, passing things along to one's children. But he also talked about something he called status.

"Status", for Weber, is a sense of who you are. To people to whom it is important this sense gives meaning to their lives. People will die rather than do any thing that threatens this sense of who they are, since without it life is meaningless.

And that's in the 20th Century.

Let's talk about what it is that makes a man a man, no matter when he lived. We've talked about the cultural and social influences of the time, the historical perspective, and we need to hear more. We've talked about the importance of status, and honor, and what makes up a sense of self worth, in any age, at any time. I think within this context there is a fundamental truth for Everyman being revealed and I'd like to approach it with you all and get your perspectives.

We all know people who, when they don't get their way, "pick up their toys and go home." Boys and their toys.

We have several conflicting things happening here, tho, and I'd like to try to get to the bottom of it.

Here are some of the thoughts and questions I have:

  • Why are we here besieging Troy? Has Homer told us? I see no mention of Helen in these first two Books (and that's all we are discussing this week). Why not? All we have is Achilles' speech and it, to me, is a doozy. He's perfectly clear, let's look at it again:

    This is from Book 1, lines 160-ff)

    How are you going to get any Greek warrior
    To follow you into battle again?
    You know I don't have any quarrel with the Trojans,
    They didn't do anything to me to make me
    Come over here and fight, didn't run off my cattle or horses
    Or ruin my farmland back home in Phthia, not with all
    The shadowy mountains and moaning seas between.
    It's for you, dogface, for your precious pleasure--
    And Menelaus' honor—that we came here…
    I never get a prize equal to yours when the army
    Captures one of the Trojan strongholds.
    No, I do all the dirty work with my own hands,
    And when the battle's over and we divide the loot
    You get the lion's share, and I go back to the ships
    With some pitiful little thing, so worn out from fighting
    I don't have the strength left even to complain.
    Well I'm going back to Phthia now. Far better
    To head home with my curved ships than stay here,
    Unhonored myself, and piling up a fortune for you.

    OK. Let's see if we can get some of this straight today, help me if you will?

    (By the way, what do your translations say for "dogface," love that.)

  • Agamemnon is apparently the leader? It's his brother Menelaus who has the problem and was aggrieved? And so because of that we have 100,000 men from all OVER Greece, assembled at the foot of Troy? Why? What's going on here? Is this like the Allies in WWII? Achilles says VERY flatly it's NOT his quarrel? It's not his lands despoiled (what is he TALKING about?) It's not HIS fight and he has nothing against the Trojans? None the less we have the idea he's killing them daily?

  • Are they waiting or are they procrastinating? In one spot in Book 1, Achilles says hey, I'm on the front lines busting my behind while YOU Agamemnon are lurking in the rear?I'm the one out there who is every day in danger of being killed (and this in itself is fascinating as we will see when HE comes out on the field, they almost die of fright anyway, he's that powerful, he's potent, he's...going to die soon, his mother helpfully keeps telling him and us.)...So he's out there, he's BEEN out there for 9 years. 9 years is a LONG time to be in a war.

  • He's been betrayed. He THOUGHT he was doing it for honor. He THOUGHT he was reaching toward a higher goal and raising himself in the process, in accordance with his own culture and heroic tradition. He THOUGHT he would be appreciated and honored even tho his sense of self worth seems to come from something conferred by others, and not within, (that in itself might be something worth discussing: if your sense of self worth is conferred by others, what does that say about YOU?) He needs that sense of place in the society for his own well being. What IS a man? Under stress do you find out?

  • He's been betrayed, and by somebody he not only trusted, but somebody who he's sacrificed a heck of a lot for, not to mention he's about to sacrifice his own life, boy that hurts. My eyes are smarting here FOR him. He's totally enraged, he's like a wounded bear or bull. You can hear him roar in anguish. Boy that's powerful stuff.

    Remember all the talk of the Japanese and the seriousness of losing face? Pat spoke of the Men's Executive Washroom, what are some of the symbols in our own society which show a man has "made it?" How do WE in 2004 judge worth as a man? If you take a man in 2004 would it be possible to take away in one fell swoop, his entire sense of worth and being?

    How would you do that? What happens to a person when he finds that the ideal he followed, the goal he pursued, is dust? It was a hollow horse all along?? What an ironic thing the Trojan Horse (not in this book) really was, in that context?

    Can we dare to think about what WE think of as OUR own self worth? The things we might whisper to ourselves privately after a setback? Well at least I can stand on XX and YY, I'm ZZZ. What would happen if you found out all THAT was dust?

    So Achilles is betrayed, enraged, and hurt, he's like a wounded animal.

  • 1. What does he DO to himself and to the very culture which he embraced as a result? What is symbolic of his holding and then throwing DOWN the scepter? IS he willfully wanting to hurt the culture that has betrayed him?

  • What would YOU have done under the same circumstances?

  • And what has CAUSED this problem?

  • 2. Let's look at Agamemnon, Leader of Men, for a moment. He's not giving back his prize out of altruism? In fact, he refused her father's pleas. Rather nastily. What happened? What caused him to finally relent? That is a stressor on Agamemnon, what does his reaction say about him? Why Achilles' prize? Spoils and booty of war are one thing (reprehensible as they are to us) but this is NOT a war with Achilles? HE'S not the conquered enemy? So nothing of HIS should be taken by Agamemnon? Unfair!! What on earth is wrong with Cap'n Queeg…er Agamemnon here? He's nuts.

    Is this some kind of macho move? Is he saying well YOU may be the star on the field and the most important fighter, but I'm the leader and I'll show YOU, why on earth do this? What kind of a move in leadership is this? Talk about seeing people as a means to an end! What does this move do to the entire group?

  • Riddle me this: if these men move in a structured society, structured enough that they can pick up the scepter and have the right to speak (can you imagine Julius Caesar wanting to hear all sides before a battle?!? )…then what has Agamemnon done here TO that society and culture? Whose reaction is the worst here? Who has reacted the most badly and why?

  • How can we tell that perhaps Agamemnon has acted badly? I think Homer gives us a clue, did anybody except me (who can see a clue in a blade of grass that's not there) see it?

    What has REALLY caused Agamemnon to act out in this way?

    Now note the dynamics here, Achilles says I never get a prize equal to yours, and I'm on the front lines and worn out. But he's TOLERATED this for 9 years (for a cause), and he KNOWS this trip is going to kill him, he's going to DIE and for what?

    For what?
  • (If Agamemnon had not done this, would Achilles have kept on do you think?)

    I just saw one of those doctor instruction programs on television yesterday morning in the wee hours, talking about stressors in every day life. The doctor was pointing out that every day stress has a physical effect on the body, that it physically changes the body in many ways in response and that if ANY outside stressor occurs not related to this normal stress in daily life a tremendous physical reaction occurs in overload: the straw that broke the camel's back sort of thing.

    Both these men are under stress. I must say of the two I much prefer Achilles' way of dealing with it, it's caused the least pain, his withdrawing,so far? Or has it?

    How are you going to get any Greek warrior
    To follow you into battle again?
    Good question. Here Achilles, who does understand, and lives within the culture, is indicating a wrong. He's been betrayed, and dishonored. What on earth has possessed Agamemnon?

    And these are men of war, the level of…I mean how do you turn this type of thing off, out there daily, hacking away, slashing, killing and come back in and sit around the fire calmly? If these are Bronze Age or Early Iron Age Men, I would say ol Queeg here is lucky he didn't get his head taken off. And he almost did? Who stopped Achilles? Here we see one of the gods intervening, don't you think that's fascinating?

    So SOMETHING stopped him. Homer says it's a goddess, his mother. We need to get an entire understanding of each of these gods and goddesses, who they favor who they don't, does anybody volunteer to keep them straight for us and make a list? NOTE that Achilles' mother IS a goddess of a minor rank but a goddess all the same, he's almost inhuman, he's so powerful. He's Superman.

    According to my book the Greek word for RAGE, menis, "is used otherwise only of gods."

    So the question du jour is: Who do you Trust: Achilles or Agamemnon and why? Both men under pressure, both react to that pressure, one is more destructive than the other initially, which one is wrong, what do YOU think?
  • Mippy
    October 2, 2004 - 05:00 am
    To skip back before both of Ginny's posts(need to cogitate!)
    "Muse" as Johnathan mentions
    I had pictured a real Homer calling on a "muse" to perch on his shoulder, just as today an author has to get past writer's block to start filling a new sheet of paper in the typewriter or a blank screen on the computer -- or similarly, an artist needs a muse to start on a blank canvas.
    Couldn't that be the reason Homer does not say which Muse, but just any ol' one who can carry in some inspiration and whisper into his ear?

    October 2, 2004 - 08:58 am
    Finally posting some links to archeology and Troy. The date on Schliemann is 1870, and subsequent years. The second link is somewhat difficult to read, but try if you have time.

    October 2, 2004 - 09:54 am

    Status: Since Agamemnon lost status (in his eyes) by being forced to surrender his prize he felt the only way to regain status was to force the leading warrior on the greek side to give up his prize to him. Twisted thinking but makes sense if you take into account how much status and honor meant to the Greeks.

    Yes, Achilles had a right to be mad. He led the fighting by being in the front at all times doing battle with the enemy. Still, he wasn't taking all that much of a chance since he was wearing armor fashioned from the forge of the Gods and he was invunerable due to his mother dipping him into the River Styx. I agree with him: he was not getting the recognition he deserved. I too would take my ball and go home in his place. After all, without him the Greeks would fail and he knew it.

    Tiger Tom

    October 2, 2004 - 09:58 am
    Spoils of War:

    Females have been considered a prize of war since wars began. Even up to modern times. Although not so overtly.

    Males too but only as slaves to be worked to death.

    The head guys got the Gold and the best of the Females so the troops had to settle for what they could and a female was portable, could carry a load for him, cook, and generally make his life a bit easier.

    Tiger Tom

    October 2, 2004 - 12:03 pm
    GINNY: why do we have to take sides? Just because two people disagree, doesn't mean that we should immediately assume that one of them is right and the other is wrong.

    However, if I have to take sides, I have to initially side with Achilles. He tried to get Agamemnon to do what a leader should do and act for the good of the whole. And he got punished for it.

    But I leave Achilles at the point where he persuades his mother to see that many Greeks are killed. That's too much. It's one thing to withdraw from his side, another to in effect betray it. Agamemnon could have persuaded himself that by letting Achilles walk away, he's not really hurting his cause that much, but Achilles can't hide from himself the fact that he is killing his friends and colleagues.

    In both men, we see the weakness of this so-called "honor".

    October 2, 2004 - 12:06 pm
    Gods, Greeks and Trojans!

    My God Ginny you go right into the heart of the war!

    As you know, my heart goes all out to Achille. In this great epic, the Greeks sacrificed all for their Queen Helen. Fighting an exaggerated nine long years because of a curse on King Agamemnon. He lost all his honor and cursed himself dragging this war because he did the same thing to Achille. Stealing the prize that was indeed a Queen in Achille's heart. Agamemnon had gone to Troy to save the honor of his brother Menelaus who had lost his wife to Paris, but cursing his very existence and the sacred war by steeling another man's possession. Until the truth about the outcome of the war was seen by the warriors, that their king Agamemnon had cursed them, then forced him finally to return the prize to Achille for justice, there could be no victory in sight. The gods had given the soul's power of the war to Achille, and the force to Agamemnon. Fighting together was their ultimate glory.


    October 2, 2004 - 12:25 pm
    JoanK wrote, above, "why do we have to take sides? Just because two people disagree, doesn't mean that we should immediately assume that one of them is right and the other is wrong." That was so very similar to what I thought that I had to quote it. ...however, if I HAD to be a character, and of course the male/female choice does not at all depend on who we are in the so-called real world, I would be the brave, admirable and wise Odysseus. Who among us has the nerve to be Achilles? or Paris?

    On to the Line-Up in the Big Game: War with Troy.
    God and his/her side, in Books 1 and 2, are as follows:

    Cronus, father of Zeus, no immediate side apparent
    Zeus, "father-god" of others we meet, leans toward Troy
    Hera, "mother-godess", wife of Zeus, supports the Achaians

    Athena [2:183] "found Odysseus, his mind like Zeus' own" is supporting the Achaians, too; she's Hera's daughter.
    Thetis, another daughter of Zeus and Hera, is Achilles' mothers, and she is on HIS side, but not Agnamemnon's; so she is anti-Troy.

    Aphrodite, another daughter of Zeus, is on the side of Troy.
    Apollo, her brother, another child of Zeus, is also on side of Troy
    Hephaestus, in Latin VULCAN, shows up [2:111] and will have a bigger role later with respect to Achilles' armor, so he's on Achilles' Achaian side.

    Iris is a messenger of Zeus [2:901] with no noted affiliation, as is
    Pelops [2:114] a charioteer for the gods. Role of Muses is not clear, anyone else know?

    October 2, 2004 - 01:43 pm
    Everything points to a state of rivalry between Agamemnon and Achilles which has reached the breaking point just as the tale begins.

    Achilles' anger (and he's not alone, everyone seems angry in Book I) is understandable. But he allows it to get the better of him, with terrible consequences to himself as well as to the cause. Aiding and abetting the enemy in his prayer to his mother is a pretty shocking thing, as Joan has pointed out.

    This whole business of the Trojan War was a terrible tragedy. It seems to have brought about the end of a brilliant era. A dark age followed, lasting several centuries. That would certainly supply the event of historical significance asked for in the definition of an epic.

    'Honor' and 'status' are real enough, and desirable and commendable within proper, civilized bounds. But surely not when they serve as justification for what these warriors intended to do. And these people represent the 'warrior class.' Now they seemed to look for an excuse to go into action. For nine years they have been sacking and pillaging every town within reach. Their ships are filled with booty. Everything points to repeated divisions of the spoils of war. Can we really expect to find honor among thieves and murderers. Ransoms are the thing. In normal circumstances Agamemnon would have accepted the ransom offered by the father-priest.

    Achilles is a great warrior. A good man to have on ones team. But we have no way of knowing at this point if he's a pleasant guy to know.

    Agamemnon is physically impressive, and of course, very wealthy in everything, including status. But he seems seriously flawed otherwise. He gets along very well with Nestor. They seem to need and depend on each other. They're very close. Agamemnon does have a penchant for offending both gods and men. He'll probably come to a bad end.

    Shasta Sills
    October 2, 2004 - 01:47 pm
    Fagles' translation begins with this line:

    Rage--Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles / murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses.

    I'm not going to volunteer for either one of these armies. I'm willing to be a spectator and observe what's going on, but I'm not convinced that this is a war worth fighting. Fighting ten years over a woman! Who can believe that? They must have been fighting over trade routes or something.

    October 2, 2004 - 06:58 pm
    "Sing, O Goddess, The anger of Achilles, Son of Peleus..." begins Butler's translation.
    "Sing goddess, the anger of Peleus's son Achilleus and its devastation..." begins Lattimore.

    I have the feeling that the "sing" is to invoke harmony. We need to sense an affinty & a lineage with the Gods/Goddesses as we begin this narrative by Homer.

    When the

    Pat H
    October 2, 2004 - 10:50 pm
    Some miscellaneous minor comments: MAL thanks for the link to a great ship picture. It explains the "curved ships" since the sides are so curved, and also the "beaks" from the shape of the bow. Looking at the picture, it’s hard to imagine cramming 120 men on one.

    Ginny a dactyl (long, short, short) is represented by a dash over the stressed syllable, followed by little curved lines over the 2 weak ones, but I don’t know how to do it on this keyboard. Longfellow’s "Evangeline" is in dactylic hexameter: This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks (The sixth dactyl is missing a syllable.)

    What about supplies? We have 100,000 men camped on the plains of Troy. Where did they get food and supplies? They would have brought some, and then pillaged the countryside, but after 9 years the area would be cleaned out (Book 1, l 134–Every town in the area has been sacked and the stuff all divided.) I can’t believe the area could continue to support so many. But they seem to have plenty of wine and oxen and sheep for sacrifice. Did they run a steady stream of supply ships?

    October 3, 2004 - 03:08 am
    Great points, Everybody! It always amazes me how you manage to get right to the point of anything we're reading, back in a minute on what you've brought up, but on the ships, here are two interesting things from two new books on the Ancient Greeks (have you noticed how books on the Greeks are springing up everywhere? B&N is full of them, lavish things at very cheap prices, I had to get several for our journey here, just for the illustrations alone).

    Here's one showing ships of Athens, now this would be later, but apparently they used that pointed nose as a battering ram? You can certainly see the curves! The description here says the ship was a trireme: three rows of oarsmen sitting down below. . Now how accurate that was in applying to the Myceneaens, I have no idea.

    Here's a fascinating photo, this is the Argo in 1985, a reconstruction of a Greek trireme built by Tim Severin to re-enact the voyages of the ancient mariners. I guess this would be Jason and the Argonauts? Not sure where Jason fits in with this very long history? My new book says the first Greek culture was called the Minoan by Arthur Evans, which apparently started in 3400 BC, (and was comparable to the earliest Egyptian dynasties!!??!!), and ran a long time, and the Mycenaeans (that's Menelaus, and Agamemnon, the sons of Atreus), possibly invaded the Minoans at some point. The Minoans were named after Minos, and the Minotaur, the guy with the Labyrinth, Daedauls, Icarus,and the Labyrinth. Fastinating. I thought the photo was interesting for the position of the snout of the ship??
    This subject is such a Pandora's Box, you open one page and you get sent off on a search that takes you hours and you still don’t know (for instance) where Jason fits in with the entire thing! What amazing old legends.,
    Great stuff, however my email is full of:" Help! I've read the first two paragraphs and I have no earthly idea what's going on, I need help!"

    Well you're not the only one, ahhaaha, let's begin at the beginning and see if we can figure this out together!

    October 3, 2004 - 03:46 am
    The Lattimore edition starts "Sing, goddess, the anger of Pelus' son Achilleus and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians,----" Uses "dogface."

    October 3, 2004 - 04:31 am
    The nine muses are Calliops (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flute playing), Terpsichore (lyric poetry/dancing), Erato (lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Thalia (comedy), Polyhymnia (hymns and pantomine), and Urania (astronomy).

    The lines are numbered in Lattimore, but do not coincide with Dr. Lombardo's. In Book 2: Line 6: to send evil dream to Atreus' son; Line 8: Go forth, evil Dream; Line 16: Dream listened to his word; Line 22: The Divine dream spoke to him. Dream is personified

    October 3, 2004 - 04:35 am
    Many years ago I read the Iliad’s translation by George Chapman. While in Cambridge we had to read old English… Recently I have the pleasure of reading The Iliad translated by Robert Fitzgerald; so much easier to read for one not so young and old English almost forgotten. Nonetheless, I still get same feeling when reading: Akhilleus super ego at being down graded by Agamemnon, his sulking and refusal to help until Agamemnon has to eat humble pie. Akhilleus inner straggle to fight and die. And then only intense pain at losing his friend Patroklos and thirst for revenge makes Akhilleus fight.

    Old Priam should had made Paris return Helen back to her people in order to avoid bloodshed. BUT, should this have happened we would not have “The Iliad” to read and enjoy.

    I have not read “The Odyssey” hence I think have missed the book on the Trojan Horse episode and also Akhilleus death at the hands of Paris and Paris own death by Hercules.


    October 3, 2004 - 04:37 am
    Welcome, Amparo! We are delighted to see you here, we're just looking all week at the first two chapters, so please jump right on in with your opinions, ask questions and help us figure this out together!

    Let's take it from the word GO: This morning we start with line 1: at the beginning, so we all feel confident about examining each of the issues. (I don't know what I'm doing, so don't treat my utterances as anything profound, let's hear from YOU~!)

    Line 1:

    Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,
    Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks
    Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls
    Of heroes into Hades' dark,
    And left their bodies to rot as feasts
    For dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done.
    Begin with the clash between Agamemnon--
    The Greek warlord--and godlike Achilles.

    Jonathan pointed out that we are addressing in the first line, a Goddess with a capital G? Homer is asking for specific help in telling the story. We had identified this as possibly a Muse and some of us have talked about how the various Muses inspired artistic thought. And Kidsal, thank you for listing the 9 Muses and the artistic areas they would govern! (I have heard several modern authors talk about how they sort of almost are taken over when they start to write by some sort of....muse, themselves!)

    Of the Muses which Kidsal has identified, which do you think Homer might be addressing here?

    (Kidsal, your lines are different? Let's see, those of you who have lined texts, how they are off from each other, let's try to coordinate our texts, thank you for that!)

    Why would Homer ask for help in telling the story?

    Then we have the statement as Zeus' will was done. And the bit about the heroes, the shining heroes lying as food for dogs and birds. Boy THAT'S powerful! What a contrast, all of man's shining heroism lying in the dust! All of it at the humor of the gods. I wonder if there is a statement being made here? Is there a parallel idea elsewhere in history?

    Do you get the sense here that perhaps we're seeing the entire plot laid out? And that perhaps man is just acting out what the gods (who was Zeus?) have prescribed?

    So we have two levels of playing field in the first lines: the soldiers and the gods. I wish I could write that succinctly! (I bet you do, too hahaha)
  • Are these gods like WE think of God? Do they act as we expect a god to act? Do they surprise you?

    Which of the immortals set these two
    At each other's throats?
    By the warlord. Agamemnon had dishonored
    Chryses, Apollo's priest, so the god
    Struck the Greek camp with plague,
    And the soldiers were dying of it.

    (lines 1-16).

    There are several things here I don't understand, and could use some help with. First off, I am not quite understanding the set up here. We ARE first thrown into the attacking army's camp, we're with the Greeks, and as Jonathan points out there were 100,000 of us, as Malryn pointed out with her map, from all over everywhere, we've been here 9 years, we're not particularly winning this WAR (we're still in our boats and not the city of Troy) and now we have a plague! We're getting sick, first the "pack animals (line 58 ff) then the lean hounds and then Apollo
    "aimed his needle-tipped arrows at the men
    And shot until the death-fires crowded the beach.

    Nine days the god's arrows rained death on the camp.

    (I love that image of the poison tipped arrows!)
    On the tenth day Achilles called an assembly.

    What's a "death fire?" Why is Achilles calling assemblies? Isn't Agamemnon the leader?
  • Ginny
    October 3, 2004 - 04:42 am
    So in addition to everything else, they're at WAR they're camped on the shore, what are their provisions, etc., now there's a plague, and it's the work of the gods, where is the leadership dealing with this? We've got several dynamics going on here.

    I don't understand these councils they keep calling, can somebody explain this? For instance here Achilles ??!!?? calls the meeting, he feels that something must be done. He says Agamemnon, let's go home while we can still make it alive, don't you think you should find out why Apollo is "so angry?" (So they have decided this is the will of Apollo! Who put THAT idea in Achilles' head?)
    Who is "the white armed goddess" who put the idea in Achilles' head to call an assembly at all? Is this significant or can anybody call an assembly??

    It sort of looks to ME like the ancient Greeks ascribe everything to the gods, is that the feeling you get? Even the notion that Achilles stand up and call an assembly (he's not the leader, is he?) and announce: Agamemnon, looks like you need to get your act together here and find out why Apollo is so angry.

    OK here is what I'm foggy on?

    These people come from all over the place, they are all minor kings, etc. or? And they have all come here, Shasta says it's not worth it, and that's something that they may be suddenly thinking, but why are they there originally? It's certainly not over the beauty of a woman, it COULD in reality have been about trade, but Homer says it's about something else, maybe. Honor? They've come here to avenge a wrong. (Kind of reminds you of the Crusades in a way? They start out for an idealistic purpose and end up something else altogether.)

    They are not all here, as Achilles points out, because they feel personally aggrieved.

    I don't understand how they run this huge army? How is it governed? They have a council or general meeting, and apparently anybody can come? Here is the father of one of the spoils of war, and HE'S addressing the council. He's brought a fortune in ransom and is holding out a white flag in the form of this sacral staff with the symbols of Apollo on it like a...shield. Imagine, is this some sort of extremely enlightened people or what? Despoil the land, take the spoils and booty of war, and then talk in a council to the very father whose daughter was taken?

    And then there appear to be several staffs you can hold up which will make people listen (OR? What are the functions of these staffs? I love this?) (Boy, I've been in some committees I'd like to have had one ahahaha).

    There's the golden staff with Apollo's sacral ribbons in line 20 that the father Chryses used when he begged for his daughter back. (Was he HIDING behind that staff?)

    And then there's the "scepter studded with gold" that Achilles picks up later to address the troops. What is the function or meaning of THAT staff? Do your translations give any clue? Do you have any notes you can consult?

    So now, looking at the dynamics here: Achilles has called this meeting, he asks why Apollo is so angry, why they are visited by a plague, and Calchas, "bird reader supreme," (what does THAT mean?) "who knew what is, what will be, and what has been, " apparently a priest of Apollo, says it's Agamemnon's fault!! Agamemnon's the leader!

    Would you say this is a direct threat to Agamemnon's leadership here? Agamemnon seems to think so, he responds with " anger like with black thunderheads seething
    in his lungs, and his eye flickered with fire"
    This puts kind of a different slant on it, to me, does it to you?

    I mean within the larger context of war we have all these daily struggles, as so often happens in life. You go to the hospital to have one illness rectified only to encounter no end of aggravation from staff or other things, little things. You have a major operation only to be plagued by the pain, not of the operation, but by a muscle in the other part of your body you pulled. We've all seen it and we all have daily stressors in our lives.

    Here Agamemnon says, hey, hold on a minute, I'm the leader here. "I want another prize for me right away:
    I'm not going to be the only Greek without a prize,
    That wouldn't be right." (l 127)

    It's amazing how, in any dispute, both sides always think they are right, isn't it? That’s the same in 2004. HERE to my astonishment in rereading this this morning, we can see Agamemnon saying hey, this is not right? HEY!@ I like her, HEY! What do you mean by calling a council and calling on the priest of Apollo (who else is he going to say has caused this) and using ME as the scapegoat here, just because I said no to her father who cowered behind his clerical shield of Apollo? Phooey? The rest of you vote me a suitable prize!

    So I guess what I was trying to get at in saying let's choose sides, was to see if you feel you can get in the skin of the characters here, CAN you? Do they seem real to you? Which one seems the most lifelike?

    Can you fit yourself into this work? Which character so far do you most identify with and why? Is there anything in either Achilles or Agamemnon you can relate to, is there is ANYTHING in this 3,000 year old poem we can relate to in 2004? Any emotions any philosophies, anything at all?

    I loved Joan's answer about well yes I am sort of on Achilles' side here but then in a minute he says let them all die, I can't condone THAT. And THAT answer I think, in my opinion, is absolutely Homeric and strikes to the heart of the whole thing. Of course we're only now looking at the Greeks, so far. Are your sympathies in general with them or against them?

    In line 132 Achilles makes his second mistake. He says (I love this translation) you think we have a stockpile of prizes or something?

    Now that is just asking for it, I believe Achilles is taunting Agamemnon here, what do you think?
    And now in lines 290 and following, Nestor takes the floor, "sweet worded Nestor,"

    Let's look at Nestor today and his advice to these two angry men. Which man, Achilles or Agamemnon, do you think is most at fault at this point? What does Nestor represent here to the reader?

    I'm going to put today's focus questions in the heading in red and then remove the old topics to HTML pages, that will probably take most of the day, PLEASE feel free to click on them and to answer any of them or ask your own questions! more...

    October 3, 2004 - 05:25 am
    Dogface = Sir Insolence, Samuel Butler translation in Great Books

    First of all, let me thank you, Ginny, for “finding” Lombardo’s wonderful translation for us to read... this is my first experience with the Iliad . I was amazed at the readabililty of the Lombardo translation, especially when I got out the Butler to look for “dogface”!

    “Thus, Agamemnon has done more than insult or dishonor Achilles; he has called Achilles’ whole worth into question.” Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver, The Iliad of Homer, The Teaching Company.

    “ The prize of honor was voted by the troops for Achilles’ valor in combat. A modern equivalent might be a commander telling a soldier, “I’ll take that Congressional Medal of Honor of yours, because I don’t have one.” Obviously,, Achilles’ grievance was magnified by his attachment to the particular person of Briseis, the captive woman who was the prize, but violation of’what’s right’ was central to the clash between Achilles and Agamemnon.”, p. 6, Dr. J Shay, Achilles in Vietnam

    I was surprised to see Dr. Shay’s book listed as recommended reading at the end of the third lecture in Dr. Vandiver’s series. Listening to her first three lectures helped me understand the gravity of Achilles’ dishonor by Agamemnon.

    I’m siding with Achilles.


    October 3, 2004 - 07:30 am
    Lou, thank you, I didn't find the Lombardo, Dr. Stone did when he taught the class, apparently it's the text favored in a lot of studies of The Iliad, don't you love it?

    And thank you so much for bringing in Achilles in Vietnam, that's great, and it raises the issue of whether or not Achilles cared for Briseis, and she him. I think you can see her own tears in these first chapters, and that indicates that he's REALLY having things taken from him! Good work!

    Let's check our own texts as to lines, I've got "dogface" in Book 1, line 167, and I would like to know the Greek for that, and to see why there are such differences in translation, that's neat and I've got wooly Dream in Book 2 on line 10? Where do those occur in YOUR texts so we can see how far they are off so we can all be talking about the same thing?

    Here are some fabulous questions (or so I think ) which I just found from the Univeristy of Iowa on where we are in The Iliad, what do you think? (You can ask your own questions or bring here any questions you find, as well?)

  • 1. Characterize Agamemnon’s leadership style. In what ways is he an effective leader? In what ways is he deficient?

  • 2. What are the different layers of the conflict between Agamemnon and Achilleus? How is Agamemnon to some extent forced to take the action he does relative to Achilleus, and how is Achilleus to some extent forced to respond as he does?

    And there are more when we get there, what do you think on these? Still thinking about Tiger Tom's responses, back in a mo...
  • Pat H
    October 3, 2004 - 08:24 am
    The Lombardo translation has, at the top of each page, numbers in brackets representing the line numbers of the original Greek text for that page.

    Pat H
    October 3, 2004 - 08:29 am
    I saw a copy of this translation in a bookstore the other day, and looked into it. In spite of Keats' beautiful sonnet of appreciation, I found it totally unreadable.

    October 3, 2004 - 10:44 am
    In lecture three, Dr. Vandiver says, “The Iliad begins in medias res: ‘in the middle of the subject’....” She says this is a Latin phrase coined by Horace, who declared that this is how any good epic should begin. The course outline continues: A bard working with traditional material could assume that his audience knew the story and the characters, and so could pick the narrative up at any point.

    Wooly menace, a Dream.... Bk. 1, line 167 Lombardo

    ... he deemed it would be best to send a lying dream to King Agamemnon.... Samuel Butler, Great Books...


    Pat H
    October 3, 2004 - 12:20 pm
    AMPARO: I believe the story of the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy is in Virgil's Aeneid, not the Odyssey.

    I admire anyone actually capable of reading Chapman (see post 40 above).

    DEATH FIRES: The "death fires" must have been the funeral pyres, as they seem to have disposed of dead heroes by burning the bodies and collecting the bones in an urn.

    Pat H
    October 3, 2004 - 12:23 pm
    Why were all the Greeks willing to fight so long for Menelaus' quarrel?

    They were bound to do so by an oath. The beautiful Helen was courted by all the young princes of Greece. Her alleged father, King Tyndareus (her real father was Zeus) feared there would be trouble from the disappointed suitors, so he made them swear that they would fight for whoever was chosen if any wrong was done to him through his marriage. Tyndareus then chose Menelaus for Helen. When Paris was stolen away, Menelaus called on all the Greeks to honor their oath.

    I got this from Hamilton's Mythology, which presents the stories in a clear, connected fashion, with prefaces explaining which part comes from which source.

    HOWEVER, I agree with everyone who said that there must have been deeper commercial or strategic reasons for the war.

    Shasta Sills
    October 3, 2004 - 01:32 pm
    Zeus was Helen's father? I didn't know that.

    Lou, I am using Dr. Vandiver's lectures on the Iliad too. I have a lot of tapes from the Teaching Company, and I think she is one of the best teachers they have.

    October 3, 2004 - 01:44 pm
    That's absolutely out of the question, Ginny. With all due respect...this is the perfect example of...'where fools rush in...'. Every thing is, as we are told, according to the will of Zeus. How then could we dare to go against that will. As ALF has suggested, we should get in harmony with the gods, or something like that. It was difficult to make out what exactly she meant with that. Her post ended abruptly with, I think it was, 'And then...' Looking for harmony in The Iliad! How optimistic can you get.

    So I shudder at the thought of choosing sides. Zeus has let the word go out to all gods and goddesses:

    'Do not cross me in that which I purpose, none of you, but do as I tell you. Should I catch any of you helping either the Greeks or Trojans hereafter, I will lash him mercilessly with thunderbolts or perhaps hurl him down into darkest Tartaros.' (quoted in: GREAT ZEUS AND HIS CHILDREN: Greek Mythology for Adults, Donald Richard, p225)

    That Tartaros sounds like the pits. No doubt there would be feathers in it too, for us mortals. Let's play it safe. The situation is very dicey. And that brings me to another point worth making. As everyone knows, the Greeks became the most rational people in the course of their spiritual and intellectual development. We can see why as we become familiar with the irrational world, both terrestrial and celestial, of Homer's epic. It's as simple as that. Once we have understood The Iliad correctly.

    Ginny, your posts today are simply wonderful. This is an overwhelming book. Simply one of the most influential, and entertaining at any level. And how grim. The death-fires! Vast mounds of the dead who have succumbed to the wrath of a god. Or so it was believed. What was Achilles' wrath to that?

    Pat, Chapman is fun, once you get the hang of his poetic expression. As Dr Lombardo mentions in the linked interview. Chapman's 'Achilles' baneful wrath, resound, O goddess, that imposed infinite sorrows on the Greeks.' That has a good sound to it. But already I have a problem with it. How about the poor Trojans. Who feels sorry for them?


    October 3, 2004 - 02:58 pm
    Catching up here a little bit, have been arguing all afternoon about the qualities of leadership: what makes a good leader, you could extrapolate that over to our current results of the Presidential Debate the other night... After all, we had several debates between Achilles and Agamemnon!

    If YOU are a good leader, then is the way you react to a challenge or threat different from that of other men?

    I saw in another of our discussions Eloise saying she had heard a quote from the Lombardo and had to get it and join this discussion, I look forward to welcoming her here, too.

    Mippy, interesting speculation on Jonathan's question of why Homer did not name the Muse, and thank you for that link to Heinrich Schliemann, there is a fabulous website out there somewhere showing many of his treasures, he used The Iliad, I believe, to find Troy, he was a believer when nobody else was, and not only did he find ONE Troy, he found a lot of things: a fascinating story, we should read it!

    Thank you Malryn for that spectacular illustration of the ships!

    Tom, thank you for reminding us about Achilles' heel and his seeming invulnerability, what do you make then of his mother's constantly telling him things like " Since life is short for you, all too brief.
    Now you're destined for both an early death
    And misery beyond compare. (lines 337-340 OR as Pat suggests, (THANK you Pat) using the original lines that's on lines 413, 414, 415, does that match anybody else's?) And so …I am not sure what help it is to keep telling him this, wouldn't that make you nervous? It wouldn't help ME a lot.

    Now Tom has been attached to Embassies around the world and has seen men of status and power, I don't think this is confined to Ancient Greeks, and Tom you say you would go home, even tho you know they can't win without you? Would you say that if he DOES do this he relinquishes any leadership role? (I'm hung up on leadership today) haaha

    And so if you willfully hold back and others perish because of it, is that a sin of omission or commission? And is your fault greater as a result?

    Joan, that's an excellent point, people don't have to take sides, I loved your thing about we should not immediately assume one of them is right and one wrong, because behold: they are both right and wrong. That particularly surprises me in the case of Agamemnon, and I wonder if it's going to be repeated, what a BOOK!!

    And I like your "he tried to get Agamemnon to do what a leader should do…" What do you think Agamemnon, as the leader, should have done when Achilles called that council and put him on the spot?

    Loved that post: how many weaknesses do you see in each man? I wonder what could have been done, it almost seems that one forces the other on.

    Fran?oise, bonjour and hahah te kines! Hahahaha

    (I get all my Greek from George who owns the Drive In in Woodruff, SC, where I pick up Mobile Meals. I can now say hello, how are you, fine, how are you, thanks, please and I'm not sure what else? Hahahaah

    I love your French Achille!

    THIS is a great point, "Agamemnon had gone to Troy to save the honor of his brother Menelaus who had lost his wife to Paris, but cursing his very existence and the sacred war by steeling another man's possession." And you also are seeing that the gods are directing this, by giving force to one man, it's Nestor who points out that the one (Agamemnon) is more powerful, since he rules over more. And that Achilles is stronger and has a goddess for a mother, so ideally they should get along, why are they not, do you think? What do you think has caused this?

    Mippy, thank you SO much for that list of gods and who they support! We're having some technical problems today but I'll put that in the heading asap so we can reference it, many thanks!

    Jonathan, great point on everybody being angry in Book 1, I was wrong it's not Briseis who is crying it's Achilles! Now our heroes today don't do too much crying or do they, but he's sobbing, he's really upset. Over what, I'm not sure.

    Now you and Andrea have both referred to honor among thieves. Was sacking the towns of the enemy regarded as thievery?

    Andrea, you got cut off there, but you are making an important point about singing and harmony, and as Jonathan says there's very little here. Nestor doesn't seem to be angry and he's offering some good advice, why are they not taking it?

    He's sandwiched in between these guys (I wouldn't want to be)!

    Pat, thank you for the explanation of dactylic hexameter, would /uu do it?

    I found this in A Practical Approach to Datylic Hexameter, here: One of the many things he says is:

    Logical Patterning

    There are logical patterns to most configurations of data, and the dactylic hexameter is no exception. If we observe the following statements about verse, and are prepared to follow them with a bit of intelligent guesswork, we can start reading Homeric lines right away. Reading many lines will establish in our memory an acoustic pattern, which in turn confers an intuitive sense of what the line should sounds like as we read the words. But start with these formal statement now, later they will become an unconscious part of the reading process.

    1) There are only two patterns in the Homeric dactylic line, the dactyl ( ) and the spondee ( ). These are the patterns on which the hexameter rests, hence they are appropriately called 'feet'.

    2) Every line starts with a long syllable.

    3) This long will be followed by either another long (spondee), or two shorts (dactyl).

    And so forth, enting with this: 10) Fear of saying it wrong will often block a good reading of a dactylic line. One must go ahead a try it out, listen to the sound see if it rings true. After getting a few dozen lines to ring right, the bad one will stand out as unsatisfying, somehow metrically inept and in need of acoustic repair..

    If unsure about your musical ear, put down the Homer for a few minutes and listen to a recording of Bach's Goldberg Variation, noting the careful cadencing and minor variations of the fairly regular patterns. This is pretty much what the dactylic line is doing, but in music we expect it whereas in Greek verse we are still thinking of doing it by the rules.

    I love that, have put on the Goldberg Variations as we sit here.

    October 3, 2004 - 03:07 pm

    HAhahahah Jonathan, we were posting together. Thank you for those kind thoughts, that's what I think every time I see you post. All right now, listen (I'm used to this debating now, having passed that scepter back and forth a bit). When you "take sides," you are forced to defend your side so you have to look harder and deeper at your own position and the reasons for it (that was the rationale, anyway) haahaha fool's errand? hahaah Well better to stay amongst the gods then, where you originally wanted to be, since they all are in obedience to Zeus, as you have shown hahahaah. great quote!

    Love it!
    This was good too, No doubt there would be feathers in it too, for us mortals. hahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    An excellent question, Pat about supply ships, I don't know, we'll put that in the heading too as soon as we can manipulate it.

    Pat, Chapman's Homer is one I don't have, and now that Jonathan has brought us part of it from the interview above, I really want to get a copy or at least copy some pages at the library, let's take, let's each take from whatever translation we have, a line which we consider important, and let's compare them with as many versions as we can? The Lombardo, the Fagles, the Lattimore, the Fitzgerald, the Butler (which is online), the Chapman if you have it, who else? What's a good candidate for a line to compare?

    Oh well done, Pat on the swearing of an oath!! Here is the online Bulfinch's Mythology And here is the story of why Paris got to carry her off, Tom had a great question on this!


    MINERVA (Athena) was the goddess of wisdom, but on one occasion she did a very foolish thing; she entered into competition with Juno (Hera) and Venus (Aphrodite) for the prize of beauty. It happened thus: At the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis all the gods were invited with the exception of Eris, or Discord [article]. Enraged at her exclusion, the goddess threw a golden apple among the guests, with the inscription, "For the fairest." Thereupon Juno, Venus, and Minerva each claimed the apple. Jupiter (Zeus), not willing to decide in so delicate a matter, sent the goddesses to Mount Ida, where the beautiful shepherd Paris was tending his flocks, and to him was committed the decision. [webmaster's note: "When he grew to be a young man, Paris... was afterwards surnamed Alexander (Alexandros).", Library of Apollodorus 2.47] [see Library of Apollodorus and Notes - Judgement of Paris (Alexander)]

    The goddesses accordingly appeared before him. Juno promised him power and riches, Minerva glory and renown in war, and Venus the fairest of women for his wife, each attempting to bias his decision in her own favour. Paris decided in favour of Venus and gave her the golden apple, thus making the two other goddesses his enemies. Under the protection of Venus, Paris sailed to Greece, and was hospitably received by Menelaus, king of Sparta. Now Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was the very woman whom Venus had destined for Paris, the fairest of her sex. She had been sought as a bride by numerous suitors, and before her decision was made known, they all, at the suggestion of Ulysses (Odysseus), one of their number, took an oath that they would defend her from all injury and avenge her cause if necessary. She chose Menelaus, and was living with him happily when Paris became their guest. Paris, aided by Venus, persuaded her to elope with him, and carried her to Troy, whence arose the famous Trojan war, the theme of the greatest poems of antiquity, those of Homer and Virgil.

    So I think the moral is, if you're reading this and not knowing who all those names are, use a good mythology, like Hamilton's or Bullfinch's, and you'll be charmed by the stories, they are some of the best in the world. We need a Mythology course offered here in the Books!

    All right so the princes swore an oath. And that oath involved ….their entire regions and kingdoms?

    That's why there are so many ships from so many different areas and so many famous names, Odysseus, Aeneas, Menelaus himself, that's some line up, you'd think the Trojans would faint with fright.

    Lou thank you for pointing out in medias res as another form that the epic poem can take. When we can make the heading dance, we'll begin putting up a list of the characteristics of the epic poem and who has submitted them.

    Funeral pyres, thank you Pat, so, unlike the Egyptians the ancient Greeks did not bury their dead or was it because they ere away from home? And how far IS home? Pat had asked about supply ships, how far would it be for them to come?

    Shasta and Lou, does Dr. Vandiver address Jonathan's question of why Homer does not name the Muse?

    The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature says about epic poetry that
    Epic poetry is the earliest surviving for of Greek literature. It existed before drama, history , or philosophy, and in some sort represented all three for the early Greeks.
    Apparently The Iliad was part of something called The Epic Cycle, a term for the body of legends which "had formed the subject of the old Greek epic poems and constituted a sort of legendary history of the world from earlier times. The CYCLIC POEMS were the lays of poems from which the Cycle was built up. The Iliad and the Odyssey were among these cycles."

    I have to get a copy of Chapman tomorrow or at least scan in Book 1 at the library. I'm really on fire to see the comparisons in the texts: suggest a line here we can all compare!

    Pat H
    October 3, 2004 - 05:06 pm
    I meant to say "when Helen was stolen away", not "when Paris was stolen away".

    October 3, 2004 - 05:10 pm
    Lou thank you for pointing out in medias res as another form that the epic poem can take. When we can make the heading dance, we'll begin putting up a list of the characteristics of the epic poem and who has submitted them.

    Sorry, I wasn't clear with my post... in medias res is what happens in the Iliad... it starts in the middle of the story, subject... as any good epic should,according to Horace...


    October 3, 2004 - 05:19 pm
    "Agamemnon as leader": this illustrates a problem we will have throughout this poem. We assume when Homer says he was the leader, that it means what it would if we used the term today. It clearly doesn't!

    I have recently read a history book: “A Distant Mirror” by Barbara Tuchman, about France in the 14th century. I am extremely struck by the parallels between the ideas of “chivalry” in the middle ages and the description of the Greek army in the Iliad two thousand years earlier: the ideals and the way in which the army was organized and used. It helped me understand a lot of things about the Iliad.

    The first thing is that Greece was not a country. There was no overall leader and organization: instead our "heros" are a lot of independent kings in independent kingdoms who aren't used to taking orders from anyone. Even when they band together, under a nominal "leader", they have no idea of the modern concept that in war there should be one commander and everyone should obey them. To these kings, their personal honor and dignity was too important to allow them to be subservient to anyone. Agamemnon is more like the chair of a committe than a military leader, and they obey him when they feel like it. This proved a disaster in medieval France, and may do so here too.

    Pat H
    October 3, 2004 - 05:36 pm
    When I was looking at translations in the bookstore, I was comparing the opening 10 lines or a bit more. This is pretty fair, as any translator would want to open strongly. Also, that was was enough to hook me on Lombardo's translation.

    But another very good passage would be the opening 19 lines of book 3 (I know we haven't gotten there yet). In Lombardo's translation it is stunning, and also pretty controversial, so it would make a good basis for contrast. The drama of this passage is devastating.

    Now I'm going to sign off to listen to the Goldberg variations.

    October 3, 2004 - 06:44 pm
    More on leaderless armies:

    The reason that this idea of an army with many leaders worked at all (when it did) was the concept of warfare that the Greeks (and the 14th century French) were using.

    Tuchman points out that while battles in the middle sges were usually determined by superior numbers, situation, tactics, or weapons, this was not recognized by the participants. The knights (and Greek heroes) saw war in terms of a series of one on one battles between heroes.

    One result of this is that even rudimentary tactics and position were often ignored. When tactics were tried, they often didn't work: one leader or another would decide not to do what he was supposed to and go somewhere else. But usually, the armies would just line up against one another and charge (with the heroes in front of course). This did not take a good deal of coordination, and only very simple leadership.

    Guns make this kind of warfare obsolete of course, but even centuries before, it was vulnerable to any kind of tactics. In one 14th century battle, the French were fighting in a narrow position. There were so many knights crowded in the front line (it would be a disgrace not to be in front) that they had no room to wield their weapons.

    In the same battle, they had 600 archers, but it would have been a disgrace to let commoners go ahead of nobles, so the archers were placed behind the knights. This meant the archers couldn’t shoot, since their own men were in front of them. The enemy had less honor and more sense, and the brave knights were slaughtered. (We’ll see if this lack of tactics shows up in the Iliad).

    This all made something clear to me: this concept of war as individual heroism is central in the Iliad. The Iliad is a poem about war, but not war as it is fought now, and maybe not as it was fought then. Rather it is a mythical idealized concept of war.

    At first I was surprised that the Trojan Horse was not in the Iliad, but now I see that it doesn't belong. Wining the war through tactics is not a part of this story, but another.

    October 3, 2004 - 06:55 pm
    Gods and goddesses. Let me translate a few sentences from one of my source books.

    "The gods also participate in the battles under the walls of Troy; with weapons in their hands they fight against one another and the humans, but the great perspective of a heroic life: the heroic death is missing. Sometimes they rebel against Zeus, who answers by threatening them with Grecian loquacity, but their revolt doesn't have the greatest stake; they don't, they can't risk their lives because they are immortal. Immortality is the superiority of gods over humans, but mortality is the superiority of man over god, because that is which gives their acts tragic weight, gravity, light, and shadow. The gods are immortal--therefore, weightless. (Karl Kerenyi, classical philologist and historian of religions, co-worker of C.G. Jung)

    October 3, 2004 - 06:59 pm
    Sorry if I am late to talk about the beginning of Iliad: "Sing, goddess...."

    Why 'sing'? Music historians agree that Greek poetry was sung. So were also the tragedies, and that gave the impulse to the creation of opera in Florence.

    October 3, 2004 - 08:01 pm
    One characteristic of a leader is the ability to serve and to be served. So far, Agamemnon expects to be served. He refuses to be without a prize when he must relinquish Chryseis. When Calchas informs Agamemnon that his humiliating Chryses is the problem, Agamemnon gets furious and tells Calchas, the soothsayer, that he has yet to grant him a good omen. This leader has a personal agenda. When Chryses pleaded for his daughter's safe return, Agamemnon refused the ransom. Those in his ranks thought otherwise. "Take the money." He can't even make the right choice. Another war prize will turn up, eventually. Even Achilles refers to Agamemnon as a drunk who hangs back in the army's rear and a shamelss profiteering excuse for a commander. Agamemnon then brands Achilles a troublemaker. An underling can be critical of leadership; however, when a leader starts to grumble about his staff, then the leader shall soon have a morale problem.

    Another leadership quality is doing the right thing. Achilles knows this, for he says that one has to "obey the gods and they hear you when you pray." Nevertheless, he is far from obedient to a king who rules by heritage, not by merit. He displays his anger by breaking the scepter studded with gold. Nestor reminds Achilles that a scepter-holding king holds honor beyond the rest of men. While Achilles may be the best warrior among all, he is not the king.

    Achilles is really like the goose that lays the golden eggs while Agamemnon only is interested in the golden eggs. If he were more thoughtful, he would see that how he treats the goose would assure that he has a steady supply of golden eggs.

    October 3, 2004 - 09:27 pm
    The Iliad wars vs Now.

    We don’t have to look far back into history to have the paradox, cruelty and futility of war: we have it right here with us NOW; it is called: Iraq. Just like the Greeks had all the neighbour kings to help on a senseless war, so America has all the allies countries to help. Iraq is today’s modern Troy. Troy’s had Helen as the excuse: Iraq has “terrorism”.

    Only in today’s war there is neither Zeus nor his daughter Athena to help either side.


    October 3, 2004 - 09:33 pm
    SALVE, AMPARO. I'm not in your Latin class anymore, so I'm glad to see you here among the Greeks.

    October 3, 2004 - 11:52 pm
    From Lattimore's Intro: The cycle of works was: Cypria -- Decision of Gods to start the Trojan War. Iliad -- Anger of Achilles to burial of Hektor. Aithiopis -- The Amazons Little Iliad -- Death of Achilles to fall of Troy Sack of Ilion -- Building of wooden horse to fall of Ilion. The Returns -- Returns of various heroes. Odyssey -- Return of Odysseus Telegony -- From return of Odysseus to his death. Author of Iliad and Odyssey - Homer

    Iliad covers only a few weeks of the war in the 10th year. Little mention of Helen.

    In discussing how this work could be part of the oral tradition: There are many repetitions. In Book 1 of my edition there are three repetitions of a long passage. Most often, he repeats single lines. The oral tradition, in a way,continues as Muslim children are taught to memorize the Koran.

    October 4, 2004 - 04:05 am
    Salve JoanK. Nice to see you too.

    It looks like even the teacher has left Latin class! I came-back from Singapore hoping to catch up with lessons and there I was; all alone in an empty classroom! LOL, and I come here and who do I find? Teacher!!

    Ahh! Ancient Greek history and mythology. My favourites. Last year when I was in Delos I felt I belonged there and Apollo was my God. That little island had a very strong magnetic pull on me. I wonder if perhaps in another life….


    October 4, 2004 - 05:02 am
    uh...Amparo? It appears to me by going into Outline that your teacher has actually posted 28 times in the class since you have been gone, that it's not empty (Joan is in another class: there are 9 Latin classes) and that the last post was made on October 2, and that's with taking the weekends off: today is October 4, perhaps you are not seeing all the posts? I believe you yourself remarked on the amount of work done while you were gone? The Lessons and Assignments are additionally listed in the links on top of the Assignment box in the heading: let me know if you need any help in finding them, or in catching up. Hope you had a great time in Singpore, tell us about visiting Delos!

    hooo lots of new elements this morning to consider. Today let's focus on what you can all add to this new puzzle, because tomorrow we move on to the Dream! And like everything else so far, it's multi layered, have you EVER seen anything like this? It sure makes our modern literature pale in comparison, no wonder people lose themselves in the classics!

    Apollo and the Muses. Attic black-figure lekythos : click to enlarge.

    The description here says that Apollo was the god of poetry and music and the leader of the Muses, the goddesses who inspired the nine creative arts. Here he plays on his lyre while the Muses dance.

    Ok this morning Joan has introduced a fascinating kink into Agamemnon as Leader, in her post 52: do read. She points out she finds a parallel between these Independent Kings and Medieval France, and says " Agamemnon is more like the chair of a committe than a military leader" OK!! Here is what we need to know if we can (call out the reference books and look at Chapter 2) before we move on!

    Let's look at Agamemnon today!

  • 1. Characterize Agamemnon’s leadership style. In what ways is he an effective leader? In what ways is he deficient? (U of Iowa) • 2. What are the different layers of the conflict between Agamemnon and Achilleus? How is Agamemnon to some extent forced to take the action he does relative to Achilleus, and how is Achilleus to some extent forced to respond as he does?

  • WE have not looked closely at Agamemnon and his rationales. IF he is leading a bunch of Kings/ Committee, what do you think of his leadership style? Why are they following him? Let's examine each thing Agamemnon says and consult any reference you can find to find out IF Homer indicates he's the leader and if so HOW he got that position and HOW he keeps it? IS Achilles really challenging him in Book 1? What does Achilles mean by "How are you going to get any Greek warrior to follow you into battle again?" (line 150 original text). Why does Zeus in Chapter 2 come to Agamemnon with the Dream? Why does Agamemnon have the famouos staff…in Book 2, "Thyestes left it for Agamemnon to bear
    And rule of the islands and all of Argos." (somewhere around line 110). What is Argos? Do the other Kings think of Agamemnon as selected by the gods? Who elected him? Did he get here by dint of his persuasive powers?

  • If he's leading independent states what do you think of his speeches? Demands for another prize? Attitude in general?
  • What does the possibility of this new type of leadership do to the theory of leadership? Does it make it more difficult, call for more diplomacy? If so why does Agamenon show the reverse? A leader is a leader is a leader, no matter what he leads, do you agree or not?

  • 3. Have they been in battle for 9 years or have they been sitting around waiting? Are the Trojans stuck in their walled city? Let's see if we can solve these two thorny knots today: bring on your research and close reading!

    Pat, super suggestion for the 19 opening lines of Book 3 to compare, everybody begin copying out YOUR own lines, this will be fun!

    And what do you think about Joan K's wonderful point here:
    This all made something clear to me: this concept of war as individual heroism is central in the Iliad. The Iliad is a poem about war, but not war as it is fought now, and maybe not as it was fought then. Rather it is a mythical idealized concept of war

    IF I can get the heading running today that one will be center stage, what does Shay have to say on this, what does Homer, super point!

    hegeso, WONDERFUL point about the immortality of the gods, and their stakes not being as high: not having anything to risk, it's more a game with them, wonderful point!!

    Great point on the singing too!

    Shifrah, great point on the ability to serve! Let's get up a list assuming we ever can hahaha of the qualities of leadership WE now know in 2004 and the ones which appeared to work in the Iliad, fabulous point, thank you! Great stuff here this morning!

    You say Agamennon has a personal agenda, let's see who does not!

    You mention Nestor, what do you think he represents in this piece?

    Oh an other beautiful sentiment here this morning, "Achilles is really like the goose that lays the golden eggs while Agamemnon only is interested in the golden eggs." OK look in the heading, here we have a person who regards others as a means to an end, to be used? And so we predict a downfall. Do you all know the story of Agamenon? How he met his end? Talk about people as a means to an end!?! Is Agamenon a user? What, realistically can any commander in battle be? HOW can a commander in war see his men whom he uses AS tools, as NOT tools??!!??

    Lots of good stuff here today:

    Amparo, but the Trojans did not come bomb the Greeks? Why do you say there are no gods today to help either side in Iraq? Good provocative modern allusions!

    kidsal, GREAT point on the repetitions signaling Oral Tradition or the Iliad being recited. I see one in Book 2, thought I was going crazy for a while. Great point on the memorization of the Koran, the Lombardo points out we have no modern equivalent of the Iliad except the Bible.

    Here, to add to the mix, is Nathaniel Harris, whose History of Ancient Greece B&N has just brought out: a gorgeous lavish book, who says that the tablets found known as Linear B reveal:
    They reveal that Mycenaean society was complex and highly specialized (from a separately functioning king and commander in chief down to distinctions between crafts whose meaning we can now only guess at), and also that it was strictly controlled form the top. It was, in fact, a small scale version of the great empires of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
    Then he says of the Trojan War:
    The deserted husband was Menelaus, King of Sparta and brother of Agamemnon, who was King of Mycenae and, as such, High King or overlord of all the Greeks. Under Agamemnon's leadership a Greek armada sailed for Troy to avenge Menelaus and bring back Helen.; and in the course of a ten year siege, heroes on both sides, such as Achilles and Hector, found glory and death.

    I don't know who Nathaniel Harris is, the book only says he's a respected historian, let's see if we can find others, let's solve today two pesky issues: what sort of leader WAS Agamemnon, and who was he leading? Let's look at his role of either sovereignty OR leader of sort of independent kingdoms, how that would alter his leadership style or should it, or DID it, and IF, in fact, they HAVE been fighting or simply waiting? Let's see what you can find out! SUPER focus today! Will try to put today's focus in the heading in red.
  • Lou2
    October 4, 2004 - 06:13 am
    Looking at one of today’s questions... Just with internal evidence, it would seem logical to me, for what that’s worth, that there has been battle...

    1. Book 1, line 134: Every town in the area has been sacked and the stuff all divided.

    2. We know that Agamemnon has Chryseis as booty and and Achilles has Briseis... and we know by implication Ajax and Odysseus have a “suitable prize... something fair” (line 148)... So, it would seem we could assume they were ‘won’ in battle.

    3. Line 160... How are you going to get any Greek warrior To follow you into battle again?

    It does not necessarily follow that the warriors have followed Agamenon into battle at Troy, but it would seem a safe assumption.

    There is probably lots more here in the first book that would offer evidence of battle, but that’s about it for my brain right now!


    October 4, 2004 - 06:52 am
    Being a King and a human, Agamemnon has a duty to perform the rituals of worship and in return ask protection from the Gods; thus makes "his people purify themselves by bathing" after giving back Chryseis to soothe angry Apollo and remove the plague. (The Iliad, book 1, p.31, translated by E.V. Rieu, England, 1950)

    Facing the rebellious and semi-God Achille, Agamemnon believed his given Zeus authority, could even defy the very noble and divine prince. The delicate balance between a king who has authority over his peoples, and a semi-God who has the power of the Gods but not the authority over his king and kinsman, who is at fault? Achille could plead his mother for Zeus favor to weaken Agamemnon. We will see, the Gods will favor the Kings and princes, as long as they perform their rituals with honor and protocol.

    Agamemnon made a breach in protocol toward Achille, and Achille made a breach of protocol toward his King. The bigger fault falls on the king because he places his authority over the Gods.


    October 4, 2004 - 07:30 am
    One thing is for sure, Francoise, Agamemnon is not into win-win leadership style. It's all power plays, not consensus building.


    October 4, 2004 - 07:32 am
    I am a high school freshman and I am taking a course on Great Books. My current project is the Iliad, so I have decided to join this discussion group. I have many different thoughts about different parts of this book. I have noticed for one thing that redundancy is very great in this poem. I'm not sure if this is because of the translation I am using (Robert Fagles translation) or if this is in all translations. I did a bit of research, and discovered (in one of the links posted by Malryn(Mal)) that this is mainly because of formulas of poetics in ancient Greece, or something along those lines.

    October 4, 2004 - 07:49 am
    Welcome, Greatbooksfan, you've come to the right place. If you get a chance, check out the Lombardo translation in your library, you'll be amazed at the difference, but good on you seeing the repetition, which IS a sign of the Oral Tradition and we'll see lots of it to come, more anon just wanted to welcome you in!

    Great points, Francoise and Lou, back in a moment...

    October 4, 2004 - 07:49 am
    "They reveal that Mycenaean society was complex and highly specialized (from a separately functioning king and commander in chief down to distinctions between crafts whose meaning we can now only guess at), and also that it was strictly controlled form the top"

    This is the opposite of what I thought: that these were independent kings. I was going by the sense of the Iliad, I am not an historian. Let's ask Dr. Lombardo about that.

    October 4, 2004 - 09:14 am
    I have a question. I have hardly any previous knowledge on the history of ancient Greece. Thus, I have no idea whether the sacrifices being made were human or animal. I reread the section dealing with the sacrifices, but nothing answered my question. Have I missed something?

    October 4, 2004 - 09:29 am
    'Achilles' baneful wrath', according to Chapman, who must have been the seventeenth-century Lombardo. Achilles' 'accursed anger', in the Martin Hammond translation. And 'Akhilleus' anger, doomed and ruinous' according to Fitzgerald.

    That, it would seem, is to be the theme of Homer's divinely inspired song. This theme is quickly enlarged to include the strife between Agamemnon and Achilles. And it is Agamemnon's tyrannical anger which leads the way. Achilles, noble and respectful in manner and bearing, is quickly provoked beyond endurance. He is actually the last in Book I to become angry.

    Sorry, it's Apollo's anger that sets the tragedy in motion, enraged by Agamemnon's shabby treatment of the priest Chryses. Agamemnon's rough words send the old man away feeling angry. And the loss of his daughter is just too grievous. What a recurring theme that is in the epic. Man loses wife. Man loses daughter. Man loses sweetheart. Man loses best of all prizes.

    More strife than anger here, it seems to me. And who causes all the strife? Why, it is the Goddess of Strife herself, Eris. With the permission of Apollo. That's what Chapman adds to the fateful brew in this close encounter between men and gods, both male and female:

    '...Eris op,d that fighting vein, betwixt Atrides, king of men, and Thetis' godlike son.' (Chapman, paraphrased lines 6 and 7)

    Eris is the goddess, we will remember, who introduced the beauty contest to the world, with Paris divinely manipulated into being the first judge. His reward? Helen, of course. And the rest is history. Well, with a poet's understanding of things.

    Chapman felt very close to Homer. He must have sensed the reason for Homer's reluctance to be specific when he invoked The Goddess to inspire his song. We naturally assume it was one of the nine. As we can see Eris, Strife, was determined not to be left out. Can we really be sure that this is the song that Homer set out to sing?

    'Zeus' Will was done.' Lombardo, line 6.

    Sure, but Hera doesn't make it easy for him. There's anger in heaven too. I can't see why Achilles is being set up as the villain in the piece.


    October 4, 2004 - 11:06 am
    Like yourself, I'm learning many things I never knew before. The answer to your question is a horrifying one. I came across the following in a recently published book: MYTHOLOGY, gen ed, C Scott Littleton.

    'The Goddess Demands a Sacrifice'

    'So the great host (the Greeks setting out for Troy) gathered once more at Aulis for the expedition to begin. But they were thwarted again, for this time no wind sprang up to carry them eastwards across the Aegean. As days of forced inactivity turned to weeks, the Greek leaders turned to Calchas for an explantion. Agamemnon had angered Artemis, the seer proclaimed, by boasting that he was more skilled in the hunt than she was. She would only send a favourable wind if the king propitiated her by offering up Iphegenia, the most beautiful of his daughters, as a sacrifice to the goddess. When Agamemnon first heard Calchas's suggestion, he indignantly refused to consider the idea. But as time passed and his forces became increasingly restless, he had second thoughts. Finally he sent messengers to Sparta to seek the young girl; and to calm his wife Clytemnestra's fears, he instructed them to spread the word that he intended Iphegenia to be the bride of Achilles.

    'Delighted by the news, the happy mother accompanied her daughter to the camp, but on meeting Achilles she learned of her husband's deception. Frantically she begged him to spare the girl, but Agamemnon's mind was made up. And so Iphegenia had to give up her life for her father's cause...soon the winds set fair for Troy, and the fleet set off once more.' p209

    October 4, 2004 - 11:31 am
    Homeros uses the word 'oide' (sing), but there is another word for singing in Greek: tragoudo, (I sing), and the word shows to come from the same root as tragoidia, and tragoidistes, singer. This proves that the musicologists were not crazy. And the word tragOIDIA also shows the same root as 'oide'.

    Yes, I know that tragos (billy goat) is thought to be the origin of the word tragedia, I also heard about the explanation.

    And did the 'oide' has something to do with our word 'ode'? I am thinking now of Keats' wonderful poem "Ode to a Greek Vase". Oh, please, tell me to stop my endless associations!

    Now, I don't want to brag; I don't know Greek. I have just started to teach ancient Greek to my 82-year-old head 10 days ago. I find it very enjoyable and interesting. If the gods won't take me to Hades earlier, I hope to read Iliad in original in the future.

    October 4, 2004 - 12:35 pm
    Correction: the title of the Keats poem is "Ode to a Greek Urn. Excuse my slip.

    October 4, 2004 - 12:35 pm
    Joan, what a perfect example of a word being defined by its use. I was admiring it in 'oy'. And how would you 'translate' oy vey? Can you find an occasion in The Iliad that would make it apt?

    Splendid parallels that you find in the medieval world of chivalry and warfare. I found another the other night when I got the opportunity to watch a movie version of Shakespeare's Henry V. Now there was a leader. In short order, he persuaded his soldiers to follow him to France, to fetch another crown. A few persuasive words, and:

    'Now all the youth of England are on thrive the armourers, and honour's thought/ reigns solely in the breast of every man.'

    It's almost as if Shakespeare did with Agincourt, what Homer did with Troy. Spectacular were the clouds of arrows from the English archers, which won the day, and the crown, for Harry. It seems to me the bowmen were behind the knightly cavalry, with the arrows flying overhead, and then taking their terrible toll on the French.

    Homer's battles are pitched affairs. Did Homer ever see a battle being fought? He was blind. Or was he another Stephen Crane, who could also write very convincingly of battle without ever having been on a battlefield?

    Leadership is everything. The real thing in The Iliad, it seems to me, was shown by example during the fighting. When Agamemnon finally worked up the courage, he too was spectacular.


    October 4, 2004 - 01:59 pm
    Not to jump into Book 2 with all 4 feet(hahaha,as Ginny says) but it seemed a good day to quote another edition, the Alexander Pope translation.

    Lombaro (2:92...) Swarming like insects over the beach, like bees..., which is "simile" to give relief from all the battlefield lines

    Compare to Pope

    As from some rocky cleft the shephard sees
    Clustering in heaps on heaps the driving bees,
    Rolling and blackening, swarms succeeding swarms,
    With deeper murmurs and more hoarse alarms;

    ... and Pope's "wooly menace" translation is (2:9-12)

    Fly hence, deluding Dream! and light as air,
    To Agamemnon's ample tent repair.
    Bid him in arms draw forth the embattled train,
    Lead all his Grecians to the dusty plain.

    Jonathan, I agree about Henry V. Saw a wonderful student production of this on stage this past summer in Chatham, MA. With a graduate student close to the actual age of the young king, it gave extra insight into the trauma of war!

    A final note: Pope uses "tyrant" instead of "dogface" by Lombardo in the book 1 passage in the header.

    Shasta Sills
    October 4, 2004 - 02:02 pm
    I had forgotten that Homer was supposed to be blind. As I read some of the gory details of men slashing at each other, I thought, "He can supply all these details because he has seen war himself." It's hard for me to believe he was blind. How could he imagine all these specific horrors if he never saw them?

    I was interested in William Harris' comments on dactylic hexameter. He said the sound of a dactylic line was in the poet's acoustic mind. If dactylic hexameter was the beat that the Greek mind heard, is iambic pentameter the natural beat of the English mind? Isn't this curious that different cultures hear a different beat.

    October 4, 2004 - 02:13 pm

    Looked this morning and no posts, this afternoon 32 new posts. WOW.

    Achilles said that he had NO quarrel with the Trojans as they had done him no harm. In fact, Achilles had to be found and dragooned into the War.

    So, what affect his leaving would have would not have bothered him at all. He didn't consider it. His Honor was paramount in his mind as it was with the other Greeks.

    I stil say that between his supposed invunerability and his special Armor he had little worry about in battle. Still not sure whe he did not have his heel armored unless he was unaware of its importance.

    We have the Greek side of the story but where are the Writers for Troy? No Trojan Homer or writers of Trojan epics. We need a spokesman for Troy.

    Tiger Tom

    October 4, 2004 - 04:46 pm
    My head is swimming from reading the messages from the past several days, I didn't realize I was so far behind.

    It appears to me that Homer has presented a very romanticized view of the reason for this war. It is conceivable of course that it could start because of wounded pride and the necessity to avenge one's honor and bring back the stolen property (Helen). Sure, she was beautiful, but was her value worth countless lives and 9 years of war? Further, in nine years, she would not be the sumptuous beauty she was when she was turning all those heads, so it is not for the woman that they fight, but more to assuage their own offended egos.

    Then there is the cost of waging a war for all those years. It is a puzzle to me how Agamemnon could get the cooperation of all those various heads of state in spending the zillions of drachmae (?) necessary to feed, arm, transport and replace troups for all that time. What's in it for them?

    October 4, 2004 - 04:55 pm
    2. What does Nestor represent in The Iliad? What is the purpose of introducing him?

    He is the elder, the consigliore if you will with the role as advisor, seeking to restore "harmony."

    Old Nestor's been around a bit and he wisely cautions these two fools to take his advice. He'd been through previous wars and was well respected as an elder. The orator that he is, he breaks into a sweet speech chastising and shaming Agamemnon and Achilles for acting like children,"to whom the works of war mean nothing." This great experienced man tries to make them both see their ways are foolish, to no avail.

    October 4, 2004 - 04:56 pm
    You're probably right. I think that some of the ways men are killed are downright awful. Of course, I do think some is a bit exagerated (why would a man die from a spear through the ear?).

    October 4, 2004 - 05:07 pm
    Honey, It would be very easy to die from a spear thru the ear. Watch Braveheart some day. As mentioned, these men formed massive lines from front to rear hurling spears, propelling arrows and throwing gauntlets. That was their ammo for the kill and that is what they meant to do.

    October 4, 2004 - 05:38 pm
    Homer reminds us that Agamemnon and Menelaus are descended from the House of Atreus. The House of Atreus is known for the blood sacrifices among father, brother, son, and daughter. Originally, Tanatalus killed his son Pelops and served him as a meal to the gods. The curse of this house follows each descendant. Agamemnon could not get the ships to sail because of adverse winds. He had to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia in prayer to the gods. His wife Clytemnestra thought that Agamemnon was taking their daughter to marry Achilles. When Agamemnon returns home from the Trojan War, he brings back his concubine Cassandra. Clytemnestra and her lover then kill Agamemnon. From the start, Homer sets the stage for the fatal outcome.

    "Kings are bred by Zeus." (Lombardo, Book 2, line 215). Apparently, Agamemnon is a suitable king. However, for nine years, he has commanded badly the Greek forces. I think only Achilles would dare challenge Agamemnon's authority.

    October 4, 2004 - 07:33 pm
    Thank you for inviting me to participate in your discussion of the Iliad. I am of course very pleased that you are using my translation and will do my best to respond to your questions. Right now I am still finding my way around this website. So, for instance, I found this Post My Message box, but I haven't seen any other posts. I'll talk with Ginny tomorrow and we'll figure things out. Meanwhile, I hope you like what you're reading. Homer gave the Greeks their gods, as Herodotus said, and he has a lot to give to us as well.

    Stan Lombardo

    October 4, 2004 - 07:57 pm

    I want to thank you for your enthusiasm and excitement about reading the Iliad. I've read many of the messages and all of them reflect the sort of contemporary interest that a great work like the Iliad inspires. This translation is especially engaging and captures the active and vigorous way in which Homer narrates the conflicts among the characters, the battle scenes, as well as the moving domestic and personal moments. So I definitely want to thank her for inviting Dr. Lombardo into the discussion.

    The messages that are posted reflect many of the ways in which people understand and interpret the Iliad. As I philosopher, I have been struck by a theme that seems to arise in the first book and later about the relationship between force and words. (See 8 in the list of topics) I had read Simone Weil's book--The Iliad, the poem of Force--a few years ago. She argues that the central theme of the epic is Force, which she defines as "that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it intot a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him."

    To me a thing is the opposite of what it is to be human. The philosopher Immanuel Kant captures this when he talks about a person as a being who must be respected as an end and not merely a means to some other end. We use things for our ends or purposes--hammers to nail. We are beings who have purposes. So if we use other persons for our purposes, say to get ahead, with no regard for the fact that they like us have their own purposes, we use them as things.

    With this contrast in mind what I saw in the opening of the Iliad was a sort of movement back and forth or dialectic between two ways of resolving conflict. For example, in Achilles' conflict with Agamemnon we have a response that comes naturally to a warrior of his stature which the narrator poses as a question: "... should he draw the sharp sword that hung by his thigh, scatter the ranks, and gut Agamemnon ...?"(I, 199) In contrast to this I saw Nestor acting as a sort of proto-philosopher trying to argue for a compromise between the men that involved mutual respect for the other's position, reminding them that "taking advice is a good thing."(I, 289)

    Along these lines I proposed a more complex theme about the opposing relationship betwen force and words in the Iliad. It seemed to me that in this work one could see how Force abandons Words and how Words abandon Force. With a little more elaboration I would say that we can see in the Iliad how words, language, conversation, negotiation, and argument serve to humanize--to treat people as human beings as ends with their own purposes and not merely as means. We can also see clearly how threats, force, violence, and silence dehumanize.

    To me Nestor demonstrates the first part of this theme in his attempts to negotiate a truce between Achilles and Agamemnon. Although it's jumping ahead a bit, the passage in which Ajax kills Simoeisius in Book 4, lines 512 and after, demonstrates the second part. In this incredibly moving passage Homer uses a simile to compare this killing to the way a wainwright cuts a tree to make the parts of a chariot.

    Again this is one of the things about the first books of the Iliad that struck me quite forcefully that I shared with the class at Furman that Ginny was in.

    Thanks again to her for organizing and spurring this discussion.

    Mark Stone

    October 5, 2004 - 02:46 am
    Oh. I must have misunderstood that passage. I have yet another question. The list of armies in book 2 goes on for 12 pages in my translation. If this was originally a story/song, then...would the poet actually sing that whole list, or would they skip parts of the poem?

    October 5, 2004 - 04:59 am
    Whoop!!! (What's Greek for whoop?) hahahaa WOW! I nearly fainted this morning, Welcome Dr. Lombardo!!! You did make it in! whee!! (Love that login name!) I have already sent Dr. Lombardo several of our questions, I hope he won't rue the day he heard of us, this is an unparalleled opportunity for us not to mention oh WOW welcome also, Dr. Stone!

    Both of you at once!

    Wow wow, this is fabulous, have already printed out Dr. Stone's fabulous post and will link it to a new question in the heading, especially since I see that half of Question 8 was left off sigh, hahahaa it won't be, now!

    WOW! This is so exciting, who knows WHAT to do? hahaha Back in a minute with some reflections ALSO on all of your great posts this morning!!!

    I love this, let's talk about this new focus today:
    It seemed to me that in this work one could see how Force abandons Words and how Words abandon Force. With a little more elaboration I would say that we can see in the Iliad how words, language, conversation, negotiation, and argument serve to humanize--to treat people as human beings as ends with their own purposes and not merely as means. We can also see clearly how threats, force, violence, and silence dehumanize.

    To me Nestor demonstrates the first part of this theme in his attempts to negotiate a truce between Achilles and Agamemnon.

    Let's look at this new set of perspectives against what has happened, and the issues it raises, already I can see more symbolism in Achilles' throwing down the scepter...let's go back through Book 1 and see all the places we can apply this new theme and let's get up a list of themes as well running through the book.... back in a minute...

    Pat H
    October 5, 2004 - 07:39 am
    I’ll bet he did. This is somewhat like the Norse Sagas, where you have to wade through the genealogy of every single character before you can get started. The information was there because the audience cared about it. The Greek audiences might come from, or have visited, many different places and want to know who fought from there.

    There is another powerful reason for not skimping here. The Introduction points out that the Greek warriors made life meaningful in the face of inevitable death not only by courting death to earn great rewards, but by hoping to do memorable deeds, so their glorious reputation could live on after them. To go along with this there would have to be a tradition of preserving such memories. You would want to mention everyone you could. Later I think we are going to hear the details of the deaths of more heroes than would otherwise need to be included, for the same reason.

    Pat H
    October 5, 2004 - 08:13 am
    Dr. Lombardo, I would be interested in your comments on JoanK's parallels between the Greek warfare and the 14th century (posts 50 and 52.

    October 5, 2004 - 08:15 am
    me, too, Pat, I sent them to him yesterday, and am just over the moon to see he made it in, more...we're redesigning the heading this morning to focus on only a few topics, one of which was just raised, stay tuned.

    Cat Woman
    October 5, 2004 - 10:32 am
    Hi, I returned Monday from a short vacation and have spent a lot of time catching up with the thought-provoking comments.

    Achilles and Agamemnon at the beginning of Book 1 sound like spoiled members of a high school gang...or like NBA players whining over not getting enough touches. But of course, the conflict is much deeper than that. I went back to my Iliad course from the Teaching Company, and here is what Dr. Vandiver says. The Greek soldier fought for honor and glory. The Greek word for honor can be translated as physical expression of honor in the form of booty; hence Achilles rage at losing his honor, one of the major reasons for a Greek warrior to fight. (And my take is that the Greeks have been raiding outlying centers as well as having a few skirmishes with the Trojans but nothing major for these 9 years). Glory to the Greeks meant fame or "what other people say about you." It is the only form of immortality for the warrior--i.e., what people say about him after he's dead. Dr. Vandiver characterizes Greek culture as a "shame" culture in which what others say about you determines your sense of worth. Agamemnon has dishonored Achilles and called his whole sense of worth into question.

    So Achilles, in the context of his culture, has every right to be angry. But I wonder why he stays around and sulks instead of just going home. His destiny, of course, but what other reasons? Does he hope Agamemnon will change his mind? After he prays to his mother, does he stay to gloat at the many losses of the Greeks?

    Cat Woman
    October 5, 2004 - 11:07 am
    I'm wondering if the Greek soldiers are any different from the young men of today who strap explosives around their waists and go off to blow up a busload of people. All for glory.

    October 5, 2004 - 12:15 pm
    'And now great heaven goddess Aurora scal'd, to Jove and all gods bringing light' (Chapman, whose wordsmithery leaves subjects and objects, predicates and qualifiers, dangling add-ons and sundry unidentifiable parts of speech all in a jumble)

    But Dawn has arrived here on Olympos (ch 2), and the gods, male and female, are howling with laughter. Last night (end of ch 1) they couldn't stop laughing over how deftly the crippled Hephaestos poured their drinks, and recounted the acrimonious spats between Mother Hera and her powerful husband Zeus.

    This morning they are laughing over Agamemnon's delusionary dream. As a substitute for strategy. That poor excuse for a general. Even the poet, in an aside, can't resist calling him a fool. Hurriedly he dresses, in his kingly way, rushes out, calls a staff-meeting, and announces that the time is right, he is now assured of heaven's harmonious consent that the walls of Troy will fall for him. Zeus has told him as much in the dream. With Nestor's enjoined complicity for extra credibility. Was Nestor surprised to find himself so heavily involved in this latest lunacy? Or was he used to it? Things have come to a sorry pass for Agamemnon, obviously. It must have felt like a put-up or shut-up time for the lord of all men.

    And what could be more laughable for the gods up here than that preposterous notion of the king of kings, that the mighty Zeus, falling asleep in Hera's arms, would be tossing and turning, over anyone's earthly fate, not to mentionn honor?

    And who amongst them, the gods are wondering, put those winged, wicked words into the mouth of that disgruntled wretch, Thersites? Railing at will with such good sense. If Zeus did send the confidence-building dream, whose, which divine hand is trying to throw this monkey-wrench into His convoluted plan? Confusion on earth. Conspiracy in heaven. Or is it the other way around?

    Up here, on Olympus, it seems just too hilarious.


    October 5, 2004 - 12:30 pm
    Wow! I hate to even break the spell here of all these new ideas and perspectives with my own blather, but break it I must, I can defer it a bit by looking at all of YOUR outstanding contributions yesterday, let's do that.

    I've been struggling all DAY I think my brain is creaking (what a novel and great feeling) hahaha with all these accumulated great ideas!

    CW thank you for that background and you made an excellent point which I myself have been idly wondering, why did he not go directly to the boat and leave? That's a good question. Did he want to be begged? Apparently not as we will see, so why stay?

    I am not sure how you all are seeing these characters, still? Do you see them as some sort of strange attic ancient cartoon characters or do you see them as men? Are you seeing them come alive, can you relate to any of them at all? It seems to me that Homer goes to extraordinary lengths to humanize these people and you have to ask yourself why?

    One example is The Catalogue of Ships in Book 2, that I think Greatbooksfan mentioned here. It's a bit more than a list, isn't it?

    Note how many times some "nobody" is mentioned and it goes into some depth about him, who his parents were, who he left behind, how he died, etc. The question above, #6, his wife, with cheeks torn, his house half built. He was the first one off the boat. What does this remind you of today in 2004?? It reminds me of something I see every night on the news. Why is this here, do you think?

    Before I go out on a limb with my own crazy reactions, let's remark on your own more rational submissions!

    Good job Lou on the evidence that there may well have been a battle, that is another question we have asked Dr. Lombardo, and he will have to pick and choose from the blizzard of questions asked him yesterday, or retire full time, hahaha, seriously we look forward to hearing more because I certainly don't know the answers!

    I love looking back thru the text for evidence, for instance, I found this while looking for Agamemnon's style of leadership yesterday: (and let's get the Son of Atreus (Agamemnon) and the Son of Peleus (Achilles) straight too?) Confusing, all these names, have you sorted out all the words for the Greeks?

  • Agamemnon calls Achilles a Deserter for wanting to leave and says You actually like fighting and war,
    If you're all that strong, it's just a gift from some god.

    That's pretty enlightened and philosophical coming from a man in the Iron Age, don't you think? And that apparently is when he decides to take Briseis…. And then look at this, Agamemnon says his reasoning here is "so you will see just how much
    Stronger I am than you, and the next person will wince
    At the thought of opposing me as an equal."

    So it seems to me that however we find out they govern themselves, that Agamemnon did see a clear threat from Achilles, he dislikes being told the plague is his fault, and that they should go home, and he is determined to have the upper hand. Now Jonathan's point here about this is all coming from Apollo, no, Eris, is likewise quite interesting, how do you know when to stop going back? Are the Greeks simply ascribing things to "the gods" when in fact they themselves are causing them, and IF so, then does that give them an excuse for bad behavior? Oh Zeus made me do it?

    When Achilles withdraws in silent anger, that's really a VERY hard thing to deal with in another, you know it? It's easier to deal with somebody coming at you than when they turn away and become withdrawn: there is nothing you CAN do if another withdraws. You can cal it sulk or pout or whatever term you like,but you canNOT deal with it. And that's what Achilles does, he says, I'm leaving.

    Now we asked what YOU would do in that circumstance and why. Tom said he would go. Let's stop and ask you each what you would have done in the same situation??

    And then let's ask YOU if YOU were Agamemnon, what you would have done in response? After all, you can't fight a war if half of your soldiers get up and leave and they might just do that if the big guy sails home? Think about it?? I bet Ag was panicked at the very thought, he's also like a wounded bull here.
    I've ordered Chapman's Homer as I could not find it locally (wonder why, the thing was only written in 1611, ahhahah I will use my Lombardo to translate Chapman who translated Homer) hahaaha wow, 1611, and there was also a Companion to the Iliad but I think we've got the best companions for our journey and resources here we could ever have!

    Lou, should we indicate that one characteristic of epic poetry is that it begins in medias res or not, do you think??

    Francoise, good points on the role of sacrifice and propitiation of the gods, are you using the Rieu?

    What an interesting statement YOU have made, " We will see, the Gods will favor the Kings and princes, as long as they perform their rituals with honor and protocol.". That almost gets to….that verges on something modern also as pertains to religion, doesn't it? So the gods are going to favor the chosen ones IF they perform their rituals with honor and protocol? So Agamemnon is doing just that? He's returning the girl, he's doing the sacrifices, (oxen this time I think Greatbooksfan), but is he acting honorably otherwise? ?

    Francoise, in the breach of authority both men did, which one caused it, do you think? Which one provoked it initially?

    Jonathan, you see Achilles as the provoked and not the provoking? I see it the other way? Or do you think the plague provoked him, but if so why blame it on Agamemnon? To me that's dirty pool. The plague is YOUR fault, let's go home. That's a challenge, that's not reasonable?

    But you are saying it's not Achilles' fault, he's been set up. Let's move on to Book 2 today and see if we can decipher what on earth Zeus is doing with Agamemnon, talk about being set up, and what Agamemnon decides to do as a result, do any of you understand the reasoning there?

    And Jonathan has related the tale of Iphegenia, and if there were ever an illustration of using people as a means to an end, that's one! His own daughter. So you might say that the enterprise was cursed from the outset, cursed, ironically, to propitiate the gods, wow.

    GOooo for it hegeso and don't spare telling us the Ancient Greek words as you come to them, good for you!!

    Mippy great points on the Epic similes, how are they set off in your books? In the Lombardo they are in italics which is nice, provides a nice interlude A simile, according to this fantastic Spark Chart of Literary Terms (have you SEEN these neat things? Wonderful laminated charts on literary terms etc.) thing I just picked up in B&N, anyway it says that a simile as Mippy said, is a comparison of two things through the use of "like," or "as." And they set off very vividly, don't they, the images of the warriors like bees. We're vineyardists and this year nature has gone berserk, we're in a grape harvest here and the bees are incredibly intimidating. I would not want to have to face an army of bees! I love the nature references, some of those coming up are stunning, did you like the one about the migratory birds in Book 2? You really get a picture of what's going on thru the perspective of these nature images...(are they all nature images so far?)

    Good points on iambic pentameter, Shasta!

    I thought that even tho Homer was blind, successive generations would add TO the poem their own imagery, I have been wondering what the oldest version extant of the Iliad actually looks like? I'd really like to see a photograph of it.

    Tom, the writers for Troy's side are yet to come and you will be surprised who they are!

    Maryrita, my own head is swimming this morning, also! Heck it's 3:00 and I'm STILL trying to get something down here.

    Maryrita, an excellent question, what IS in it for the Greeks??

    Great point, Andrea, so Nestor represents the Voice of Reason, standing between these two…very dangerous men, he tells Agamemnon not to take the prize and Achilles to back off, that Agamemnon is the leader, he's got that scepter, I still want to know what that throwing DOWN of the scepter by Achilles means! I think it's symbolic but I may be crazy.

    Oh good point Shifrah on the House of Atreus and what that means and Tantalus!!

    What do you find for the House of Peleus? Something equally gory?

    So now I have come down to Dr. Lombardo (whee!!) and Dr. Stone (whee!) I would like to look more closely at Dr. Stone's ideas today.

  • Ginny
    October 5, 2004 - 01:36 pm
    Pat is making a wonderful point here, I think: The Introduction points out that the Greek warriors made life meaningful in the face of inevitable death not only by courting death to earn great rewards, but by hoping to do memorable deeds, so their glorious reputation could live on after them. To go along with this there would have to be a tradition of preserving such memories.

    Also you might say, again, turning back to that concept of Kant's, in which people are an end in themselves and not a means to an end, that every person who dies is important, and we all lose something when somebody dies, to quote Dr. S.

    And we need to be careful here we know who the Narrator is? It's not Agamemnon who is mentioning these "little people," in fact he seems almost oblivious to them, I wonder if that's why Jonathan up there with the gods finds them in hilarity over his strange plight.

    I'm not sure Achilles is saying this either, but he IS sad over Briseis, maybe for the wrong reason: pride, maybe not. He started all this? Unless we want to ascribe all of the behavior here to the gods.

    Do YOU understand the layers going on with Zeus sending Nestor to Agamemnon in a dream (why a wooly dream)….let's spell it out. What does Zeus want to happen and why? HE'S definitely the King here, no doubt about it, don't even mess with me, Woman, he says to the Queen of the Gods, you aren't in the same ball park!

    I find the bit about what Zeus lay awake and wanted, the Dream he sent, but most puzzlingly Agamemnon's REACTION almost more layers than I can figure out. WHAT is Agamemnon doing?

    "The fool. He didn't know what Zeus had in mind."

    BUT, Zeus told him to " arm your long haired Greeks
    Now is your time to capture Troy.

    Think it over. Keep your wits about you,
    And don't forget this when sleep slips away."

    OK…uh…doesn't that mean go ahead and attack the city?

    So what does Agamemnon DO?

    Doesn't your mind WHIRL?

    Do you think his thinking has something to do with Achilles threatening to leave? WHAT do you make of him in the opening lines of Book 2??

    It amazes me that something that can be read (these first two books, for instance) in an hour or so can contain SO many variables, so much richness, so many layers and implications and levels. How many levels can we even identify? At this point we have only talked about 19 pages and even so the mind boggles at the complexity of the subject. (Can you imagine trying to translate this thing?) wow.

    Another aspect of our prism here is the theme Dr. Stone has identified, the relationship between Force and Words. He says

    The philosopher Immanuel Kant captures this when he talks about a person as a being who must be respected as an end and not merely a means to some other end. We use things for our ends or purposes--hammers to nail. We are beings who have purposes. So if we use other persons for our purposes, say to get ahead, with no regard for the fact that they like us have their own purposes, we use them as things.

    Ok let's ask ourselves these questions, I love this! ALL these different aspects of one poem!

  • OK , help me here. You don't want to be a hammer OR a nail, I just realized? We all have purposes. So how can can you have leadership at all, without somebody having to compromise their purpose to the other? And what about war? It would seem to me that war is the antithesis of treating people like humans. First off you're killing others, unless you talk and settle your conflicts that way.

  • Is it possible to command men in battle and not use others for your own purposes? How do you reconcile the need to take that hill with the not wanting to use people as objects? THIS is a toughie! Is this something the Ancients wrestled with better than we do? Did they wrestle with it at all? Is this something that occurred to them more than it does to us?

    Let's look at the relationship between Force and Words a minute, Dr. Stone says,

    It seemed to me that in this work one could see how Force abandons Words and how Words abandon Force. With a little more elaboration I would say that we can see in the Iliad how words, language, conversation, negotiation, and argument serve to humanize--to treat people as human beings as ends with their own purposes and not merely as means. We can also see clearly how threats, force, violence, and silence dehumanize.

    You can see the tension and the opposing forces in almost every action, I love his use earlier of the term dynamic, there are a lot of dynamics in this thing, and this is shown in the innumerable times they meet and converse and try to communicate versus what's actually going on. You can see it being acted out, and watch in fascination as it begins to disintegrate!

    And of course Achilles has just withdrawn from all future communication. Now what would a commander who did respect his men do in this case and what did Agamemnon do?

    That's one reason why I think when Achilles threw down that scepter, (which I thought symbolized the Greek Way, the meeting in council, the ability to take the floor and be respectfully listened to), he threw away their entire way of doing things. He just said the heck with you all, it's not worth it to me. I'm going home.

    But Agamemnon calls him a Deserter. Maybe THAT'S why he did not run home, CW, maybe it would be hard for him to explain to the wives and mothers and fathers left behind why he was coming home, not as a hero?

    So he is stuck , mired in his own anger. At least so far that anger only hurts him. OR does it? And he cries, he's really upset. Agamamnon is upset too, so he does the outward sign of a leader, the return of the girl, the sacrifices of the oxen but he also gets his revenge and pound of flesh (literally) and says this will teach YOU to mess with me!

    So Achilles' own talking, his own words, end in force and withdrawal.

    He really is the one, unless you want to rationalize it on the gods, who got them into this mess. Did these Ancient Greeks at this level really believe the gods were directing them this much OR were they rationalizing fate or their own behavior?

    Achilles is the one who called the council, is the blame to be put on Agamemnon just because he overreacted? Achilles must have known what sort of person he was, he sacrificed his own daughter to his purpose. I really, Jonathan, see Achilles at fault here . (So far?)

    If we apply this idea of the opposing forces, communication and force as we read the rest of this book, let's see how many times we can find instances of this theme

    I am thinking it makes a difference (or does it) WHAT sort of words are used? I mean WORDS themselves are not always toward a humanizing end, either? For instance Achilles in calling that council is really kind of devious. I don't think he has respect for Agamemnon in mind, so in that regard, he's dehumanizing. THROUGH his words. OR not?

    Agamemnon is showing no respect for anybody, is he? Seen thru this prism, he's threatening everybody. Nestor is the voice of reason but nobody is listening, (that's a contrast right there). But you have to ask yourself, is war ever any different? Particularly after a long siege? What are some other modern parallels we might cite? I am trying to think about Eisenhower and his need to propitiate the British forces, and Montgomery, to the disgust of Patton, YET the British were the first waves in at Normandy. And then CW mentions modern suicide bombers and their dreams of eternal glory, there is a lot done in the name of religion that sometimes is not done religiously. I am particularly thinking of the Crusades. Well... the Inquisition. Well... the deaths of Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer.

    I am wondering if a particular type of person becomes a leader in battle. You can see Agamemnon saying that Achilles loves war. Patton said the same thing about himself. Were there any philosopher generals besides Marcus Aurelius?

    OK so today and tomorrow let's ask ourselves these questions, or any other that appeals to you or that you don't understand:
  • How many themes can you identify so far in The Iliad?

  • If you had been Achilles, would you have left? What would you have done?

  • What would have been your reaction if you were Agamemnon to Achilles' statements?

  • Which one, Achilles or Agamemnon, comes closest to valuing others for who they are rather than as a means to an end?

  • Do you understand why Agamemnon in Book 2, despite the message he got in the wooly Dream, addressed the men as he did?

    What was the purpose?

    What was Zeus' agenda in sending him that Dream?

    Let's hone in on these or any other topics you'd care to bring up in the next day or so?
  • Shasta Sills
    October 5, 2004 - 02:04 pm
    Today's suicide bombers expect to be rewarded in the hereafter. The Greeks didn't seem to believe in much of a hereafter. All they hoped to do was leave a glorious reputation behind them on earth. This kind if "glory" is so alien to my thinking that I have to really try hard to appreciate their view of life. (Of course, I don't appreciate the suicide bombers' view either.)

    Fagles' translation says: "Go, murderous Dream, to the fast Achaean ships." I like "wooly Dream" much better. It's much more expressive.

    October 5, 2004 - 05:15 pm
    Ginny, The King Agamemnon admits: " But Zeus the Son of Cronos will torment me. He entangles me in fruitless broils and quabbles. Look at my quarrel with Achilles over a girl, when each of us insulted the other, though it was I who lost my temper first. If ever he and I see eye to eye once more, there will not be a day's reprieve for the Trojans." (Book 1, page 50)

    Religious rituals before war is as old as mankind. They were performed in the epic story of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, if you remember the famous war with Shri Krishna and Arjuna, song in the Bhagavad Gita, Indian Vedas dating 5,000 B.C. also from oral tradition. Although the Gods in those story never acquired the weakened humain traits portrayed on Mount Olympus.

    Through these ancient oral traditions, and forever, men will be witness of our ancestors, also human beings, with valor, honor, and wisdom.


    Cat Woman
    October 5, 2004 - 06:18 pm
    I agree with Francoise about the frequency of religious rituals or asking for a blessing before battles, in fact before many great undertakings. Remember Scott Carpenter saying, "Godspeed, John Glenn," before Glenn made the first orbit of the Earth. In that vein, it would be natural for Homer, too, to invoke the gods (Muse)before beginning his great epic.

    I've been thinking about what I would do if I were Achilles. Knowing me, I'd have been so humiliated, I'd have skulked off and gotten out of there instead of sitting around in view of everyone. Doesn't that make him even less a hero in the other men's eyes, refusing to fight and watching them go to their deaths?

    And I really don't understand Agamemnon's logic in telling the men they can leave, then having Odysseus run around and tell them they'd better not. How rational is that? If this is a test, what does he learn from the outcome? Yeah, we'd really like to get out of here.

    October 5, 2004 - 06:43 pm
    "But I'm going to test them first with a little speech, The usual drill—order them to beat a retreat in their ships. It's up to each one of you to persuade them to stay." (78-80)

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------- What is Agamemnon thinking?

    Why does Zeus literally deceive Agamemon with this false dream, all in the name of Achilles? Does he really want the death of those men on his hands or is it as Jonathan said- what's the difference to the gods who are immortal and could care less of man's mortality?

    Agamemnon is examining his warriors loyalties when he tells them about his dream in the "face and figure of Nestor " and puts out the offer for the men to return home.

    Imagine! Nine long years, away at war, waging their own hell, witnessing death, disease and destruction and now their cheiftain proposes that they return to their loved ones? I, for one, would be "outta there."

    Is he assessing their loyalty as "his words moved the hearts of the multitude" or is he determining his own prowess and capabilities as a dominant leader?

    Pat H
    October 5, 2004 - 09:14 pm
    Agamemnon's behavior here puzzles me. He does NOT tell the troops his dream. Instead he

    "…seated the elders first By Nestor's ship and unfolded his plan:" (ll 58-9).

    He describes the dream, and says he is going to test the men first, and it's up to the elders to persuade the men to stay. THEN the men swarm up like insects, finally quiet down, and Agamemnon tells them it's hopeless; we're going home.

    This sort of test is a common device in fiction (for all I know, in real life, too),but in this case it seems like a poor idea, poorly carried out. It's a poor idea, because it will wreck the men's morale. First he raises their hopes by saying "we're going home"; then comes the big letdown when they realize they have to stay and fight. They weren't all that unwilling to fight. I would think he would get them much keener by saying "Zeus told me we'll win if we fight today. If we do, then we can go home".

    It's poorly carried out, because he doesn't then give the men their pep talk. He does nothing, and neither do the elders. Only when Athena comes streaking down and tells Odysseus to keep the men from leaving is the tide of fleeing men stopped by Odysseus' taunts. Then first Odysseus, then Nestor, then Agamemnon give their stirring speeches and everyone prepares for battle.

    The only way I can see that this makes sense is if Agamemnon isn't really testing the men; he's testing the Gods. He is uncertain about his dream, so he sees if the Gods really want him to win by making it necessary for them to intervene. But I see no support for this in the poem, so I'm still puzzled.

    October 6, 2004 - 12:11 am
    Ginny, you asked about some information on Peleus. It was at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus that an uninvited guest threw an apple to the guests with the remark, "for the fairest." Paris judged Aphrodite to be the fairest which led to one of the reasons for the Trojan war.

    October 6, 2004 - 04:04 am
    I didnt see that anywhere in my translation...ah, here we go. Mine says "murderous dream". I think I prefer that, though. Wooly Dream? What's that supposed to mean?

    October 6, 2004 - 05:36 am
    Wonderful perspectives, everybody. Francoise, what an interesting point about Ag's reflections on his relationship with Achilles in the Rieu! Thank you for bringing that up, what line is that? I am not sure I have that, and want to see how Dr. Lombardo put it! Great point also on the importance of sacrifices and religious offices before battle. Can any of you find out more on this?

    Shasta raises a great point on the Greeks belief of the afterlife, can any of you find out more on THIS topic?

    Shasta, I do like this, speaking of the Greeks, you say, All they hoped to do was leave a glorious reputation behind them on earth. This kind if "glory" is so alien to my thinking that I have to really try hard to appreciate their view of life. I can't help being struck by how effective they were in this case, thanks to Homer, the power of the written or spoken word, we're talking about not only the heroes but also the every day soldier, here 3,000 years later. I have a feeling nobody will be discussing ME 3,000 years later! Hahahaha Great points!

    CW, great perspectives, great question here Doesn't that make him even less a hero in the other men's eyes, refusing to fight and watching them go to their deaths? Wonderful question, in the heading IT goes, but I'm with you, I don't understand Ag's "Reverse Psychology" leadership either, but I have (naturally! hahahah) a theory, as do Pat and Andrea, and I want to put everybody's possible thoughts in the heading as we struggle to figure out exactly WHAT Ag is doing!

    Let's hear from you all today on what you think he is possibly trying to do here about the "commission" he thinks he has received from a Wooly Dream. I love having to THINK about a book for a change!

    Pat and Andrea made several great points. Andrea said, Agamemnon is examining his warriors loyalties when he tells them about his dream in the "face and figure of Nestor " and puts out the offer for the men to return home.

    So it's a test. He tells the commanders, the inner circle which the soldiers are not privy to, that I've had a dream, from God, time to go, get them up, armed and set out.

    Somewhere around line 80, "But I'm going to test them first with a little speech,
    The usual drill --order them to beat a retreat in their ships,
    It's up to each one of you to persuade them to stay."

    I am totally confused by what Ag is thinking here or what he's doing, I was hoping that some of YOU would explain it to me!!!

    Pat had two super points, first off They weren't all that unwilling to fight. Good point! No they don't seem to be!! and It's poorly carried out, because he doesn't then give the men their pep talk. He does nothing, and neither do the elders. Only when Athena comes streaking down and tells Odysseus to keep the men from leaving. Yes very strange. If you're the leader, and the entire thing hinges on you, here you have delegated authority, are you going to stand by and watch your entire enterprise drown? What a RISK for this manager/ commander? I don't think I could have borne it!

    And as explanation again here comes another GOD, Athena with the EYES, are you noticing all the references to her EYES, and how they change color, fascinating!! We could do a paper on that alone.

    WHAT does this implicate??

    You would think if a leader of any kind had what he considered a vision from God that he'd SAY so to the rank and file! Major pep talk: Zeus says the victory is yours, go for it!? NO?

    What did Dr. Lombardo mean (what does "Haekwang" mean? Love it) by "Homer gave the Greeks their gods"!?!

    Joan earlier brought up an interesting point: IS Ag a leader as we know a "leader," or is Ag leading a committee? I don't know, (WHERE is Menelaus??~!!> I know he's HERE because he's in the list of ships, but boy, HE'S the Aggrieved Party, right?) Is Ag his older brother? Hahaha (Sure acts like one, huh?) But why is Menelaus laying low? Does that make Ag's leadership stronger or less effective, actually?

    Anyway we've all been on committees, I was on one just this week, I can't stop thinking about Ag. IF he's leading a committee of equal kings (and lucky us, we WILL find out here) then his job is harder? He has to motivate MORE. We've all been on committees, some of us have led committees, done volunteer or church work. I don't know if any of us feel appointed by God like Ag does but jeepers, can you imagine what leading a COMMITTEE would be like in a War? War by Committee. And as Dr. Stone pointed out yesterday, if your idea of leadership is using people and not respecting them, it dehumanizes you and them.

    Seen in this context, if I were Achilles, no matter how the thing is led, I would (my own personality, I'm afraid) would be to go home. Heck I've been here 9 years, forget it. Didn't want to be here anyway.

    If I were Ag, tho, and a challenge erupted from the committee or ruled men, makes no difference, really, I almost killed a committee member this week over the very sort of thing we're seeing here, and I'm an independent American in 2004! hahahaa, I would feel the necessity to deal with it. Dealing with it by dishonoring everybody present (you all give me a prize, no, I'll take yours, me me me) is not exactly the best ruling tactic? If he were running the Moose Lodge here in the US, he'd be running it by himself, wouldn't he? He'd be a Committee of One. ESPECIALLY considering people can die over this.

    When, as Andrea and Pat say, the dream comes, and it's time to GO, "Nestor" (why NESTOR, particularly??) in the Dream says GO for it, this is a VISION, your Hour has Come after 9 years, Ag says……let's go home. !?!!

    WHAT? As Andrea says, OK!!! YAY, I have an 11 year old son I have not seen in 9 years and a couple of gold cups to take home to the wife, let's GO...but.... We can see Ag saying, Odysseus, and Guys, you leaders, YOU persuade them? HUH?

    IS this a ploy to get the other commanders involved and equally taking the heat? IS this the workings of a clever commander well used to committee work and bolstering up enthusiasm? DOES he hope to...well for heaven's sake, what IS he doing? What is YOUR own perspective on this, don't hold back for fear that there's some historical context you might be missing, these are human beings fighting a war, the Universal Soldier and the Universal Man, I don't care if he DOES live in the In Edit: Bronze Age, I've seen people in 2004 act like both of them!!

    IS he hoping that when Odysseus protests oh hey NO we WANT TO FIGHT, then the troops will rise up even more strongly (but then in opposition to Ag? Because he says let's go home. Does he have to say let's go home because Achilles did, in contrast?)!!??

    Sort of a "how you all beg me" that EF Benson used in his books? Well if YOU all really want to fight, then I'll go along with YOUR wishes? Is this backtracking on his part and why does he say "you know the drill." ??!!?? He's done THIS before? YOU commanders persuade them?


    So again we vacillate back to what sort of set up IS this?

    I personally think, and could be totally wrong, I often am, that Achilles has rattled Ag. I think when you lead any sort of group at all, even a basketball team, if your Star says, oh sayonara, you are struck almost to the ground.

    Ag thinks he can do it without Achilles, and it MAY be that he's trying to get all of those other commanders ( who are not slouches themselves, including the mighty Odysseus and Ajax) to whip the troops up into a frenzy, because they may be looking wall eyed at their shining hero Achilles sitting on the beach. ("hmmm Achilles is going home, hmmmm Achilles says he's not fighting….hmmmm he's the best we've got...hmmmm. If I'm not behind him, I might get killed…hmmmmm")

    IF he gets in the ship and goes home, will it cause a mutiny? Ag needs, ironically, to mount an attack.

    Zeus is not playing fair, (does this jibe with what YOUR conception of GOD is in 2004?) but again ironically has helped, despite himself, Ag here, Ag does need to do something. And why "Nestor" as the wooly shade?

    Hahaha Greatbooksfan, let's all look and see what our text has in describing the Dream, we've heard a few.

    I think if I had been Ag, I would have tried to swallow some of my pride at the meeting and propitiate Achilles, I think I would have had to agree to send back the girl, propitiate the gods (he did all that) but not strike out in rage personally against the rest or Achilles, because THAT is where Ag, to me, begins his slide. His pride got the better of his diplomacy. He's one proud fellow. I sure would hate to be opposing these people, they go off at the drop of a hat and there's not much reason amongst them!

    Today we have a new heading about to go up, I think you will love it, and I'd like to hear from all of you on any aspect of either character so far or situation, does any of this ring a bell with your own experiences? Shifrah, so the House of Peleus is likewise caught up in intrigue/history, thank you!

    At this point in the story, the beginning of Book 2, is Achilles really driving Ag here or do you think Ag is acting independently? A drachma for YOUR thoughts on what on earth Ag thinks he's doing? Had it not been for the god Athena inspiring Odysseus, the book would have been over!?!

    October 6, 2004 - 05:54 am
    Thetis was a goddess (as most of these women in this story are, it appears) who marries the mortal Peleus. They beget Achilles. We've already heard from Jonathan about Eris, the goddess of strife. she was the uninvited guest at their wedding who threw down the golden apple and three of the goddesses rush to claim the prize for who is the "fairest." Doesn't this remind you of "Mirror, mirror on the wall
    who is the fairest of them all?"

    Well it falls on Paris, a poor shepard to be the judge between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. He has not esptablished his legitimacy yet as a prince.) He is bribed with rule of all Asia, victory in battle and supreme wisdom and the offer of the most beautiful woman (Helen) - respectfully. Now, of course Paris chooses Aphrodite the fairest of them all and awaits his prize, the beautiful Helen. ERGO- strife is introduced into our story. Ah-ha was Helen happy about this deal and pleased that she was to be spirited away from Sparta, or not?

    October 6, 2004 - 06:06 am
    Another dynamic, another theme that just occurred to me and I want to try to follow IT through is the concept of WE versus ME, here. To fight as a group you need to enhance the WE. When you act out as an invidual you change that concept to ME. I want to ask myself how important the ME is and how it fits in with the WE: OUR joint effort. Not sure there's any validity in it, but it's a possible theme?

    Great point on the guilt Helen must or should be feeling at this stage, Andrea!! IS she happy? Did she want to go? What does she think, that's her hubby massed out there on the shore. How I wish I had kept the photo from Brad Pitt's movie of those ships on the shore, would kill for it, quite a sight, would scare anybody to see it there.

    Pat H
    October 6, 2004 - 07:23 am
    I remember reading somewhere that, although Helen's marriage to Menelaus was happy, when the time came for Paris to spirit her away, Eros shot one of his arrows into her, causing her to fall in love with Paris and follow him willingly. But in Book 3 we see that she certainly regrets her choice now.

    Pat H
    October 6, 2004 - 07:34 am
    The Apple of Discord was thrown among the guests at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. Paris awards the Apple to Aphrodite, thus starting the events causing the Trojan War. Yet Paris, the child of this marriage, is old enough to fight in the war. Perhaps time is a bit stretchy for the Gods.

    October 6, 2004 - 08:10 am

    It was the Bronze age not the Iron age.

    Tiger Tom

    October 6, 2004 - 08:21 am
    Tom gets the studded staff! You're absolutely correct, Homer wrote in the Iron Age (did he? I'm confused about these AGES!! )There was a Dark Age too, right? when Mycenae fell?

    Heck, all the references to bronze in the Iliad should reinforce that, (why do I keep thinking bronze is soft? ) so the Bronze Age was even more distant. So here we are in 2004 acting like Bronze Age Men or are we not THAT smart?

    hhahaha Tom, what do YOU make of Agamennon's psychology here? Getting my ages mixed up! (I often mix up my own)

    Thank you for that!

    October 6, 2004 - 09:10 am
    The theme of The Iliad would be something like: are marriages really made in heaven, and, comcomitantly with that, the intellectual pleasures of experiencing disillusionment in our human affairs. In other words, a catharsis from the grubbiness of life, while allowing that one man's catharsis is another's meat and drink. Let's add endurance.

    And now back to the story. Thank you again, Ginny, for leading what promises to be a very lively discussion. And congratulations on the great beginning, despite your dismay on day one, knowing as yout did, that you had a real tiger in his armour. Nothing is funnier to imagine than those battle-scarred pages in your book, after the sixth reading. How can you ever forgive Homer for making it all so meaningful?

    Thanks to you too, Ginny, that we get an opportunity to thank Stanley Lombardo on his excellent translation, and all translators, whose work enriches our lives. I was also struck by a number of things he said in the interview. Such as an ideal translation being 'a reimagining of the poem.' And isn't that the reader's pleasure as well? Especially so, as he says, if one suddenly finds oneself 'seeing the poem for the first time with wonder, awe and respect.' I have already come to appreciate what he describes as 'the surging drive of its scenes.'

    How great, too, to have Proffesser Stone join the discussion. The laymen must be forgiven if he looks askance when he is asked to look for philosophy in such an action-filled drama as The Iliad. But it only seems so. Actually there is more talk than action in the book. A quick perusal by a number-cruncher of the Index of Speeches at the back of the book reveals that there are 667 of them. That must exceed by far the number of occasions on which force is used to settle a matter. Perhaps there is something to be said for considering their relative merits, words and force, in conflict resolution. I understand that long before the war a diplomatic mission was sent to Troy for the return of Helen. Of course beyond that lay all the other ticklish issues of human relations, human affinities for the metaphysical, and, oy vey, the question of endurance. It reminds me of my first encounter with philosopy. On the professor's suggested reading list was, THE WORST JOURNEY IN THE WORLD, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a revelation if there ever was one of the human spirit, of endurance. Ever since it has remained a favorite read. And now The Iliad.

    It's a fine day up here on Olympus. The gods have flown. Another junket to Ethiopia it is said. I'm off to check the nectar and ambrosia cellars. Lots of decrees laying about. Anyone have a need for one?


    October 6, 2004 - 09:23 am

    October 6, 2004 - 09:26 am
    Great point Jonathan about yes I do agree they are just like us, but those gods!!! WE need to talk about those gods and see if we can understand this type of religious belief, fascinating topics.

    Jonathan, I love the way you write, and think, yes, I agree with you, and I love being forced to THINK. Remember the old IBM signs when IBM first got started? Big wooden laminated signs for the office desk which said simply: THINK! hahaha more on your post and Pat's excellent focus on Helen later but came running into say to everybody, take a look at the heading today?

    Our Books effort here is the work of a lot of people, the people who participate so wonderfully IN our discussions, and our staff here, all volunteer: the Discussion Leaders, and the technical team which make our presentations go. (The Greeks would be proud of us all).

    This morning we unveil a new heading style, and I do hope you like it, you'll notice it's much shorter. The reason it is, is we're trying out something new and putting the CURRENT questions on HTML pages. For instance click on the Philosophical Questions, number 5 in the heading, (I thought Dr. Stone would appreciate Ajax and Achilles playing dice) and you can see there, as you can on all of the links when clicked, many great thoughts for us to ponder.

    Also you can see a new Gods and Goddesses page, below, which shows the contributions of Mippy on who is siding with whom and kidsal on the 9 Muses.

    As you all continue to bring information here we'll put these on the pages as well.
    THIS, if it works, and we DO use those pages, and we DO cover all of the questions, will allow us to have

  • shorter headings
  • focus on one issue of the day with room to put your own suggestions up there and

  • Lots of room to credit those who have brought information, including links: so it will be a true partnership.

  • This beautiful original and template heading is the original work of Pat Westerdale and since she's out for a short bit, the new iteration is the work of Jane, who did all the auxiliary HTML pages and I think they are gorgeous and want to call them ALL to your attention. Some of those questions we not answered. Which question did YOU submit or want to submit and don't see it on them and can you, do you think, use them effectively? It's MUCH shorter, what do you think?? Now back to our regularly scheduled program!!
  • Shasta Sills
    October 6, 2004 - 01:27 pm
    GreatBooks,I don't know what the translator was thinking of when he used "wooly dream," but it makes me think of "wool-gathering." That's when you sit in a classroom day-dreaming instead of paying attention. Wool is soft and fuzzy. It has no precise form. Dreams are usually fuzzy and imprecise too. If Agamemnon had been paying attention to business instead of falling for a silly dream, he wouldn't have led his troops into defeat.

    Shasta Sills
    October 6, 2004 - 01:35 pm
    Anybody who has raised teenagers knows what reverse psychology is. Whatever you tell them to do, they do just the opposite. When Agamemnon tells his soldiers, "Let's give up and go home, guys. Let's admit the Trojans are better fighters than we are. Let's just quit and sail home with empty ships and tell our families we failed."

    Why, that's like waving a red flag in a bull's face. These men have been fighting for nine years. All they know is the soldier's life. Winning is everything to them, not to mention the loot they hope to get. Admit the Trojans are better men than they are? Never!! This brings them raging forth ready for another battle.

    October 6, 2004 - 02:29 pm
    Now that we have arrived at the poetic roll call, here is the A. Pope rendition of the introduction,
    compare to Lombardo (2:520-534)

    Say, virgins, seated round the throne divine,
    All-knowing goddesses! immortal nine!
    Since earth's wide regions, heaven's unmeasur'd height,
    And hell's abyss, hide nothing from your sight,
    (We, wretched mortals! lost in doubts below,
    But guess by rumour, and but boast we know,)
    O say what heroes, fired by thirst of fame,
    Or urged by wrongs, to Troy's destruction came.
    To count them all, demands a thousand tongues,
    A throat of brass, and adamantine lungs.

    Cat Woman
    October 6, 2004 - 06:50 pm
    I know we're all serious about the Iliad, as well we should be, but just for fun, here's the beginning by Greg Nagan in The 5 Minute Iliad and Other Instant Classics: Great Books for the Short Attention Span. I think he does a great parody of the Iliad:

    Rage--Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles!

    If you don't know it, I can hum a few bars.

    Murderous, doomed, he cost the Achaens countless losses

    (or the Argives, or the Greeks, same difference),

    hurling down to the House of death so many sturdy souls

    that they opened an Achilles wing. And gave a discount.

    Begin, Muse when the two got in each other's faces,

    Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.

    What God drove them to fight with such a fury?

    Apollo, the son of Zeus and Leto. Why? Who knows?

    The gods have reasons and see things unseen by us,

    their wisdom penetrates all mysteries,

    and also, they can be pissy.

    October 7, 2004 - 01:32 am
    Fitzgerald says "fatal dream". Will Dr. Lombardo tell us about the word involved here.

    I read a translation of "The Song of Songs" with many notes on the original Hebrew. The translator noted that there were some words that only appeared in one place, and nowhere else in all the literature. So unless the root was recognizable, translators had to simply guess from the context what was meant. Does this occur in the Iliad?

    October 7, 2004 - 02:55 am
    Where exactly DID you find that anyway?

    October 7, 2004 - 03:03 am
    Gosh tomorrow we move on to Books 3 and 4 (already!) and I'm looking forward to Charlie's return as well, he said he'd be traveling during our first week.

    I think we've actually covered all but the questions in the heading!! Amazing, and today I'm starting to put up some of the themes you may see developing in the book, what are some other possible themes?

    I like to postulate theories and then see if they hold up! hahaah

    They don't, at least mine don't, lots of times, but this morning I'm seeing betrayal. And I'm seeing it in a lot of places. For instance, Achilles feels betrayed by Ag, and withdraws, how different is THAT from 2004 behavior? Think of how YOU acted the last time you were betrayed? He's a perfect study of the betrayed friend, and it's possible no wound runs deeper. But Ag has also been betrayed, or so he seems to think and as we have just learned, his own wife Clytemnestra was betrayed by Ag in the worst way, not to mention by Zeus himself! Not sure I'm familiar with devious gods playing tricks on men, especially since poor Ag trusts Zeus so. Is this an example of "what goes around comes around?"

    And then there's Helen as Pat brings up, who certainly for whatever reason betrays Menelaus? DID she have a choice? We will see that yon Paris is some kind of good looking guy, he's the….Clark Gable of ancient Greece, she has all kinds of excuses for leaving Menelaus but she DOES, as Pat points out and we're about to see, feel guilty. So that's another one. And like the Duchess of Windsor, she got what she deserved, maybe? We'll look at the questions she raises tomorrow.

    Haven't the Greeks (CW that was an absolute HOOT, loved that, and appreciate all the other names for the Greeks being listed as well. Not THAT'S succinct! I just saw a book blurb for Gilgamesh, and they say it's 1,000 years before Homer and is about a surprising topic, the ancients never fail to amaze)….but haven't the Greeks been betrayed, also? By Zeus? You have to ask yourself if HE'S against you what chance you have?

    GOOD point our Sharp Eyed Pat, (we'll have to get up names like Homer did for all of you!) on Paris and sketchy time, I had not noticed that. I tend to take the stories of the gods as colorful whimsy, I don't think (but don't know) if the Greeks did, maybe we better study these a bit more!

    It's strange to us, but if you ever read the mythology of Indian religions (from India) their gods are stranger, or at least to me they are? And that's in 2004.

    Are any of you familiar with THEM?

    Jonathan, thank you for those super thoughts on both professors and philosophy in general, tell us about The Worst Journey in the World? I am not familiar with it??!!?

    More talk than action in The Iliad, interesting! Philosophy is one subject I am woefully deficient (ignorant) in, and long to understand! It seems so pure, so logical and so bright, almost on another plane, and I am SO literal that I can only watch like Deadalus, as Icarus takes flight. I hope to improve in this discussion, we'll have more time here to ponder issues.

    Shasta, Greatbooksfan and Joan K, I don't know either, let's ask Dr. Lombardo all those questions, why "wooly menace," and Joan K's excellent last question, I'll get up a space in the heading for each of them this afternoon!

    Shasta, good parallel on teenagers, also raging and also wanting to do one thing or another, let's look at what the FIRST reaction of the soldiers was to Ag's speech and what (or who) turned the tide.

    Thank you Mippy for Pope's (forgot about him) rhyming translation!!! I had heard somebody made it rhyme!

    Joan we'll add this to the questions also, " The translator noted that there were some words that only appeared in one place, and nowhere else in all the literature. So unless the root was recognizable, translators had to simply guess from the context what was meant. Does this occur in the Iliad?". Great question!

    So for today, our last day in Books 1 and 2, let's find out if YOU have any other issues in these opening pages you'd like to talk about or ask questions about, or if you can identify a theme you seem to see developing or WHAT you make of #4 in the heading: the portent? I got a different message I think from the ones they got, what do YOU think?

    A drachma for your thoughts before we move on tomorrow!

    October 7, 2004 - 08:40 am
    I'm just one of the lurkers, but I have talked with a former student of mine who went to St. John's (where they read only the classics) for his master's degree. They studied the Iliad too, so I asked him--Trey--what the discussion was on Agamemnon, the dream, whether or not the Greeks would leave and so forth.

    Trey said that was one of the core questions in The Iliad. Some argue that Agamemnon was using a ruse, as has already been discussed here, a kind of reverse psychology. OK, let's give up, go home--and that he hoped the Greeks would shout no no, let's have another go at it. But if this was the case, Agamemnon was taking an enormous risk because what if he couldn't get the men to yell out for another chance? How then would he turn them around. I'll have to check with Trey for another possible way to read the section tomorrow.

    On the translation of wooly monster (of a dream)--the first thing that came to me reading that translation was a reference to the Wooly Mammoth from dinosaur days.

    OK, back to my lurker's loft.


    October 7, 2004 - 11:47 am
    What a pleasure to read again something of Pope's Iliad. How close it was to the original one didn't know. It didn't matter. It was a poet speaking, and I remember feeling that I had been to Troy. Treat us to some more, Mippy. I'll join you in Book IX. I have that much in a collection of Pope.

    And CW has treated us to some parody. That's always fun. And for the first time it crosses my mind: could the father of the epic, the master of every literary and story-telling trick, would he not have known of the uses of parody? A parody, for example, of Greek bellicosity? A parody of aspects of the oral tradition? Such as the constant proccupation with divine interest and intervention in human affairs?

    Is it parody or superstition that has Homer calling once more on the Muses, to help him with the catalogue of the ships, the role-call of those whose epitaphs he will later be writing. The gods forbid that it should happen to him, after that splendid vision with which he has begun his song, the gods forbid that Thamyris' fate should be his own:

    ' Dorium, where the Muses met Thamyris and stopped his song/ as he journeyed from Eurytus' house in Oechalia/ boasting he would win even if the Muses,/ daughters of Zeus, were to sing against him,/ and in anger they maimed him, took away/ his melody and silenced his lyre-' 2:75-81

    A shudder must have passed over Homer.

    And then there is Agamemnon's dream. Is that parody? Or the beginning of a long tradition in which Freud rang another change? Translating it as a 'wooley menace' is certainly doing it with poetic inspiration. One can conjure with that. Just as suggestive are Fitzgerald's 'fatal dream', already mentioned; Chapman's 'pernicious dream'; Hammond's 'evil dream'.

    The only certain thing about it for me is that Agamemnon awakes from that dream with his mind made up. He wants to go home. He knows damn well the gods are against him. Consulting Calchas, as he should have done, is the farthest thing from his mind. What would Zeus demand of him this time around. After recent experience.

    As it is Odysseus grabs the sceptre of power and saves the day. With the help of bright-eyed Athena, and just like that, the massed Greek heroes are leading Agamemnon into war. A war he doesn't really want.


    October 7, 2004 - 01:17 pm
    Thanks for the encouragement, Jonathan, here is more Alexander Pope:

    (these match Lombardo's lines starting 2:872 ff; Pope's are not numbered)

    Say next, O Muse! of all Achaia breeds,
    Who bravest fought, or rein'd the noblest steeds?
    Eumelus' mares were foremost in the chase,
    As eagles fleet, and of Pheretian race;
    Bred where Pieria's fruitful fountains flow,
    and train'd by him who bears the silver bow.
    Fierce in the fight their nostrils breathed a flame,
    Their height, their colour, and their age the same;
    O'er fields of death they whirl the rapid car,
    And break the ranks, and thunder through the war.

    Shasta Sills
    October 7, 2004 - 02:17 pm
    Were the Greek ships really big enough to carry chariots and horses? That doesn't sound practicable to me.

    October 7, 2004 - 03:18 pm
    What could the Greek heroes expect from the afterlife? Let's ask Homer, who gives the answer in book 11 of the Odyssey.

    Oddysseus to Achilleus' shade: 'We ranked you with immortals in your lifetime, we Argives did, and here your power is royal among the dead men's shades. Think, then, Akhilleus: you need not be so pained by death.'

    Achilleus' answer: 'Let me hear no smooth talk of death from you, Odysseus, light of councils. Better, I say, to break sod as a farm hand for some poor country man, on iron rations, than lord it over all the exhausted dead.'

    The souls of the heroes linger without purpose among the throngs of less distinguished dead. It is only the libations of blood offered them by the living that makes them feel themselves almost like men again.

    The less distinguished souls drink of the water of Lethe; initiated souls drink instead from the pool of Memory. IMHO, Lethe is more 'lethal', making the soul 'lethargic', which might be worse than suffering. By losing Memory, the soul loses itself. What else are we then the sum total of our memories?

    Pat H
    October 7, 2004 - 04:56 pm
    We have already discussed the different attitudes of Gods and Men towards this struggle: Men can die, so the outcome is crucial to them and they take it with the utmost seriousness. The Gods can't die, so although they care about the outcome, it isn't so important--it's not worth making everyone grumpy over it.

    But there is a further aspect. Since the Gods are immortal, they are watching a long series of such deadly struggles. One set of heroes flashes across the screen, only to be replaced by the next generation of heroes. Even their own half-divine offspring, about whom they care a fair bit, are mostly going to die, to be replaced by others.

    What say you, Jonathan, to you are we mortals a cloud of insects flitting by as one of a series of clouds? And does the sameness get boring? (Of course you, too, are going to be superceded in a few millennia, but you may not know that.)

    October 7, 2004 - 05:31 pm
    The talk is grand and loud, but the actions are more effective. Achilles throws down the scepter and refuses to fight for a woman. Thetis places her hand on Zeus' knee to get what she wants; Zeus tells her that a nod of his head is more decisive than any words. Hephaestus warns his mother Hera that he doesn't want to see her getting beat up if she should challenge Zeus; his father once flipped him off the balcony and the son spent the whole day falling until he landed on the island of Lemnos.


    October 8, 2004 - 02:42 am
    Yes, it does seem impossible that ships back then were large enough to carry chariots. else would they get there? Unless, maybe, the chariots were brought in pieces and assembled there. Or perhaps,the ships only brought the necessary materials for chariots,and collected the rest of the material when they got there, so they could make the chariots right then and there. However, that seem even more impractical then the ships being large enough to carry chariots, so...

    October 8, 2004 - 05:44 am
    Oh wow, so much to talk about today, let's use google and our resources to see if we can find out about the size of those ships vis a vis chariots and horses, and we need to know more, apparently, about all three of the periods of Greek history, apparently the civilizations were different. What I'm doing, even tho this is a book discussion, is going to various sites after we finish up a book (in this case the first two) and reading their questions and course work (if on the internet) and study guides and so far I've looked at Cornell and the U of Iowa and Temple and I am just amazed at how well WE'RE doing, on our own!! I'm proud of us, and WE'RE just a bookclub! I did find something about the character of Thersites, in Book 2, and we might want to look at that again, he's really a negative sort of guy (on page 27 of the Lombardo?) I kind of skipped over him, we might want to wonder why HE is there? But we need to go back and research also about the different civilizations in Bronze Age of Greece, the Dark Age of Greece and Iron Age of Greece, so today I'll take the Dark Age, those have always intrigued me anyway and did not know they existed, (certainly at a different time period than we think of for Europe) and see what I can find out. Can some of you research and bring here some of the other details?

    Now today I have ready, as you can see, the little Pick a Side thing for the bottom of the heading but let's wait, Jonathan hahaha has already chosen his side and he was off, with the other gods, on holiday, (one of the sites asked if there was anything significant about that 12 day holiday??!!??) so you can see HIM ensconced, but you may want to wait and see, till we get through with Book 3 (that IS a poem!) hahaha

    Our point in picking a side in this battle is so that we don't remain aloof but rather try to understand how each side is feeling, this IS a war, both sides of any war always think THEY are right, (don't they?) and so it will really be instructive to us, IF we can get in the feeling of it, to see how it feels.

    Trying to break these long posts down…more…. I also want to get up a list of the following, Mippy has started us out on who is on whose side: Apollo and Ares (Mars, the God of War) on the side of Troy, Athena (Minerva) on the side of Greece, Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology) on the side of Paris. Also we need to get straight all these names for the Greeks: Achaeans, Agrives, Danaans (maybe because they were from so many different places IN Greece, as Joan says almost a federation, you can see that on the map?)

    Welcome, Maryal!! WE are so glad to see you here, please don't lurk but join in!! More on your points and what everybody has raised, but first, let's get Books III and IV started out today!

    October 8, 2004 - 06:20 am
    Let's start our discussion of Books III and IV this morning by finding out your own impressions of Book III? I read Book III again yesterday, sitting out in this gorgeous fall weather, under a tree at the bottom of the vineyard, (we're vineyardists), with the smell of the grape harvest in the air, in the peace of the day, and opened the first page and immediately was blown away, to another time, to another place. It was like holding a stick of dynamite in my hands, it literally blew me away. BOY!

    The last we knew in Book II we were having a roll call, kind of dull, and WHAMMO we turn the page and TWO armies are marching toward each other!! The Trojans

    Like cranes beating their metallic wings
    in the stormy sky at winter's onset,

    Can't you just SEE that picture and hear it? Those extended similies, where he compares one thing (the army with bronze weapons moving forward) to anther (the beating of metallic wings) is just chilling. I actually got lost in this, just lost.

    And then the Greeks, moving forward silently

    Banks of mist settle on mountain peaks
    And seep into the valleys. Shepherds dislike it
    But for a thief it is better than night,
    And a man can see only as far as he can throw a stone.

    And their mist, as Horace said, is caused by the dust they themselves raise as they silently move out!

    GOSH!! I sat mesmerized and when some customers drove up in 2004 automobiles I just stared dully at them. Ahahahah I guess they thought poor old thing, she needs to be carried off. But I was carried off, transported to another time and another place. Listening to the metal clank as the two armies moved toward each other, WOW! Gave me chills. How did it effect YOU?

    Pat has said let's compare the Lombardo here in these first 19 lines of Book III, could you type in what your own translation says for those lines so we can compare as many versions as we can? Let's see the skill of the translator here.

    I will admit to you that when I got up this morning I looked down the road toward the vineyard and saw a huge fog, a mist, and strained or tried to imagine, a host of soldiers moving silently forward, coming right at me.

    I don't know, and have tried to think, of any other piece of literature which has this power? What was YOUR reaction to the opening of Book III?

    You can see the precision of the Trojans moving in formation like some flock of metallic birds in order, love that image, and you can hear the metal clashing as they move, (I don't think I have EVER seen so many references to bronze as I have in these two chapters. I must look up bronze, I thought it was a relatively soft metal).

    But after a long time of "hurry up and wait," they're moving out! It's time! And as they come in sight of each other what happens?!?! What did YOU think about the proposal Paris made? I think this book probably most invokes the depth of the entire piece, so many layers, let's look at all of them today, what struck you the most about the opening lines of Book III, let's start there and see what you would like to talk about today?

    What, for instance, do you make of Paris!!??!!

    October 8, 2004 - 07:01 am
    Herodotus and religion in the Persian war. Classical review by Jon D. Mikalson.

    "Herodotus explains the events of the Persian war from the religious points of view... Basically, Greek religion starts from three axioms: the gods exist; the gods pay attention to the affairs of men; there is reciprocity between men and gods. Herodotus claims that Homer and Hesiod shaped the Greek pantheon: that he accepted their pantheon at face value can not be proven, nor can the opposite view. Herodotus believes the gods personally intervened in the war to protect the Greeks from the unholy, impious, unjust, and blasphemous invaders. "Herodotus ... tells us what he thinks or accepts that gods do, not what they are" (p. 139). They 'act' as part of their reciprocal partnership with men, who in return, render them honor, tim?, through prayer, sacrifice, or dedications. Though Herodotus is prepared to believe a good deal of what gods do, there appear to be limits to his belief."

    Source: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.07.13 Link:

    Could the ancient civilization be so far ahead in their understanding of life to act with preemption? I believe that almost all their act was, to gain favor from the Gods or evade Zeus fury and thunder.


    October 8, 2004 - 07:06 am

    I have the R. Lattimore, well-worn version of the epic.

    Now when the men of both sides were set in order by their leaders,
    the Trojans came on with clamour and shouting, like wildfowl,
    as when the clamour of cranes goes high to the heavens,
    when the cranes escape the winter time and the rains unceasing
    and clamorously wing their way to the streaming Ocean,
    bringing to the Pygmaian men bloodshed and destruction:
    at daybreak they bring on the baleful battle against them.
    But the Achaian men went silently, breathing valour,
    stubbornly minded each in his heart to stand by the others."

    I love that! "Breathing valor," it says. They, of high heart are proud, majestic brothers standing quietly side by side, ready to take on these rowdy, boisterous Trojans.

    As the armies advanced Paris came forward donned in the skin of a panther, brandishing two spears shod with bronze. Why a panther hide? Why was this animal chosen by Alexandros for the challenge of the bravest Achaean?

    October 8, 2004 - 07:18 am
    "But the Achaeans moved forward in silence, breathing valor, and filled with the resolve to stand by one another."

    Beautiful Trojans look weak before this. Who is taking their defense here?


    October 8, 2004 - 08:25 am
    I am trying to read this epic because the words are so magnetic. Thank you Dr. Lombardo for your translation. Without such a translation, I would give up.

    If I understand correctly both Paris and Menelaus are fighting for Helen. I am struck by the power of the gods and goddesses. The gods and goddesses are intensely interested in who will win the battle and have no inhibitions about becoming involved in the ambitions of men.

    I would love to have seen Helen's needlework. She is weaving in blood-red fabric the pains and sufferings of the Trojans and the Greeks.

    I think Paris thinks of love and not war.

    October 8, 2004 - 08:38 am
    I had the greatest difficulty falling asleep last night. That shadowy figure on the left is me, looking on in utter amazement. And if I do fall asleep, what dreams may come? That definitely has to remain a core issue. Agamemnon's dream will continue to haunt us. Is dream the medium in the god/man dialogue, or some kind of man/woman's other self? And how did they get those horses and chariots across the wine-dark sea? Perhaps that horse and buggy dealer in Symrna down the coast fixed them up. Perhaps the boys just rustled up some horses in the countryside. And the use of words without roots. That would seem worth looking into. Perhaps some of Homer's history also lacks roots. And a meeting of minds on the themes of The Iliad. I must think more about a connection between marriage and betrayal. Paris was a greater betrayer than Agamemnon turned out to be.

    I can't resist passing along a few lines that Chapman added to his translation. He provides his own little argument before every book. For III it is this:

    The Argument

    Paris, betwixt the hosts, to single fight Of all the Greeks, dares the most hardy knight: King Menelaus doth accept his brave, Conditioning that he again should have Fair Helena, with all she brought to Troy, If he subdu'd; else Paris should enjoy Her, and her wealth, in peace. Conquest doth grant Her dear wreath to the Grecian combatant: But Venus to her champion's life doth yield Safe rescue, and conveys him from the field Into his chamber, and for Helen sends; Whom much her lover's foul disgrace offends. Yet Venus still for him makes good her charms, And ends the second combat in his arms.

    Who wants to argue with that? And make a note of Chapman's artistic use of punctuation.


    Shasta Sills
    October 8, 2004 - 09:18 am
    So here we have Paris and Menelaus fighting a duel to see who gets Helen. (Why didn't they think of that nine years ago?) We get all these neat details, how they strapped their armor on, how they drew lots to start the fight, a blow-by-blow report. Then suddenly:

    "Back at his man he sprang, enraged with brazen spear

    "Mad for the kill but Aphrodite snatched Paris away

    "Easy work for a god, wrapped him in swirls of mist

    "And set him down in his bedroom filled with scent."

    WHAT? What's going on here? Homer, you left something out! What kind of storyteller are you? You left out the best part. This was a perfectly normal duel and all of a sudden Paris is in the bedroom. (Paris was probably more of a lover than a warrior. A little of this fighting and he's had enough. He returns to his usual pursuits.)

    Did Paris run away? Is that what really happened? It's hard to buy all this meddling from the gods. They sure know how to screw up a good fight.

    October 8, 2004 - 09:31 am
    I think the gods do know how to "screw up" a good fight. At one point, a helmet strap is snapped, fog is used, etc. It's like a fixed fight. When the battle is won, I am not sure whether the true strength of the men or armies will have been revealed.

    October 8, 2004 - 09:50 am
    Another example of Pope's poetic virtuosity from Mippy.

    These varying translations must depend on which muse the translater draws. There must be competition among the muses in seeking a voice, as is also shown by the various shapes and personalities the other gods and goddesses take in Homer's epic.

    Here's Chapman on great steeds:

    'The bravest mares...Eumelius manag'd these: Swift of their feet as birds of wing, both of one hair did shine, both of an age, both of a height, as measur'd by a line: Whom silver-bowed Apollo bred in the Pierean mead, both slick and dainty, yet were both in war of wondrous dread.'

    How to pronounce Eumelus? In Lombardo's line the emphasis sounds good on the first syllable. In Chapman an emphasis on the second sounds right. It makes such a difference in one's enjoyment of the lines if these strange names can be made to roll off one's tongue.

    Cat Woman
    October 8, 2004 - 12:15 pm
    Fagles is quite similar to Lattimore:

    Now with the squadrons marshaled, captains leading each, The Trojans came with cries and the din or war like wildfowl when the long hoarse cries of cranes sweep on against the sky and the great formations flee from winter's grim, ungodly storms, flying in force, shrieking south to the Ocean gulfs, speeding blood and death to the Pygmy warriors, launching at daybreak savage battle down upon their heads. But Achaea's armies came on strong in silence, breathing combat-fury, hearts ablaze to defend each other to the death.

    Much scarier to think of the Greek army coming silently, breathing combat-fury, isn't it.

    I'll give you the "translation" from the 5 Minute Iliad at the end. It's my favorite part.

    So Heroditus said the gods intervened to keep the unholy, etc. invaders from destroying the Greeks. Hey, weren't the Greeks invading Troy?

    And why didn't the Trojans just give Helen back? I've always wondered, but I suppose that was not what the gods(?) fate(?) had planned. Troy was doomed to fall, so why are some of the gods on Troy's side if it's a useless fight? Confusing.

    Ginny, how do we get our choice of sides listed? I read the Aeneid long before the Iliad so I want to be a Trojan.

    October 8, 2004 - 12:35 pm
    I will put them up as soon as everybody declares!

    Good question? Matter of pride? Why doesn't the British Museum give back the Elgin marbles? Or is that too touchy a subject? I like your reasoning there and think you probably have a point!

    Here's a question for you all? What has made the TROJANS set out?? We know why the Greeks have set out, who told the Trojans? (and no I don't know the answer!) hahaha I don't know the answer to half the questions I ask!!! (That's the best reason to ask them) hahaaha

    October 8, 2004 - 01:11 pm
    Thus by their leaders' care each martial band
    Moves into ranks, and stretches o'er the land.
    With shouts the Trojans, rushing from afar,
    Proclaim their motions, and provoke the war:
    So when inclement winters vex the plain
    With piercing frosts, or thick-descending rain,
    To warmer seas the cranes embodied fly,
    With noise, and order, through the midway sky;
    To pigmy nations wounds and death they bring,
    And all the war descends upon the wing.

    But silent, breathing rage, resolved and skill'd
    By mutual aids to fix a doubtful field,
    Swift march the Greeks: the rapid dust around
    Darkening arises from the labour'd ground
    Thus from his flaggy wings when Notus sheds
    A night of vapours round the mountain head,
    Swift-gliding mists the dusky fields invade,
    To thieves more grateful than the midnight shade.

    October 8, 2004 - 01:20 pm
    When I first read Book 3, I thought that the whole show was ending, but Homer has more for us.

    The strife we saw between Achilles and Agamemnon is demonstrated between Paris and Hector. When Paris caught a glimpse of Menelaus, he grew pale and hid behind the troops. He actually staggers, stunned to see the man whose wife he stole. Hector calls his brother a pretty boy who is nothing but trouble to King Priam and the city of Troy. He tells Paris that he is all show and no substance. Then Paris says to "bring it on" between him and Menelaus. Both sides seem relieved that this decisive duel finally will bring an end to the whole conflict. Can't be so simple that every one will just go home in good friendship at the conclusion of this match.

    Shasta Sills
    October 8, 2004 - 01:31 pm
    Didn't the Trojans get ready to fight because they saw, from their ramparts, that the Greeks down below were preparing to attack? They probably kept sentries on lookout all the time to check on the Greeks' activities.

    In the back of the Fagles book, there is a pronouncing glossary; and since I know no Greek, I keep flipping back to find out how to pronounce the names. I try to guess the pronunciation and then check to see if I guessed right. But I also have Dr. Vandiver's tapes, and her pronunciations are not the same as Fagles'. She will use a short where Fagles uses a long i. Which is correct? Or are they both correct?

    October 8, 2004 - 01:45 pm
    A Book 2 questions was: how many ships and men?
    In the Lombardo edition, (up to line 2:871), I count 572 ships!

    But what is the multiple? How many men per ship? 88 or 100? that guess is from counting oars in the tiny photos in several sources ... who can correct this? Then we'll do the arithmetic.

    Pat H
    October 8, 2004 - 03:20 pm
    Two armies, 
    The troops in divisions 
    Under their commanders,

    The Trojans advancing across the plain

    Like cranes beating their metallic wings In the stormy sky at winter’s onset, Unspeakable rain at their backs, their necks stretched Toward Oceanic streams and down To strafe the brown Pygmy race, Bringing strife and bloodshed from the sky at dawn,

    While the Greeks moved forward in silence, Their breath curling in long angry plumes That acknowledged their pledges to die for each other.

    Banks of mist settle on the mountain peaks And seep into the valleys. Shepherds dislike it But for a thief it is better than night, And a man can see only as far as he can throw a stone.

    No more could the soldiers see through the cloud of dust The armies tramped up as they moved through the plain.

    Pat H
    October 8, 2004 - 03:46 pm
    I've found my battle cry (book 4, Lombardo's ll 346-7):

    Nestor, old sir! If only your knees

    Were as strong as your spirit, ...

    October 8, 2004 - 04:57 pm
    Pat H--I think you stole my line! Wish I were reading along with you.

    October 8, 2004 - 05:54 pm
    Here is Fitzgerald's translation:

    The Trojan squadrons flanked by officers 
    drew up and sortied, in a din of arms 
    and shouting voices- wave on wave, like cranes 
    In clamorous lines before the face of heaven, 
    beating away from winter’s gloom and storms, 
    over the streams of ocean, hoarsely calling. 
    To bring a slaughter on the Pygmy warriors– 
    cranes at dawn descending, beaked in cruel attack. 
    The Akhaians for their part came on in silence, 
    raging under their breath, shoulder to shoulder sworn. 

    Imagine mist the south wind rolls on hills, a blowing bane for shepherds, but for thieves better than nightfall– mist where a man can see a stone’s throw and no more: so dense the dust that clouded up from these advancing hosts as they devoured the plain.

    The change in type is a quirk of my word processor, not Fitzgerald.

    October 8, 2004 - 06:05 pm
    All of these translations range from very strong to amazing. But I have to say, I like Lombardo's the best. The images come through most vividly for me.

    I really like his setting the similes off in different format. In Fitzgerald, the transition is confusing. Lombardo in his interview said something about the set-off similes taking you away from the battlefield, and bringing you back with a deeper appreciation. I think that is very true.

    Aside: I am trying to remember the scene of the migration of cranes in the movie "Winged Migration". Did any of you see it?

    October 9, 2004 - 06:10 am
    Wow, great points, ALL, and I'm bringing gifts, too, to our virtual feast but first let's look at what you've said here yesterday. Francoise, thank you for that research into the Greeks and their gods, so THAT'S what Dr. L meant when he said Homer gave the Greeks the gods, this IS their story. "Herodotus claims that Homer and Hesiod shaped the Greek pantheon." And "They 'act' as part of their reciprocal partnership with men, who in return, render them honor, tim?, through prayer, sacrifice, or dedications."

    And Zeus himself seems sometimes to think Fate or Destiny plays a part in his own direction, fascinating, thank you.

    So now we know that the ancient Greeks saw gods in everything. Well there are people like that today, aren't there? I know a priest who thinks every person who comes to him represents God in some form, not so far from Helen on the wall there when Aphrodite came to her. Interesting interesting interesting. Throughout history gods have appeared to man in different guises. This morning I was watching the latest Harry Potter, at the end? When the Basilic (sp?) comes out? And a bird comes from nowhere and puts out its eyes and drops a hat. And a magic sword comes out and Harry is able to kill the basilic, (sp?) How far is THAT from what we're seeing here?

    Andrea, that is beautiful, breathing valor, and THIS is an excellent question: As the armies advanced Paris came forward donned in the skin of a panther, brandishing two spears shod with bronze. Why a panther hide? Why was this animal chosen by Alexandros for the challenge of the bravest Achaean? I have no idea, I'll put it in the heading, when I read it? The leapord skin and the curved bow, I kept thinking how OLD this is, but a distant bell is ringing about the Roman armies, too. That's the trouble with getting old, the bell rings, but it's hard to hear hahahaha.. I will tell you one thing, tho, I AM very excited to finally get some understanding of the Greeks, of whom I know almost nothing.

    Francoise, another EXCELLENT point, and Tom asked it earlier too, WHO is taking the side of the Trojans? Are the old Trojan men sitting on the wall characterizing the Trojans positively ? How is Troy being described? Let's put THAT in the heading too!

    Oh good points, Hats, me too, I feel the same way, very grateful to Dr. Lombardo, whose text appears the choice of almost every university class I have found notes for, he's so clear!

    Good point on the blood red weaving too. Yes, it does appear Pretty Boy Paris is a lover, not a fighter, I agree. This Book III is fascinating!

    I'm kind of struck on his good looks. Do you notice all the descriptions of him…"Who could have passed for a god….pretty boy….handsome as a god…" He's a good looking man, turns heads and stuns people to silence. Apparently tho, even tho physical attributes, as we will see when we get to the wall and the old men, mean a LOT, if you have no guts, you have no glory, kind of different , perhaps, from our own society today??!!?? hmmmm?


    October 9, 2004 - 06:22 am
    Oh good point here, Jonathan, "Paris was a greater betrayer than Agamemnon turned out to be." In what way? Who did he betray?

    (hahah I am very pleased and somewhat relieved to find several sites of Classics professors referring to Agamennon as Ag, I was afraid that it would be taken too lightly just because I tire of spelling it! Apparently I'm in good company! Hahaha)

    Thank you also for Chapman's Argument, I like that, especially since B&N sent me Chapman's Odyssey, sheesh.

    I'll put it to good use in the winter when I take Dr. Stone's course in The Odyssey! I think it will make a nice contrast because I am sure the Lombardo will be the text of choice there, also.

    Shasta, "(Why didn't they think of that nine years ago?)" Believe it or not THAT is a question asked of an Honors Classics course, and in the heading IT goes, too. What do you all think? I have no idea?!~?

    hahaah Shasta, what do YOU make of the sudden disappearance, the chin strap broken, you have to feel for Menelaus? Here he is, at last, stepping right out, now note that Paris "invited their best to fight him to the death." …So WHY did he turn pale and blanch at the sight of Menelaus? We know that Menelaus is not the best? Homer says so, he said back in the Catalogue of Ships that Ajax was next after Achilles. But Menelaus grins and steps right out, after all he's the wronged party and Paris turns pale and cowardly, "He could barely stand."

    By the way I laughed out loud at this line from Hector, son of Priam, king of Troy: "Chuckling and saying our champion wins
    For good looks but comes up short on offense and defense?" hahaahaha

    What possessed Paris of all people to step out in the first place? A death wish? The feeling that the gods would protect him? What do you make of this?

    Good point Hats on the fixed fight, you wonder why the ancients tried at all?!?

    Or do they seem to think they can win the favor of the god to go their way?

    Jonathan this is a good question we'll ask of Dr. Lombardo How to pronounce Eumelus? In Lombardo's line the emphasis sounds good on the first syllable. In Chapman an emphasis on the second sounds right. It makes such a difference in one's enjoyment of the lines if these strange names can be made to roll off one's tongue.

    The horses thing is apparently important historically, see my post on same!

    CW, oh yes I think so, the silent Greek army, but did you wonder, I do, who the Pygmies are??

    I think this is a fabulous question And why didn't the Trojans just give Helen back? I've always wondered, but I suppose that was not what the gods(?) fate(?) had planned. Troy was doomed to fall, so why are some of the gods on Troy's side if it's a useless fight? I have no idea, in the heading IT goes, why do you all think they simply did not give her back? Would that have offended the goddess who gave her in the first place? The gods don't seem to be good people to offend!

    They're kind of stuck, apparently?

    Mippy thank you for that translation, isn't it interesting to you all that so far the only one with the metallic wings is Dr. L? I love those metallic wings! Now THIS:

    But silent, breathing rage, resolved and skill'd By mutual aids to fix a doubtful field

    leads me to a question, if this is about RAGE, Achilles' rage, what has Book III to do with Achilles? (I didn't make that up I took it from the U of Saskatchewan).

    Oh good point Shifrah on the strife between Paris and Hector paralleling that of Ag and Achilles. And you ask can it be so simple, was anybody else but me surprised that Paris proposes BOTH sides go home friends? note the repetition here: Paris: "Winner take all.
    And everyone else will swear oaths of friendship," Hector: "Winner take all.
    And everyone else will swear oaths of friendship."

    The Trojans seem remarkably philosophical and advanced, don't they? Of course THEY are the besieged. Menelaus is not quite so charitable: "Whichever one of us is due to die, let him die.

    Then the rest of you can be done with each other."

    He also notice, calls for Priam to swear the oaths himself since his sons are liars. It's interesting to me that Priam is sent for by the Trojans and a lamb for the sacrifice is likewise sent for from the Greeks, not sure that means anything. Another good question on pronunciation, Shasta, I try to guess the pronunciation and then check to see if I guessed right. But I also have Dr. Vandiver's tapes, and her pronunciations are not the same as Fagles'. She will use a short where Fagles uses a long i. Which is correct? Or are they both correct? And we can ask Dr. L that!

    I want to know where he got metallic wings, I just love that. Can't get that picture out of my mind, you can almost hear it. I also want to ask him why he thinks, from his translating, that the Odyssey and the Iliad were written by the same person!!

    We'll get up a page for our questions to submit by this weekend!

    Mippy, 572 ships! Jonathan had estimated over 100,000 men, I would KILL (she keeps saying ) for that photo of the movie Greek ships on the shore, it was stunning. I have no idea how we can find out how many men per boat, if it were a trireme, that's three banks of oars, on both sides, rowers alone?

    Pat, thank you for the Lombardo and your battle cry from Nestor hahahaha so true!

    DEEMS, well just come and read, ask your student why they took 9 years to propose a duel?

    Joan, I agree, thank you for the Fitzgerald, I am surprised somewhat to see the "Imagine," that's interesting. I like the Lombardo best also, I also want to ask him how he manages to come back into this world, when he's translating, I couldn't. I had a hard time coming back in Thursday. NO I have not seen that movie, I have only seen cranes fly at a distance, those of you with more experience, what does it sound like? Cicadas now and grasshoppers have a somewhat metallic sound, I just love that image.

    OK lots of new stuff to chew on and I have MORE….I don't know about YOU? But I absolutely hate to take weeks discussing a book and find out there is something we have missed? I know it's inevitable when you can't translate the Greek, but that's the ONLY thing I want to miss, the only perspective or nuance and we've got this incredible translation for that, we've got YOU incredibly astute readers (as we have already seen) AND Dr. L and Dr. S!! We can't fail here. So I keep going to sites where their Classics courses or their Iliad courses are on site, so far I've been to 6 of them and if there's a question we have not touched on ourselves, I'll bring it up. I have a couple here this morning that I would never have thought of, so let's get some questions in the heading first for your contemplation and focus and then I'll bring what I've found on the Dark Age of ancient Greece.

    hold on….

    Pat H
    October 9, 2004 - 06:23 am
    "breathing valor" is wonderful, but so is ""Their breath curling in long angry plumes That acknowledged their pledges to die for each other." I'm glad we have both.

    Lombardo has Paris wearing a leopard skin.

    October 9, 2004 - 07:42 am
    Pat, I agree, plumes, just wonderful, such images, those similes are fabulous! I keep watching for the longer ones, that take up several things at one time.

    What do you make of the leopard skin?

    October 9, 2004 - 07:43 am

    OK I have found out ALL kinds of amazing stuff, and it appears we do want to know about these three periods of Grecian history, they are important to our understanding of the book here.

    "I have looked upon the face of Agamemnon! " (Heinrich Schliemann)

    Henirich Schliemann's discovery of gold death masks in Mycenaean graves made on new excavations after he discovered Troy in 1870, or one of the Troys, rocked the archaeological world. Unfortunately this mask was found to be even older, dating from the 16th century BC, quite a find, while the real Troy is now thought to be "Troy VIIa, " destroyed by fire around 1220 BC.

    According to Nathaniel Harris, if the Trojan War did take place in the 1230's it was followed by rapid decline. The great Mycenaean centers were devastated and "fell into ruin." There is hint of some super catastrophe and then another one in 1150 BC, when this mighty civilization ended forever.

    What that catastrophe was is not clear. It could have been invaders, it could have been overpopulation or lack of exports, (Greece is barren and has very little to export, according to Harris) they traded and brought IN things, including horses, more on that later. They may have made war on each other, so they could have killed each other off.

    This was interesting:

    However, this collapse does seem to have been related to a wider upheaval that sent people wandering over the entire eastern Mediterranean. Egyptian records in particular give a fairly clear picture of "Peoples of the Sea," who twice descended on the Nile delta. They were beaten off…but their incursions did bring down the mighty Hittite empire, and that alone must have destabilized the region.

    It's not known if there was an invasion of Greece or not. The Dorians are identified by study of Greek regions of dialect. Harris says however it came about,

    The collapse of the Mycenaean order was shatteringly complete. Even the art of writing was lost—the only known example of such a cultural regression. For several hundred years, down to about 750 BC, the Greeks were illiterate, and with a few exceptions, unable to organize or build on any scale. Understandably, the period between 1100 and 750 has been celled the Dark Age of Greece.

    And a "new type of society emerged from the Dark Age, in the form of small independent city –states." So THAT'S where the famous city states we hear of were born!!! Fascinating. Does somebody want to take up THAT period or the first one so we can have a total picture?

    In the 8th century BC the Dark Age came to an end. This is about the time of Homer.
    OK I looked up bronze in the encyclopedia and found it's an alloy of copper and tin. And I was wrong about its hardness, apparently it enjoys a reputation for "hardness and durability." The Encyclopedia Britannica says bronze made of copper and tin is the oldest alloy known to man, and dates from 3500 BC. Harris says it could only have been imported, showing that the Greeks engaged in trade. Actually he has a fascinating bit about the iron age being an age where iron, easily mined, was more democratic and more widely available than bronze, which would have been used by "kings and warrior castes" who would have "monopolized " bronze previously.
    More interesting stuff:

    The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature says that the first "printed edition of Homer appeared in Florence in 1488." And that

    Many obvious features of the Dark Age society have been clearly incorporated into… the poem, but other events which might have been thought to be well known have been excluded, it would seem deliberately. In some ways, therefore, the political, social, and economic conditions depicted are an artificial conglomeration. Nevertheless, the element belong to real societies, even if their combination is in some aspects unreal : to a large extend Homer present a coherent portrait of Greek society towards the end of the Dark Age.

    The reference to horses occurs in the OCCL

    An invasion c 2200 BC brought to an end the Early Bronze Age in Greece….Three centuries later came another but less destructive incursion, when the Indo Europeans brought with them horses and a new kind of pottery….

    On the horse the OCCL says

    They are much in evidence in Mycenaean Greece from the 16th C BC onwards, and two skeletons of horses have been found near Marathon at Attica…Horses were both ridden and use for chariots. The chariot figures prominently in the Linear B tablets...Because good pasture-land was rare in Greece and fodder expensive, horses were the possession of the very rich.
    They also make quite a bit about Nestor's speech coming up on the cavalry of this day, but will mention that later on.

    SO!! In addition I found this, check THIS out! Here is a university comparing the Greek of the Iliad to several translators, and asking its students to tell which is the best (NOTABLY the best , the Lombardo, is not here!) Different translations of Homer's Iliad. Here's a bit of it:
    Note that added words are between parentheses ()
    menin aeide thea, Peleiadeo Achileos, 1
    rage sing goddess, Peleides Akhilleus'

    oulomenen, he myri'
    destroying (rage) which (a) myriad,

    Akhaiois alge' etheke 2
    (on the) Akhaians, pains set

    pollas d' iphthimous psychas Aidi pro - iapsen 3

    and many strong psyches (to) Hades' forth-threw

    heroon, autous de heloria teuxe kynessin 4
    (psyches) and themselves seizable (spoil) made (for) dogs

    oionoisi te pasi; Dios d' eteleieto boule, 5
    and all birds; and Zeus' plan was realized

    ex hou de ta prota dia-steten erisante 6
    from that (time when) indeed first apart-stood quarelling

    Atreides te anax andron, kai dios Akhilleus 7
    Atreides (Agamemnon) king of men, and godly Akhilleus

    Fascinating, huh? Let's get all these questions and topics in the heading for you to chew on, back anon….

    Shasta Sills
    October 9, 2004 - 08:50 am
    Interesting facts about Greek history, Ginny. In reply to your question about Paris' motive for the duel, I think he realized that Helen was losing interest in him, and he was trying to show off to recapture her interest.

    Where the gods were concerned, I think the Greeks had a pretty good thing going. Every time they did something stupid, they could blame it on the gods. When Paris found he couldn't win his duel with Menelaus, he pretended the goddess had removed him from the battleground. I remember when my grandfather did something he shouldn't have done, he always said, "The devil made me do it." It's kind of sad that we are losing all those gods to blame things on. When I do something stupid, I always blame it on my genes. But the gods were so much more colorful than the genes are.

    Cat Woman
    October 9, 2004 - 08:54 am
    How did Homer know about Pygmies? Or was it the translators? We do get stuck on picky points, don't we?

    Does anyone know if "Troy" is available on video yet? I didn't see the movie because I was afraid it would ruin the story for me, but now I'd like to, at least for the scenes.

    Another reason I didn't see it was that I couldn't picture Brad Pitt as Achilles. He seems more like Paris to me, the great lover but not much else.

    Was it fair that he got spirited away just as Menelaus was about to kill him? If they were going to fight, I wanted it to be fair. Helen is so scornful of Paris when they first talk after the duel that I wonder why she doesn't stalk out the gate and leave on her own.

    Someday I'd like to go to Turkey and visit Troy. Anyone up for a field trip?

    October 9, 2004 - 12:45 pm
    Ginny, I can't read your posts without being astonished at how much devotion and effort you put into assuring the success of our literary discussions.

    Did you know that Schliemann also looked upon the face of Helen? In fact he was married to her reincarnation. So they both seem to have believed. I find myself wondering if it wasn't his wife who prodded him into looking for those haunting places of an earlier existence. Agamemnon had been her brother-in-law. Wild, isn't it?

    Whom did Paris betray? Meneleos, of course, his gracious host, when he stole his wife. He betrayed his father, and the good name of Troy. He betrayed the sanctity of a cherished social institution. He betrayed all brave soldiers who refuse to run when the going gets tough. All for love? All for what?

    The worst journey in the world? This one certainly was for many brave people.

    Digging around among past 'Geographics' I found the Dec 1999 issue, which has an 'Ancient Greece' article. Spledid maps and photographs of the region of Troy. You'll gather that from the caption accompanying the view of the Trojan plain: 'behind him (the shepherd in the picture) rises the Tumulus of Ajax, one of the more than 40 mounds on the plain of Troy said to honor fallen heroes of the Trojan War.' And on a map one sees the location of the Tumulus of Achilles, and over there the Tumulus of Aisyetes. Who was he? I suppose we will find out. And in the distance, the Hellespont. Beautiful. And it all started with an act of betrayal.

    October 9, 2004 - 12:49 pm
    The dark ages were apparently caused by a huge volcanic eruption.

    Here's a citation not often seen in classic book discussions:
    The Wall Street Journal, yesterday, October 8, 2004, page W15, op-ed column by Russell Seitz, who is a scientist in Cambridge, MA.

    Title: Vulcan's Throne

    "..Greek mythology itself arguably began with a bang -- the volcanic detonation of the island of Thera. It shattered the surrounding Monoan civilization and turned a golden era into the chaotic dark age that followed Homer's Trojan War.
    But greatness fades. All that's left of the mighty cone of Tera, which Theseus and Odysseus sailed by, is the ring-shaped island of Santorini."

    ... "Plinian" eruptions -- named for Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist who died describing the Vesuvian original [ref. archived discussion on SeniorNet of the book 'Pompeii'] are mercifully prefigured by a long and alarming crescendo of brief earthquakes, measurable [today] by modern instruments."

    OK, any doubters; this is a reminder of why the Greeks and Trojans invoked the Gods. Not only thunder and lightening, but earthquakes were common in that region of the world. Today, I can list quite a few older people who, after the recent hurricanes in Florida, said how scared they were during the thunderstorms in the following days and weeks, saying "is IT happening again! ?" ... and in 2004, with TV and radio to reassure them. So of course the "Gods" were frequently invoked during the Trojan war era.

    October 9, 2004 - 01:12 pm
    What wonderful photos of cranes in your links! Thank you!

    A brief word of warning, via the ABA, the American Birding Assoc, before everyone runs to the corner to rent the movie "Wings". They published an article sometime in the past year pointing out that the movie was very heavily edited, and does NOT accurately show bird flight nor migration. However, they did concede some of the images were beautiful. I have heard swans and herons fly overhead, and the last word I would use as a description is "metallic."

    October 9, 2004 - 01:37 pm
    The Trojans fill the air with noise. The Greeks raise a cloud of dust. Only with one's eyes shut can one visualize the magnificent opening scene of Book III. It takes a blind poet to describe it. And off he goes...'like the cranes that fill with harsh confusion of brutish clangour all the air.' (Chapman)

    Homer's beautiful similes. How effectively he uses them. But this one, with its wild cranes and pigmy soldiers, the huge downpours of winter, and Ocean's stream, seems a little too exuberant somehow. And mystifying. That made it so interesting to compare the different translations of it posted yesterday. Did the passage present a special challenge for the translator?

    In the same way it was most entertaining to see the vivid treatment of a dozen lines that Pope gives to Eumelos' fiery steeds, posted by Mippy. Compared to the two or three lines given to them by others.

    And the incredible comparison of the gung-ho fighting spirit of the Trojans (the cranes?) to the hesitant, uncertain manner of the Greeks, despite the dust, which in the end serves only as an escape for Paris. Strange that they should suddenly be so 'intent on supporting each other', (Hammond), counting on the safety in numbers feeling. What we have seen so far might have us feeling that the Greeks were all exceptionally strong individuals, more prone to fighting among themselves, than the common enemy. But then, really, there is a strong undercurrent of fear for them about going into battle, it seems to me. Some kind of 'however if I should die' feeling.

    And along comes Shasta with her tough questions: 'Did Paris run away? Is that what really happened?'

    HATS had the right reply: 'It's like a fixed fight.'

    I'll go even farther and say that the real fight is taking place at the top of Olympus. Feel the tension between husband and wife. In heaven yet! Achilles' wrath is like nothing compared to the wrath of Hera and Athene, the losers in the beauty contest over the apple. And poor Zeus is caught up in the consequences. After all he has his one agenda. And now this is wrecking his marriage. Make no mistake about it. The outcome of the Trojan War is being decided on Olympus. Being 'fixed' is a good way to put it, for the war among men.

    What's so strange that Paris should suddenly disappear in all that dust? And if one escapes death, as he did, why not give a goddess the glory?

    Aphrodite is beautiful and wonderful, always smiling. And she'll give you the girdle from her waist just for the asking.


    October 9, 2004 - 02:13 pm
    Jonathan posted: Feel the tension between husband and wife... Achilles' wrath is like nothing compared to the wrath of Hera ...and poor Zeus is caught up in the consequences.

    But do we all recall? Zeus and Hera have the same father, Chronus, so they are brother and sister! "Poor" Zeus indeed! Of course siblings fight!

    October 9, 2004 - 04:11 pm
    MIPPY: I'm really glad you enjoyed the pictures.

    You say: "A brief word of warning, via the ABA, the American Birding Assoc, before everyone runs to the corner to rent the movie "Wings". They published an article sometime in the past year pointing out that the movie was very heavily edited, and does NOT accurately show bird flight nor migration."

    (I assume you mean "Winged Migration"). I'm very sorry to hear that. It is a beautiful movie Although I was aware that some of the statements made about migration were inaccurate or oversimplified, it is worth seeing for the photography.

    October 9, 2004 - 04:25 pm
    9. When Menelaus spear does not kill and his sword breaks in two, he attributes that to the gods, so why does he try to physically drag Paris back to the camp?

    This is the kind of "doublethink", if you will, that we see throughout the Greeks' belief in the gods. Pat and I were talking about this: these are people who value highly (perhaps most highly) effort and skill and yet whatever happens attribute it to the gods. It makes no sense, logically. They blame every failure on the gods, but also, when they do well the gods gave them the strength.

    So even though part of Men (brother of Ag) says Oh -- the gods want me to lose", the other part keeps right on trying.

    Perhaps it's easier to think this way with gods like these. After all, just because one god is against him, another one may show up in a minute and help him out. Anyway, it probably feels good to drag the guy who stole his wife. Furthermore, these guys are all wired to fight.

    Ha, ha DEEMS. I hope your dog went back to sleep, and didn't drag you out hunting.

    October 9, 2004 - 04:55 pm
    Ginny mentioned 'linear B'. Here is an interesting page:

    Click here for link

    October 9, 2004 - 11:52 pm
    Those liniar B symbols are really interesting. Did you notice the chariots?

    October 9, 2004 - 11:57 pm
    One more post on the subject, and I'll leave it.

    I think cranes may be more like Paris than like Hector. Here are some Red Crowned Cranes doing their courtship dance (click on "more" to see more of it).


    October 10, 2004 - 05:55 am
    Mippy, an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, thank you for that timely notice, I just saved it from the bin, too bad the WSJ is not available online except to subscribers. Wonderful article on volcanoes, I think he makes several leaps of logic, tho, not sure that Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein because of Krakatoa, ( and there would BE no bodies in any crater, would there?) but I loved reading about the ancients once again. It's amazing, once you start to read something how MANY references there seem to be to it everywhere, and THAT'S very recent! Thank you!

    I hope he's muddled also on this theory of what ended the Minoan….(has he combined the Minoans and the Mycenaean empires with the Dark Ages)? Harris says that the eruption was long thought to have taken place in 1450,

    poisoning the atmosphere and possibly creating an enormous tidal wave that hit Crete with terrible destructive force. The theory provided an attractively neat explanation for the decline of Cretan civilization; but the question of dates is crucial--and accumulating evidence from scientifically verifiable sources such as tree tings and polar ice cores suggests that the eruption took place much earlier, in about 1628 BC.

    The Minoan culture was ON Crete and it collapsed. "The immediate future belonged to the warrior society on the mainland, which has become to be described as "Mycenaean." And of course it was the Myceneans, Agamemnon and Menelaus, who sailed to Troy and the collapse of THAT culture, or so I possibly think, led to the Dark Ages, what does your research of the stages of the history of Ancient Greece tell YOU?

    I must say I am enjoying learning all this stuff: it's fascinating and has always been a dark void in my own knowledge, you HEAR of the Ancient Greeks, ok Socrates, ok Aristotle, but where they fit in the pieces of time, especially when their ancient brothers, the (to me!) more fascinating Romans, take so much time and attention, but NOW my eyes are being opened!! Never too late!

    So back to the books on the Minoans, they of Theseus and King Minos and the Minotaur, and their relationship to the Mycaeanans , I think he's made one too many leaps, or maybe I'm not informed enough YET (but I will be after this) to say anything!! Let's find out!

    I did enjoy in the WSJ article learning that the ancient volcano of the island of Thera is now Santorini, isle of white houses topped with blue that features in most travel posters, and I did not know of "Plinian" eruptions, that was one point the documentary made recently shown on television, 12 days of smoke and ash made the Herculaneans, some of them, complacent and that caused their (and that of Pompeii) downfall and death.

    CW, I would love to go to Troy, and here is a Study Tour coming up, since you ask, not of Troy, tho, but one that that covers ancient Greece this spring, put on for the Elderhostel at Furman University by our Course Consultant here in our Latin 101 courses, Dr. Grote of the University of North Carolina: Study Tour of Ancient Greece It is open to anybody who would like to go, the price is $1,500 not $1,900, and that does not include air in March which is quite low: the off season, should be delightfully cool. I am trying to fit it in with a following cruise to Turkey, the schedules are not meshing at the moment but am still trying. A couple of the cruises to Turkey also go to Navplion (Mycenae). I'd kind of like to see that, after our experience here. When we read The Odyssey here our Pat Westerdale went on a tour of Greece and loved it, I think it may have been a cruise, anyway, just FYI since you brought it up!


    October 10, 2004 - 06:14 am
    hahaah Joan, thank you for the marvelous crane photos AND the sounds, couldn't get the sounds to play yesterday but this morning they sure did, (love all the different formats) and the dog went absolutely NUTS, woke up my husband, would NOT stop barking, actually began to stare at the monitor, I think we could do some dog studies, Deems, on this one! Hahahaa Strange sound, strange.

    I have never heard a crane taking off, but I have been around large birds. And what a wonderful simile that is. You know if you stand in Venice or in Central Park or even at the seashore what the sound of wings on that size bird is, that peculiar whirr, some people hate that sound. We, as many of you know, live on a farm, and for many years (in fact our vineyard customers just yesterday asked after eggs) our sons, in FFA and 4H projects, had a large egg business here, raised chickens for eggs. What I'm getting at is the sound of the wings of the larger breed of chicken, some of which are so large it's hard for them to even GET off the ground: the so called Jersey Giant (which I used to keep) and some of the larger Spotted Sussex, huge, huge birds, the sound they make in taking off is quite...I don't know how you'd describe it, but you'd duck, your instinct is to duck, it's like a beating, sort of a slicing thru the air, and a crane is larger and a lot more gawky and more militaristic, you can SEE in that image the clanking and now you can hear it. Let's ask Dr. L what made him choose that image, I just love it, so far it's my favorite. And CW, let's ask him about the Pygmies!


    October 10, 2004 - 06:55 am
    Good point, Shasta on what Paris might have been trying to do with the challenge, it's fascinating, this glimpse into so many layers, the outward visible layer (would you all say Paris and Helen would sort of represent the shallow movie star types?) What DO you all make of their characters, let's focus in on that today. Were you surprised that she left a daughter behind??

    I say that about Helen despite her personal musings, and I hope that we can get into that more today, her character, simply because of ONE thing and one thing only that the goddess says to her: I think both she and Paris are for show only, and this is, possibly? An indictment by Homer about the…what shallowness of great physical beauty? I understand it's a curse, I would not know, personally. hahahaha

    Also note the emphasis, Dr. Stone bought this out in class, on body size? Every time you look around this person (Agamemnon or Achilles or Ajax) is being described as BIG, BIG is strong apparently and makes for a leader of men.

    Paris is not strong, but he's handsome, another gift from the gods, his own brother says, you have the gift but you're a disgrace, interesting!!

    Are we seeing (I just thought of this) ANY Trojans described as BIG?

    And Shasta, on the gods, let's put your thoughts with those of Joan and Pat and see what we can arrive at, ourselves. If you can blame everything ON the gods, then why try?

    And here's another thing, have you noticed that the gods don't seem to know what's coming up? If Zeus is so hell bent on doing something, why do the others even try? Do they think, like Thetis here, they can influence Zeus? This illustration is one our own Lou2 wrote me about, she found it and it's by J.A. D. Ingres, called Jupiter (the Roman name for Zeus) and Thetis, now in Aix-en-Provence, France. This particular version of the painting is from Dr. Levine's course now ongoing at the U of Arkansas: (I like the way he styles his courses: Real Greek for Real Students) Love that. Do you get the feeling that the gods AND men think that they can persuade Zeus anyway? Do they think, like the men themselves, that their persuasive powers, their heroism, their doing good, their sacrifices WILL win the day for them and bring them glory here on earth?

    OH and Robin Mitchell-Boyask at Temple raised something I missed, that we should be paying attention to the relationship of Thetis and Achilles, that he asks her for something but he gets it in a way he did not expect! Let's try to follow THAT theme also, I'll run put IT in the heading.

    So the role of the gods here is important, to everybody, ourselves included.

    Gosh how many layers, we're not used to this in our modern fiction, are we? Supposedly the first three books of The Iliad are the most important, let's not miss a trick here!


    Cat Woman
    October 10, 2004 - 07:04 am
    Since you've mentioned all the articles, I thought I'd add that the Teaching Company has some courses on ancient Greece. One is Ancient Greek Civilization. My favorite is Famous Greeks by Dr. Rufus Fears, who devotes a whole lecture to Achilles & Ag and another to Hector.

    I was at Borders Friday buying Achilles in Vietnam and came upon a whole shelf exhibiting books about Greece. The History Channel is doing a program on Alexander in November, I guess in conjunction with the movie that's coming out. Didn't see much going back to the Trojan War but Greece is really "hot."

    I have been thinking about Aphrodite spiriting Paris away and Athena stopping Achilles from going after Agamemnon. Does Homer mean for us to see these gods as literally interfering in people's lives, or are they meant to be metaphors, i.e. Achilles's mind or conscience told him it would really screw up things if he killed the nominal leader, or Paris is really a coward so his explanation for running away is that Aphrodite interceded? What do you think?

    October 10, 2004 - 07:27 am

    I think that's an incredible question, and it's now number 19 in the heading here, thank you! I do apologize to all of you for the length of that heading, it must stay today till I can shrink it tomorrow and get up a page for Dr. L. Thank you Jonathan, you are so kind, and I so do appreciate every equally fabulous contribution each of you make here, very much!

    Shasta, great news on the November programming, we must watch it!! Another age of Greece, you are right, the Greeks are HOT!

    Today let's all look if we can at the characters of Paris and Helen, let's look HARD, question number 5 in that long heading, I see something VERY telling about Miss Helen, the Face That Launched a Thousand Ships, do you?

    I could be wrong, but like Charles Barkley, I doubt it, still I need to hear YOUR thoughts?

    Oh good point Jonathan on the multi betrayals of Paris, you picked up a few I missed, and all for what? His own vanity? It's beginning to look like it. We might make a parallel with, of all people, Achilles?!?

    OH wow, National Geographic 1999, so you keep YOURS in order? Mine are in those fancy covers but unfortunately not in order, I will run look, love it!

    So Jonathan you are seeing many images in that extended simile, good point, as we go the more complicated ones will have many images, why do you suppose he added those other images, what effect does it have on the reader?

    Wonderful points on Hats and Shasta's look at this, and the…almost Upstairs Downstairs effect of the gods fighting, the men fighting and I wonder if there is another level, I can't get Dr. Stone's stuff about…paraphrasing… using people for your own ends out of my mind, I just continually think of it now, in every application. What a whale of a story, which level should we read on??

    Mippy good point on Zeus and Hera having the same father, Cronus, but has anybody looked up Cronus? Cronus goes back to the beginning of the earth, let's find out more, interesting!

    Joan, I think you and Pat have super reasoning, they have to credit the gods but then does that credit extend to blaming them also? Credit is credit, and after all, as you say, another god may come along who is stronger and help, and as you say they're wired to fight, tho Jonathan senses a wariness among the Greeks. Do we see any wariness among the Trojans?

    I loved your take on it probably felt good to drag Paris, ahahaha HAHAHA, I bet it did, and I bet that's why Paris melted away when he saw Menelaus coming, he may have been confident that Aphrodite might help him overcome a professional fighter. A professional warrior is one thing, an angry cuckolded husband who is a professional warrior is another. They do say domestic arguments are the most dangerous for the police. Paris also might be feeling about now some guilt in his role in the entire matter and fearful that some powerful god might be on Menelaus' side?

    Love the deliberations here!!

    Hegeso, thank you for that fascinating Linear B, like Joan, I think the chariots are very strange looking, look like submarines or fish? The tubs are clear enough? Strange!!!! Fascinating and strange!

    OK let's turn our sharp eye (have you noticed how many cow eyes and eagle eyes and shades of grey eyes we have in this thing?) What color are OUR eyes? Let's turn our metallic laser eyes on Helen and Paris today, their characters, how Homer reveals their characters, through WHOM he reveals them and what you think of them??

    A Linear B Chariot for your thoughts!

    Pat H
    October 10, 2004 - 08:36 am
    Perhaps the Trojans didn't give Helen back because they didn't dare. She was a gift from Aphrodite, and you don't give back the gifts of the Gods.

    The theme of gifts of the Gods, their uncertain nature, and the burden they can be, occurs a lot.

    When Hector taunts Paris for being nothing but a pretty boy, Paris says:

    "But don't throw golden Aphrodite's golden gifts in my face.

    We don't get to choose what the Gods give us, you know,

    And we can't just toss their gifts aside."

    Book 3, 69-70

    When Agamemnon wishes Nestor was still young, Nestor says

    "But the Gods do not give us all things at once"

    Book 4, line 343

    Aphrodite's threat to take away Helen's beauty frightens Helen into going back to Paris because she realizes that the gift of beauty, which is what gives her her position and keeps her safe, can be withdrawn. And you don't dare anger the Gods.

    October 10, 2004 - 08:47 am
    Thank you,JoanK. I have enjoyed all of the crane links.

    I have been trying to pay attention to the similes. Odysseus voice is described like "snowflakes in a blizzard." His voice seems to have been his gift.

    October 10, 2004 - 08:49 am
    Oops, I began writing after the printing of the bright yellow arrow.

    October 10, 2004 - 09:12 am
    It's so easy to lose oneself in the high drama of Book III, as it plays itself out before the Western Gate. It's all so intensely moving. What a tragic figure Helen is shown to be. The lines the poet puts into her mouth convey the extremes of human anguish. What a sorry being.

    But the high drama of the conflict affects them all. One of them is Priam, sitting at the Gate to view the spectacle of the coming fight. What thoughts must have been running through his mind? Too old to fight. Unlike Nestor of an equal age, not able or wishing to seek fresh glory or relive old glories on the battlefield. Been there. Done that. Priam had been there when they fought the Amazons, the women who were the equal of men.

    What are his thougts and feelings when he hears that the issue is to be resolved by single combat between his son Paris and Menelaos, Helen's first husband? Strange how it is seen by successive generations and different translators, at different times.

    One from 400 years ago: 'And Priam's aged joints with chilled fear did shake.'

    Something more recently: 'And the old man shuddered.'

    And later again: 'The old man stiffened.'

    Isn't that curious? Is it overstated? Understated? Certain it is that it was a terrible moment in the old man's life.

    Shasta Sills
    October 10, 2004 - 09:59 am
    I've never seen anything beautiful about war, but Homer did. He repeatedly compares military movements to the stunning phenomena of nature--

    "Think how a goatherd off on a mountain lookout spots a storm cloud moving down the sea... bearing down beneath the rush of the West Wind and miles away he sees it building black as pitch, blacker, whipping the whitecaps, full hurricane fury--the herdsman shudders to see it, drives his flocks to a cave--so dense the battalions grouped behind the two Aeantes,"

    "As a heavy surf assaults some roaring coast, piling breaker on breaker whipped by the West Wind..."

    "Wildly as two winter torrents raging down from the mountains, swirling into a valley, hurl their great waters together..."

    These passages are as beautiful as anything I've ever read, and he's describing troop movements.

    Shasta Sills
    October 10, 2004 - 10:10 am
    Weren't those logograms and pictograms in the Linear B site fascinating? I printed them out so I could study them. We take written language for granted, but there was a time when our species was struggling to create it, and this takes us back to that long-ago time.

    And I loved Joan's pictures of cranes--especially the juvenile practicing courtship. I didn't know birds had to practice this. I thought they were born knowing these things.

    October 10, 2004 - 02:27 pm
    One highlighted question of Ginny's is: what did Aphrodite say to terrify or coerce Helen?

    In the Lombardo, summing up (lines 3:441ff)
    "And Aphrodite, angry with her, said:
    Don't vex me, bitch, or I ... can make you repulsive to both sides..."

    In the Pope edition (no line # given)

    Then thus incensed, the Paphian queen replies:
    'Obey the power from whom thy glories rise:
    Should Venus leave thee, every charm must fly,
    Fade from thy cheek, and languish in thy eye.
    Cease to provoke me, lest I make thee more
    The world's aversion, than their love before;'

    Therefore, we draw the conclusion that unless Helen returned to Paris' arms, Aphrodite would ruin Helen's life by taking away all her power -- which was being the most beautiful woman in the world -- and so in essence ending Helen's life.

    And the Lombardo edition goes on:
    "Helen was afraid, and this child of Zeus ... walked silently through the Trojan women ... to Paris' beautiful house."
    She had to choose between resuming her life as Paris' wife or death.

    October 10, 2004 - 04:54 pm
    I have a question: why does that playboy have two names? Paris and Alexander?

    I am in the fourth book, fascinated by Homer's images. He couldn't have been blind, or if yes, his blindness had to come much later in life. Or, perhaps, there was more in the oral tradition than we can imagine?

    October 10, 2004 - 06:13 pm
    She has possessed Paris completely. He had no free will leaving Menelaus, the duel and the pledge of truce he offered himself to his brother Hector. What possessed him if not the goddess Aphrodite? Helen is also a victim of the goddess's passion when she threatens her and Helen goes back to Paris against her will. The king Priam sees Helen has an earthly goddess but blames the war brought to Ilium on the Gods.

    The weakness in each camp is revealed. The Achaeans are blind to the divine play of Aphrodite with the Trojans, as the Trojans are unaware of the fight between Achilles and Agamemnon. For either side, they have great disadvantages and a sheep's blood did not seem to move the Olympus management much on that duel.

    Where was the Mount Olympus deities attention?! Did they not see this sacred duel or were they also possessed by Aphrodite's charm?


    October 10, 2004 - 06:15 pm
    Excellent point, hegeso. Maybe someone who became blind would be more sensitive to the beauty he had lost.

    Yes, Helen's life is her beauty. Notice how everyone reacts to her: the men and the women.

    The men all react to her beauty, even the old men. Even after all that's happened they envy Paris. Priam treats her like a daughter. He tells her not to blame herself, what ha happened is not her fault, but the gods.

    Other women are mentioned twice (as I remember from memory). She walks silently through them to go to Paris, and she tells Paris that she worries about what the other women will do if she is sleeping with him when he's supposed to be out fighting to protect their men. I'd be willing to bet all the Trojan women, with whom she spends most of her time, hate her and she has never had a woman friend.

    She has no friends there, no family: she's clearly fed up with Paris (who is pretty shallow) and homesick. All she has is the admiration of men, and she lives for that. I've known women like that (not well: women like that never have women friends). Haven't you?

    October 10, 2004 - 11:51 pm
    Helen comes across as a beauty who blinds all to her failings. In line #166 of Book 3, she has eyes that are not human. Technically, Helen is the product of Zeus and Leda. Zeus disguised himself as a swan and captured Leda as a goose. Helen and her two brothers were hatched from eggs. Once again, the goose that laid the golden egg reappears in the case of Helen. Before Helen finally returns to Troy with Menelaus, she will have married one of Paris' brothers. King Priam does not blame Helen for the situation between the Greeks and the Romans. He is wise to assert that the gods are responsible for the whole situation. Helen has some feelings for Menelaus and the life she left behind, for he is the father of her daughter. She refers to herself as a shameless bitch (line #190, Book 3). Aphrodite threatens Helen that she can make her repulsive to both sides. Helen openly criticizes Paris about his duel with Menelaus. She knows that the red-headed Greek could defeat him any day. In effect, Helen, the Greeks, and the Trojans are pawns in a game of war. Two beautiful people, Paris and Helen, golden as they appear, don't glitter at all.

    October 11, 2004 - 05:15 am
    I think Helen is very aware of the power of her beauty. She is not afraid to say what she thinks. Her tongue seems sharp as she talks to Paris about the fight with Menelaus. In so many words, Helen calls Paris a chump. His bravery reveals itself as cowardice in the fight with Menelaus.

    October 11, 2004 - 07:37 am
    It seems that beauty does bring a curse. Helen is trapped in loneliness and despair. If she were not beautiful, I do not think her life would matter to others, not to men or the gods.

    October 11, 2004 - 11:16 am
    This sounds like the indulgent father overlooking the sins of his wayward son. Could Priam find anyone to agree with him on that? It seems like such a clear case of seduction and abduction on the part of Paris. Why implicate the gods in such human affairs? And Paris is blamed by many. Just look at how he gets it from his brother Hector in the lines which follow:

    'Paris, you desperate, womanizing pretty boy.' 2:45

    Would everyone then like to see Paris get his at the hands of Menelaus in their duel? Not at all. The matter is not that simple. Uncertain in fact. So uncertain, that only a god can judge and declare. What a remarkable display of the desire to see true justice done, in the lines:

    'You could see hands lifted to heaven on BOTH sides and hear whispered prayers: Death, Lord Zeus, for whichever of the two started this business, BUT GRANT US PEACE.'

    I can't, therefore, agree with the feeling that The Iliad is a glorification of war. It seems more like a condemnation. There is a real problem, I'll grant, when Homer finds his wonderful comparisons in the wild and glorious, forceful and cataclysmic events of nature. Perhaps war was man's early inclination to imitate nature, and as such an aberration, which later Greeks succeeded in correcting. Civilized Art was the means and Homer led the way.

    Believe it or not. The Iliad makes thinking about gods and goddesses about as easy as it gets. I for one have encountered far greater difficulties in perusing the theoganies of other members of the human family. Who can doubt that the Greeks and Trojans of Homer's epic believed wholeheartedly in their glorious pantheon, felt their influence, and prayed for their benevolent protection? The spirit of The Iliad is the spirit of a world young and elemental. And still points the way in which we should go. But then, even today, we all know someone who believes that divine providence determines all.

    Ingres' portrait of Zeus and Thetis, in Ginny's 168 post, is a marvellous likeness of the two. One of the gods remembers well when Ingres mounted Olympus, and Zeus and Thetis agreed to pose in a reenactment of the famous scene. A pity that the artist did not include Hera, the ever-jealous wife, in his painting. There she still is, off to the side, still observing this little tete-a-tete very intently. Something malevolent about that look.

    I would agree that Helen is the central figure in Book III. Exceedingly well crafted by Homer. Intensely human in everyting she says and does, suffering a fate far profounder than any suffered by the heroes on the battlefield. And what an archeological find it would be, the 'folding mantle' she was weaving, of 'blood-red fabric', with the designs of 'the trials that the Trojans and Greeks had suffered for her beauty under Ares' murderous hands.' 2:129-30.

    It couldn't get any blunter. Ares, the god of war, is a murderer.

    October 11, 2004 - 12:20 pm
    Jonathan: "I would agree that Helen is the central figure in Book III. Exceedingly well crafted by Homer. Intensely human in everything she says and does, suffering a fate far profounder than any suffered by the heroes on the battlefield".

    Could it be that the men in this discussion feel sorry for her and the women dislike her? Naaah, we're more sophisticated than that.(haha)

    You are right: she is intensely human in everything she says and does. So is everyone in this poem. I am stunned by Homer's ability to draw a portrait of a person in a few lines. I feel like I know all of the characters: Ag, Achilles, Odyssius, Nestor, Priam, Paris, Hector, Helen, Zues, Hera Thetis (some of the gods haven't come through yet).

    But Helen is the one we will remember from Book III.

    October 11, 2004 - 01:41 pm
    Excellent commentary on Helen in many posts, above;I agree that Helen is central to understanding Book III. I also agree that beauty does not bring happiness -- look at many bio's of models, ballerinas, and movie stars (including Marilyn).

    But let's not overlook Paris, the pretty boy!

    Lombardo (3:45 ff) "... you desperate, womanizing pretty boy"
    compare to Pope:
    "Unhappy Paris! but to women brave!
    So fairly form'd, and only to deceive!
    Oh, hadst thou died when first thou saw'st the light,
    Or died at least before thy nuptial rite!"
    (Note -- this is Hector speaking.)

    We see that Paris' compatriots hate him for causing the war. And of course they are confounded when, after escaping death in the one-on-one duel, he is whisked away unseen by Aphrodite (Venus)

    Pope writes:
    "But Venus trembled for the prince of Troy:
    Unseen she came, and burst the golden band:
    And left an empty helmet in his hand.
    The queen of love her favour'd champion shrouds
    (For gods can all things) in a veil of clouds."

    This has been a puzzle to me since my initial reading. What does Homer imply? that in the heat of battle Paris ran for cover? that a goddess really lifted him bodily from battle to palace?

    Is this like a man in combat hiding from battle to survive another day,
    or does it confuse our reading to think of Vietnam here?
    Either way, Paris is a pretty-boy and a coward, right? Do any of you like him at all?

    October 11, 2004 - 03:54 pm
    Ingres' portrait of Zeus and Thetis, in Ginny's 168 post, is a marvellous likeness of the two. One of the gods remembers well when Ingres mounted Olympus, and Zeus and Thetis agreed to pose in a reenactment of the famous scene. A pity that the artist did not include Hera, the ever-jealous wife, in his painting. There she still is, off to the side, still observing this little tete-a-tete very intently. Something malevolent about that look.

    Thanks Jonathan! Loved your comments on that picture!!

    The Teaching Company prof... can never remember her name... talks about the 'supplication'... which is the 'pose' that Thetis is in in this picture... it's perfect, because with both hands occupied, it's clear that there is no weapon... the neck is open to the god... that equals venerability... I believe this is the first time we've seen this in the Iliad, but it won't be the last time.


    Pat H
    October 11, 2004 - 05:53 pm
    Did Paris run for cover? In Lombardo's translation, he clearly did not. First Aphrodite "snapped the oxhide chinstrap" of the helmet by which Ag was dragging him off, then she "Whisked Paris away with the sleight of a goddess, Enveloping him in mist, and lofted him into The incensed air of his vaullted bedroom."

    Paris is being tossed around like a beachball, but at least he didn't run away.

    October 12, 2004 - 02:01 am
    It occurred to me with Helen we are back to talking about status -- that sense of who we are that we will do anything to protect. "Who Helen is" is the most beautiful woman in the world. If she loses that, she loses herself and life becomes meaningless.

    For Paris, too perhaps. "Who he is" is a lover. He has just been incompetant in battle, he rushes back to the safety of being a lover.

    It will be interesting to follow this sense through the poem: what it means to each of the characters, what they do to protect it.

    October 12, 2004 - 11:56 am
    Helen's misery, her sorry plight, sick at heart, lonely and homesick, fated to a life of enduring the curses of men and her own agonizing guilt, it all certainly gives the lie to the maudlin feelings of the heroine of The Maltese Falcon.

    That is Helen in Book III. And now, what can we make of Agamemnon in Book IV? What an amazing spectacle he makes of himself, after the hothead Pandarus tries to kill Menelaus, despite the common oath. Paris will like nothing better than to see Menelaus dead, and will be sure to reward him. And a fresh vow to Apollo will get Pandarus off the hook for breaking the oath.

    The wound is skin-deep, but bleeds profusely. At the sight of which:

    'The warlord Agamemnon went numb.' 4:162

    Very quickly he is reassured by Menelaus, and an effort is made to calm him down:

    'It's all right. Don't frighten the others. The arrow didn't hit a fatal spot.' 4 199-200

    In between there is a scene of utter over-reaction by a distraught man. Blaming himself, calling on Zeus to avenge, even feeling certain that Zeus WILL see to it that 'holy Troy will perish.'

    Little does Agamemnon know the will of Zeus and his feelings about Troy. We already know that much:

    'For of all the cities under the sun and stars, of all the cities on earth that men inhabit, sacred Ilion is the dearest to my self.' 4:54-6

    After that we might well ask, what is Agamemnon to Zeus? For the man who has on occasion slighted, even dishonored the gods, to pretend to know what Zeus will do to save his, Agamemnon's, reputation is certainly well on the way to suffering from hubris.

    'The arrow's tip just grazed the human skin.' 4:152

    An alarmed Agamemnon goes into hysterics:

    But dreadful grief will be mine if you die, Menelaus...and your bones will rot as you lie in Trojan soil...and some arrogant Trojan will much for the wrath of Agamemnon...' 4:180s

    Don't die on me, Menelaus. Would it not be more sensible to call on Priam, have him deliver up Pandarus, etc.

    Perhaps Agamemnon was not unhappy at the prospect of further war and the demolition of Troy. I suspect he's gloating over the prospect of another big prize.

    October 12, 2004 - 01:41 pm
    "'You are not to blame for this war with the gods. The gods are.' Priam to Helen.

    This sounds like the indulgent father overlooking the sins of his wayward son. Could Priam find anyone to agree with him on that? It seems like such a clear case of seduction and abduction on the part of Paris. Why implicate the gods in such human affairs? And Paris is blamed by many. Just look at how he gets it from his brother Hector in the lines which follow... Jonathan, emphasis mine

    Jonathan, it's hard to tell, are you being sarcastic or inquisitive here? (Or neither?)

    What else does Agamemnon have to do but go to war to increase his power and prestige?


    October 12, 2004 - 02:01 pm
    "She has no friends there, no family: she's clearly fed up with Paris (who is pretty shallow) and homesick. All she has is the admiration of men, and she lives for that. I've known women like that (not well: women like that never have women friends). Haven't you? "

    I have a niece who is so physically beautiful that people stop on the street and gape at her. When I am out in public with her people stop us and comment on her beauty. When I am with her and her sister, who is also gorgeous, people comment on the one niece as if the other does not exist. Once, while I was walking down the street with her a staring businessman plowed straight into the side of a building while apparently hypnotized by her beauty. Her mother says this is not a singlular event. She has friends and family. However, it is difficult for her to make friends because of the moronic way people act in her presence. It would be easy for her to live only for the admiration of men since everyone seems to have an IQ of zero in her presence, being blinded by her beauty. I never got the impression that she enjoyed having men slobber dumbly in her presence while women shoot green shafts out of their eyes at her.

    In ancient times my thought is that it was much more acceptable to turn a human being into an object, both by the person in such times of short harsh lives, and by society. As a woman in the ancient world it's not as if she was a citizen or anything.

    I think also it was more acceptable to go to war without reason, whereas today only direct self-defense is seen as a reason to go to war by the vocal majority. What a much grander excuse for war, also, than the humdrum conquering of more territory, for the beauty of a woman!

    I'm not quite caught up, yet. The Lombardo translation is rather different and took some getting used to.


    October 12, 2004 - 02:21 pm
    It was not unusual for men to turn and flee in battle. In fact, it was so common, that Roman battle groupings were designed around this fact of war, I don't know much about older styles of warfare. I think the jury is still out as to whether Paris fled, and I'm not yet at that part.

    I've never been in a battle, but the Greeks and Romans had some mighty deadly ones without much in the area of medical care for the wounded. And what a ghastly way to die, from sepsis from a battle wound. I suspect for a front-line infrantyman, the chance of living from fleeing from battle was greater than from participating. At least you might gain a cleaner death, such as a beheading or whatever.

    As to modern wars? My father-in-law was wounded in the island hopping campaigns of WWII. He said there were men in his platoons who hung back out of fear, and there were men who could not fire their weapon at an enemy soldier. Everyone knew who they were and adjusted their tactics accordingly. I suspect the type of battles fought in the ground war in Vietnam did not lend themselves to this luxury. Any Vietnam Vets care to comment?

    I don't know what I would do in a battle situation. Once I was in a situation where my life depended upon my assaulting another human being, not defending myself, but attacking. It was not so straightforward a situation as I would have considered it to be without the direct experience.

    Given a mere 30 years or so to live and the knowledge of an almost certain gruesome death in the near future taking the risk of fleeing might be more worthwhile. It's not as if anyone was really being honored by participating in this insanity.


    October 12, 2004 - 05:16 pm
    KLEO: after I read my post on Helen, I realized it sounded very catty. I didn't mean it to. I have known several very beautiful women and most of them were not like Helen: nor should I have implied that all beautiful women are. Helen has identified herself completely with her beauty, whereas the women I have known had careers and were much deeper.

    It is indeed hard for the beautiful women I have known. Those of us who are less beautiful would think that a woman who could attract almost any man would have very good relationships. The opposite seems to have occurred with women I have known. Men are attracted to them soley by their looks,not knowing or caring anything about them as people, and they have wound up in some terrible relationships. It is also very hard for them to make friends. It is hard in the workplace to keep relationships on a professional level and so forth.

    October 12, 2004 - 06:16 pm
    Welcome, Kleo, we are very glad to see you here! I am running a bit behind, have put up some thoughts for Book IV, and need some help even identifying the metaphors that I know are here before we put those up as well. We have lost the apostrophes in the heading and I HOPE to have all that fixed in the morning.

    It's kind of hard to describe, but we're in the middle of a grape harvest here and being forced, you might say, to deal up front and personal with nature, is really making these similes come home, and I'm finding it's amazing the LAYERS of meaning in this thing.

    For instance, I get up every morning at 4 and take the Iliad into the dark living room and read it (and really what can you say, you have to just glory in the beautiful writing and wonders of expression) until the sun comes up. I've printed out all of your posts and thoughts, and read those too, I found myself nodding here on one of your points about Helen, frowning here on Paris, pondering many of them, asking myself if I do like Paris or Helen, (Mippy's question) and answering you all, writing those answers will have to come tomorrow, but you all have been BRILLIANT as the commercials say (love those commercials). So just picture me saying BRILLIANT! hahaah

    Now on Paris, first, yes he did not run, he was "whisked" away, doesn't have to stay, does he? I mean ok he's in the boudoir, but he's not chained there, can't he say, I have a war to fight and honor to defend? And move on manfully?

    And why did he have to put on his brother's breastplate? Doesn't he have one of his own?

    And why did Priam not bear to watch?

    And why do the gods say (don't you love the way Book IV starts? One minute Paris is in his love nest with a woman who thinks it would be traitorous to be there with him and the next we're up with the gods, talk about Upstairs Downstairs!! )

    Meanwhile back in the jungle…er.. Menelaus prowls the lines "LOOKING FOR HIM??" What does THAT mean, looking for him? I love that scene! Does he think he slipped out of his grasp in the....fog? Or? I love that.

    Meanwhile back at the castle, Helen has used, I agree with Hats, a very sharp tongue, and not only with Paris, she tells Aphrodite, hey, YOU sleep with him, you sit next to him (wow, this is telling off a goddess? Isn't ...who was it who turned Arachne into a spider?) at any rate, she seems pretty fearless. She tells her off. You all seem to think beautiful women don't have women friends, that's interesting in itself.

    Now here are a couple of layers I just noticed: when I first saw Aphrodite say, I'll make you loathsome, repulsive to BOTH sides and then were will you be? and Helen is afraid and she goes right on through the women and up to the bedroom? I thought OH you shallow thing, all you care about is your face! Who CARES (we don't care in 2004, right? We're enlightened?) And then I thought hold on, nobody wants to be that seriously disfigured , have a heart, even you with your own ugly mug don't want to be something people run screaming from, and then I felt sorry for her. They are pawns here, sinners in the hands of angry gods.

    ...and THEN what happens (this is better than those old cliff hanger movies?)

    Here I got confused again: Agamemnon says WE WON! It's clear Menelaus Won!!

    Here me, Trojans, allied troops, and Dardanians (who are they?)

    The victory clearly belongs to Menelaus.

    Surrender therefore Argive Helen.

    How does he figure THAT? You ought to see my book, it's so underlined and starred and exclamation pointed, it's just unreal.

    And what about the old men as cicadas? Do you LOVE that? I just saw this morning a commercial on how you know you're growing old? Do you know? Apparently you look at your fingernails and if they have ridges, know what that means? You are losing fluid or something , drying up!! Just like a cicada, the old men sitting on the wall, all dry and scratchy. What an image! Today I chased a grasshopper across the field, he even SOUNDED dry, what a super image.

    AND then Book IV starts, Upstairs Downstairs, and the gods are saying Menelaus clearly won!! How do they figure that??

    Why does EVERYBODY think Menelaus won??!!?? The gods are taking sides and as much are saying
    But we should decide all this now.
    Should we let war rage again
    Or establish peace between the two sides?
    If somehow we could agree to do this.
    Priam's city might still be a place to live
    And Menelaus could take Argive Helen home.
    So what's this? The all powerful thunder giving King of the Gods is asking for a confab? Here again we have reason versus force and it's going to be interesting to see what happens. They all line up. And THEN….and THEN another betrayal, and it's said as a betrayal many times, Pandarus (that name is vaguely familiar, can we find out anything about him?) takes that bow that we hear a lot about (why the long explanation) and SHOOTS Menelaus? That so reminds me of…was it Sitting Bull? Remember how they all came at the invitation of the white man and…who was it? Crazy Horse?? Was shot?

    A betrayal of their laws, (what laws?) and Machaon the son of Asclepius (don't doctors still take his oath?) pulls out the…ouch.. barbed arrow…"As it came out the barbs were broken backward." YEOW!! And then he applied their medicine. I must say I nearly fainted when they said call for the doctor, because back then the treatment, the cauterization, could kill the patient. As we go on the images will get more and more graphic, but these were tough times to live in. And then….there's enough action in these two books to choke a horse. I'm not sure I understand why Pandarus did what he did, and I'm not sure, don't the Trojans also think a vow has been broken? And then a very strange thing happens as Agamemnon moves among the soldiers, rallying them, or so I thought, what might you all think of any of these issues or anything in the heading? (And who are the TWO Ajaxes?)

    Drachma for your thoughts!

    More in the morning

    Cat Woman
    October 12, 2004 - 07:50 pm
    Kleo asks why implicate the gods in human affairs.

    It seems that everything I hear or read reminds me of the Iliad, but I've been reading a beautiful book, An Alchemy of Mind, about the mind and the brain by poet Diane Ackerman. Here's a quote: "Because we can project ourselves into the minds of other people, we tend to endow everything with a human mind--dolls, ocean, sun, wind, other animals, plants, volcanoes, statues, landforms. Then we can attribute to them all the things about ourselves we can't stand." Is that what Homer does with his gods?

    Another thing, I was listening to the Teaching Company course on ancient Rome, and the lecturer said something about it being impossible to beseige a city without the ability to get supplies such as food, nearby, so because the entire Italian peninsula was allied to Rome, Hannibal couldn't lay seige to the city. Well, it seems that the surrounding areas we're reading about are all allied with Troy, so how did the Greeks manage to feed and supply their army while sticking around these nine years? Just another picky question.

    October 12, 2004 - 11:55 pm
    When Menelaus is shot, Agamemnon fears that the whole war may be finished before he ever enters Troy. While comforting his brother, he states that their purpose goes unfinished. "So much for the wrath of Agamemnon,/ Who led the Greek army here for nothing." (Lombardo, Book 4, #193-194) In Book 1, Nestor calls upon Agamemnon to cease his anger and for Achilles to control his temper. Who is really angry-mortals or the gods?

    In Book 4, Agamemnon emerges as a king who can lead his army. He is like a cheerleader, as he knows when to be harsh, bold, and encouraging. Odysseus is insulted when Agamemnon accuses his men of being slack in battle. However, Agamemnon tells Odysseus that "you and I understand each other." He is not the sulking drunkard.

    October 13, 2004 - 01:54 am
    Just checking in, what great questions CW and Shifrah! Great point on Ag as he ranges the troops, kind of like a Patton, isn't he, would we say he's regained command here, or not??

    Super point, CW on why Hannibal never took Rome, I had never heard that POV before, I thought he swept thru all of Italy actually almost circled Rome, went farther south in Italy, but never attacked Rome and I had always heard nobody knew why thank you for that! Well then we can see why the Greeks are making sorties into the countryside? Sounds like you are getting your money's worth with that set of tapes we very much appreciate your bringing that here!

    Shifrah, I thought Odyseeus' reaction was interesting, Ag's whole relationship with Odysseus is interesting, we might want to look closer at that one and at one other there.

    CW, An Alchemy of Mind sounds like a fascinating book. Is it called Animism, I can't remember? Early Mythology, where you endow all of nature with human characteristics? Common to many cultures, I think, and in trying to look THAT up, I've just suddenly found a huge article on the Mycenae / Mycenaean civilization in the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature which I need to go read this morning, one thing that kind of woke me up is the frequency of ol Ag's name, and this sentence, "The Greek Bronze Age as a whole is referred to for chronological purposes by the name Helladic." In trying to look up Helladic I found a whole raft of stuff on Hellenistic: "term used to denote the civilization, language, culture, and literature of the Greek world from the late fourth to the late second centuries." So we can remember THAT from our own Helen but apparently? The two are not related?....OR are they? So that's US? We should not have too much trouble remembering that! and... Have just found something about what is known as the Mycenaean period, lasting roughly from 1600 to the final collapse of the city and its culture c.1125." Palaces, citadels, "Cyclopean " walls more than 20 feet high, the famous Lion and Postern Gates, the megaron or hall, "familiar from Homer (see Homeric Age and Architecture)," faience, ivory carving, gold, vases (and they mention Linear B in connection with this, too, hegeso! ...Looks like some wonderful reading and discoveries lie ahead this morning!!

    It's very satisfying to be learning about this with Homer as our guide just as he was to the Greeks, with our own 2004 Muses Dr. Lombardo and Dr. Stone, and in such shining company, as you all are, too! Think what Homer would have made of YOU all, shining there as you move thru the troops, and I hope you will, in just a few days, like Jonathan, and CW, be taking your seat on one side or the other, more later on.

    Shifrah that's a wonderful point: Ag says the Trojans will say

    "So much for the wrath of Agamemnon,/ Who led the Greek army here for nothing."
    (Lombardo, Book 4, #193-194)

    THAT is quite an interesting passage, thank you for pointing that out, let's look at more of it today if you all are willing. That almost goes back to Joan's theory of one of the themes in the book: status, I think that's what was really motivating Helen, too, but let's all look at this passage today where it starts...let's not start with "Dreadful grief will be mine if you die,
    Menelaus,and meet your destiny now." (184ff) but let's go back to the beginning of that passage, to "Dear Brother, my oath was your death..." 171L and study that today? I think there's a LOT in that, or there's a lot that intrigues ME in that, it's amazing how Homer manages to capture so many emotions and levels in a few words, wish I had his ability! more...

    October 13, 2004 - 03:49 am
    OK also this morning as we get even more organized, we need to know if you have any questions for Dr. Lombardo you have not asked in the discussion to date or for Dr. Stone, it's entirely my fault that Dr. L has not been given any questions but we now have the pages ready and will send to him and Dr. S today if you have any more?

    Pat H
    October 13, 2004 - 06:26 am
    I have known 2 beautiful women of the sort Joan describes who are trying to have normal productive lives but run into trouble in their relationships becaused they are valued for their beauty, not their selves, and one who took Helen's route and lived for the admiration of men, having no women friends. (I found her entertaining to watch; she had great wit and style.)

    I think this is a choice these women make--to use the gift of beauty this way, and that some resist the temptation and some don't.

    It's not something I've had to think about much. My face doesn't frighten horses in the street, but it wouldn't launch even one ship, much less a thousand.

    October 13, 2004 - 01:35 pm
    I think that part of the belief system of the ancient Greeks with their gods accurately reflects the lack of choice that certain people have, or rather the constraints that reality puts on people. A very beautiful man or woman cannot deny the impact this physical attribute has on others. My niece could not have stopped the man from walking into the building while staring at her; in fact, she was oblivious. At some point in her life she will become aware of the response of other humans to her. Helen cannot remove this aspect of her life, the response of other human beings.

    I disagree that extremely beautiful women are simply making a choice to use or not use their gift. What I think they are doing is the same thing all humans through time do: taking stock of what they have and learning how to live with it and use it to their advantage if possible. I've worked with children severely disfigured by burns. They can do nothing about the heartless and shocking responses of people who see them and are repulsed by what they see. To everyday encounter severe responses, whether positive or negative, to your physical appearance is part of your environment, part of what shapes you as an individual human being. You don't choose your environment other than the decision to not be a hermit.

    I have another niece who has epidermolysa bullosa, a very serious genetic skin disorder, causing severe blistering, scarring and loss of the tips of the finger among other things. I suppose that when she is very ill her appearance can be rather starling, as she is severely underweight, quite scarred and walks awkwardly from her dressings which cover almost her entire skin. Once when we were getting out of a car a woman stoppped and stared at us. My niece instantly turned vicious far beyond the ability of a 13-year-old. I was stunned. She had not been raised like that by our family. Maybe she had been raised like that by the lifetime of looking different. (The staring woman didn't lose a beat, but quickly commented on how cute our car was. Instantly the monster inside my niece retreated.)

    People do judge books by their covers. It is human nature--something that has not changed much since Homer's times.


    October 13, 2004 - 01:39 pm
    When Ag rallied the troops [4:248ff], it reminded me of a President standing behind the ranks, and even rallying the civilians who had to support the war effort, such as the leadership of FDR. Or the other leaders who rallied the Allies in W.W.II (cannot locate the right source for Winston Churchill's speeches, but does anyone have these?)

    I'll stay away from which U.S. candidate shows better army leadership in 2004 -- don't want to start a riot here in classical books!

    It's hard to think of Patton, Ginny, unless you assume we all remember the movie.
    That was a few years ago, right? unless we rented it recently?

    I'd like to ask Stan Lombardo to go into the subject of "aristeia" in more detail ["aristos" means "best"]. Would that be an appropriate question for him and/or Dr. Stone?

    Shasta Sills
    October 13, 2004 - 02:01 pm
    Dr. Vandiver makes some interesting observations about the Greek gods, comparing them to modern concepts of God. They are not moral gods. They are not omniscient nor omnipotent. They did not create the universe, but are only a part of it. They may have originally just represented personified forces of nature, but they have evolved into something more than that. They can control the forces of nature with which they are associated. They seem to know each human's fate, but they cannot change it. They are gods with severe limitations, compared to the modern belief in One God.

    October 13, 2004 - 02:07 pm
    In the Lombardo edition, the simile [4:155ff] compares the color of the blood to the scarlet cheek pieces for horses prepared by women in Maeonia and Caria.
    It would be interesting to find a link to stains and colors in Homeric times, such as special Mediterranean Sea snails used for purple stain in Roman times, and earlier.

    ... again, comparing the simile to the Pope edition

    As when some stately trappings are decreed
    to grace a monarch on his bounding steed,
    A nymph in Caria or Maeonia bred,
    Stains the pure ivory with a lively red;
    With equal lustre various colours vie,
    The shining whiteness, and the Tyrian dye ...

    October 13, 2004 - 02:23 pm
    I'm sorry I have not posted recently, I have been gone over the weekend. Well, what Kleo said about people judging others by their cover is painfully true for me, but that is a whole different story. Anyway, I was thinking about the Iliad and how it compared to the real battles that occured there. The events happened, except fictional characters were added. I couldnt help comparing that to what authors and film directors do when they make World War 2 novels and films. They take real events, and often add their own characters to the plot.

    October 13, 2004 - 09:03 pm
    It was a good presidential debate tonight. Neither deserves anything less than half the votes on election day. Both candidates looked to Canada for help in restoring and preserving America's health. That was nice to hear.

    Thanks for pointing out the sarcasm in my post, Kleo. I'll admit that I get so caught up in the drama of this epic that I do get carried away in my reactions to what I'm reading. Homer doesn't make it any easier, with his determination to seem objective, to please every one of his listeners. One consequence of that is that a love/hate aura develops about each character in his tale, gods and goddesses included. Except perhaps Hector. Achilles, too, might be an exception.

    Are we expected to believe that Achilles, with his anger, strange, Agamemnon is proud of his, is to blame for the carnage of the hostilities in Book IV, the beginning of the back and forth battles of The Iliad?

    What is the anger doing to Achilles? I find some disagreement among the translators. We know that Achilles' heart is in the battle. In a familiar phrase: 'he'd rather be fighting'.

    So one does wonder about his state of mind, sitting there alone in his tent. The image has stayed with me from a first reading a hundred years ago. We get one line that shows the beginning of a progressive self-understanding. One line near the end of Book IV. A very meaningful line it seems, judging by the nuances that come out in different translations:

    For Chapman, Achilles 'sits at fleet inflam'd'.

    Hammond has him 'brooding on the anger that pains his heart'.

    Dr Lombardo's Achilles 'nurses his rage in the beachhead camp'.

    W D Rouse has him 'nursing his grievance in a bitter heart'.

    Each one sees something different from the others. Achilles' self-indulging mental turmoil is of a different order; but it seems just as crucial and fateful as anything on the battlefield.

    Thanks to Apollo, Achilles is made part of the combat if only by his absence. And Apollo himself becomes a part of Achilles' fate, as Achilles becomes an instrument of Apollo's anger in his quarrel with Agamemnon.

    Of course I'm on the side of the gods. There is so much about Agamemnon that I find unforgivable, even with the gods pulling the strings in all his endeavors. Why would he antagonize Odysseus? (4:361-2) Agamemnon deserves the scowl he gets in line 371. Without the agressive intervention of Odysseus after the big dream in Book I Agamemnon might not now be getting the opportunity to do battle with the Trojans. Agamemnon is not a great leader of men. I would not rule out a lot of plotting among the Greeks, after nine years, to rid themselves of this incompetent leader. It did come close to an assassination when Achilles drew his dagger in the first act. A few would have cheered the act. A goddess saved him. How passing strange, this tale.

    October 14, 2004 - 10:37 am
    Ginny is having problems getting on with her ISP. She's talked to India and they promise the Supervisor will have it fixed within 24 hours. She asks that you continue discussing the questions in the header and anything else you want to take up in Book 4.


    October 15, 2004 - 05:35 am
    I'm not really too much of a Agamemnon fan myself, but I am definitely not siding with the gods. They don't really care about what happens to humanity, they are just manipulative and calculating, always looking out for their own good. There are few exceptions, in my opinion.

    October 15, 2004 - 07:55 am
    GBfan, it's difficult to see Agamemnon with any kind of fan club. Or to imagine anyone hoping to start a trend by coming in as AgamemnonfanI.

    All, or many of his actions seem divisive. He has no real policy, ecept for wanting to go home with his reputation intact and his ships full of booty. His relationship with the gods is overlayed with hypocrisy; but that may be because, deep in his heart, he thinks he has taken their measure and finds them wanting like himself.

    As for not siding with the gods, that, unfortunately, is an extremely hazardous view of things for anyone who needs help. Like they all do in Homer's epic. Granted that the gods do seem manipulative and calculating, they are still too useful to leave out of the action. What other recourse does humanity, namely, the Greeks and Trojans, have when they are at their wits end, except for an Odysseus, or when a warriors energy is flagging. There are many instances of a goddess giving her favorite new strength and will. If the gods' help does kick up the ferocity of the battle a knotch or two, well, so is the glory.

    The warriors are certainly not all like Agamemnon, who orders his chariot driver to stand at the ready during the battle, to take his lordship back to the ships when his legs give out. Pshaw!

    The gods and goddesses love mankind. Can you imagine more touching scenes than those in which arrows are deflected, comfort is given, new strength is infused, an old love affair is kept alive, etc.

    October 15, 2004 - 08:49 am
    A colleague sent an email alerting us to an article from Reuters. Homer is the best-selling poet in England!

    October 15, 2004 - 10:17 am
    WOW, Maryal, thank you for that, great article and we are ALWAYS in the forefront here on SeniorNet of what's happening! Thank you!!

    Playing catch up here, and have printed out 35 pages of your super incisive comments, WONDEFUL points!!

    You all amaze me, you really do, next up to email to Dr. L all of our questions so far to see what he likes, and as Greatbooksfan (welcome back!) says, it's hard now to pick a side, but that's exactly what we hope you'll do, and in fact, are asking you to do today. .. Jonathan is up there with the Gods, CW is in the citadel with the Trojans, the strategy here is to put us even MORE in the epic, to get us even MORE caught up than we have been.

    Not every soldier on the field in front of Troy is there out of desire, not every soldier is there for vengeance. Not every soldier looking over the ramparts has his heart in this. If we try, if we just try to put ourselves in one of the three camps, then we may understand better how they felt? And then we'll switch on a signal, we'll switch to the OTHER side, and see how THAT feels. Then we'll ask you at the end your frank assessment when it's over on several points.

    Jonathan has made a stunning point and we'll want to watch for it, and that is that Homer here, have you noticed, "doesn't make it any easier, with his determination to seem objective." YES!! He does seem to present both sides and not take favorites! I keep thinking we'll be sent definitely toward one side or the other but NO!! hahaha

    I had not thought of it in terms of wanting to please his listeners, but you're certainly right on, there.

    Am swamped with grape customers so hysterically typing away here but here is the Lion Gate which the OCCL spoke of in my last post, this is

    The Lion's Gate at Mycenae: click to enlarge

    This imposing Lion's Gate at Mycenae has the "oldest known monumental sculpture from ancient Greece (c.1250BC) set in a recessed triangular area which serves to lighten the weight on the lintel." (Harris)

    And WAIT till you see what's coming up! Which side today do you choose while I eagerly reread your wonderful posts?

    I think I will have to go for the Trojans. I really feel I know the Greeks better? But they are…or are they…waging an aggressive war? I guess they think they want what's theirs, honor, etc., ….but in this day and time we're not that violent, are are we? What would happen today? If a King's wife were kidnapped? (I'm not sure she was?) would we say oh well that's the breaks, maybe another time she'll return? I don't think so.

    I really haven't seen enough of the Trojans to decide, and the more I think about it, quite frankly, the Trojans can give her back, too, they know they're wrong, they stole her, they need to return her....hmmmm I think I'll have to go on the "more right" side at first no matter how the individual commanders act, I think I'll go with the Greeks at least I feel I know them, so I'm with the Greeks!

    Funny point on Achilles, if YOU all were commanders in this war, would you want Achilles on YOUR side? What about Paris? Hahahaa Be right back!

    October 15, 2004 - 11:46 am
    I'm with the women in the poem: Greek, Trojan, captive, or god.

    I'm Ag's captive, happy,returning to her father and home. I'm the other captive women waiting to see who they will be shuffled to, Clytemnestra hating her husband for killing their daughter, all the other Greek wives not knowing if they still have husbands and whether they will see them again.

    I'm Helen, scared, tired, homesick, guilty, hating herself for her stupidity, I'm the other Trojan wome, seeing Helen walk among them and hating her for putting everything they love in danger. And I'm Hector's wife, loving her husband and watching him go.

    I'm Thetis watching her son choose to die. I'm Hera, bitter and shrewish, seeing her husband sleep with every woman in Greece and unable to forgive Paris for not calling her beautiful. I'm Athena, wanting to fight, disguising herself as a man every time she gets a chance. And I'm Aphrodite, glorying in being a woman.

    I'm them all.

    October 15, 2004 - 12:49 pm
    Oh good!!! (That was beautiful!) I have been wanting to use this photo of Medusa and was not sure how to get it in, I will ask for help in adding that category to the bottom! Check this out, I think she's beautiful, poor thing with a head full of snakes

    Medusa: click to enlarge

    "Medusa head, relief from the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, Turkey. Anyone who caught sight of the snake-haired Medusa was turned to stone: she was killed by Perseus, who tracked her by watching her reflection in his shield, then struck her down without looking at her." (Harris) Shades of Harry Potter. She was a Gorgon.

    And according to the OCCL, "The Gorgon's head is first mentioned in Homer, as a terrifying design on shields. Hesiod tells of three Gorgons, Sthenno, Euryalo, and Medusa, daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, children of Pontus and Ge). (GE is earth: according to Hesiod she sprang from Chaos, so she goes back as far as you can go). She produced Uranus, mated with him, and in turn (this sounds exactly like Paradise Lost!) produced Cronus!!! And the Titans, the Cyclopes and Hundred Handed Giants! (OCCL) Don't you love mythology?


    Medusa was the only one of the Gorgons who was mortal, and was loved by Poseidon [god of the sea]. She was slain by Perseus when with child by Poseidon, and from her blood sprang the horse Pegasus and Crhysaor.

    The Gorgon's head turned to stone anything that met its gaze. It retained the petrifying power even after the monster's death. (OCCL)

    Fascinating, huh??

    Shasta Sills
    October 15, 2004 - 02:04 pm
    I never think of Helen as being kidnapped. She ran off with Paris voluntarily. Otherwise, why would she stand there on the walls of Troy feeling guilty for causing this war? She knows what she did.

    Jonathan is doing his best to make a case for the gods, but they still sound like a pretty sorry lot to me. If I have to choose sides, I will fight with the Trojans even though I know I'm going to lose in the end. They have no choice but to fight this war. If your city is attacked, you have to defend it. And I particularly like Hector, a civilized family man.

    October 15, 2004 - 02:09 pm
    What exactly are they doing in that walled fortress?

    My heart goes out to Hector and his wife since he is never going to see his son grow up. And, I must say that Aeneas, who carried his father on his back as they escaped the city, demonstrates filial piety.

    October 15, 2004 - 02:14 pm
    I'm on the Greeks' side... Achilles was a concerned Greek, until Ag decided to have things his way... so, Ag is not my favorite, but Achilles has a point... he's there to defend the honor of the Greeks and to get back M's wife... though I'm not sure Helen is worth the effort or the body count... it's the principle of the thing.


    October 15, 2004 - 05:31 pm
    Good question, Shifrah, what ARE they doing? They are waiting. For 9 years they are waiting, watching the host of the enemy all, what, 100,000 of them on the shore, certainly can't go down to the beach any more, puts a different light on it.

    Great, Lou, gotcha down, I agree it's the principle of the thing and Pat W has made a new category for Women, love it, thank you , Pat, and Joan is firmly ensconced there.

    Now Shasta has picked the Trojans, saying that "They have no choice but to fight this war. If your city is attacked, you have to defend it."

    True, but they don't have to BE attacked, they can give Helen back to her husband and daughter. In fact, after reading what you said, why doesn't HELEN simply march out the gates, and into the arms of her husband? After all, she dislikes Paris?

    Listen, we can't go to Book V tomorrow, we must spend just a day or so more on IV? Much to say?

    But meanwhile, which side will YOU be on? I already like the dynamics of this, very much, it forces you to think and makes a super dialogue, check out the bottom of that long heading (and thank you for your patience with it) where is YOUR name and who would YOU side with if you HAD to choose today?

    October 15, 2004 - 07:58 pm

    I am with the Trojans.

    I have heard that one reason that the Trojans Royal family would not let Helen return is that she had a very large valuable dowry that went to the man who could hold on to her. Thus when Paris was killed his brother then married Helen.

    Also, in one of many tales I have read of Greek Mythology Medusa was once a beautiful young woman who was caught with Mars making love on the altar of one of Athena's temples and Athena turned her in to the Gorgon. Who knows.

    I have often read of various people who fought in front of the walls of Troy for the Trojans. Heros in their own right.

    Tiger Tom

    October 16, 2004 - 04:44 am

    Thank you, Tom, gotcha down under the Trojans, and I agree, I thought I remembered that story like that too, I think there are several versions of these ancient myths and Traude the other day mentioned that in Edith Hamilton's book of Mythology, there are two whole chapters on the Trojan War, the gods and the heroes, have you all read Hamilton? That's ONE mythology I have not read, preferring Bulfinch. Have you read it and what does she say about the gods involvement here or anything else?

    Let's take a look today, one final day, at Book IV and what all you've said, as per, you've raised some very important points.

    We don't want to leave without looking at them!

    First Kleo, Jonathan, Shasta and Pat (the "gifts of the gods,") raise points on the gods and their involvement here in the war. Dr. Stone raised an interesting question in his class and that was, "Can you explain the action in Book IV without having to refer to the gods?"

    I like that question, what do you think? I can see how extreme physical beauty might be considered a gift of the gods, actually.

    Also this opens up the question of a couple of ways to think of the Gods here, an inner voice, Bicameral inner monologue, Dr. Stone brought up Julian Jaynes and his Origin of Consciousness. Did the Ancients think the gods were speaking directly TO them? Don't we have people today who think the same thing?

    And then we have, very graphically illustrated, in Book IV, Reason„3 Force. We begin with Reason, let's only 2 men fight to the finish and we end up in an awful slaughter: Force.

    I am not sure Homer glorifies war, I am thinking it's the opposite. He does, however make it clear it's on both sides in his similes:

    Grinding against each other amid the groans
    And exultations of men being slain
    And of those claying , as the earth ran with blood.

    Swollen winter torrents flow together
    Where two valleys meet. The heave water
    From both streams joins in a gorge,
    And far off in the mountains
    A shepherd hears a single, distant roar.

    So we have moved on both sides from a rational thought: if we have to fight, let's only 2 of us fight, to being eclipsed by Force. I love that take on it.

    And Force turns people into Things as Dr. Stone mentioned in this passage where Ajax kills Simoeisius, "a blossoming lad," whose background is given even to why he was named what he was named, but he's compared to a thing:

    A poplar that has grown up in rich bottom soil,
    With a smooth trunk branching out at top,<br. Catches the eye of a wainwright, who wants
    To curve it into a polo for a fine chariot.
    He cuts it with a few flashing strokes of his axe,
    And now it lies drying by the river bank. (L 536ff)

    So here a man carefully laid out to BE a man by Homer, giving his background, etc. (much like Dan Rather does every night on CBS news, gives some poignant background to the death of an American soldier in Iraq) and showing that Simoeisius has become a thing. But Homer is pointing out the humanity involved, I think this is a very powerful piece!

    Mipppy sure we can ask Dr. L on aristeia, I found this at Bucknell's site, there is not much out there on aristeia:

  • We will be discussing type scenes and oral composition in class. A common type scene is one in which a hero in battle has his finest moments is called an aristeia (aristos = best). The elements of the scene and the order in which they appear are:

    --arming scene
    --brilliance of armor/hero
    --exhortation to followers
    --initial exploit
    -- (wounding)
    --divine inspiration
    -- renewed exploits
    --double simile
    --the kill
    --taunting the victim

    So it's interesting to see that certain patterns are being developed here in the Iliad.

    Looks like there will be more: Aristeia of: Agamemnon

    I looked up Pandarus and found some interesting things. Our word "pander" comes from his name, isn't that interesting? I thought he sounded familiar, Chaucer told the story of his relations with Troilus and Cressida, and Shakespeare also used it.

    So HE broke the truce, and so that makes HIM a betrayer, too!

    Jonathan, I think your question about Achilles being to blame is one we need to consider, all of us. As you point out Agamemnon is proud of his own anger, is there a difference in the anger of Achilles and that of Agamemnon? We can start our look at Book V tomorrow with that question, thank you!

    I also will ask Dr. L about those different takes on it.

    Now Priam, another good question, I took it as he could have been hoping that his own son would be spared. He knows Paris is no Hector. And in a battle hopefully both his sons might come out OK. But he knows that if Menelaus and Paris square off, just the two of them, Paris is chopped liver. And so he turns away, doesn't want to see it.

    Mippy thank you for those comparisons of translation, I love that!

    Francoise, a wonderful point on another theme: blindness! There are a lot of instances here of blindness, I want to add that to our heading, thank you!

    Good point, Hats, on Helen's being trapped, I believe THAT is another theme in this, isn't it? Lots of people here are trapped, I believe I'll add that to the heading also!

    Lou, yet another point, vulnerability and again I think that is also a theme to watch so let's do that one also, thank you!! LOTS o' themes in this book!!

    Kleo an interesting point about how in ancient times it was much more acceptable to turn a human being into an object. Remember the term "cannon fodder?" I wonder if Homer is saying something to us here in 2004.

    And now Kleo raises another point: "It's not as if anyone was really being honored by participating in this insanity." Wow. I wonder if we took THAT one to the beach and to the citadel and to the Pantheon in the Sky what THEY would say? What do you think? I think that's why they are ALL there and why they stay? What do YOU all think today, what last thoughts on Book IV do you have before we move on to Book V tomorrow? Any thoughts or observations at all?

    more?K Oh and PS: is treachery the same thing as betrayal?
  • Ginny
    October 16, 2004 - 05:18 am
    Here are some odds and ends I've been picking up, I am so grateful to all of you for making this discussion a reality because I am learning so much I did not know. Here's what I'm piecing out: the earliest civilization in Europe was on Crete and was called Minoan by Arthur Evans. It was the early Bronze Age 3000-1000 BC. The name is derived from the mythical king Minos (he of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur). These findings were made by excavating the palace at Cnossus or Knossos :

    The Runied Grandeur of the Palace of Knossus, click to enlarge

    According to Harris, this palace was "unearthed around 1900 and restored by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evens. It was the greatest of the Minoan palaces, remembered centuries after it's fall in Homer's epic poem the Iliad "

    So it looks like we will be encountering it soon.

    These Minoans used Linear A which has never been translated.

    A decline set in, the Mycenaean civilization (Agamemnon & Co) rose, in about 1600 BC, but with the fall of Troy around 1230 BC golden Mycenae also fell and the Dark Ages (1100-750 BC) set in. In the 8th century BC the Dark Age came to an end, a new civilization of City States emerged, and Homer wrote the Iliad at this time, he wrote it first before the Odyssey.

    Tablets containing Linear A and Linear B were discovered at Knossos and Linear B was not translated until 1952 when "a brilliant scholar named Michael Ventis was able to show that the language of Linear B was an early form of Greek. This was not true of Linear A, which evidently recorded the now-lost language of Minoan Crete and is still undecpihered." (Harris) Don't you love the very thought of a mystery writing nobody can figure out??!!?

    So this is OLD stuff and to be so OLD, isn't it current? Harris says that with the return of the city states, the story of Troy, "occupied a vital place in Greek culture. For the Greeks, the war was at once heroic history and a kind of archetype of human experience==-particularly those parts of the action described in Homer's great epic poem The Iliad. I wonder if we want to take a look at the concept of hero today??

    October 16, 2004 - 05:47 am
    Ginny, I wonder if I am on the side of the Gods or of the Greeks if Achilles is the one I think about all the time reading the Iliad and hoping for his return. He is not exactly like the Greeks either, even if he is fighting along them. To me, he is an avatar from the Gods on Olympus. He is a personification of the Gods in a Greek war he doen't understand, blinded from it completely in his tent and turmoil. His only fight is with justice.

    Ginny, I let your wisdom guide you or which side I am.


    October 16, 2004 - 06:02 am
    Hooo, well we're out of category space on the bottom, but that avatar might be a super one, he's not all immortal so we can't put you with the gods, hmmm...lacking that, I am thinking you should go with the Greeks for now?? (We are going to switch before long anyway. ) (Not sure how much wisdom THAT took ahahaha.) Interesting point you just made, who DO we find ourselves thinking about in this book so far? We thought Helen was the dominant figure of Book III, but who for the whole thing? That might make a super point to ponder today?

    Also note how even we are in the heading, sided off against each other? Let's unbalance it, what say the rest of you??

    Cat Woman
    October 16, 2004 - 07:28 am
    I haven't seen the movie, but I understand it minimized the participation of the gods, so if anyone did see it, what did you think of the way it was handled?

    Cat Woman
    October 16, 2004 - 07:59 am
    We have spoken many times about war turning people into things. The headline in my morning paper was Army Unit Defies Order. Apparently a unit refused to deliver fuel to a town north of Baghdad because their trucks were not serviced, they were being sent without an armed escort along a road where even convoys accompanied by armed escorts are ambushed, AND the fuel they were to deliver was contaminated and had been refused by another base. The soldiers felt they were being sent on a suicide mission (turned into things, right?)and would not go.

    "Unfortunately," said a senior army officer in Washington, "it appears that a small number of the soldiers involved chose to express their concerns in an inappropriate manner. Insubordination during wartime is a considered a grave offense."

    So war is the same today. We're still turning people into things. Sad.

    Shasta Sills
    October 16, 2004 - 02:28 pm
    Ginny, you are right. Since Helen feels guilty and no longer cares for Paris, why doesn't she just walk out of Troy, waving a white handkerchief, and say, "I'll go home with Menelaos. Call off the war." I think she knows it is too late for this simple solution. Menelaos and Agamemnon, after all this time and trouble, want REVENGE inflicted upon the Trojans. They want more than just the return of Helen. They expect to take home a lot of loot when they leave. After waiting nine years, they are no longer willing to call off the war.

    October 17, 2004 - 05:20 am
    CW, thank you for that recent parallel. Speaking of turning people into things, those of you who have read Jonathan Shay's book, please feel free to make parallels here, it's quite stunning. Thank you for that. That is a perfect example of the major query I have which IS how can you lead men in battle and NOT be a hammer to their nail… that is a perfect example of the query, I think we should ask Dr. Stone, and last call for questions for Dr. L who still has not received any, mea maxima culpa~!!! Sending tomorrow!

    The new issue of US News and World Report, October 18, 2004, has on its cover The Warrior Elite, and that's what we're looking at right here, the Warrior Elite 3,000 years ago!

    Shasta, so you think Menelaus, the Greeks and Ag are now there for revenge, what do the rest of you think?? Great point!!

    But now, we enter Books V and VI and Wow! Hoo, it's WAR!

    These two books are stunning, let's look at Book V first, today, if you can uncross your eyes! Wow Wow! (Now do those or do those not look like metal birds??) Kind of brings the action face to face, can you IMAGINE having to fight like that? Don't we tend to think of "war" as missiles and such? not this? Don't we quail when we see the movies of the Civil War when the lines marched straight into the fire rank upon rank? How about the beachheads of Normandy? Rank upon rank? I just went to 5 of the Normandy beaches this past spring during the celebrations, I don't see how any person lived! The German bunkers had an unparalleled view of every inch of those beaches.

    But the first thing I would like to talk about this morning is the concept of HERO, remember this?

    Bonnie Tyler, our Charlie would have known this:

    Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler: Lyrics

    Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?
    Where's the great white Hercules to fight the rising odds?
    Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
    Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what i need

    I need a hero
    I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night
    he's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast
    and gotta be fresh from the fight

    I need a hero
    I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light
    He's gotta be sure and he's gotta be soon
    And he's gotta be larger than life
    Larger than life

    Yesterday's front page of the new issue of People Magazine has a photo of Christopher Reeve and it says Heart of a Hero, which he certainly was, to me, and that makes me wonder about HEROES in general.

    What seems to be the concept in Homer's time OF a hero? How do WE think of a hero today? What's our 2004 definition of HERO? Does it depend on who YOU are? Is there any collective hero? In that way we're different from Homer's day, or are we? For instance is Agamemnon a hero? Is Achilles? They both (sorry for the pun) seem to have their own Achilles' heels hahaha, they are not perfect men. Odysseus, now, coming much later, in the much different Odyssey, seems heroic? Can we examine our own notion of what a hero is and compare it to what the ancients thought? I'm not seeing any references ANYWHERE to this topic, let's discuss it!!

    The definition of epic in the OCCL is:

    In literature, an epic is a mutative poem on the grand scale and in majestic style concerning the exploits and adventures of a superhuman hero or heroes engaged in a quest of some serious endeavour. The hero is distinguished by his strength and courage and is sustained by a sense of honour. The subject matter of epic includes myth, legends, history and folk tale. It is usually set in an heroic age of the past and embodies its country's early history and expresses its values. Battles and perilous journeys play a large part, as do gods, the supernatural, and magic; scenes are often set in the underworld or in heaven. Certain formal features are conspicuous: the narrator vouches for the truth of his story, there are invocations, elaborate greetings, long speeches, detailed similes, digressions, and the frequent repetition of "typical" elements, for example the stock adjective or formula, the stock scene such as the hero arming for battle. Epic represents a delight in the physical world, shown by painstaking descriptions of such things as arms, clothing, or ships.

    OK so that's the definition of EPIC and we see it involves a hero "distinguished by strength and courage and sustained by a sense of honour."

    Now you might say, how does this extrapolate into war? What is OUR definition of strength and courage? I think this is a fascinating topic, who are OUR heroes today, do we discount the military entirely in 2004? OR? Let's talk today on this as well as anything else you'd like to take up in Book V, as we enter the battle, so graphically portrayed.

    First off we need a score card here, and can you follow the machinations of the PLOT? I think it would be fun to plot out that one section of Apollo's intervention alone, I can picture the ancients sitting there with mouths agape (mine is) for the next twist, it's unreal. Also we need to get the gods firmly in the camps in the heading here, who is on whose side and who slides back and forth? Let's put Hera and Athena on the Greeks, Zeus and Whining Mars (did that surprise you? hahaha) on the side of the Trojans and where Apollo? He seems to float from side to side. Now we need Aphrodite, (Venus to the Romans, are you all up on these Roman names as well) somebody give both and we'll put that in the heading, too, but Aphrodite is on the Trojan's side, and she and Apollo?!? spirit Aeneas away. Aeneas of course (this tale was very beloved of the Romans because they considered Aeneas their founder and of course he was the son of a goddess, and MANY famous Romans liked to claim Aeneas in their family).

    Now what surprised you in Book V? To me it was better than a cliff hanger, I don't know if it's an accident but the very way it displays on the pages, had me turning them fast.
    ,br>And the DESCRIPTIONS, why do you think Homer went into such detail? What effect does it have?

    But IS it wholesale slaughter?? What is Homer doing here? I got up thinking how realistic some of the scenes were, the guy who sat up for such a long time, and then fell over? Powerful.

    How about this one: I love this

    ….his comrade pulled the spear
    Out of his thigh. His spirit left him,
    And a mist poured down over his eyes.
    Then the North Wind blew upon him, and he
    Breathed again, though he had gasped out his soul. (749Lff)
    I had to read that one twice, he just came back to life?

    Wow what a book, we've got a ghost, we've got amazing healing just like Star Trek, of the ichor in the gods veins, we've got a picture of chariot warfare in the Bronze?? Age, we've got a veil drawn back so mortals can see the gods from the men, we've got people mindful of their dead, we have the Trojans, finally exhorting their own troops, (which side do you find most reluctant to fight?) we've got a conflagration of the horrors of war, even Strife is involved, it's quite strong, to me? How did it affect YOU? Oh and did you see that "pincer" movement in there somewhere around line 670? Wow, we're talking old time military strategy here! And notice also Athena, Zeus's favorite daughter? She goes and ASKS permission, notice that, are the others asking permission? Maybe that's why she's his favorite? Haahahah AND I see betrayal!!!

    Don't be in awe of Ares. He's nothing but
    A shifty lout. He promised Hera and me
    He would fight against Troy and help the Greeks.
    Now he's turned Trojan and abandoned us. (884ff)

    Ares, of course, is Mars, the god of War. How does Homer portray war here in the actions of the soldiers and in the personification of its patron god?

    What are your impressions of Book V, the concept of a hero, then or now, and the concept of The Warrior Elite, in 2004 OR 3,000 years ago?? We won't throw a spear at YOU, give us your thoughts!

    Cat Woman
    October 17, 2004 - 08:21 am
    Book V is so graphic I can barely read the descriptions of all the killings. Homer is to the ancients what the 6:00 news or CNN is to us: the blind poet "shows" his audience the horrors of war.

    To me Hector is the only true embodiment of a hero in the Iliad (at least until the end when he runs away from Achilles). He is a much more nuanced character. He cares about his city, his wife, his son and even though he's the true Greek hero, wanting honor and glory for himself, this seems tempered by his patriotism. Achilles seems more one-dimensional to me. He wants the honor only for himself; Hector cares about others, too. That's what I want in a hero. (Ag isn't even in the rumming.)

    I frequently ask kids I work with what a hero is. Usually it's a sports hero (current favorite Roger Clemens--I live in Houston) or someone who "saves somebody." From a kid's viewpoint Hector doesn't qualify. In the end he saves no one, not himself, not his city, not even his little son, who is thrown from the walls by the Greeks when they sack the city.

    October 17, 2004 - 12:11 pm
    Just as I have begun to suspect. The Iliad fits the bill exactly.

    Up here, among the gods, it is the opinion of many that Ares would rather be in the Greek camp. But it's also well known that Aphrodite has him at the end of a little string. He's still madly in love with her and follows wherever she leads. Cuckolded Hephaestes' fury is still unabated and makes Menelaus' misery seem little more than human.

    Heroes? What heroes? That was then. In the ancient Who's Whos they all tried to find their roots in Greek and Trojan soil. And even in modern times, no doubt, some would still like to think their anscestor fought valiantly on the Trojan plain. I'm thinking of someone like the Earl of Mountbatten, whose geneological tree had unbelievable roots and branches, which he nursed along with great determination.

    Ginny, I love myths. But I'd rather read one than be one. Your post is just the greatest incentive to get involved in Book V.


    October 17, 2004 - 12:24 pm

    October 17, 2004 - 12:26 pm

    October 17, 2004 - 12:28 pm

    October 17, 2004 - 12:30 pm
    Love of herself, she only went back out of her own vanity!!

    Shasta Sills
    October 17, 2004 - 01:27 pm
    This is war the way it used to be fought--man to man--not machine guns and bombs wiping out unknown numbers of casualties. Those Greeks and Trojans not only fought at close range. They knew each other's names! Fighting was up close and personal. A man knew who he was killing and what kind of injury he inflicted. If I had to fight a war, I would rather not know who I killed; but then I never claimed to be a hero. My idea of a hero is somebody who prevents a war from happening.

    October 18, 2004 - 12:48 am
    I agree with Shasta. This war is amazingly indevidual and personal. It is a series of individual fights. When you stop to think of it, it doesn't quite make sense. Two heroes are fighting while their men stand by, holding the horses. The winner then stops and strips off the fallen man's armor, and the servants take it and the captured horses back to the ship. What are all these people doing standing around while the fighting is going on? I don't think Homer had ever been in a war.

    That doesn't take away fromthe greatness of the poem. Force does turn people into things, but Homer turns them back into humans. As Ginny said, each soldier gets his moment when we know who he is before he turns into dust.

    October 18, 2004 - 12:57 am
    The next thing that surprised me was the participation of the women gods. Being on the side of the women, I expected to spend this chapter sitting on the walls of Troy watching from a distance. Instead, I'm right in the middle of things. I was not surprised to see Athena Fighting, it was obvious she has been spoiling for a fight. I was surprised to see Hera driving her chariot. Good for her (I laughed when Zeus said in effect "you drive, let Athena fight). And I was really surprised to see Aphrodite get into it.

    The way the gods handle their wounds was mind-boggling. They can get wounded just like humans, and the wounds hurt, but are magically healed. These gods are so human. It's almost like Homer forgets they are gods, then remembers again. I wonder how much of this conception of the gods was formed by The Iliad, and how much was around.

    October 18, 2004 - 01:05 am
    With Athena's favor, Diomedes inflicts major damage on the Trojans. Is he a one man show? When Pandarus fails to wound Diomedes, he states "Some god is sure angry." (Lombardo, Book 5, line 210) The war is not the business of pillage and plunder. It is personal. Diomedes really has no free will. He is bound to the Greeks to fight because he was one of the suitors of Helen. Athena controls his outcome.

    The gods may not eat human food and are deathless, but they sure seem to feel pain. Aphrodite and Ares aren't stoic at all. Homer has couched both of them in love and war, for they were once involved in a tryst that became an amusement for the other gods.

    October 18, 2004 - 01:11 am
    One more goddess that was fighting. Did you notice Enyo? I'll bet you didn't. She's only mentioned briefly. She is the Greek goddess of war, held to be Ares mother or sister, and called the "waster of cities". She was fighting with Ares. According to the website below, her Roman counterpart, Bellona, was thought to be the original Roman god(dess) of war, before they adopted Mars.

    October 18, 2004 - 07:48 am
    Hmmm...put me down as being on the Greek's side. I know they win in the end, so I mentally cheer them on.

    Shasta Sills
    October 18, 2004 - 12:38 pm
    A storyteller tells the kind of story that his listeners want to hear. Apparently, Homer's audience was less squeamish than we are. They wanted to hear all the gory details. Not just "a man fell in battle" but where was he hit, and how much blood was there?

    "The shaft split the archer's nose between the eyes, cracked his teeth, cut off his tongue at the roots, smashed his jaw, and came ripping out beneath his chin."

    I don't exactly understand how it entered between the eyes and came out under the chin. But that's all right; I don't really want to know how that happened.

    Shasta Sills
    October 18, 2004 - 12:47 pm
    But look at this! Diomedes stabbed Aphrodite in the wrist with his spear! I shuddered to think how the gods would react to that audacity. I thought, "You're in big trouble now, Diomedes. Olympus is going to erupt like a volcano when they find out what you did."

    But it didn't happen. Whatever you think is going to happen, it's always something different. Zeus just said (in effect), "It's your own fault, Aphrodite. You shouldn't be meddling in things you don't understand. Stick to arranging love affairs."

    "Fighting is not for you, my child, the works of war. See to the works of marriage, the slow fires of longing. Athena and blazing Ares will deal with all the bloodshed."

    Pat H
    October 18, 2004 - 01:52 pm
    I've been out of town for a while, off on the wine-dark Charles River, but now I'm back, and ready to pick sides.

    While I empathize with individuals, I find I don't identify with either side, so who to pick? I could go with the women, but Joan K doesn't look like she needs help, and besides, she can out-talk and out-think me any time she wants to.

    But today, when I woke up and looked at the armor in the corner, I noticed it had bronze knees. I looked outside and there were no tamed horses in the yard. That must mean I'm a Greek. So be it.

    October 19, 2004 - 06:07 am
    Welcome back, Pat, we have missed you! Unlike the mighty Greeks and Trojans we don't have an inexhaustible supply of troops here so every man is important.

    Did you all hear me last night? "HECTOR!!" I shouted at the television, HECTOR!! The Millionaire game was on, and I was gulping down dinner trying to find something in the Great Wasteland to watch, our kitchen TV does not get cable, HECTOR, as the woman with the very unnatural red hair struggled with the $16,000 question, "who did Achilles in the movie Troy have a climactic battle with: Ajax, Odysseus, Hector or Patroclus?" She did not know, called a friend, he did not know, thought Odysseus, so she did the 50-50, took away Odysseus, guessed Hector and WON!! I thought, you should come to SeniorNet, you'd know at the end. hahaha

    This morning I'm obsessed with the notion of war and heroes. Last night, in reading the new book Shadow Divers I encountered a modern war hero, in this, is it Chatterton? Who, in Vietnam, as a medic, stood up to rush up to the wounded men, something different, he was never hit, he'd drag the men on his belly back to the lines, but he stood up to run to get them, unheard of, a legend sort of grew up around him, he excelled at what he did but it traumatized him at the same time.

    But if the Greeks or the Trojans had been watching that, they'd have said he shone like a god and was invincible. They'd have said a god helped him or even that he was a god in disguise, as so many seem to be here?

    I don't think the Iliad is ABOUT people 3,000 years ago? I think it's about us.

    I just finished watching the old Caine Mutiny movie. I think what Hollywood portrayed there, the macho man soldier, the warrior, the machine, versus the thinker, the philsopher, it's fascinating. The swaggering initiations,'s hard to describe the various ways Hollywood and Woulk described the Warrior. Fred McMurray at a young age, the...MESSAGE sent out of what it means to be a man in battle, it's as new as yesterday.

    What IS a hero in battle? If we're in a battle, who do we want standing in front of us? If THEY come up your street this morning? If THEY come up the street with tanks and machine guns, who do YOU want standing between you and THEM?

    A theoretician? A Zen master? In order to get a Warrior, do we need to abandon all humanity, ESPECIALLY when the fighting is so primitive? You don't get any more primitive then the Bronze Age and you don't get a whole lot more descriptive than Homer has here. CW, through the nose to the tongue, that's SOME thrust, isn't it? Is Homer saying that you don't have to go thru the skull there, but the cavity where the nose is? That's very accurate for a blind man. I wonder, too, if this is added on stuff, maybe one of the later presenters saw this actually happen, thought it made good copy and wanted to put IT in also in the list of awfulness.

    But it's very graphic.

    Look at around line 70 in the Lombardo, the story of Phereclus. We don't get a lot of character development, but we hear about his father, and grandfather, how he could build all sorts of "intricate things," he had built Paris's intricate ships, and "Since he had on inkling of the gods' oracles,
    Meriones ran him down from behind."

    Here we have a man we've just begun to know and appreciate, out of the 100,000, just a number to the gods, like a fly to an elephant, struck down, but we're sorry. And he has existed for 3,000 years BECAUSE of this book. I thought Joan K made a super point up there, "Force does turn people into things, but Homer turns them back into humans." I thought that was a wonderful point, we can see how skillfully Homer here presents them (and not only the one side, if you had to SAY which side Homer is on, what side would you pick?) but all of the participants, and we will want to watch carefully what Homer does as the fighting escalates? And as the MEN as we've come to know them, who even now converse with the enemy, begin to stop that conversation.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, Achilles (not mentioned here) sits.

    Now why should Achilles, Jonathan, feel guilty here? So far they're holding their own? Why should HE feel he's the only one who can save them?

    Is this what you all are getting out of this? The Greeks are pressing even up to the city? And THEN Hector gets motivated?? And then they are driven back? Or do I have that backwards?

    I want to know where the battle is now?

    Also the gods, THEY are fighting, Joan thought she could get free of that, but behold, since they are not mortal, they bleed ichor and it is magically healed, we've seen that on Star Trek. They can't die, but they can hurt.

    CW says Hector is her embodiment of a hero so far. Hector seems not to have any warts, I thought CW's reasoning in post 227 was fascinating, I wonder….. if "hero" to the Greeks meant bravery with honor, if they would forgive human failings and foibles.

    Our political candidates, in the last two or three elections, don't WE want them without human fault? Monica Lewinski? That Governonr of New Jersey? We want OUR heroes and leaders to be perfect, don't we? So why is Homer introducing so many warts: Achilles and his unconquerable rage, his awful, all consuming RAGE, Agamemnon, Ego Personified, Helen, the Face That Launched 1,000 ships, petty, Hector, the Good Hero (so far), Nestor the Philosopher who urges them not to stop and get the weapons of the dead but kill, kill, kill, it's fascinating, they are Every Man.

    CW so your kids say a hero is somebody who "saves somebody." I think I would like to apply that to the Iliad, also, just to see how it comes out.

    Mountabatten, Jonathan, what an interesting parallel you raise, Mountbatten of India and the same Mountbatten who tried to get back FOR England the Duke of Windsor's property, Mountbatten whose disastrous decisions caused wholescale genocide (but we've run down the Mountbatten road before ahahah) and who had visions of his own name on the throne.

    I wonder IF wars are fought for love? I wonder WHAT wars ARE fought over? I don't think love enters into it? Only defensively?

    The business of the old men on the wall, again, I watched the Caine Mutiny this morning where a similar scene was enacted. The author has to introduce us to the characters, it's interesting sometimes the methods the authors use: the viewpoint of others looking at (or down) in our own case here, from Helen's viewpoint, fascinating. This is some kind of book!

    Shifrah, do you think that Diomedes is really just a pawn and has no free will OR that his prowess is being credited to Athena? How did you account for his being suddenly able to tell the gods from men? I think it works both ways, I think in legend, any legend, including our own modern battles, people do see God in miraculous happenings, I don't think people change, what surprises ME is the tolerance the Ancients seemed to have (not to mention the Indian religions) for gods with Warts. I wonder if Homer is saying something THERE, too? Do you notice how often a warrior takes the field here and is described as "shining like a god?"

    Joan I did notice Enyo but did not pursue her, thank you for that, I got all hung up on Demeter, love that story, do you all know it? We get the word Cereal from her Roman name, Ceres.

    Love that one.

    Greatbooksfan, hahahah, so you want to be on the "winning side," well now that we have (not all of us, where are the rest of you?) chosen up our sides, let's try to mentally put ourselves on the line of battle and see how we connect to, relate to, or rationalize what's going on, if we CAN, that is? How would YOU feel?

    Shasta, you said this right, "But it didn't happen. Whatever you think is going to happen, it's always something different." Rightie o, and this guy set the pattern, he MADE the archetypes, and you never know what's coming next, the mind reels.

    Pat, you have bronze armor in the corner? Hahaha LOVE it, so you can't identify with either side? I wonder how many of the actual combatants do?

    Who would be more likely most affected, do you think? The Trojans, watching that swarm on the shore, knowing a bronze THING is coming their way, pain, death, not fun, or the Greeks, sitting there 9 long years. I guess we have short little attention spans in 2004, but 9 YEARS!?! And now we get to… killed.,

    "Apollo then sat down on Pergamum's height." (l. 496)… Is that a poem? Or famous line elsewhere? It sounds so familiar?

    Did you notice the Gorgon's head in line 792, on Zeus's shield?

    I find it fascinating that Ares, (Mars) the God of War, whines? Did you? I am not seeing glorification of war here, are you? Or are you?

    WE need to move on to Book VI tomorrow, apparently an important book, is there anything about any of the topics in the heading or any topic on Book V you'd like to bring up today?? A bronze spear for your thoughts?? I promise (unless Athena gets hold of me) I won't throw it at your nose?

    October 19, 2004 - 07:38 am
    What a brutal battle!! I am not finished Book Five. I struggle with the names. Still, I come away knowing there is a very, very bloody battle taking place here. If possible, I could almost feel the spears hitting me and blood running from some wound.

    I am struck by the strength of the men and/or gods. I remember especially when Tydeus' son picked up a stone, "Much too large for two men to lift." This guy lifted the stone with one hand! I think the thigh bone or hip bone is crushed. The injury and death is described so well I cringe.

    What is a hero? I thought of Christopher Reeves as a hero too. I think today, too often, our heroes disappoint us. Our heroes have lost touch with their "sense of honor." I think heroes are not born often. When a hero is discovered, they are never forgotten because of their rarity.

    October 19, 2004 - 09:20 am
    JoanK asks, "What are all these people doing standing around while the fighting is going on? I don't think Homer had ever been in a war."

    War in the Bronze age was quite brutal and physically exhausting. How long could the average Bronze Age infantryman been actually in battle? It is not very long at all by modern standards. Battles must have been very short in duration, maybe just hours, not days, not half days. I've read some about this and will try to come up with at least a single name to post. The armies often would spend the better part of their time gathered on the plains and maneuver with words NOT to battle. The armor weighed a ton, and did not necessarily fit well, although not all wore full armor or even bronze armor, some wore cloth or leather armor. It was difficult to move in. It chafed the skin, prevented some evaporative cooling. The helmets were miserable, again probably chafing, weighing too much for comfort, interfering with vision, and preventing evaporative cooling. Infantrymen carried limited and primitive weapons that required tremendous physical strength and agility to inflict a mortal blow. They carried one or two spears and a short heavy sword, maybe. A spear is difficult, if not impossible, in the heat of battle to withdraw from a mortally wounded human, especially with the type of wounds that Homer describes. Once shot, it was done with for that battle. Once their weapons were gone what were they to do, fight against armored and armed men with their bare fists? A battle during this time period must have cost those men who lived through it after actually engaging in battle and striking blows to the enemy thousands of calories. This was full onslaught, one-on-one warfare between (sometimes) heavily armored men carrying weighty weapons. Oh, and don't forget that the cavalry had no stirrups. No matter how well-fed, what their physical condition and conditioning, this was warfare of an exhausting nature. "All these people standing around while the fighting was going on" were probably exhausted beyond the limits of human endurance and simply had no energy to move.

    I'd love Dr. Lombardo to chime in about the actuality of the warfare, how it differed, how it was the same as modern warfare from the perspective of the soldier.


    October 19, 2004 - 09:26 am
    Hats names Christopher Reeve as a hero. I think, though, that in Homeric times, the only way to be rated a hero was through success on the battlefield.

    War was to gain power through winning gains in battle, such as land, or gaining followers due to heroic exploits in battle. Since this was the only way to become a great man, a hero, war was fairly necessary for life.

    War is always about power.


    Cat Woman
    October 19, 2004 - 09:57 am
    Ginny, you asked us to put ourselves on the side we chose. There's a claustrophobic feeling in the city. We can't get out, we're virtual prisoners behind these walls (though it would probably feel worse today in a much more mobile society). Can you imagine that many of our children have never known what it is like to run along the shore or play on the banks of the Scamander? And yet daily life goes on. We cook, we sew, we welcome our husbands home when they've gone out to battle the Greeks, argue with them when they hang around the house with no fighting to do. After this long a time, knowing there's an enemy at our gates has become the norm. Yet there's always the fear and the premonition that when they really strike, it's the end of us. So we have to grab what joy we can before we lose everything.

    October 19, 2004 - 11:09 am
    Whether looking at a Homeric hero or a hero from our day, I see the same characteristics. I see courage, a sense of honor, purpose, compassion, etc.

    I also see more than one battlefield. There is the Homeric battlefield and the modern day battlefield. The modern day battle can take place in Iraq or in the mind of a person who is ill, physically handicapped or emotionally handicapped.

    I think the question is, whatever the battle, how do we react in the fight. A hero will maintain his dignity during the bloodshed and chaos. A hero is bigger than life. That makes me think there is a need for the gods to get on the battlefield and help the "hero" to win. Without the supernatural intervention of the gods, I do not think that a man can become heroic.

    October 19, 2004 - 01:10 pm

    I think that most modern people would agree with your definition of hero.

    However, I am trying to understand how the Bronze Age Greeks viewed a hero by reading Homer and discussing the point brought up, what a man had to do in those times to be called a hero. I don't think that simply living a courageous life would have qualified. It is my impression that only courage with victory in battle would qualify a man as a hero during Homer's times and earlier.

    I'm a bit confused by your battlefield comment. Are you saying that the disabled are heroes, because they are disabled?

    Yes, though, there are many battlefields, not just the Homeric one and the modern ones you mentioned, but uncountable others.

    I think that the Greeks believed it did require "the supernatural intervention of a god" for a heroic victory on the battlefield. I think this is part of the reason that Homer is so peppered with gods, the Greeks needed them to explain their world, why some were heroes and others weren't. Great point.


    October 19, 2004 - 01:16 pm
    I see what you are saying, Kleo. My comment is probably confusing simply because this is not an easy read for me. No, a person is not a hero just because they are disabled. If so, we would have millions of heroes. Like it is difficult to find a true friend, I think it is just as hard to find a hero. Heroes are a rare species.

    October 19, 2004 - 02:56 pm
    That I agree with, Hats. Heroes are a rare breed in any time.


    Shasta Sills
    October 19, 2004 - 03:14 pm
    Ginny asked what effect the gods have on the action, and I have to admit they definitely do have an effect. When things are getting too grim with all these men slashing and whacking at each other, Homer decides we need some comic relief, so he sends in the clowns from Olympus. One or another of these gods comes sashaying down the hill to wade into the battle and turn a fight into a farce.

    The gods can't die so it's all just a game to them, a sporting event, a chance for some histrionics. And when it's over, and the field is strewn with dead men, what do the gods do? They go back up the mountain to loll among the clouds, sipping nectar and guzzling ambrosia, while they boast about their exploits.

    You can't take them seriously because they are fickle, irresponsible, and selfish. But they add a light note to the grim picture Kleo presented of the battleground.

    October 19, 2004 - 05:23 pm
    KleoP: you asked if HATS is saying a disabled person is heroic just because (s)he is disabled. No, she said exactly the right thing "I think the question is, whatever the battle, how do we react in the fight". THAT is why I feel that Christopher Reeves is a hero. I have read his autobiography, and he fought every day not only to make a life for himself and his family but to turn his tragedy into an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others with the same tragedy. Many if not most of us have personal experience with disability of one sort or another, but how many of us can say that? This is taking a battle and taking it to a higher level, as these Greek heroes did.

    October 20, 2004 - 04:43 am

    That is exactly what I wanted to write, and you wrote it so beautifully.


    Malryn (Mal)
    October 20, 2004 - 06:07 am
    I have been following the book and this discussion since it began, and would like to express my opinion of Christopher Reeve. Reeve was known world-wide and a rich man when he had the accident that paralyzed him. My college roommate's father was killed in the same kind of rich man's accident.

    Reeve could afford the machines, complicated, sophisticated medical instruments and care and the large staff, which kept him alive and made his humanitarian efforts toward genetic engineering research possible. He never could have done this alone.

    There are lesser disabled heroes I know, unsung and unpraised publicly, some of whom have a hard time finding the funds to keep themselves well enough to do what they do, or to finance their efforts to help others. Are there such lesser heroes in The Iliad?

    This is not to belittle anything Christopher Reeve did, I hasten to add, but some credit must be given to the people in the background, the unknown ones who made his efforts possible. Did the nameless thousands, who fought, were injured and fell, make it possible for the Iliad heroes to do what they did and become the heroes they were?


    October 20, 2004 - 06:51 am
    Fame and riches does not make a hero. Neither does being unknown and poor make a hero. The making of a hero takes place in the mind. Anyone can be a hero, but not everyone is a hero.

    Shasta Sills
    October 20, 2004 - 07:22 am
    It's true. Not everyone is a hero. Not every Greek and not every Trojan. Glaucus is on our side. One of us Trojans, and he has got this gorgeous armor made of gold! It gleams in the midday sun and you can spot him a mile away. (Not exactly an asset during warfare.) But Diomedes had his greedy eye on this gorgeous armor and contrived a trick to get it away from Glaucus. He didn't want to fight the man because he didn't want to dent the gold armor.

    This Diomedes is the same rascal who just stabbed the Goddess of Love in the arm and got away with it. The man will stop at nothing. So he pretended to strike up an acquaintance with Glaucus and told him their fathers had been bosom buddies. Glaucus (not the sharpest warrior in the field) agreed to trade armor with Diomedes as a token of friendship. So he jumped right out of his chariot (right in the middle of the battle) and swapped his gold armor worth 100 oxen! for Diomedes' old battered junk which was only worth 9 oxen. And there goes that villain Diomedes strutting aroung in Glaucus' gold armor.

    Mal, you mean you've been watching this spectacle all along and had nothing to say? Join the Trojan War! You can fight on our side and we'll send Glaucus over to the Greeks.

    October 20, 2004 - 08:03 am
    I think Zeus confuses Glaucus. This causes Glaucus to give away his armor.

    "But Zeus took away Glaucus' good sense."

    Does Adrastus seem like a coward? I am not sure. He begs for Menelaus not to take his life. I almost feel sorry for Adrastus. He does not want to die. He is not ashamed to beg for his life.

    October 20, 2004 - 09:12 am
    For those having trouble making sense of the Iliad without knowing anything about what happened before, I'd like to suggest a great help....Mythology by Edith Hamilton. She is respected scholar and give concise and clear information on the myths, god and goddesses and especially the years before the Trojan war started.

    October 20, 2004 - 09:15 am
    Thank you, Gossett.

    October 20, 2004 - 10:02 am

    I was not confused about Hats' admiration for Christopher Reeve, simply whether or not what was meant was that every disabled person was a hero. This single point was cleared up for me just fine. Thanks.


    October 20, 2004 - 10:07 am
    I'm not yet to the golden armor.

    I have to sign up to be a god with this knowledge, though.

    Only a mortal would be fool enough to think he had the strength and stamina of a god in battle, necessary to wear golden armor, which must weigh a ton (hmmm, perhaps I should have one of my minons look up the weight of Greek armor and calculate its weight in gold), plus the immortality of a god to live through all the blows and jealousies such armor would cause as it gleamed like a target sun on the battlefield.

    His intellect? Glaucus' evaporated on the battlefield as he basked in his golden self as he thought he could have the beauty of the gods in battle and still fight.


    October 20, 2004 - 10:57 am
    Shasta's suggestion is being taken very seriously up here on Olympus. In fact the gods are outraged at the thought that they might be laughed at for all their troubles, their willingness to take a hand in the affairs ot mortals. Up here everyone is wondering, and there is a lot of talk, about which of the Muses has been abusing her powers of inspiring mortals by feeding Homer such desecrating ideas.

    Just how seriously it is being taken can be seen by the fact that Hector himself is recalled from the battlefield, early in Book VI, to plead with the women of Troy to placate Athene in her temple. With a pretty gown! How ironic. There is a lot of muttering among the gods that The Iliad is nothing more nor less than a power trip for Athene. That Aphrodite and Ares are laughed at sits well enough with many among the Immortals. It has even Zeus smiling. But laughter at the expense of the rest of them? And especially Athene? Heaven forbid. And when this heaven forbids, watch for fireworks from the Old Man.

    I'm sorry to have missed the discussion of Book V. I've enjoyed reading the comments about heroes, ancient and recent. Heroes by any definition are hard to find in The Iliad. Among the mortals. But that's made up for by the many outstanding, heroic actions. Those displaying true nobility in meeting and dealing with fate. Those of the women having also a tragic dimension. The men seem too obsessed with glory to keep a firm grip on reality. And the grand dimensions of fatality come through in those aristeiaic scenes. That was then. Now it seems the best we can hope for is to be able to say, I'm having a good day. Alas.

    October 20, 2004 - 11:52 am
    Back in the war at the walls of Troy today
    after a visit (time-travel is allowed?) south of wine-producing country (no -- Ginny -- not South Carolina) called "California", which will not be discovered for a "few" years...

    ... and calling attention to an "ancient" post #26, where I volunteered to be a soldier under the command of brave Odysseus:
    as in Lombardo, 5:561:
    The Greeks were rallied by the two Ajaxes
    Along with Odysseus and Diomedes
    Not that they quailed before the Trojan attack.

    ... then to compare the following (5:564ff) beautiful simile in Lombardo ... the winds scatter the shadowy clouds...

    to the verse translation of Pope

    Unmoved and silent, the whole war they wait
    Serenely dreadful, and as fix'd as fate.
    So when the embattled clouds in dark array,
    Along the skies their gloomy lines display;
    When now the North his boisterous rage has spent,
    And peaceful sleeps the liquid element.
    The low-hung vapours, motionless and still,
    Rest on the summits of the shaded hill.

    October 20, 2004 - 04:40 pm
    "golden armor, which must weigh a ton"

    Yes, and it was probably hot, too. I read that sometimes in battle knights would die from sufficating in their armor.

    October 21, 2004 - 02:02 am
    My father's middle name was Achilles -- so will be on the side of the Greeks!

    October 21, 2004 - 03:54 am
    Great points, Everybody, and Hats what a beautiful post, wish I could write like that! I am in some haste this morning, on my way out but wanted to get up BOOK VI!! an important and poignant book full of things, as well as look at what you all have raised, wonderful posts here this morning, full of substance!

    Welcome again Malryn, pull up a chair, whose side this morning would you find yourself on if you had to take one?

    Welcome, Gossett, thank you for mentioning the Hamilton, pull up your own chair here to the fire and tell us some of what you've learned in Hamilton?

    Hats, yes the names ARE something else, how are you all handling them, by the way? Just whipping thru them or trying to sound them out?

    Wonderful point on heroes of today disappointing us. I wonder if we all have a different code for what honor is, and thus our modern heroes, who are operating on their own codes, can't fail to disappoint us, they're not on OUR code.

    I am thinking that in Homer's day the code was pretty well pronounced and we're seeing it this morning in the very pitiful exchange between Hector and his wife and baby. The incredible thing ABOUT this scene is that Hector KNOWS what's going to happen and still he goes on. "And still I rise." (who wrote that?)

    I have an illustration somewhere of the helmet that scared the baby, the type of helmet used in Homer's day. What a scene that was, but did you see anything strange in his reasoning? What was YOUR reaction to this scene? Why is it in here, do you think? Man o War at home with wife.

    Kleo a good point on how long actual battles would have lasted, the entire action to this point of the Iliad is what? One day? Great points on the armor, the spear lost (I assume they pulled out a knife?) Great points. I will send your questions to Dr. L, thank you for them!

    Speaking of armor, I found this in a 1936 Latin II text, it was pointing out the "helmet, breastplate and shield" of a WWI (which the text innocently calls The World War" in France: To me that is an absolutely incredible picture.

    Kleo says "in Homeric times, the only way to be rated a hero was through success on the battlefield." Let's see if today we can solidify our notion of what it means to be a hero and why you'd want to, in the first place? Look at Hector, that's some temptation, the audience would be in tears, and still he goes?

    CW, I LOVE your roll playing!!

    Here on the shore, we Greeks are not sure what's going on, we've sailed here, we're stopped, it would seem we're not attacking and Achilles has withdrawn. He's our best man, Ag is acting like an Egomaniac, (and an amoral one at that, in the instance of Adrastus in Book 6…let's look at that today, also, and in general we're confused, and the light of desire for battle has long gone out, 9 years is a long time to sit on a beach, you really get to wonder why you are there.

    I thought this was brilliant, from Hats: I also see more than one battlefield. There is the Homeric battlefield and the modern day battlefield. Yes, and in 2004 what MAKES for a heroic response? I have one I want to post later tonight or in the morning. I am becoming obsessed with this hero stuff, have ordered Gregory Nagy's The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry and hope it will shed some light also on this concept.

    This also, that Hats said, was stunning: ". That makes me think there is a need for the gods to get on the battlefield and help the "hero" to win. Without the supernatural intervention of the gods, I do not think that a man can become heroic. " So even tho the gods themselves are far from (are they?) what anybody would consider heroic, you need the intervention of the gods, literally a dues ex machine, BEFORE mortal man can become heroic? What a concept! Thank you Hats!!

    Shasta, super point on the gods as comic relief! We might want to watch for other instances where the gods provide comedy and why!!!

    Malryn a good question on whether or not heroes who get by without a little help from their friends are in the Iliad, pull up that chair and find out with us!

    Shasta mentions Glaucus. What did you all think of that conversation? Why is it in there? Many references have been made to "hospitality," what IS the role of hospitality to the ancient Greeks and how important is it? Why do they keep referring to "son of XXX?" What element does that add to the poem?

    So you see Diomedes as devious!!! What a sharp eyed reader you are!! What do the rest of you think??

    WHY is that Adrastus episode in there at all?

    Interesting point on his golden self, Kleo, do you all know the story of Crassus, the richest man in the world in Roman days, one of the First Triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey? Crassus is another ancient warning, but he was the real thing, the richest man in the world, held the highest office in the land, was one of a political triad ruling the known Western world, was that enough? No, like the children's fairy tale of the Fisherman's Wife, Crassus wanted to lead victorious armies in battle. Sometimes what one wants does not always turn out well. He had a suit made of golden armor (gold is soft) and set out for Asia Minor, you'll have to read Plutarch to find out what happened to him. I think it’s a warning for every man, but the repetition of golden armor is quite stunning.

    Jonathan, I am loving this repartee, and that gown! Starlight in that gown!! Reminds me of a dress I once owned which glittered silver in a strange way. This scene also reminds me of a similar one of the woemen and the old women going to the altar to pray to the gods in Lagaan: My Dream of India, the parallels are quite striking, actually.

    Two very old cultures.

    So you see a difference, Sharp Eyed (I can use epithets too, but not as well as Homer) Jonathan, in "heroic actions," and heroism! Deeds don'tmake the man?

    Helas, indeed.

    AHA Mippiana, off there volunteering to serve under Odysseus, sorry I missed that, into the Greeks you go. Who WERE the two Ajaxes??

    That's another ancient question hahahaa Thank you for those lovely comparisons of translation. I want to hear more about translations.

    For instance Lombardo has "Having stopped brutal Ares from butchering men" for the last line of Chapter 5, what have any other translations you have got there?

    Kidsal, really? So Achilles is considered, obviously, a hero, even today??

    Into the Greek ships you go!!

    NOW let's take a look at Book VI, so much happening here.

    Book VI continues the slaughter but pauses with the story of Adrastus. What does this incident provide to the story? What does it show about the characters of Ag and Menelaus? I really like the translation here, Menelaus was moved….but Agamemnon.. It seems a lot of the Iliad is ,,,but Agamemnon

    The scene between Hector and his wife Andromache is probably one of the most famous in literature, and illustrates another theme or conflict: military glory versus family life. Which is the most important to Hector, do you think? What is the relationship between Hector and Andromache? Hector does know how the war will come out, what does his knowing that do to the scene? Would you have made the same decision? If a modern day soldier made the same decision, would you applaud it or condemn it?

    Did you see yesterday in the case of the men in Iraq that we mentioned here earlier who got removed? It wasn't the MEN, I think a new day of warfare has arisen, maybe one more reasonable in 2004, what did you think of that landmark removal of the commander??

    What choice, really, DOES Hector have at this point?

    Why is their meeting above the Scaean Gates important?

    What effect does this scene have on the entire poem?

    How would you say the narrator feels about Hector? About Agamemnon? What seems to motivate Hector to keep fighting? Is there anything wrong in his reasoning?

    Book VI has several dialogues and exchanges, two between enemies, Glaucus and Diomedes, Adrastus and Menelaus, and one between Hector and Andromache.

    In each of these dialogues, one person asks something of the other. What does the response of each mean to the poem?

    more more more, I think this is enough, hopefully , to get us started today! A bronze shield, slightly used, for your thoughts??

    PS: I LOVE Lombardo's "Thus Hector." (Lombardo 299) How do the other translators handle that? Right before "Hecuba went to the great hall"….267-299 original text).

    Cat Woman
    October 21, 2004 - 05:36 am
    Again, I seem to find allusions to the Iliad everywhere.

    I've been wrestling with the idea of the gods intruding on the battlefield. Can't decide what I think about it.

    Last night I listened to the post-game interview with the winning pitcher for Boston. He said he attributed his success in winning Game 7 to God.

    Maybe the Red Sox are like the Trojans, basking in glory for a day or two and later are going to be slaughtered in the World Series.

    October 21, 2004 - 05:51 am
    The pronunciations of those old names arent hard for me at all. I blow through them, but then again, I can pronounce just about anything. Furthermore, everyone has their faults, and I cant seem to find the patience to read the Iliad for long periods at a time. 45 minutes at a time is about my limit. By the way...perhaps later, we should all try role playing as the sides we have taken. What do you people think?

    October 21, 2004 - 07:28 am
    Thanks, Ginny, for dunking me into the battle!

    ...and CatWoman, maybe the mighty and brave Red Sox are the Greeks!

    Here is the Pope translation of the final lines of Book V:
    (Note: Juno is of course Hera)

    Cleansed from the dust and gore, fair Hebe dress'd
    His mighty limbs in an immortal vest.
    Glorious he sat, in majesty restored,
    Fast by the throne of heaven's superior lord.
    Juno and Pallas mount the bless'd abodes,
    Their task perform'd, and mix among the gods.

    October 21, 2004 - 07:46 am
    Comparison to Lombardo edition (6:299) Thus Hector...

    In the Pope edition, we read:

    Meantime the guardian of the Trojan state,
    Great Hector, enter'd at the Scaean gate.
    Beneath the beech-tree's consecrated shades,
    The Trojan matrons and the Trojan maids
    Around him flock'd, all press'd with pious care
    For husbands, brothers, sons, engaged in war.
    He bids the train in long procession go,
    And seek the gods, to avert the impending woe.

    Stopping here, to let others chime in,
    but doesn't the verse give a musical picture of the pageantry in Troy,
    and the matrons and maids sound just like people today "flocking" around to hear news of a war,
    only today we flock around news on the Internet--same difference, yes?

    October 21, 2004 - 09:01 am
    Ginny, you asked me to tell some of what I've learned from reading Edith Hamilton. The most important point she makes is that in trying to avoid a dire fate predicted for them by the oracle or gods, mortals only succeed in bringing about the very thing they feared and sought to avert. For example, King Priam is warned that his son Paris would one day bring disaster on his own country.So Priam banishes his weakling son who we find living with a beautiful nymph and more or less working, as a shepherd. At this point, the goddess of discord, Eris, causes havoc in heaven by tossing in the golden ball, marked For The Fairest. All the females vie for the title of course, but it comes down to Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. They ask Zeus to decide the winner but he coyly refuses and sends them down to earth to give the chore to Paris. Why, we are not told. Nevertheless, each of the beauties makes him a promise if he chooses them. Hera, promises to make him a great lord of foreign places. Athena says she will make him a hero in his own land of Troy, by leading them to victory over the Greeks. Aphrodite promises him the fairest woman in the world for his wife. Paris,seeming not at all concerned that the woman may already be someone else's wife, chooses her...sight unseen. We see here that he makes the wrong choice by ignoring Athena's offer that could have saved Troy. Hence, the prophesy is already unfolding and Priams' efforts to save his land will be for nothing, partly because of his own misguided decision to exile Paris. This opens a lot of food for thought, about character and genetic traits. How could Paris be the brother of the heroic Hector and son of the brave King Priam? More later about the sacrifice of Agamemmon's daughter, Iphigenia.

    Cat Woman
    October 21, 2004 - 09:40 am
    And now, when Hector reached the Scaean Gates and the great oak, the wives and daughter of Troy came rushing up around him, asking about their sons, brother, friends and husbands. But Hector told them only, "Pray to the gods"-- All the Trojan women, one after another... Hard sorrows were hanging over many.

    I can't make the lines end where I want them to. What do you do to get short lines the way they are in the book?

    October 21, 2004 - 02:03 pm
    Andromache's father and brothers were killed by Achilles in the past. She will lose her husband when he fights Achilles. Later, her son will be tossed from the walls of Troy. When she is taken by the Greeks, Andromache becomes the wife of Achilles' son. The blood ties are thick.

    Hector mentions that he grieves for Andromache more than he grieves for the warriors who die in battle. He says that he would prefer that the "earth be heaped up above me/ Before I hear your cry as you are dragged away." (Lombardo, Book 6, #489-490) He knows that his wife is chattel. Homer gives the reader a touching scene between Andromache and Hector when their son is fearful of his father's battle gear. Hector removes the head gear so that his son will recognize him. He is a proud father who holds high hopes that his son will be greater than he. Nevertheless, Hector reminds his wife that she worries too much and that "War is the work of men,/" (Lombardo, Book 6, #517) He must fight the good fight regardless of the outcome. Naturally, he wants the Trojans to win, but he cannot guarantee victory, only death. This acquiescence is chilling, for his mind is set. The romance of war beckons him. Throughout the poem, Homer clearly describes how crude war is. There is no refining it, as warriors strip armor from the dead and tend the funeral pyre. What is glorious about the whole thing?

    October 21, 2004 - 04:05 pm
    To get the lines to look like poetry, when you get to the end of the line, type < br >, only don't put in the spaces.

    When you have typed < br > at the end of the first line, you can then copy and paste it at the end of all the other lines.


    October 21, 2004 - 04:40 pm
    " The most important point she makes is that in trying to avoid a dire fate predicted for them by the oracle or gods, mortals only succeed in bringing about the very thing they feared and sought to avert. "

    This is the basic idea of Greek tragedy (Oedipus etc). A professor once pointed out that we American's have a variation on this which might be called the "American Ethic" version of tragedy: namely you have your fate but you can avoid it by strength of character (of course the characters always weaken at the wrong moment and meet their fate, but they could have...)

    October 21, 2004 - 04:43 pm
    Interesting that it is Paris who says thay you can't argue with the gifts the gods give you, when he wass the one who was given a choice.

    October 21, 2004 - 04:55 pm
    The introduction to Lombardo's translation is very interesting talking about the scene between Hector and his wife. She points out that here, as with Achilles, Hector is choosing his personal honor over the good of the community. If I understand correctly, it would have been better for Troy (as well as for his family)if he had stayed and defended the walls, rather than go out and be killed in individual combat. But his sense of honor won't let him do this -- he has to fight in front.

    This shows an important contradiction in this ideal of honor and the hero. She doesn't spell it out, but I understand it this way: a hero risks himself and his life for his community, and in turn is rewarded by honor. He must live up to that honor. But the honor becomes an end in itself, and leads the hero to do things that are actually destructive of the cause he is supposed to be sacrificing all for. Achilles does this by refusing to fight if the honor is not there, and Hector does this by making himself a worthless sacrifice, instead of making a real contribution.

    October 21, 2004 - 05:50 pm
    with Ginny's question on HEROES; still deep into thought with it. A question for ETERNITY. The most single thought I have about it is the feeling we have from the heart when we see a Hero. It is that feeling which I remember having with the cartoon heroes as a child, or Achilles, and Hector in Homer, and all the soldiers on the field today.

    Going back to my reading now!


    October 21, 2004 - 10:12 pm
    Near the end of Book VI, Hector, just arrived from the gory battlefield, and now holding his young son in his arms, a son he may never see again, prays to the gods:

    'Zeus, grant that my son may become, as I have been, preeminent among the Trojans, as strong and brave as I. And let people say, as he returns from the fighting: "This man is better by far than his father." May he carry home the bloody spoils of the enemy he has killed, and bring joy to his mother's heart.'(Hammond)

    It might seem like Hector just doesn't get it. And then to his wife, already in tears: 'Poor wife, please do not let your heart be too distressed. No man will send me down to Hades before my fated time.'

    There's something poignant about this father's prayer after all we have seen of the grim business of war. Hector knows it all first-hand. The dozen warriors killed just as this book begins. The harsh demands of battlefield leadership. The women at the Skaian gate desperate for information about sons and brothers and being told by Hector to pray to the gods. A gloomy Hector uncertain of his fate, wishing to see his wife, perhapas for the last time.

    The extreme pathos of the farewell meeting between husband and wife, the terrible prospect of a tearful, widowed Andromache being carried off to Argos:

    'But may I (Hector) be dead and the heaped earth cover me, before I hear your screams and the sound of you being dragged away.'

    It is all too much for their little son. He chooses this moment of the greatest sorrowful tension to be traumatized by his father's gleaming, horse-hair crested helmut.

    It relieves the strain. 'His dear father and his honoured mother laughed aloud at this.' What an artistic touch. And then the prayer for the boys future. The son of the great Hector.

    While the women in the temple watched in dismay, as 'Pallas Athene shook her head in refusal' when prayed 'to take pity on our town and the Trojan's wives and their little children.'

    Hector had no choice. He was a warrior of necessity and duty. And what a classy act. Was his prayer heard on Olympus? Yes it was. But I have heard that Zeus neither nodded, nor did he shake his head. Gods who observed him reported that he looked sombre and grim.

    That's one thing about myths. They're plastic and can be molded. Added to and altered without losing any of their truth.

    October 22, 2004 - 02:43 am
    Jonathan, this scene really touched me. Hector's son does not recognize his father dressed as a soldier. Hector removes his helmet. In his son's eyes, he becomes human again. In war, I think, men must take on a whole new character or it would be impossible for these men to kill and kill and kill again.

    I think this is what Agammenon tells Menelaus. There is no time for sentimentality, no time to reason out whether to kill or not kill. This is your enemy, this man Adrastus, just kill him and be done with it. Menelaus, would Adrastus do you any favors at a time such as this?

    "Going soft, Menelaus? What does this man
    Mean to you? Have the Trojans ever shown you
    Any hospitality? Not one of them
    Escapes sheer death at our hands,

    October 22, 2004 - 02:55 am
    Thank you Maryal.

    To get the lines to look like poetry, when you get to the end of the line, type < br >, only don't put in the spaces.

    When you have typed < br > at the end of the first line, you can then copy and paste it at the end of all the other lines.


    October 22, 2004 - 10:45 am
    Hats, you're right. The scene of the frightened child is truly touching. One almost feels there must be something allegorical about it. Something even more than the most natural and familiar thing in the world for every parent. The use Homer makes of it to lighten the strain of the fears and forebodings of his parents is pure genius. His fright and their fright. The picture of his mother smiling through her tears is truly touching.

    Every line of Book VI is moving in one way or another. In half a dozen scenes, in a dozen pages of ultimate poetic drama. Heart wrenching, unendurably moving. Homer seems to touch on more issues of war and peace, and how one affects the other, than a reader can hope to fathom. I could swear there is as much to be found in Homer's twelve pages as there is in Tolstoy's thousand plus.

    And the comparisons to be made. Did Agamemnon ever do a noble thing in his life? The brutality of the man, whether insulting a priest or stabbing a man who is pleading for his life, calling for the massacre of women and children...what business does he have lecturing his more generous brother? How much more hopeful is the chivalry shown to each other by Diomedes and Glaucus in remembering the friendships of ancient hospitality in times of peace? The horrors of war are made vivid, its impact on the lives of everyone caught up in it, is such that it brings out the best and the worst in them. What a strange tale.

    Shasta Sills
    October 22, 2004 - 12:40 pm
    Could Homer read and write? Did written language exist at that time? Fagles refers to some lines in Book 6 (198-200).

    "but he quickly sent him off to Lycia, gave him tokens, murderous signs, scratched in a folded tablet, and many of them too, enough to kill a man."

    Fagles said the Greek word 'scratching' is the word later used for 'writing', and a 'tablet' was a wodden board coated with wax that was used for short notes.

    How does the Lombardo edidtion translate these lines?

    October 22, 2004 - 01:43 pm
    I have read your post twice and will read it again. Your words are so true. Book VI does touch every emotion. It is amazing that such ancient literature is able to reach and touch our hearts. I loved the part where Diomedes and Glaucus shared past memories. Homer's words are so alive. This is better than watching a movie. I can feel and see everything.

    Pat H
    October 22, 2004 - 04:49 pm
    This is an example of the deft economy of expression that make Lombardo's translation so stunning to me.

    Pat H
    October 22, 2004 - 04:55 pm
    When Hector comes back to Troy to arrange for a sacrifice and see his wife and son, wives and daughters ask him about their men. He tells them to pray to the gods.

    "Sorrow clung to their heads like mist." (Lombardo, 6/251)

    How is this telling phrase translated in other versions?

    Cat Woman
    October 22, 2004 - 05:14 pm
    Hard sorrows were hanging over many.

    October 22, 2004 - 05:20 pm
    Heros are man-made, and "they ain't nothing but a sandwich."

    Humans create heros because we want human lives to matter.

    October 23, 2004 - 09:19 pm
    shifrah, will the heros really do that for me? Perhaps I can still make something of myself. But wait a minute. The way you put it, it could still remain only a wish. What else will it take?

    And Fagles has: 'Hard sorrows were hanging over many.'

    Hammond's translation: 'He told each one of them to pray to the gods: but sorrow was there in store for many.'

    Chapman has Hector saying to 'the women of Troy, the children, paramours, inquiring how their husbands did, their fathers, brothers, loves..."It now behoves ye should go all t'implore the aid of heaven in a distress of great effect, and imminent." '

    Chapman is the only one who has Hector actually telling the women that it looks very bad, resign yourselves, prepare for the worst. The other translators, it seems to me, have Hector keeping his dire foreboding to himself. It seems to be more than just an assessment of the military situation. He does say elsewhere in Book VI:

    'One thing I know well in my heart and in my mind; the day will come when sacred Ilios shall be destroyed.' 6:447-9

    It must be more than a coincidence. That is exactly what Agamemnon said in Book IV, ll 163-5:

    'The day will come when sacred Ilios shall be destroyed.'

    So, on both sides they must have realized that Trojan Pandaros, by breaking the oath to keep the peace, had sealed the fate of Troy.

    Achilles gets a lot of help, when it comes to assessing responsibility, in the prolonged misery of the war. It's seems interesting the way Hector makes certain that we not forget Achilles sulking in his tent. Andromache mentions him in a way also which is very revealing of his character, giving the listener, (not Homer, he would have known about it) something to judge Achilles by in the future. At the sacking of Thebes, Achilles killed her father. And then, in a chivalrous way, gave him an honorable funeral, without even divesting him of his armor, as a measure of respect of one soldier for another.

    So far so good. But Andromache then goes on to say that Achilles also killed her seven brothers 'as they tended our shambling cattle and our white-fleece sheep.' This sounds like callous murder. Andromache's mother he held for a 'countless ransom.'

    October 24, 2004 - 06:15 am
    Re your questions about other translations: For last line of Chapter 5 "Having stopped brutal Ares from butchering men" the Lattimore translation is "They stopped the murderous work of manslaughtering Ares." Lombardo 299: "Thus Hector ..." in Lattimore is "So he spoke, and she going into the great house ...." In Lattimore Hecuba is called Hekabe.

    October 24, 2004 - 06:43 am
    Love this discussion! Love the dialogues and dynamics you all raise, not to mention your fabulous points. I want to come back to them today if the storms allow, if not I will come back tomorrow. Jonathan says Hector HAD no choice, I want to put this up in the heading as well: I understand it this way: a hero risks himself and his life for his community, and in turn is rewarded by honor. He must live up to that honor. But the honor becomes an end in itself, and leads the hero to do things that are actually destructive of the cause he is supposed to be sacrificing all for. Achilles does this by refusing to fight if the honor is not there, and Hector does this by making himself a worthless sacrifice, instead of making a real contribution.

    So many of you have raised so MANY wonderful points and this morning on a children's show another point was raised: this is from a children's program in 2004: Heroes were brave, courageous, ready to fight for what they believe in (Fox Superheroes program spoken by a teacher in a class to the kids).

    Notice the WERE?

    I had a wonderful letter from one of you the other day which just made my day, and I feel the same way, I even get up, myself early on just to read what you've said. Sometimes I hate to post anything and redirect the flow.

    But let me ask you something: a hard question about Hector. Greatbooksfan mentiones role playing, let's try a tiny bit today?

    Let's be real a moment in our consideration of all the issues raised and ask ourselves (why is there ALWAYS always a practical issue?) what choices he had, in reality?

    Aside from all the lofty thoughts, what WERE his choices?

    He's sitting IN a castle (we assume from the description that there are walls and high halls and gates) and they're watching 1,000 ships on the shore filled with fighters and soldiers whom they assume are ready to kill. The women and children and old men are in the city, helpless. They are not going to sally forth? What are the choices? Stay with the old men and women and children and wait till the enemy penetrates the gates, forces its way into the city and THEN defend them, like a woman? Why am I suddenly thinking of the Alamo?

    OR go forth with the army and see if possibly (they have got to be outnumbered) we can push them back, burn some ships, demoralize them and make them rethink, maybe (with the help of the gods) we can even turn the tide, get Ag or Menelaus or whoever, maybe we can make them go home.

    Now he KNOWS, he somehow (gods?) has knowledge that Troy will fall, Andromache will be taken prisoner, his own baby thrown over the wall and his brains splattered out. What choice, then, does he have, except to go out with honor? What choice would he have had if he had NOT had this pre-knowledge, if he still had hope? Do the actions of the hero in any sort of war depend on some knowledge of the outcome? Why does Homer have him KNOW the outcome? Let's talk about Hectors and Homer's choices today?

    An interesting thing was said in my Faulkner class last Thursday. The professor had been advising a Freshman and saying (I wrote this down but it was so stunning I messed up, maybe our Maryal also a professor and also knowledgeable in Faulkner might help us out here) but she said , "you seem to be suffering under an illusion that text contains a Truth. But somebody has constructed this text and you look to see how meaning is construed rather than…"(here it drifts off, because it blew me away) I think she said an ultimate TRUTH, and it will be different for each person, THAT'S why every time every reader reads a book it means something different.

    So here, it IS important that each of us give our own perceptions, because Homer now lives (I don't know about you but I think about this all day long and apply it to everything I do, it's so different from the Odyssey, which is almost a Fairy Tale and an enjoyable one for Grownups, this is much much more, to me. What are YOUR personal thoughts and reactions to the truths YOU see about Hector's choices here and how Homer has chosen to present them?

    Cat Woman
    October 24, 2004 - 07:56 am
    I think Andromache pleads with Hector just as I suppose women through the ages have pleaded with warrior husbands not to go. But I'm sure in her heart, she knows he will.

    No, I don't think he has a choice, not under the dictates of his culture and his own code of honor. And of course, his destiny. No matter how tragic the end, he will do what he must.

    As for making himself a useless sacrifice, we haven't gotten to that part yet, but maybe he hopes if he kills Achilles, the Greeks will be demoralized and leave.

    Truth. I think the prevailing view of reading is that it's a partnership between writer and reader, that the reader comprehends what the writer is saying in terms of his/her own reality and experience. From that view, there's no ultimate truth. There's what Homer meant when he wrote the words and there's how we see the meaning through our own lives. And that's why interpretations of literature change in different generations.

    Think how hard it is for us to understand Achilles' sense of honor when ours isn't that way. It's easier for us to understand Hector, who seems more like us. Although honor overcomes him in the end.

    October 24, 2004 - 08:12 am
    You wrote, "(I wrote this down but it was so stunning I messed up, maybe our Maryal also a professor and also knowledgeable in Faulkner might help us out here) but she said , "you seem to be suffering under an illusion that text contains a Truth. But somebody has constructed this text and you look to see how meaning is construed rather than…"(here it drifts off, because it blew me away) I think she said an ultimate TRUTH, and it will be different for each person, THAT'S why every time every reader reads a book it means something different."

    I think you remembered what the Professor said pretty well. I prefer to have my students look at HOW the text means rather than WHAT it means because any rich text means many different things (not just anything, note) rather than one thing.

    It is certainly true that a given text, read at different times in one's life, will mean different things to the reader. Our life experiences change and we identify with different characters and see different things every time. The text remains those black marks on white paper, and is thus static. And yet as we read it, and reread it, it opens more and more.


    October 24, 2004 - 10:45 pm
    Furthermore, 'the fighting swayed many times this way and that over the plain.'

    The war is not won or lost when Hector reflects on what he must do as a soldier, a husband, a father, and as a son of Priam. He leaves the battlefield at a crucial moment, perhaps against his own better judgment; but in accord with what his brother Helenos foresees in his auguries. That is, his desire to see Hector return to the city to organize an appeal to Athene in her temple. He returns to the fighting after hearing three seperate appeals from his mother, his sister-in-law, Helen, and his wife.

    And why wouldn't he feel driven to get back to the fighting? He is moving under a cloud of gloom and doom, but he remains very clear-headed about his situation.

    Ginny, I think you may be second-guessing Homer, when you suggest that staying safely within the walls of the city is an option for the Trojans. They have withstood a ten-year siege. Perhaps they could withstand it indefinitely. But it must have seemed an opportune time to drive the enemy back into their boats and home across the sea. Pestilence has taken a heavy toll on the enemy, has left them demoralized. Infighting among themselves has left the Greeks in doubt about their leadership. The harmony in heaven with which Agamemnon has been deceiving himself has turned into a myth. Help for Troy has come from the surrounding countryside. Men eager to fight. Bk 7 seems almost like a paean to the thrills and hazards of war. There's eagerness to do battle. And also fear. The heavily armoured giant Aias strikes fear into the heart of Hector! Almost like the fright that his own glittering helmut had put into his son.

    How could he not go back into the fighting. It would have been completely contrary to his warrior instincts. Run from the fighting? Like his brother Paris? Never. Helen despised Paris for the foul disgrace of his cowardice. Would Andromache feel differently if her husband did not return to the fight to protect those dear to him? The horror of his wife and child falling into the hands of an enemy crying for blood would compel him to fight.

    Hector's prayer for his son expressed more than the ideals of the bronze-age warrior to pass along to a son. The prayer was also a prayer for himself - a reminder to himself of his duty and his task in time of war.

    The amazing thing is that even after almost 3000 years Homer's epic seems as fresh and contemporary as any modern work addressing the human condition. The truth of it? Text is what you make it. For John Keats it was a tremendous opening up of the realms of gold. Shakespeare replayed the Trojan War in Troilus and Cressida to point out the stupidity of war to make sure we got it right. Goethe, I believe, saw the Iliad as a look into hell. I see it as a look into heaven. And what a surprise it is turning out to be. It caused a bit of an upheaval when Zeus decided to shift the heavenly scene over to Mt Ida, to be closer to the fighting. Such is the life among the gods.

    Can there be any doubt that there were a few gods in Fenway Park tonight? A win! despite the four errors! To find the truth in that. Now that would take some divining. God bless America.

    October 25, 2004 - 04:55 am
    Did he ever do a noble thing in his life, someone asked. Not that I know. But what can you expect of a man who had his young daughter sacrificed so that the winds would blow and the Greeks could sail to Troy and begin the war. Even though he called his daughter the "joy of his house", he was willing to lie to his wife, tell her he'd arranged a marriage for Iphigenia to Achilles, then when she arrived, had her put to death despite her pitiful pleas. The man would do anything to hold onto his position as a "strong leader." Such men are all too easily admired by the people who don't look beyond the surface...unfortunately.

    October 25, 2004 - 06:40 am
    Before the Trojan war Agamemnon led a battle with Menelaus and regained their father's kingdom. He also fought in the Trojan war directly, leading his men by going to battle himself. While this was exactly how the Greeks fought at the time, their leaders personally taking their men to the field, it should not be lightly dismissed. Injury was certain, death likely, the long-lived enjoyment of victory not something to expect.


    Shasta Sills
    October 25, 2004 - 09:09 am
    These two duels are puzzling because they are inconclusive. Paris and Menelaus. Hector and Ajax. I thought both duels were being fought to settle the issue between the Trojans and Greeks, and to put an end to the war. Neither duel ended in a clear victory. Ajax knocked Hector down and could have killed him. Instead they decided to shake hands and exchange gifts. This makes no sense.

    After this duel, the Greeks decided to build a rampart with a trench in front of it to protect them from a Trojan attack. This should have been done 9 years ago. This also makes no sense.

    These discrepancies seem to indicate that Homer collected together a lot of existing stories and tried to stitch them into a coherent plot. He was a great poet but the sequences aren't always logical.

    Cat Woman
    October 25, 2004 - 10:36 am
    I agree with Shasta. Why didn't the Greeks build their wall years ago? And they seem to throw it together in one afternoon, too.

    October 25, 2004 - 02:52 pm
    Despite the fact that we were to move on, (in fact, yesterday), I find myself strangely reluctant to leave Book VI, tho I know we have to. These dialogues in Book VI and the parallel stuff, and the somewhat stunning remarks by Hector on Fate kind of keep drawing me back within the safe walls of Troy. Hector delivers a very nice speech on Fate here:

    No one is going to send me to Hades before my time.
    And no man has ever escaped his fate, rich or poor,
    Coward or hero, once born into this world.

    Kind of stunning here, actually, kind of like well if it's "my time" it's "my time," and if not, I can jump off Niagara Falls in a barrel and nothing can hurt me. You hear that today. I agree with Jonathan that this is as fresh as this morning's bread.

    But move on we must, Paris and Hector certainly have, they have burst through the gates, "their hearts eager for battle." And you all have moved out with them, leading the way, as I lollygag behind!

    Mentally I believe I'm still back in Troy, or mending a spear (loved that "boss" about the shield in Book 7), I guess I'm not wanting what I fear is coming

    I am thinking today that this book 7 shows a clear plot development, along with 8, considering what happens in 9: remember the subject of the poem is the Rage of Achilles and actually we finally see a reference TO Achilles in Book 7, did you notice it? It's the first time, isn't it? In a long time?

    And what's it in reference to?

    Hector comes boiling out, a fierce (non talking and non dialoging) fight occurs chop chop chop, and because of the Gods, of course a duel is suggested.

    Another DUEL!! Another repetition or parallel? Here is a duel in a Greek vase dating 560-550 BC, showing a "duel played out before onlookers, two warriors are still engaged in combat while a wounded third lies on the ground. All three are shown naked, which is an artistic convention that identifies them as Greeks." (Harris).

    Now what allowed them to propose this duel in the first place?

    Is THIS duel going to end the war? Why would they fight it?

    Hector challenges, Menelaus jumps up (Agamemnon does not), Ag talks him out of it Nestor shames them 9 men jump up (that's an interesting number, there were 9 muses) and Ajax (the second strongest after Achilles) stalks out with his humongous shield, (did you catch how many ox hides it took to make that thing? It must be HUGE! Here is another one, this is super, click on it, it's as good as a photograph of Mycenae!

    click to enlarge: Dagger blade from a royal shaft grave at Mycenae. Made of Bronze and inlaid with gold, niello and silver, it shows hunters attacking a lion, which has slain one of them: 1500 BC.

    Note the huge size of these shields!

    But our warriors, our Greeks and Trojans, are STILL talking to each other! Ajax tells the frightened Hector, there's more to us than Achilles, bud. They talk, there's a draw, they exchange gifts, and part friends?!? so that Greeks and Trojans will say about them, "They fought each other in soul-devouring strife, But agreed to part in the spirit of friendship."

    And in this interlude, they show the importance of respect for customs, and the gods, and THEN if that were not enough, Nestor suggests an armistice to collect the bodies of the dead and bury them.

    In this book 7 we are seeing some of the customs of the ancients, the Greeks and the Trojans, and respect shown by Homer for both sides. Both sides wish to honor their dead, (the Greeks because they had beliefs about the afterworld: if the body were not properly disposed of, we'll see that again and again, if left for the dogs or if not disposed of it would show disrespect for the dead person…whose soul would not continue properly on its journey) or, heaven forbid, disrespect for the gods themselves. And so the disposition of the dead is very important and I liked the two funeral pyres of the dead, showing equal treatment of Homer to the enemy (who DO you think Homer favors so far?!?) and the other.

    And so here we still have and we are still seeing human beings on both sides who CAN care about each other and who respect (giving of gifts) the "spirit of friendship" of the sworn enemy. So again we're still on a certain plane.

    We're so far not doing much movement of plot (or of time, see below) but several ominous things and foreshadowings creep in.

    I am seeing two very ominous things occurring, one of them the ramparts or wall you all are talking about. Why, you ask, did the Greeks wait so long? (I don't think the speed of building the wall is an issue, if you're familiar with Roman soldiers they were accustomed to building a huge wall/ditch/ fortification every day after marches as long as 20 miles, so I don't think the speed was a factor), (do we know what THIS wall is constructed of?) but.... what must it mean?

    And here's a real chiller, I loved this segment: what does Zeus' conversation with Poseidon mean? When he says

    Choose your time.
    When the Greeks have left with their ships for home,
    Smash the wall to bits and sweep it out to sea.

    I love that, doesn't it remind you of building sand castles on the shore and what does the Sea (Poseidon or Neptune was god of the sea) do to your castles? To all of man's castles? What does Fate or Time do to all of Man's "castles" in the sand? What does this foreshadow and what does it say to the listener, and what does it mean? It puts the listener on a different level from the players.

    There's also a big change when Antenor told the Trojans let's give Helen back and Paris said no. Why do you suppose Paris says no? What does this signify, if anything?

    These councils they have are quite interesting, aren't they? They seem to listen to each other respectfully enough, and Paris is brave enough when he's not on the front line?

    So they go down and holler to the Greeks that they won't give her back and the Greeks say we want nothing, you are scared, you're toast?

    Temple U asks "is Hector growing or shrinking in stature?" I am not sure of the answer there, can anybody figure out the machinations of the plot? We know Zeus wants the Trojans to win, we're about to see how badly. What did Athena hope to gain and why would she listen to Apollo at all? Can anybody straighten out these gods?

    I'm glad I'm in the Greek camp, tho I must say we're not exactly mowing down the walls of Troy. And they did come boiling out there. They seem to be coming after us, actually? We are sitting on the shore in our boats, actually. Nothing between us or them, just open sand, but before this we've been the scary ones, Paris is a wimp who disappeared in the middle of a fight with Menelaus, but now Hector has come out, and they are winning, and on line 19 Athena sees the "Greeks being beaten." This is not good news? So the Trojans are winning and driving us Greeks back, we didn't expect this? Back to our ships which are moored on the beach. Only takes one firebrand shot from a ballista to get rid of a wooden ship, and they're coming right for us, this is new? We thought we would win? But Achilles won't fight, and Hector sure looks frightening, and he's beaten our second best to a draw.

    I don't think it's surprising they suddenly built a rampart, but how do you see this?

    Odds n' Ends:
  • 1. One of the critics has pointed out that in Book 7 the first day finally ends, on line 495, we've taken all this time and only covered one day. I am not sure if the time sequence is important, but it might be interesting to watch?

  • 2. NOTE!! We finally see a supply ship arriving! Several of them! Full of wine from Lemnos. It's no wonder the Greeks thought they had the advantage. I wonder when they will realize they don't? I wonder who they will blame it on? Theoretically, who should have the advantage after 9 years of a siege?

    A bronze shield, about 9 ox hides high, for your thoughts?
  • mstone
    October 25, 2004 - 08:07 pm
    I like the question about whether Hector had a choice about returning to fight. I think to a certain extent he like any soldier does not have a choice about fighting. This to me is what builds the emotional tension I feel in his scene with Andromache--if only he could stay. To me this tension between war and the scenes of domestic order is the social side of the more abstract tension between force and reason. Maybe war is necessary, but the narrator seems to constantly remind us that we shouldn't suppose that we can have both war and domestic order. The domestic order in which husbands and wives gather with their children and enjoy the sort of pleasurable intimacy we see between Hector and Andromache--without the imminent threat of disruption.

    October 25, 2004 - 10:28 pm
    Mark, I hope you don't mind the informality of my addressing you in this fashion. I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say how delighted we are to have you stop by in our discussion. And thanks for inspiring Ginny to propose a discussion of The Iliad in SeniorNet.

    I was about to post a few reasons Homer might have had to postpone the building of the wall and moat around the Grecian camp until the tenth year of the war. But the issue you raise is obviously much more meaningful in getting at what Homer is actually trying to say with his poem, than a plot device in the form of a wall.

    The farewell scene between Hector and Andromache is heartbreaking. And surely it's the 'no choice' ingredient that makes it such a tense, emotional moment. To stay would mean shame, as Hector insists. Personal shame. Now if only we could feel a collective shame that things can come to such a sorry pass in our human affairs.

    Coming at it in an abstract way, as you suggest, in considering an abstract tension between force and reason sounds very thought-provoking, and would be welcomed by all, I'm sure. I've read the Simone Weil article that you mentioned in an earlier post, and was hoping her thoughts would eventually be considered here.

    As for the wall, Homer had no need for one until now. That is to say the Greeks could not have felt a wall was needed. And how could Homer have known that Zeus wanted a wall as a sop to throw to Poseiden. Something for him to wash away after everyone had gone home. What strikes me about Bk 7 is how much transpires without divine inerference, including the Hector/Aias duel. So much of what happens is determined by mortals acting on their own initiative. So it seems to me. Was Homer at a loss to know where he was going after that glorious Book VI?

    October 26, 2004 - 08:12 am
    I finally got around to seeing the actual movie, "Troy". I found that there were great differences between it and the actual book. I think that the book is more intricate, while the movie is more factual and accurate.

    About role playing, I think Ill try a bit myself. I will play the role of any random soldier, not of a main character. Im sitting on a beach, resting up for the next battle. I've been told again and again that this war is over a woman, but a nagging feeling in my mind tells me it goes far deeper than that, and I don't know exactly what I'm fighting for. I haven't even met the king that leads our forces, though I risk my life for him every day. One of our best warriors, Achilles, isn't even fighting. We are in trouble unless he rejoins the fight soon. All I can do is sit on the beach, waiting for the battle that will win me fame and fortune or lose me my life.

    Shasta Sills
    October 26, 2004 - 08:15 am
    One of the things you learn from the Iliad is why men have never allowed women to fight in their wars. Women have no respect for honor and glory. It's just so much hot air to them. Women have children and men have wars. And women hate war, because war kills their children. If a woman fights in a war, her attitude is "Let's get on with it, and get it over with so we can go home." She's not interested in being brave or honorable. She just wants to finish the miserable business. If I had been Ajax, I would have finished Hector off instead of being magnanimous about it.

    But maybe that's why women never wrote the epics either. No respect for honor and glory.

    October 26, 2004 - 12:08 pm
    This is truly the dark night of the warrior's soul. Why am I fighting?

    Hector has just come through it when he returns to the battlefield. There is no doubt in his mind about what he must do, even without his brother Helenos' assurance:

    'It is not yet the fated time for you to die and meet your doom.'

    Hector's enduring courage and new-found resolve were great enough to call out a challenge to fight the bravest of the Greeks in single combat.

    The surprising thing then is the great reluctance (ignoring for the moment Greek battle fatigue and Hector's time-out) to accept the challenge. No one among the Greeks jumps at the chance at glory in killing Hector in battle, or the chance at greatness in being killed by him, including burial with full military honors and rites beside the Hellespont. The mounds are still there to be seen and wondered at.

    Agamemnon even tries taunting Achilles, in a round about way, to accept the challenge, to show his stuff. But only silence comes back from Achilles' tent. His time has not yet come.

    What follows are the actions of men left on their own, without direction or prodding from the gods. Nine are finally shamed into stepping forward to cast their lots. Fate, not the gods, will determine the outcome. One is chosen in this fashion and, after perfunctory prayers, the battle begins. The fight is a real one, graphically described, without any meddling by the gods. Hector and Aias are left to their own devices, which include the use of spears and stones and swords. The mace, it seems, was a thing of the past, dropped as an effective weapon when the fate of Areithoos proved that the cudgel was useless 'in a narrow pathway' (7:141), ie, in close combat.

    It's interesting to note the mention of fighting techniques, like 'shield-fighting', 'speeding chariot' gambits, and something known as 'Ares deadly dance'7:239-43.

    There is so much else in Bk 7, mentioned already by others, such as the gentlemanly handshake and exchange of gifts after a few rounds of bashing and clashing. Let me just mention the feasting that followed the fighting, with its hearty meal of Shish Kabobs.

    October 26, 2004 - 12:40 pm
    you posted: "how could Homer have known that Zeus wanted a wall as a sop to throw to Poseiden"
    A strange "disconnect" occurs here. Are you role-playing Zeus, or are you asking as Jonathan? Homer knew whatever Homer wrote or "sang" in the oral tradition. Whoever Homer was, he created what we read in our translations today. Ergo, Homer wanted the gods, Zeus and his brother Poseiden to interact. We haven't heard much from Poseiden so far, incidentally. Somewhat surprising that the seafaring Greeks have not to date made sacrifices to him.

    Also, loved your mention of "shish-kabob". Sure, meat was roasted on sticks. Did anyone notice that after sacrifices, all the rest of the meat, and also wine, I assume, becomes the meal. The Romans also served "barbeque" to the crowds after making sacrifices of bulls on holidays and other special occasions.

    Regarding Ginny's post on the supply ships: earlier, in "ancient" posts, lots of people asked where the Greeks got their supplies for 9 years, and it was apparent even before we read this far (Lombardo, 7:480), that supply ships were coming and going all the time. Not all the 500-plus Greek ships stayed on the beach; that wouldn't even have been good for their sea-worthness (Patrick O'Brien reader here). Wooden ships have to be used, not beached, or they develop all sorts of "yucky" problems. So I can picture dozens of ships plying the waters back and forth on a regular basis, and no Greek going hungry or thirsty for wine at all.

    October 26, 2004 - 06:23 pm
    YAY I am so glad to see you here, Dr. Stone, and what important points you make!! I just reread today to finalize the questions for Dr. Lombardo, all 300 of your posts again and am finding all sorts of nuggets in there I had missed! I'm very impressed with your thoughts, and hope to touch on a few if time permits.

    First off, I loved this that Dr. Stone mentioned, " I think to a certain extent he like any soldier does not have a choice about fighting."

    I wondered when we took sides how different we on opposing sides would be from each other? I am hoping when we change sides over we'll see for ourselves but right now, none of these soldiers really have much of a choice, do they? And maybe that's why, as Jonathan asks, no Greeks come running forth when challenged.

    How many people would you say do have their hearts in this battle? From either side?

    I guess we'd have to say Menelaus, the cheated husband, but who else, really?

    Would you say Hector's heart is in this battle or back with his wife?

    So what IS it that motivates them? The fact that they're in an army and have no choice? That's why they did not volunteer, volunteering IS a choice? Isn't it?

    (Loved that where Dr. S said the emotional tension between Hector and Andromache was the social aspect of the abstract tension between force and reason).

    How many other aspects are there, I wonder, we now have a social aspect, I wonder if there are others, loved that.

    Also the statement about domestic tranquility reminded me of the contrasts brought out here, and in the smaller vignettes sometimes brought up when a particular soldier dies: these are very powerful contrasts, reminding us always of the vast difference of a country at peace and one in time of war. I'm glad this was brought out so well in this instance. So this is very important, almost as a theme: Maybe war is necessary, but the narrator seems to constantly remind us that we shouldn't suppose that we can have both war and domestic order

    That is an important issue. Gosh, when you think what Homer has accomplished in very few words or with his nature similes, it's breathtaking, isn't it? (This is an aside, but in ordering Chang-Rae Lee's newest book and in reading the description of the new Man Booker Award winner for 2004 and thinking, that's some plot, it suddenly occurred to me that everything sort of pales next to this book. What does this lack? It's got EVERYTHING you could ever hope for, and raises every question ever raised. It's amazing. I wish you could see my text, it has so many different notes on it in different colors you can't see the print, but I STILL don't get all the nuances). That's one great thing about our book discussions, we are so fortunate to be able to hear so many perspectives from people of so many different life experiences, it's exhilarating what you all come up with, I have really enjoyed rereading all of your submissions today.

    I would like to hear more about the Simone Weil article if anybody would care to discuss it, and in what other ways it applies here? My notes here say it was written in 1940 which was the date of the occupation of France. It's called The Iliad or the Poem of Force and is translated by Mary McCarthy. Here's an excerpt from the opening lines:

    In this work, at all times, the human spirit is shown as modified by its relations with force, as swept away, blinded, by the very force it imagined it could handle… To define force – it is that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him. … ...

    Thus it happens that those who have force on loan from fate count on it too much and are destroyed.

    Do you see that "force on loan from fate?" WOW! I have got to get a copy of that thing, I'll try tomorrow at the local B&N.

    So you have force on one hand and reason on the other. And in the Iliad Dr. S has said, you have kind of" a mirror of the nature OF force, " we can see it at all stages in this very powerful book, and watch it develop, through small increments, small stages, as in this careful literal pas de deux in the two duels.

    I have the most awful sense of wanting things to stay like they are now?

    Couple of guys come out, challenge each other, fight, talk, exchange gifts and then everybody goes home and has a big meal, kind of a pattern, trying to keep the arm of war at bay. I have a feeling that's breaking down in Book 7. Book 7 seems to me to be breaking down, period. How did Book VII affect you?

    Let's look at the "logic" of violence/ force:

  • 1. it escalates (one on one combat, armies, gods)

  • 2. it goes not respect sides (Greeks and Trojans lie side by side)

  • 3, it cannot be escaped (Pandarus—virtually everyone is wounded)

  • 4. it ends with annihilation or submission (Adrastus, Patroculus, Hector and eventually Achilles). (Those are from Dr. Stone's class, good aren't they?)

    So this Book VII (which we did NOT cover in class) is really hard for me to read, it starts out in a familiar way, a pattern, almost.

    In some ways the prior reluctance to fight in Books 3 and 4 are over, Hector and Paris boil out with winning on their minds and then...strange, it's an interlude, it's almost as if we're holding our breath and then…and then night falls and stuff begins to happen.

    Jonathan, So much of what happens is determined by mortals acting on their own initiative. So it seems to me. Was Homer at a loss to know where he was going after that glorious Book VI? Now this is just exactly what Gossett was talking about earlier, I think, and what Joan K was talking about with the American Ethic. Gossett was saying that man just makes it worse for himself when he tries to influence FATE, and so you see here that….when the gods do NOT interfere, what happens? Nothing? So what does THAT mean?

    Shasta said the two duels were inconclusive, can you all see anything at all they accomplished?

    And SHASTA!! What do you MEAN that " Women have no respect for honor and glory!!?? What definition are you using for honor and glory? What fascinating turns the conversation takes in here!

    Greatbooksfan, I see you and I are in the same role playing camp, tell us, do you feel as a Greek soldier that you have a choice? About anything? And if so what rationale will govern your choice to fight? It might be fun to each of us take a character by name before long and do the talking for them? Anybody game?

    Jonathan, are you saying what I think you're saying? What follows are the actions of men left on their own, without direction or prodding from the gods. That men left on their own WITHOUT this prodding would, in fact, rather eat feasts and enjoy hospitality than fight? What would YOU rather do, Greatbooksfan, in your character, at this point?

    Mippy, you seem to have hit the nail on the head here? Somewhat surprising that the seafaring Greeks have not to date made sacrifices to him. Poseidon seems to think so too, it would seem that these gods are VERY touchy about being worshipped, but it also seems that that worship seems to do no good?!?

    The gods are just as unreasonable or maybe more so, than man., how are THEY affected by FATE, Gossett, does Hamilton tell us that? Does anything rule the gods?

    One thing I just happened to think of, too, with all this talk of the gods and FATE and man trying to influence it, and man by himself not being very desirous of fighting, is who IS to blame for all of this? Who would YOU say has caused this war?

    If Alex Trebek asks you for the winning Jeopardy, who would YOU say has caused all this??

    A while back Gossett explained about the original story of how Helen came to be given to Paris, (thank you Gossett) and Gossett was talking about the three choices Paris could have made. Is everybody here familiar with that story? I think we need to look closer at that old myth and find out WHY Paris made the choice he did and IF it was the best choice. OR if he really HAD a "choice."

    I personally think Paris's refusal to give Helen back in this book is more significant than it appears but I have no basis in fact for that and have not seen anything written on it?

    What would have happened if he had said OK, why should everybody die? She can go back and the treasure with her, sorry.??

    What do you think would have happened? To me, and maybe I am the only person in the world, Paris is at fault here, not Helen, not the gods, NOT "Fate," but let's hear what you think?

    Which came first, the Paris or the egg?
  • shifrah
    October 27, 2004 - 12:52 am
    Nobody in this poem really knows the cause of this war. Assumptions are rampant. Humans blame the gods; gods blame humans for trying to be greater than the immortals. Pride is at the root of the conflict. Agamemnon is a proud king. Achilles and Hector are proud warriors. Zeus, Athena, and Hera are vain. What sheep they all are. Actually, black goats would be better since Nestor sleeps near his flock.

    October 27, 2004 - 07:27 am
    Shifrah, PRIDE is a very good point here almost a sub theme, and we all know what goeth before a fall. Yet in any war, do the soldiers know the issue? Isn't there a lot of demonizing of the enemy going on before the soldier can get motivated TO fight?

    I'm thinking of Athena now, who moved them in such a way that they thought it was better to die in battle than stay home!?! I think Achilles in Vietnam has a good bit to say on this and hope those of you who have read it will feel free to chime in here with tidbits from it.

    I am startled to see Book VII is mentioned several times by Dr. Lombardo in his interview, did you catch that?

  • Leddy: There are some moments in your translations that are startling in their contemporaneity — for instance, Little Ajax’s exclamation ‘Shit!’ during the funeral games for Patroclus. I can imagine a reader objecting that an Iliadic hero would never say such a thing (and, literally, doesn’t). Yet other such moments are entirely true to the Greek. I’m delighted to see, for instance, that your inspired phrase in Iliad 5, ‘the automatic gates of heaven,’ with its suggestions of estates and gated communities, has its basis in the Greek, in the word automatai . Are there other such moments, where Homer’s Greek has a surprisingly exact fit in contemporary English?

    Lombardo: Let me find one in Iliad 7. Hector is challenging the Greeks to a duel, and Menelaus is the first to stand up. It’s his job, you know.

    ‘This day will go down in infamy’ —

    which is of course another modernism, but perfectly in context —
    ‘If no Danaan meets Hector’s challenge now.
    May you all turn to mud.’

    Leddy: ‘Bite the dust’ would be another example of the startling and literal, wouldn’t it?

    Lombardo: Yes, that’s exactly what’s said. That’s the literal translation.

    William Levitan, who has been with me since graduate school as an arbiter of literary taste, looked at a lot of my Iliad. When I sent this to him, he didn’t believe it, and then he looked at the Greek and it said exactly that. Sometimes what’s startling is what’s simply literal, what other translators may feel they have to soften. Similar expressions, equally startling, that are not exactly there in the Greek but the spirit is there, are thus completely justifiable. That level of diction is already established by Homer.

    When Homer’s audience heard ‘an Achaean wall,’ I think that’s exactly what they heard. It’s right there, and Ajax is an in-your-face kind of guy. [Markedly dropping his voice] ‘Your move, Hector.’ ‘The gristle that was his face arranged into a smile’ [Iliad 7] —

  • That kind of surprised me, there's not much written about Book VII!

    Also in looking back over your posts I find Shasta asking a question about writing (which I am sending on to Dr. L) and asking to see it in the Lombardo, here it is:

    21. In Book 6 on line 173ff we read in the Lombardo:

    But he sent him to Lycia with a folding tablet
    On which he had scratched many evil signs...

    That is very sharp reading, Shasta, and I've asked that and one on Linear A and B as well!

    So now we have FINALLY gotten together, I do apologize, it's nobody's fault but my own, grape season, harvest is in, (what's Greek for grapes?) we're just swamped, I do apologize, but I've just gotten up our 23 Questions to send the incredibly patient Dr. Lombardo. We first have to put them on an HTML page here so he can access IT, as well, thank you all for your great patience, it's in keeping with the 9 year siege, I promise to be more current in future, but like the Greeks and the Trojans, I'm in this for the long haul (good thing, huh?) As soon as we have the page ready I'll link it here and you can start submitting questions for the next set?!?

    Let me ask you all something, let's get YOUR opinions, normally in many classes or book clubs reading The Iliad, you will not read every book in The Iliad? You skip several of them? I would like to try to read them all , if you're game? I have the time, we are incredibly fortunate to have the wonderful Dr Lombardo and Dr. Stone, I say let's read each of the books so we can say we read them ALL, what say you??

    We'll do whatever you like?

    OK I've called every bookstore between here and Greenville SC and nobody has the Weil, so have ordered it online. Those of you, as we move into Book 8, who have read Achilles in Vietnam, please feel free to bring us HIS thoughts on what is about to happen also.

    I am struck this morning by something I did not notice before, the repetition of numbers? For instance there are TWO duels so far, are there any other numbers or repetitions or patterns or cycles are we seeing, or that have you noticed?

    Shasta Sills
    October 27, 2004 - 09:22 am
    When Homer was itemizing the ships, the number that appeared most often was 40. There were other numbers, but most of the leaders brought 40 ships to the war. Of course, this can't be literally true. For some reason, the number 40 has always seemed like a good, round number when people are itemizing something. You see it again and again in the Bible. It rained on Noah for 40 days and 40 nights, for example. But it surprises me that the Greeks also used this number as a sort of general catchall number.

    October 27, 2004 - 09:29 am
    Homer might have been, he could have been singing a new song. Obviously there is a lot of tradition in his epic, but what he does with it has that original flavor about it.

    I can't answer your question, Mippy. Mainly what I post is stream of consciousness stuff, emotional knee-jerk reactions to what I'm reading. I would certainly never attempt to role-play Zeus. As it is I'm beginning to feel like a persona non grata up here on Olympus for not showing the proper respect due to the gods. I may soon get booted out. Trouble makers in heaven are no more welcome than they are on earth.

    It's still an anything goes situation up here in this divine lululand. Zeus, despite the thunderbolts, is not all-powerful. Getting his way isn't always easy. What this heaven needs is a recognizable devil, one that can be shown as such. But all that came later. With Milton, I think it was, whose theology included much that was Homeric. Satan as the fall-guy.

    Ginny we definitely should give Simone Weil's thoughts some serious consideration. I'm still so caught up in the storyline of the Iliad that abstractions tend to befuddle me.

    What could be truer than to say: 'the human modified by its relations with force.'

    But after that Weil's thinking gets a little woolley. 'Force' and 'reason' are concepts used in a clever way for special pleading, tendentiously. I believe Weil in her wonderful thoughts about the Iliad displays a psychology specific to her time and circumstances.

    To be turned into a thing is a terrible fate for a human being. Helplessness in the face of force might leave one feeling that way. But it happens often enough, to the credit of all of us, that the human spirit thrives in that situation.

    And what is force? It might be the power of love. And just like that we're into the spiritual, with unimaginable frontiers beyond 'things'. After all it is Hector's love for Andromache that makes him a hero on the battlefield. A line is echoing in my mind: 'I could not love thee half so much, loved I not honor more.' Who was it that said that to his true love before going off to war?

    Malryn (Mal)
    October 27, 2004 - 10:08 am
    Richard Lovelace. "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars".
    TELL me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
    That from the nunnery
    Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
    To war and arms I fly.

    True, a new mistress now I chase,
    The first foe in the field;
    And with a stronger faith embrace
    A sword, a horse, a shield.

    Yet this inconstancy is such
    As thou too shalt adore;
    I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
    Loved I not Honour more.

    Shasta Sills
    October 27, 2004 - 01:16 pm
    Ginny asked me my definition of honor and glory. I don't have any definition for those words. They mean nothing to me. All I know is when men start talking about honor and glory, it means they are going to begin killing each other.

    I'm curious about these treasures that Helen brought with her when she ran away with Paris. What kind of treasures would these be? I can understand her packing her clothes and jewels, but it sounds like she ran away with a lot more than that.

    October 28, 2004 - 02:42 am
    On skipping chapters: the first time I started to read the Iliad, I did bog down in some long list and didn't finish. I was reading Fitzgerald, which isn't as readable as Lombardo, but I would hate for that to happen to us. Can we think of a way to make the "skippable" chapters optional? If they are scattered, we couls attach them to other chapters (i.e. read three chapters in a little over a week, and point out that one is missable). If they are in a lump, it's harder. How many are there, and how are they distributed?

    October 28, 2004 - 04:43 am
    Excellent thought on a way to skip chapters! Ginny, would that work??
    Whoever is reading the wonderful Lombardo edition will probably read it all, at least for the poetry, if not for more detailed discussion.

    Joan, I had a similar experience with the Alexander Pope translation. It wasn't clear who was who or what occurred. As soon as the Lombardo edition laid out the epic, then the beauty of Pope's lines was an "add-on" experience to understanding this work of art which we call the Iliad.

    October 28, 2004 - 05:36 am
    Ginny asked who we thought was responsible for the war. The only answer I can come up with is Aphrodite. Think about it. She neglected to tell Paris that Helen already had a husband, so I'm assuming that Paris had no idea what he was doing. In part, it is also Agamemnon's fault, as he did not care about Menelaos's wife. He just wanted Troy.

    Pat H
    October 28, 2004 - 08:31 am
    I certainly intend to read all the books, and to read them aloud, which is what I have done so far. When I try to read Lombardo silently, I can't; it keeps calling to be sounded out.

    If there are some chapters that are normally skipped, I like JoanK's idea of making the optional or bundling them with others so as not to spend too much time on them.

    October 28, 2004 - 08:53 am
    Shasta, I can appreciate the problem you have with 'honor' and 'glory.' In the abstract they certainly seem like empty phrases, something like other figments of the imagination, or like the ephemeral scent of roses.

    But when the competitions and hazards of life begin to affect ones reputation, ones good name, or ones standing in the community, or ones passion to excel kicks in, then honor and glory are only other names for all those countless motivations for recognition by the individual.

    It is a fact that honor and glory are won in battle. But I think we have already heard enough from the heroes at Troy to realize that when the fighting actually begins, it's kill or be killed. And it's stated that way several times, I believe. They seemed to have known that they were kidding themselves with these grand notions.

    Another interesting point you bring up is the question about Helen's treasures. They must have been considerable as you mention, on the strenghth of the evidence in the book. I seem to remember reading that Menelaus was out of town when Helen and Paris absconded. Perhaps Menelaus returned to an empty castle. It happens.

    I've started reading Umberto Eco's BAUDOLINO. It begins with the sacking of Constantinople in 1206. And right off, I read about a huge statue of Helen being toppled, with Helen left laying on her side. And giant Medusa heads are found in the subterranean reservoirs under the city. Its all like seeing myths come alive.

    Shasta Sills
    October 28, 2004 - 01:22 pm
    When I was in literature classes in college, they told us about "the telling details." I think Homer was very good at these picturesque little details. Specific details are more convincing than sweeping generalizations. They say, "I was there and I saw exactly what happened."

    I especially liked the part about the nine volunteers casting lots to see who would fight Hector. Today, people would write their names on slips of paper and put them in a hat. But those soldiers were probably illiterate. What they did was each pick up a small stone and scratch some symbol on it to identify himself. Just as today an illiterate would sign his name with an X. He would take out his knife and scratch something on the stone. I would love to know what kind of scratches they made. This kind of detail takes me right into that battleground with those Greeks.

    Okay, Jonathan, if you say honor and glory are necessary, I'll take your word for it. I knew you would defend them since you are such a romantic guy.

    October 28, 2004 - 07:21 pm
    Thank you all for the great input on the different ideas of reading The Iliad, and the great points. I'd like to move on to Book VIII today, but there's lots you have said to ponder first.

    Jonathan mentions the thunderbolts, didn't you all LOVE the way book 7 ends?

    Zeus, sitting up there, is thundering, love that:

    Devised evil for them, thundering terribly.

    Love that. Reminds me of Washington Irving and his bowling gods in the sky. And the next morning we have dawn and Zeus assembling all of them in Book 8.

    Jonathan, I keep thinking of Milton, too, it's very like, I think you're right and Milton's theology was Homeric, I wonder if he acknowledged that?

    Thank you Malryn for that great poem, somebody earlier also mentioned a war poet, and I saw this yesterday, in an old Latin text, it's the famous saying by Horace on the

    Gates of Arlington National Cemetery: Click to Enlarge

    If you click on the enlargement I believe you can clearly see an ancient helmet and sword there, sort of a carry over of the ancient ideals of heroism.

    But I'm not sure WHAT to make of Zeus in this Book 8!!

    Of course Dulce et Decorum Est is the title of an horrific poem, the best known poem of WWI, by Wilfred Owen, and it, like Homer's battle scenes, is quite graphic, but I think he comes to a different conclusion. Or does he?

    Jonathan, what provocative thoughts on the Weil, I can't wait for it to come, and this!! And what is force? It might be the power of love. WOW! I need the BOOK, force would seem the opposite of love, to me. I hope it gets here soon! (Unimaginable frontiers beyond things!) Need the book!

    Good point Shasta on the treasures, didn't somebody say somewhere that a lot of that stuff was gotten by looting? Pillaging?? I'm not sure she brought treasures, but I'm murky on this whole myth about Aprhodite, Athena, Hera and Paris, does anybody know?

    Joan K, excellent suggestion, the wisdom of Solomon: we can schedule to discuss Chapters XX and YY and if chapter ZZZ comes in the middle those who really don't want to miss a word (as have written in email) can read those and those who don't, won't need to.

    Some are pretty much endless repetition but let's be able to say we've read it all, we've got time? We're already on 8 and it's only October?

    Here's how they are often arranged, the more pivotal or important books, let's adjust this schedule:

  • Books I-VI
  • We're currently doing 7 and 8
  • Books 9 and 16, (apparently 9 is very important) now a gap here of 5 books of "carnage," tho 12 is somewhat important apparently, and then

  • Books 17 and 18,

  • Books 19 and 20

  • Books 21, 22, and 24.

    So how do you propose scheduling this? For instance, some of these analyses I'm reading say Book 10 doesn't even BELONG in the Iliad, it's so strange, we can ask Dr. Lombardo that!

    Meanwhile I went ahead with 7 and 8 as you can see, so we really need to know eftsoons how you want to handle the rest? I am open to suggestion, want to just do 2 a week? How long would that take us if we did, is that a comfortable reading schedule?

    I mean it just depends on the length of time you're in for? We took a YEAR to read The Odyssey in 1997 and I should know, I led it, but it just depends on the TIME you have? Keeping in mind that some of us are determined to read all, (but not ALL of us) and if YOU, dear Loyal Reader, are struggling with a translation that makes no sense, please get the Lombardo, it's like the difference in night and day?

    Let's discuss our schedule, I had 9, 10, and 11 for the next week's worth?

    Mippy, yes I believe it would if we can cleverly figure out how to do this!

    OK now Greatbooksfan99, so YOU say that the choice Paris made was not deliberately bad or vain but because he did not have all the knowledge he needed, but again, … we MUST find this myth online and bring it here! WE need to look at it, I'm foggy about it, can somebody look up Bulfinch online and see if you can copy over the original story of the beauty contest and Paris's three choices (that story reminds me so much of those fairy tales about the three wishes or the Money's Paw, remember THAT one? Same thing. Three choices but NOT all as easy as you'd think! We can put YOU all in the role of Paris and see which YOU would have chosen!

    Pat, I didn't know you were reading them aloud, I love that! Ok help us bundle these chapters so we can proceed, I am finding the Lombardo as easy to read and understand as the newspaper and a lot more interesting, so it's nothing to read two chapters in a morning, but I am not sure how the rest of you feel, I must try it out LOUD!

    Jonathan, I've got Baudolino next to my chair by the fire I hope soon to kindle, I love the cover, amazing the subject matter, it sounds wonderful. Suddenly the world is full of exciting books to read!

    Oh good point Shasta on the casting of lots and the "telling details," I like that!

    OK let's move somewhat on to Book 8, I wish you all would explain a lot of it to me, it's confusing? Confusing, let's move on!
  • Ginny
    October 28, 2004 - 08:09 pm
    What are we to make of Book 8? Zeus says let's get this over with (l. 11) Keep out, stay out, the rest of you gods!

    Now this seems good advice, to me, do they all follow it? Why not?

    Who doesn't follow it and what is Zeus's reaction? What do you make of his reaction?

    I had to laugh out loud on line 118 ff, and when I read it I knew that Homer was a man. Nobody is sure what or who Homer was as Malryn pointed out early on but I know he's a man. Know how? Because of this:

    I am not so angry with her, since she
    Always opposes whatever I say.

    This is an absolute hoot, he's ANGRY at his daughter ("the grey eyed one must learn what it means
    To fight with her father." But as for his wife?

    I absolutely laughed out loud, he sounds like my husband!

    I got a LOT of sympathy there for Hera haahaha

    She just has her own mind, and by gum, she gets in that chariot and off she goes, too. For somebody with a lot of supreme power as Zeus is continually reminding us, they sure do what they like, don't they?

    All of them, Athena, Hera, and LOOK at Apollo, he started it, in line 315: "This time Apollo
    Made the arrow swerve."

    Hello? Zeus just got thru saying butt out!

    (That thing about the poppy simile was awful, wasn't it?) Graphic, and the contrast with nature, really startling.

    But now a problem arises. Zeus knows how to stop Hera and Athena.

    Line 485ff:

    Hector will not be absent from the war
    Until Achilles has risen up from beside his ship
    On the day when the fighting for Patroclus' dead body
    Reaches its fever pitch by the ships' sterns.
    This is divinely decreed.

    Divinely decreed? By whom? Why are we seeing into the future here and why does it seem Patroclus will die?

    And then Thetis was brought up again on lines 277ff. It's perfectly clear that something has been fulfilled, remember Thetis at his knee? But WHAT? And what DID Achilles ask his mother for?!? Way back there, and she said she would do, but now we learn it might not turn out the way he thought? Help??

    Now what is Hector DOING? He's...camping out on the plain, he says their little wall and ditch are nothing to him, but…and he's going to KEEP them from entering their ships? How can he do that? Don't you think that's a strange and bold move here?

    (Has anybody cast a thought for Achilles? What must he be thinking watching this? Is he getting nervous for his own safety? Are the other Greeks beginning to mumble and murmur and look askance at him?) The enemy approacheth! What do we know of the Rage of Achilles in Book 8?

    Did you notice that peaceful image right at the end of Book 8, the stars in the sky and the shepherd smiling and then do you realize what it's compared to? Wow.

    I'm having some problems understanding Zeus here. He's wishy washy. One minute he's following his divine plan and the next minute he feels sorry for Agamemnon, "Zeus pitied his tears…" (line 247). One minute he's mad at Athena and the next he says oh don't worry, that's ok? What do you see as going on with Zeus here? Is HE confused too?

    Love the scales, did you catch the scales? And we're so used to the image of the balance and scales we don't blink an eye and remember we're reading about the Bronze Age!

    And here's Hector with his spear and it's 16 FEET long! Do you realize what a humongous length that is? There are quite a few rooms in 2004 he couldn't walk upright in!

    ONE thing is for sure: the calm and peace of Books III and IV where nobody wanted to fight are over, Hector and Co are definitely READY and spoiling for a fight. I don't know much about military tactics but this seems strange to me, to camp out there in the open right in front of the enemy? All night?

    October 29, 2004 - 05:19 am
    Well, I guess I was wrong about Paris. Apparently, he DID know, he just didn't care. By the way, I did find a text that tells the basic gist of the story.

    -----------------The Judgement of Paris------------------

    When Hermes came to Mount Ida with the three goddesses, he called Paris and said to him:

    "Come here and decide which is the more excellent beauty of face, and to the fairer give this apple's lovely fruit." [Hermes to Paris. Colluthus, The Rape of Hellen 130]

    While Paris reflected, the goddesses, who for the occasion had bathed their immortal bodies, offered him bribes in order to win Eris' award of beauty: Athena offered him the command of Phrygia and the destruction of Hellas, or as some say, that he would be bravest of mortals and skilled in every craft. Likewise Hera offered him, besides wealth, the dominion over Asia and Europe. But Aphrodite offered him the hand of Helen, whose beauty was famous worldwide, and this bribe won the Apple.

    ----------------What Paris did not think about---------

    From the moment he thought he could get the daughter of Zeus, there was no more 'Oenone' for Paris, and he thought the bribe to be most splendid.

    The fact that Helen was already a married woman, herself mother of a little daughter, did not disturb his heart, nor the fact that he was second, not only in marrying her, but also in stealing her. For Theseus had already abducted her years ago, and she was not a maid when the DIOSCURI rescued her, razing the city of Aphidnae where Theseus kept her hidden. So what happened to Troy had already been rehearsed in Attica for the sake of the same woman, who, as some suggest, was perhaps inclined to lend herself to theft. Even less did Paris evaluate his new bride's real dowry: a powerful fleet of avenging war-ships, determined to ruin Paris' city and family, and to bring the stolen beauty back. And above all he earned the eternal enmity of the two spurned goddesses, who never forgave him, nor his family nor his whole country, the humiliation they had suffered by not being chosen.

    October 29, 2004 - 05:58 am
    Thank you, GB! It looks to me as if PARIS didn't have much choice, doesn't it? There are 3, choose one, whichever one you choose the other two will hate you? So Paris apparently chose temporal pleasure? And I'm wondering if there's a moral here, which one would YOU all have chosen??

    October 29, 2004 - 09:57 am

    I wouldn't have accepted the task. Any man who
    would is a fool. Especially if the females in the
    contest are Goddesses who could make one's life
    very difficult. Since Paris accepted the challenge
    he was a fool and since he was a fool he took the
    wrong bribe from the wrong Goddess. He should have
    figured out which Goddess was the most powerful, who
    could protect him from the other two and awarded her
    the Apple.

    Tiger Tom

    October 29, 2004 - 10:14 am
    Would you have had a CHOICE, Tom? As Paris?? CHOICES seem to be big in this thing all of a sudden?

    October 29, 2004 - 10:44 am

    Yes, he had a choice, two of them.
    1) to accept making the decision to award
    the apple to one of the females and 2)
    awarding the apple to one of them.

    I do not recall his arm being twisted or Zeus making him do it. All Zeus said was for the three to ask Paris to award the apple to one of them.

    Tiger Tom

    Shasta Sills
    October 29, 2004 - 01:53 pm
    I agree with Tiger Tom. He should have politely refused to judge that beauty contest on the grounds that he was not qualified to make such an important decision. Then all three would have been happy. And if he really wanted Helen, all he had to do was ask her to run away with him. She didn't seem to need much persuasion.

    There's a fascinating little segment that I like. (Fagles 209-220.) Hector is shouting his horses onward into the thick of battle. He's talking to them, telling them what he expects of them because they have been so well-treated, reminding them that Andromache fed them "honey-hearted wheat" and gave them wine to drink. (Princess Andromache is out in the barn feeding the horses?) What was this honey-hearted wheat? and should horses be drinking wine? Obviously, Andromache didn't have to feed the horses. She did it because she loved horses. But should warhorses be made into pets like this? Wouldn't you train a warhorse by more rigorous methods?

    "After them fast, full gallop!" Hector shouts. "After that stallion-breaking Diomedes!" I suspect Diomedes didn't spoil his horses with wine and honey-hearted wheat.

    I find all these details about Greek life fascinating. We forget how important horses were before automobiles were invented.

    Shasta Sills
    October 29, 2004 - 01:58 pm
    Ginny, I laughed too when Zeus said he expected opposition from Hera because she was his wife. Homer is making a wry observation about marriage here.

    October 29, 2004 - 02:25 pm
    What becomes very clear in all this, is how impossible it has become for Zeus to run a tight ship, to make a better Heaven, and a better life on earth.

    It's time to put the blame for the Trojan War where it belongs. Paris is to be pitied. He was born to be the downfall of Troy. It was in the cards. Knowing this, his parents Priam and Hekuba had him taken to Mt Ida, to be left there to die. He did not, thanks to the kindness of a shepherd. He was turning out very well, getting a reputation of being a good judge of bulls, I beieve it was, when he was given the impossible task.

    Given the duty to choose the best-looking of three goddesses must have seemed like a delightful chore. His naivete is breathtaking. Zeus had declined the business, and was passing the buck. Paris proceeded to make a calamity out of it for his people by turning it into choosing one of three prizes. In all innocence he must have felt that would end the matter.

    To the everlasting ruination and downfall of so many brave young warriors, and cities, Troy being only the first, there were others that Zeus later destroyed with Hera's consent, as we read in Bk I, resulting in the downfall of a civilization and bringing on a dark age lasting until Homer's time...all as the dire consequence of that ancient beauty contest.

    Who could ever have guessed that the losers would get so sore about it, would make such a fuss over it, upsetting Heaven and making a shambles of mens' affairs. Or was it all for the sake of an epic?

    October 29, 2004 - 02:30 pm
    Zeus spoke: Your wrath is nothing to me (line 490)
    addressing Hera and Athena, followed by 5 lines of how the two could not prevent his decrees.

    Zeus brings up the fight for Patroclus' dead body to show he has decreed -- "divinely decreed" (line 489) -- and foreseen the upcoming stage of the war and to show that no matter how much the two goddesses were
    "scheming against Troy" (line 470), he, Zeus, remained all-powerful.

    The word "wrath" particularly jumps out, since we know this is all about the "wrath" of Achilles, but here echoed by the wrath of the two godesses.

    The foreshadowing of the death of Patroclus (book 22) serves to carry the reader (listener in Homer's time) through the intervening books, with a god-like foresight.

    October 29, 2004 - 02:40 pm

    Cat Woman
    October 29, 2004 - 05:46 pm
    I agree that Paris didn't have a choice about judging the contest. It was his fate to bring about Troy's downfall. If he'd said no, I imagine he'd have found (or the gods would have found)another way for him to be responsible.

    My Great Books discussion group did the Iliad in September. Most of the discussion focused on whether Zeus was responsible for decreeing the downfall of Troy and everything that happened to the various warriors or whether some other force is behind it and Zeus, too, must bow to it. If so, what is it? One of the members of this group claimed to know but refused to say, just smiled slyly and said we all should know. Well, I didn't. I suspect he thought Hera was behind it all and poor henpecked Zeus had to go along. Does anyone want to venture a guess? Jonathan, you're up there on Olympus. What's the word from the gods?

    October 29, 2004 - 08:28 pm
    and the anger of the warrior.

    In book VII, Zeus replies to Here, his oxeyed Queen:..."For I tell you that the mighty Hector is going to give his ennemies no rest till swift Achilles comes to life again beside the ships, when they are fighting at the very sterns, in desperate straits, over the body of Patroclus. That is decreed by Heaven".

    Achilles coming to life by decree is a sign that he is of God and ruled by the God. At this time, he thinks, his destiny depends on which forces he will choose: the mortal or the immortal. Only for all the Gods, including Achilles, the "Cloud-compeller Zeus", his father, is not giving anyone, freedom of choice.

    At least, now, Zeus siding with his wife Here to give some light of hope for us Greek' siders!?


    October 30, 2004 - 12:59 am
    Zeus says " That is decreed by Heaven". This makes it sound as if it is not Zeus that decreed it, but something behind him.

    This is not as strange as it sounds. I ran across a poem from the Vedas (a set of poems and prayers that was compiled in India about the same time as Homer was writing) which describes the creation of the universe. It starts to describe creation, and then notes "The Gods were created later".

    October 30, 2004 - 01:22 am
    I have been struck from the beginning by the fact that, even though Homer depicts masses of soldiers so vividly, when he describes combat, it is always in terms of individual engagements. Apparently that is not unique to him. In discussing early Persian art in The Story of Civilization discussion, we ran across this statement:

    " One relief, carved on a rock wall at the Tang-i-Ab gorge near the Firuzabad plain, consists of three separate dueling scenes that express vividly the Iranian concept of battle as a series of individual engagements."

    (Unfortunately the date of the relief is not given).

    October 30, 2004 - 01:45 am
    So with hearts made high these sat night-long by the outworks of battle, and their watchfires blazed numerous about them. As when in the sky the stars about the moon's shining are seen in all their glory, whent he air has fallen to stillness, and all the high places of the hills are clear, and the shoulders out-jutting, and the deep ravines, as endless bright air spills from the heavens and all the stars are seen, to make glad the heart of the shepherd; such in their numbers blazed the watchfires the Trojans were burning between the waters of Xanthos and the ships, before Ilion. A thousand fires were burning there in the plain, and beside each one sat fifty men in the flare of the blazing firelight. And standing each beside his chariot, champing white barley and oats, the horses waited for the dawn to mount to her high place.

    So the Trojans held their night watches.

    Reminds me of Shakespeare - night before the battle with the French. The men sit quietly around the fires thinking of what is to happen at dawn. The horses too are restless under the clear starry night.

    October 30, 2004 - 05:29 am
    I'm always interested to know what is happening in different parts of the world at the same time, especially in historical periods when there was much less contact than now. I've been meaning for some time to look and see what was being written elsewhere while Homer was writing The Iliad. here is a start.

    If The Iliad is the first book in Western culture, the first book in India was The Vedas, a collection of prayers and poems. Like the Iliad, it was passed down in oral tradition for many generations before being written down. Durant in The Story of Civilization (Book I) says it was collected between 1000 and 500 BCE. He doesn't say when it was written down, but it was at least being passed on orally at the same time The Iliad was written.

    From it, here is a poem that discusses the creation of the universe. As I said above, it is relevant to Ginny's question of whether it was Zeus that decreed people's fate, or whether they believed there was something greater than him. This incredible poem is clear on that point, but unclear on many others.

    Neither Aught nor Naught existed; yon bright sky Was not, nor heaven’s broad woof outstretched above. What covered all? What sheltered? What concealed? Was it the water’s fathomless abyss? There was not death–yet was there naught immortal, There was no confine between day and night; The Only One breathed breathless by itself; Other than It there nothing since has been. Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled In gloom profound–an ocean without light– The germ that still lay covered in the husk Burst forth, one nature, from the fervent heat. Then first came love upon it, the new spring of mind–yea, poets in their hearts discerned, Pondering, this bond between created things And uncreated. Comes this spark from earth Piercing and all-pervading, or from heaven? Then seeds were sown, and mighty powers arose– Nature below, and power and will above– Who knows the secret? Who proclaimed it here, Whence, whence this manifold creatin sprang? The gods themselves came later into being– Who knows from whence this great creation sprang? He from whom this great creation came, Whether his will created or was mute, The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven, He knows it–or perchance even He knows not.

    October 30, 2004 - 08:16 am
    Wow what fanstastic posts, more on that in a second, (Joan that is absolutely wonderful), but yesterday I walked down to the mailbox and came back up with Simone Weil's The Iliad or the Poem of Force!! Looking thru it as I climbed the hill, my heart sank: it's in French hahahaa and I thought jeepers, trot out the old French dictionary, but BEHOLD, it's a critical edition with a translation and many notes, like these:

    Weil studied Greek in her school days and taught Greek literature and language during her adult life. She carried in her memory large passages of Greek tragedy and was keenly aware of the nuances of poetic diction.

    So she did know her Greek and the Iliad and so rather than my trying to slap aimlessly at what she's said, (which is all I can do till I get it read) I think we might take, those of us who have the time to read, her also? and to bring here her own thoughts. She has different reflections, just like Dr. Shay does, on different parts of the book, and together they will add to our chorus here: here are a couple this morning, I think they will add to what we're saying here?

    The strong is never perfectly strong, nor the weak perfectly weak, but neither knows this. They believe they are of different species; the weak man does not consider himself like the strong, nor is he regarded as such. He who possesses force moves in a frictionless environment; nothing in the human matter around him puts an interval for reflection between impulses and action. Where reflection has no place, there is neither justice nor forethought… hence the ruthless and mindless behavior of warriors. …

    I thought this was important for us:

    Other men do not pause in their actions to have some regard for their fellow man; they conclude that destiny has granted them every license and none to their inferiors. From this point they overstep the force at their disposal—inevitably, for they fail to see its limits. They are then surrendered ineluctably to chance and things no longer obey them. Chance sometimes helps, sometimes hurts them; they are exposed quite naked to sorrow, without the armor of power that had shielded their spirit with nothing to insulate them any longer from tears.

    This geometrically stringent chastisement, which spontaneously punishes the abuse of force, was the primary issue in Greek thought. It constitutes the heart and soul of epic; under the name "Nemesis," it is the subject of Aeschylean tragedy; the Pythagoreans, Socrates, Plato move from this starting point to their reflections on man and the cosmos. The concept is familiar wherever the spirit of Greek thought has penetrated. This Greek idea perhaps survives as "karma" in religions of the East pervaded by Buddhism. But the West has lost it, lacking even a word for it in any of it languages. The notions of limit, measure, balance, which should shape the conduct of life, are employed only in a mundane way in the technical sphere. We are geometricians of mere matter; the Greeks were, from the outset, geometricians in the apprenticeship of virtue.

    The progression of war in the Iliad comprises a simple seesaw movement. The victor of the moment feels himself invincible, even though a few brief hours earlier he encountered defeat. He forgets that victory is ephemeral. At the end of the first day of the campaign recounted in the Iliad, the victorious Greeks could undoubtedly have gained the object of their efforts, namely Helen and her riches; at least if one imagines, as Home did, that the Greek reason had reason to believe Helen was in Troy. The Egyptian Priests, who must have known stated to Herodotus much later that she was actually to be found in Egypt. At all events, that evening, the Greeks do not want her any more (7. 400-403)

    They want nothing less than the whole. All the wealth of Troy as booty, all the palaces, the temples, and the houses in ashes; all the women and children slaves; all the men corpses.

    I wonder if this Chance and this concept of Greek thought, or maybe the combination of Nemesis or Fate might have been what that member of your group, CW, was folding his arms and smiling about? Don't you find that type of behavior annoying!?! Hahaaha I tell you what? Let's phrase that instance into a question and ask Dr. Lombardo, I betcha HE knows?!?


    October 30, 2004 - 11:57 am
    Kidsal, that caught my eye too, that wonderful scene of the Trojan camp at night. The campfires seem to outnumber the stars. A quick calculation makes it fifty thousand Trojan warriors waiting for the morning. Many must have fought valiantly. Many died. Why, as Joan asks, is attention focused only on individual engagements? For easier empathy and identification on the reader's part, I suppose. Who was it that said regarding casualties or victims: one is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. I think it was Stalin.

    What a melee in Bk 8, with the gods working at cross purposes. Zeus' directions and threats in the assembly of the gods in the early morning light are quickly frustrated by the machinations of his wife and daughter, Hera and Athene. They will not be denied their freedom of choice. Zeus himself seems at odds with himself over how he should achieve his purposes. He has favorites on both sides. But there is the promise to Thetis, on whom he once had a crush, to look after her son Achilles, to make him crucial to a Greek victory.

    To bring Agamemnon around to seeing the absolute need of Achilles' help, Zeus has to throw Agamemnon into despair. That's easily done. A little thunder from the mountain top, a little noise from the Trojans, and soon Agamemnon is lamenting:

    'Father Zeus, is there any other great king you have ever crushed with such delusion as mine?' 8:13-14, +or- five or so. And then!! 'Zeus, grant me this one prayer: allow us to escape with our lives and get away, and do not let the Achaians be brought down in this destruction by the Trojans.'

    Frustrated also in her efforts to play a role on the ground, is Zeus favorite daughter Athene, who feels the constraints imposed on her, and is provoked into exclaiming:

    'But my father is raging with his mind on evil - hard god that he is, a constant blight, the foiler of my plans.' 8:360

    It's easy to see the need for a Bk 8 in Homer's grand scheme of things, to bring Achilles back into the story in a meaningful way. But what a sea of uncertainty on the battlefield. Nestor remains philosophical about divine intervention with his, you win some, you lose some. But for the rest, as for moderns with a religious bent, it must have seemed that the gods work in mysterious ways. Einstein always maintained that god does not play at dice. I wonder if he ever read the Iliad.

    October 30, 2004 - 12:14 pm
    Ginny, I hope you didn't take a criticism for a slap in anything I said about Simone Weil's thoughts on the Iliad.

    October 30, 2004 - 02:17 pm
    Hah? hahaha NO I'm just trying to show I am reading it ahahaha And add something to the discussion, I'm really getting a lot out of it! I'm late but the vineyard is full of happy grape pickers, once the sun goes down I can slap on in here! hahaha

    October 30, 2004 - 02:21 pm
    OH i see no no I'm saying that rather than I should just pull something out and slap it down as if I know what she's saying (which is all I can do till I get 3 seconds alone with the book) I'll just relate what I have been able to read so far, I AM surprised she was a Greek scholar, tho. more when the sun goes down, like Dracula, I'm at my best then. hahaah A woolly menace hahahaa

    October 30, 2004 - 04:50 pm
    I have so enjoyed reading all of your points and...this is really the way I like to read something like this? How do you like to read something? I like to read it for myself and think for myself what it might mean or what I think the issues are or...there are always so many layers, for instance, I am now beginning to wonder if this is a tragedy, and then I like to come in and bounce it off you all and see what YOU think and what you add that I missed, and then I like to look at the critics and analysts, because they ALWAYS know something I missed and then if I'm lucky as we are here we can hear from TWO scholars and I don't see how we can lose!! WE are so lucky here~!

    Boy this Weil book is amazing. LOOK! Look at this, she's got the Greek in the back whenever she quotes something! For instance, see the numbers? Ok this is from Book 21, lines 74-85. And it's her paragraph 58. This the one which starts out "I am at your knees, Achilles; have a thought for me, have mercy." And then she goes on to explain stuff about this quote and what's behind it, this is like a TREASURE chest, I am so grateful to Dr. Stone who knew about it, can you figure out which word here is Achilles? Is this not a thrill? We need a course in Ancient Greek!

    This is the last paragraph in the Lombardo on page 405: "I am at your knees, Achilles. Pity me." WOW!!

    And here for Book 8 she has this: And this is her paragraph 51, the Iliad Book 8, lines 229-234. In this paragraph she is talking about how they started out boldly their hearts light but now the enemy is absent and she's talking about how "Except when one has a spirit downcast by the enemy's reputation, one is always much stronger than an absent opponent, who imposes no yoke of necessity…". They're almost having a holiday. The translation starts " what happened to our boasts, used to bolster our brave selves..." and in the Lombardo it's on the very bottom 2 lines of page 149, "What happened to all our boasts, all the big talk
    That we were the best? Remember Lemnos?"

    how ABOUT that?


    October 30, 2004 - 05:37 pm
    But now, Tom, if a goddess comes up and asks you to choose, right there? Do you really have a choice? What would he say, er…no I don't think so, Ladies? He would have been turned into a mushroom!

    What version of the myth are you reading, let's all identify who our sources are here, Hamilton, Bulfinch, who?

    Shasta, that's a very diplomatic answer, like Tom! I think the way you phrased that probably WOULD have pleased all three of them but apparently Paris is not the brightest bulb in the pack.

    OK you two, now, tell us this: what did YOU think of his refusal when the Trojans finally all said, oh let's give her back, AND all those treasures, what do you make of Paris saying no?

    Good question on horses as pets when used for war, Shasta, I missed all that for some reason, and I don't know the answer!!

    Jonathan, I love the way you put that, so you see Zeus at fault!

    Oh good point Mippy on that use of the word wrath again, I wonder if it's menis the same word used for Achilles' wrath, we should ask that?

    Oh good point about Patroclus. I've got The Odyssey in Greek but not the Iliad, I'm tempted to see a copy at the library and see what I can pick out, I think it's fascinating!

    CW what a fascinating question about Zeus or Fate, I'll put it in the heading, I certainly, for one, don't consider Zeus henpecked tho! Hahahaa Do you all?

    Good point Francoise on that epithet, "ox eyed," there are more ox eyed women in this thing than a cow herd, are we to consider these eyes large and limpid? May we assume they are not blue eyed? I do like this! "At this time, he thinks, his destiny depends on which forces he will choose: the mortal or the immortal" Good point!

    Now I like that point too, who has the most hope here, would you say? We Greeks? We Trojans? The gods who have been told to shut up and sit on their hands or…the Women, some of whom ARE goddesses?

    I think the poor mortal women are in the worse shape or are they?

    Joan K, how interesting about the Persian conception of combat being a series of individual battles, we need to watch this and see what happens to our own battles in this!

    <kidsal that's beautiful, isn't it, the imagery and at the same time it's 50,000 soldiers waiting for the dawn, great writing.

    Joan, that is so fantastic, thank you for bringing it here, it's incredible, I would love to hear more, I wonder what the Egyptians were writing about this time, the Chinese, what a super idea to compare them! I think Indian literature, in and of itself, is amazing, the more of it you read the more interesting it gets. The Panchatantra, (5th c) the Bhagavadgita, the Mahabharata, in Sanskrit, fabulous things. We ought to read them some day.

    Anyway, that's great, thank you so much!

    All right so now at this point, ye Greeks watching the camp fires of 50,000 Trojans who have come out to meet you, what are you thinking? What are your thoughts about Achilles? Isn't it time for HIM to get up? Those of you in the Trojan camp, it's pretty happy going, right? Everybody is feeling flush, sort of camping out. The gods are…watching, along with the women of Troy from the battlements. But even tho night has fallen on the 2nd day, our Hector is stoking the troops up, they're cheering, he's saying we'll SEE tomorrow what this Diomedes is really made of, and they certainly have not neglected the sacrifices, "Bulls by the hundred," to the immortal gods. Isn't it somewhat ironic that they are all praying to the same gods, kind of pitiful actually.

    Reminds you of that movie Bruce Almighty where he found out it was not easy to be God, I only saw a little of the trailer but it was cute, the bit about the computer and the prayers coming in? There were so many he hit ANSWER ALL YES and felt pretty good till a billion more came pouring in.

    Do we have any horsemen among us? I know that mash or warm mash is often fed to horses but I'm not sure about the alcohol content compared to what we're reading here?

    Ok since so far everybody wants to read all the books, let's do the important Book 9 and the strange Book 10 starting Monday?

    Is Hector's camp out on the plain a smart stratagem or the result of over exuberance? Is it smart, do you think? Why or why not? I'm going to say I'm a little surprised at Hector? I see he thinks he has his own back securely covered, but it's the old men and boys who will "bivouac tonight
    All around the city on our god-built walls."
    And the women are supposed to each light a fire in her own house. And this will guard "against a sneak attack" while the army is away.
    Enough for now. This is sound strategy." 533. IS it?

    October 30, 2004 - 05:50 pm
    So, all we women are sitting around waiting with the men, but we are more used to it than they are. We Trojan women are tending our fires, some of us weeping for our dead, others cautiously happy that our loved one lives another day. We women in the Greek camp may be glad or sorry won't be parcelled out again. Hera and Athena are nursing their resentment against Zeus, maybe plotting for tomorrow. None of us feel invincible, as the Trojan men do.

    October 30, 2004 - 05:53 pm
    I was doing the Saturday NY Times crossword puzzle today (the puzzle from hell) complaining to my fellow puzzler that I didn't know a single word. Just then, I read 49-down "ox eyed lady from the Iliad". HA!!!

    October 30, 2004 - 05:56 pm
    hahaa!! And it was one of the answers again on Encarta's fabulous Mind Maze game, do you all play that? Got that one in a heart beat, love that thing. Sort of Medieval?

    October 30, 2004 - 08:53 pm

    IF a Goddess i.e. one (1) came up to me and asked me to choose or whatever I would say what is it you want me to choose or do? Not much risk in that.

    However, if three (3) approach me to choose between them for any reason I would probably mess my trousers. Unlike Paris, I am not that foolish. Unfortunately, one would be between a rock and a hard place. Choosing would be hazardous to one's health and refusing to choose would be equally hazadous.

    So, as I have said: I would pick the most powerful Goddess because she could protect me from the wrath of the other two.

    By process of elimination: Aphrodite is not powerful enough to protect me so she would be out; It would be between Hera and Athena. Hera would win becasue she is powerful and is married to Zeus who would help her against Athena and Aphrodite.

    Tiger Tom

    October 31, 2004 - 06:11 am
    The Indian epic of Shri Khrishna and Shri Rama is very beautiful and it would be so wounderful to have it here.

    The women and Goddess have always proved to very influential in the ancient litterature. In ancient times, women had power unknown to the modern men and women of today. In these epic, we discover what it means to be a "Shakti", the feminine power in men, in war and peace.


    October 31, 2004 - 06:35 am
    Ooo lovely points here this morning, I must confess I would have missed the women entirely had Joan and now Francoise not been on the case, well done, oo the Shakti, ooo, good points.

    And Tom I had to laugh out loud in delight, we can see the US was WELL represented in our Embassies abroad by you (Tom had a career in the Diplomatic Corps) THAT is the most diplomatic answer I have ever seen, too bad YOU were not Paris!

    Well if Tom had BEEN Paris we wouldn't have had this incredible epic to read!

    AND a lovely lovely Sunday Surprise, Dr. Lombardo has returned answers to all our questions except one and he wants more time to develop the crane metallic wings simile, he is trying to paste the Greek in so we can see it, ]and as soon as we can get THEM up, you shall see them, what FUN this all is, and HARK! He's got a new translation of the Aeneid coming out?!? Now how long has it been since you read THAT one?

    hmmmmm Oh and he says SEND MORE!!!! Stay tuned!

    October 31, 2004 - 08:53 am

    Paris? Always wondered what it would be like
    to be a pretty boy. I got dedicated coward locked.

    Tiger Tom

    October 31, 2004 - 10:42 am
    Ominous words. I shudder to hear them. Woe is me. They remind me of my duty, when dark night comes, to reveal all hidden things. Tonight I'm committed to get out there and make the streets safe for kids while they're tricking and treating. Just the mention of Dracula reminds me of the frightful spirits who will be cruising about on this hallowed e'en, the dragons and gorgons and witches who will be laying in ambush for the innocent, unsuspecting guys like me. Ye gods, protect me from those I want to protect. I have little faith in these shields and corselets, grieves and helmets (finally got that right) with which I've armed myself. Where does one pick up a little courage? Whose department is that? It seems even gods will cut and run when the going gets tough.

    A scary night to all of you.

    Shasta Sills
    October 31, 2004 - 12:55 pm
    I'm still thinking about Helen's treasures. They may have been the dowry from her father when she married Menelaus. Did a dowry become the possession of the husband? Since Zeus was Helen's father, the dowry may have been quite large. Do you suppose he provided dowries for all his daughters?

    There seems to have been a lot of interaction between the gods and the mortals. But the sons and daughters of these gods seemed to inherit no godlike qualities. That's odd. Maybe the god-genes are not dominant when mixed with mortal genes. Those hybrid humans were just like all other humans. But then the gods were very much like humans too, except for their immortality.

    October 31, 2004 - 03:10 pm
    Oh good points, Shasta, but Aeneas was the son of a god, too, and he had very good qualities, I wonder, too, about the god gene, very super point, heck, some of the gods themselves don't act very godlike. We need to hear more on that dowry!

    Tom, watch yourself, I have a photo of you and you were definitely a pretty boy, hahahaa and I can prove it!

    Jonathan, courage, whence comes courage, courage in battle without demonizing the enemy, great points, safe night tonight, and here's a Halloween Trick for those of you staying in, here are the first 13 answers from Dr. Lombardo with more to come, he'd like more time on the crane's metallic wings to develop that simile, had problems pasting in the actual Greek to show you, so that's coming and he says SEND MORE!!

    How exciting this is, here's the first installment!

    SeniorNet Books is very excited and grateful to Dr. Lombardo for this opportunity to ask him questions about his translation of The Iliad.

    Questions Books I-VII:

    Q:1. "A wooly menace, A Dream" (2: 10) You are the only translator we have found who used this term and we love it. What is the Greek and what made you choose wooly menace? Fitzgerald says "fatal dream"—Pat H.

    • Will Dr. Lombardo tell us about the word involved here? And then there is Agamemnon's dream. Is that parody? Or the beginning of a long tradition in which Freud rang another change? Translating it as a 'wooly menace' is certainly doing it with poetic inspiration. One can conjure with that. Just as suggestive are Fitzgerald's 'fatal dream', already mentioned; Chapman's 'pernicious dream'; Hammond's 'evil dream'. ---Jonathan and Joan.

    A: “A wooly menace, a Dream” (2.10) The word That I translate here as “menace” (and Fitzgerald as “fatal”) is a homonym for a word meaning “curly, wooly.” Sometimes I translate a word or phrase in such a way as to bring out suggestive associations latent in the Greek. Freud is very good on the relation between myth and dreams: both express our fears and desires.

    Q:2. In Book 2 line 504, you don't use italics for the simile, why not? This occurs several times in the text, is there a reason why some similes are set off in italics and others not?

    A: The one-line simile at 2.504 is not italicized. I usually italicize only the longer similes, the ones that develop a poetic life of their own and draw us into themselves.

    Q:3. Bk 3/1-19:
    Two armies,
    The troops in divisions
    Under their commanders,

    The Trojans advancing across the plain
    Like cranes beating their metallic wings
    In the stormy sky at winter’s onset,

    • So far as we can see you are the only translator to use the cranes metallic wings imagery. Whatever made you think of that unforgettable comparison? What is the Greek?

    A: "Metallic wings" (3.5)[Dr. Lombardo is requesting more time to develop that simile...ginny]

    Q:4. How to pronounce Eumelus? In Lombardo's line the emphasis sounds good on the first syllable. In Chapman an emphasis on the second sounds right. It makes such a difference in one's enjoyment of the lines if these strange names can be made to roll off one's tongue.---Jonathan

    A: Pronunciation of Eumelus: I like Yoo-MEE-los. There is no canon of pronunciation of Greek names in English. Sometimes I don’t agree with the pronunciations given in the glossary of my own translation, but those given would be acceptable to most classicists.

    Q:5. In the back of the Fagles book, there is a pronouncing glossary; and since I know no Greek, I keep flipping back to find out how to pronounce the names. I try to guess the pronunciation and then check to see if I guessed right. But I also have Dr. Vandiver's tapes, and her pronunciations are not the same as Fagles'. She will use a short where Fagles uses a long i. Which is correct? Or are they both correct? ---Shasta

    A: There is a range of acceptable pronunciations. Long “i” generally reflects a British pronunciation.

    Q:6. 'Sing, Goddess.' Mark the capital G, in Dr Lombardo's translation. And what a wonderful translation. It would seem that Homer has, with that capital G, one of the muses in mind. One of the nine. Why not name her? (Jonathan)

    A: The Muses have names as early as Hesiod, who is roughly contemporary with Homer, but their functions are not distinguished until much later. I don’t think Homer has any one of the nine Muses in mind here or in the opening line of the Odyssey. In the Odyssey I translate “Speak, Memory…” The Muse is the Mind, which is what the word actually means in Greek (originally MONT-YA, the MONT being the same Indo-European base as Latin MENT, Eng. MIND).

    Q:7. You said in the interview that you have memorized Book I, how could any human being memorize this huge book? How do you envision the old storytellers telling this story, would they use notes of some kind? The details are staggering.

    A: As I say in the Translator’s Preface, the powers of the human memory are vastly under-rated these days. The more you memorize the easier it gets. It is entirely plausible to me that an individual could hold all of the Iliad and Odyssey in his or her mind.

    Q:8. What does haekwang mean? We were so excited to see you in the discussion we forgot to ask!
    A: Hae Kwang is my Buddhist name. The Chinese words mean “wisdom-light.”

    Q:9. We are having a continuing argument, no source we have consulted has been accepted as authoritative, everyone wants to turn to you on this question of Agamemnon's authority?

    • What right does Agamemnon have to be the leader of the combined Greek forces? In Book 4 line 306, Agamemnon tells Odysseus, "I would be out of line if I issued you orders." Can you describe what Agamemnon's role really was and if Achilles WAS challenging him in Book II? Here is one theory, will you comment on it?

      I have recently read a history book: “A Distant Mirror” by Barbara Tuchman, about France in the 14th century. I am extremely struck by the parallels between the ideas of “chivalry” in the middle ages and the description of the Greek army in the Iliad two thousand years earlier: the ideals and the way in which the army was organized and used. It helped me understand a lot of things about the Iliad. The first thing is that Greece was not a country. There was no overall leader and organization: instead our "heroes" are a lot of independent kings in independent kingdoms who aren't used to taking orders from anyone. Even when they band together, under a nominal "leader", they have no idea of the modern concept that in war there should be one commander and everyone should obey them. To these kings, their personal honor and dignity was too important to allow them to be subservient to anyone. Agamemnon is more like the chair of a committee than a military leader, and they obey him when they feel like it. This proved a disaster in medieval France, and may do so here too. They reveal that Mycenaean society was complex and highly specialized (from a separately functioning king and commander in chief down to distinctions between crafts whose meaning we can now only guess at), and also that it was strictly controlled form the top"

    • This is the opposite of what I thought: that these were independent kings. I was going by the sense of the Iliad, I am not an historian, I would like to hear Dr. Lombardo's take on this: ---Joan K

    • Let's ask Dr. Lombardo about that: Dr. Lombardo, I would be interested in your comments on JoanK's parallels between the Greek warfare and the 14th century –Pat H.
    A: Barbara Tuchman’s description of the political structure of chivalric Europe makes an excellent parallel for Iliadic Greece, but there was less structure and more independence in the Greece Homer represents. Another parallel might be the old mafia families, with Agamemnon being the “capo di tutti capi.”

    A:10. You quoted Herodotus as saying Homer gave the Greeks their Gods, is Homer the ultimate source for Greek mythology? IS the Iliad then the oldest reference to the Greek gods? We have read excerpts of " Herodotus and religion in the Persian war" in the Classical review by Jon D. Mikalson, and would like to know your thoughts on the origin of Greek mythology: ARE we looking at it?

    A: You have to look at Hesiod, too, especially Theogony, for the origins of Greek mythology. What Herofotis said was that Homer and Hesiod gave the Greeks their gods. Maybe I didn’t mention Hesiod in the interview.

    Q:11. Homer seems to treat both sides of the Trojan War with respect. Do you feel this was because he wished to please his audience or does it have a different meaning?

    A: Homer treats everything with respect, even inanimate objects. This is to me the most attractive aspect of his mind.

    Q:12. I recently read a translation of "The Song of Songs" with many notes on the original Hebrew. The translator noted that there were some words that only appeared in one place, and nowhere else in all the literature. So unless the root was recognizable, translators had to simply guess from the context what was meant. Does this occur in the Iliad? --Joan K

    A: Words occurring only once are called hapax legomena (sing: legomenon). There are many of these in Homer, but context usually makes the meaning pretty clear.

    Q:13. "Thus Hector." 6:299. We love this expression, and do not notice it in other translators, what is the Greek for it and what made you think of this particular expression?

    A: “Thus Hector.” Homer usually introduces his speeches with an entire line. I usually translate this line in its entirety. After a speech the typical phrase is something like “Thus he spoke.” I usually leave this out or leave out the verb and put in the name of the speaker. I like the finality of it, the summary quality.

    November 1, 2004 - 06:01 am
    Whoo Book 9 is stunning, isn't it? I can't wait to hear what you all think, I saw something different last night when I read it, you might say the eyes of the blind were opened, I am most anxious to see what YOU see in it today!

    First, here is the last part of Dr. Lombardo's answers to our Questions so far, don't you love the man and his post partum blues? AND a new book coming out!!

    Q:14. Book 3: 50: "but comes up short on offence and defense"…what is the Greek here, we love this: this is wonderfully descriptive.

    A: Homer actually has words for “offensive strength” and “defensive strength” : bie and alke (pronounce the “e” in both words), both qualities being important in warfare (and football).

    Q:15. How many words in Greek mean "rage" or "anger" and does the word used in connection with Achilles have a special meaning?

    A: The word for Achilles’ rage, the first word of the Iliad in Greek, is menis, which is related to our “mania.” Another common word is kholos, which is used to describe Agamemnon’s anger, and which literally means “bile.”

    Q:16. Did you select the book cover? What made you think of that image if so? If not, did you think it appropriate?

    A: Brian Rak, the editor at Hackett, and I picked the Iliad cover, the Odyssey cover, and the cover of my forthcoming Aeneid. All are black and white photographs representing iconic moments in American culture that resonate deeply with the subject of each epic, The landing at Normmandy for the Iliad, the earth rising over the lunar horizon for the Odyssey, and the Vietnam Memorial for the Aeneid.

    Q:17. Achilles is not mentioned in Book V or VI, yet the poem is about the Rage of Achilles. How do these chapters pertain to Achilles?

    A: Achilles is sitting out the war, nursing his anger. Suspense is building. He?ll be back. Meanwhile we are seeing the consequences of his rage in what is happening on the battlefield.

    Q:18. What a brutal battle!! I am not finished Book Five. I struggle with the names. Still, I come away knowing there is a very, very bloody battle taking place here. If possible, I could almost feel the spears hitting me and blood running from some wound... The injury and death is described so well I cringe.

    I'd love Dr. Lombardo to chime in about the actuality of the warfare, how it differed, how it was the same as modern warfare from the perspective of the soldier? ---Kleo

    A: The battle in Iliad 5-6 is really something, but the one day of warfare in Iliad 11-18, is the mother of all battles. I’ve never been in battle, so I don’t know what it is like personally, but I do think that the experience of the combat soldier is universal (hence the relevance of the cover photograph).

    Q:19. What is the Greek word for Fate? Which is the dominant theme in this book, Rage or Fate?
    A: The main Greek word for Fate is Moira, which means one’s destined allotment, what is due to happen to you. In the opening lines of the poem everything that is going to happen is ascribed to “the will of Zeus,” which is another way of expressing the notion of Fate (although Zeus’ relation to fate will come up in a critical way in Iliad 16).

    Q:20. In Book 6 on line 173ff we read:

    But he sent him to Lycia with a folding tablet
    On which he had scratched many evil signs...

    Fagles reads, "but he quickly sent him off to Lycia, gave him tokens, murderous signs, scratched in a folded tablet, and many of them too, enough to kill a man."

    Fagles said the Greek word 'scratching' is the word later used for 'writing', and a 'tablet' was a wooden board coated with wax that was used for short notes.

    • A. Could Homer read and write? Did written language exist at that time?--Shasta

    • B. Is this a written language and if so what language would this have been? Would this have been Linear A or B?

    • C. As a translator, even though Linear A is not Greek as we understand it, have you any interest in trying to decode it? What challenges await you in new translation? Have all the ancient extant Greek writings been translated or are there some waiting nobody has tried?

    A: Writing in Homer’s time. I think in Iliad 6 there is a dim memory of writing (maybe Linear B, the writing system in Mycenaean Greece, which is the period of the dramtatic action in Iliad. Or perhaps an awareness of Phoenician writing, or other writing systems which were in place in Homer’s time. But I don’t think this passage shows that Homer used writing, quite the opposite if anything. I myself have no active interest in Linear B, which is pretty well understood, or Linear A, which is not. The University of Texas has a program in Aegean scripts, run by Tom Paliama.

    Q:21. How long have you spent trying to get one section just the way you want it? Is it hard for you to come back into today's world when you immerse yourself in the texts?

    A: It took me countless hours to get the first nine lines of Iliad1 right. It’s not so much coming back to the real world after working on Homer, as not having the work of translating Homer to go back to any more. Working on the Aeneid was very similar (Virgil being a Roman Homer) but now that’s done too. I have a bad case of post partum blues.

    Q:22. The paragraphing in your text is different from that of Fitzgerald and Pope, among others. It makes much more sense. Butler did use paragraphs, but not offset quite so strongly. What made you decide to present the text in this way?

    A: Presentation of the text on the page is very important to me. It reflects performance more than anything. I did a lot of dramatic readings while I was working on the translation. The paragraphing, and the treatment of similes, is based on those readings. Homer, after all had no text, much less paragraphs. He was a performer though.

    Q:23. In your interview with Michael Leddy, you mention that "Originally I felt more at home in the Iliad, because the poetry in some sense is of a higher order." How is the poetry in the Iliad of a higher order? The Odyssey and the Iliad seem so different, do you think one person wrote them both?

    A: The Iliad is more intense. The vision of the gods, the sublimity of the universe, the tragic nature of human suffering is what I’m thinking of. The sun at noon. The Odyssey is more the setting sun. The grandeur remains.


    Book IX!

    What an incredible book! Crisis in the Greek camp!!! Agamemnon in tears! But things are not quite as they seem, what do YOU see in Book IX? Let's look at the two major players today: Achilles, who is found, of all things, playing the lyre, and Agamemnon, who is reduced to tears:

  • 1. In a stunning parallel to what happened in Troy, Nestor, the Voice of Reason, tells Agamemnon he was wrong and he should give back Briseis.

  • How does Agamemnon's answer differ from Paris'? What is the implication of his words?

  • Of all the concessions Agamemnon makes, he leaves out the biggest one: what does Agamemnon NOT say that he should?

  • Would it have made any difference to Achilles?

  • 2. What does the long story of Phoenix represent? Why is it in here?

  • 3. "It doesn't matter if you stay in camp or fight.
    In the end, weverybody comes out the same.
    Coward and hero get the same reward.
    You die whether you slack off or work>br> And what do I have for all my suffering
    Constantly putting my life on the line? " (lines 324ff)

    Why is Achilles adamant?

    Is there anything Agamemnon could have done that would change his mind?

    Do you respect Achilles more or less for his stance?

    Is he just having a temper fit and sulking or is something else going on?

  • Lines 423ff:

    My mother Thetis, a moving silver grace.
    Tells me two fates sweep me on to my death.
    If I stay here and fight, I'll never return home,
    But my glory will be undying forever.
    If I return home to my dear father liand
    My glory is lost but my life will be long.
    And death that ends all will not catch me soon.

    What are Achilles' real choices here? What have they to do with anger?

    A silver stringed lyre for your thoughts!
  • Jonathan
    To think that Achilles had to sack a town for his.

    There he sits in his tent, playing his new lyre, 'delighting his heart with this, and singing tales of men's glory.' 9:189. Were these the same tales that Homer drew on in composing his epic? Achilles recalls the 23 towns that he has sacked on this expedition. What a contrast to the weeping commander-in-chief, the 'capo di tutti capi', as Dr Lombardo suggests, in considering an organizational scheme for this military coalition.

    I would like to thank him for the help to be found in his answers to our questions. As for example in his explaining the meaning of 'wrath'. How interesting that it takes in both 'mania' and 'bile.' That is suggestive in considering the differences between Agamemnon and Achilles. The Iliad is, after all, a duel between these two. Their anger translates differently, and it doesn't take much looking to realize that their sense of honor does not correspond. Both are warriors, but their the similarity ends.

    Agamemnon a warrior? Not according to Diomedes. He has something to say about the 'folly' of the 'capo's' plans to retreat. Too bad, he says to Agamemnon, that Zeus, along with the honor of the sceptre, didn't give you some courage.

    And Achilles sits in his tent thinking long and hard about the meaning of his life, about war, about just about everyting, as it turns out in his replies to the emmisaries from Agamemnon.

    Shasta Sills
    How wonderful of Dr. Lombardo to take the time to answer our questions! It's very exciting to be able to talk to an author about his work. I especially liked his comment, "Homer treats everything with respect, even inanimate objects. This to me is the most attractive aspect of his mind." I love that too. I enjoy all the little details that Homer includes about the customs of the Greeks. They make you feel very close to those people who lived so long ago.

    I find it curious that a man was always identified by who his father was. Today we wouldn't do that unless the father was famous or outstanding in some way. But this identification is repeated again and again about each character even though we've already been told who his father was. In Book X, lines 78-79 Agamemnon says...

    "And call each man by his name and father's line, show them all respect. Not too proud now."

    Apparently, this reference to the family line was considered a kind of courtesy.

    In the case of Achilles the warrior, he is not alive until he dies. His vitality begins when he dies in battle. Isn't this the good fight for whatever stupid cause or reason?

    Agamemnon fails to give Achilles significance. More than any thing, Achilles wants to matter in this war. Achilles knows that he is the best warrior among the Greeks. In death he will matter. However, recognition while one is alive is not selfish. He wants to make a difference. Achilles should try to bury the bone of contention with Agamemnon since the earth is groaning with the dead.

    Not much is said about Briseis in Book 1 except for the fact that "She went unwillingly./" (Lombardo, Book 1, line 361.) I get the impression that her relationship with Achilles was firmly established. Her going to Agamemnon is a poor trade-off. She goes to a king, but she prefers Achilles who could be a diamond in the rough.

    Except recognition!

    Princes and warriors meeting and Achilles responding, is the most beautiful part of the book!

    In the first part, I find that Achilles not accepting material gain proves his human superiority and honour much beyond Ag's comprehension. Second, Achilles refusal marks his decision to become an immortal and fulfil his mothers prophecy.


    Ok where is everybody now, are you all trying to catch up? Do we need to go slower? This is a fantastic book and everybody wants to read every word, I have to tell you that this Book IX just blew me away and we may want to take more time with it, it's just fantastic. I want to get to your thoughts, but you know what I like best about IX? I completely misread it the first time!

    Have you ever held a grudge? You know, really been angry? I love this chapter, Achilles is NURSING his anger, and I mean he's been sitting there simmering. And while he's building up steam like a steam kettle, the Trojans suddenly start pressing forward and are SO confident, I just can't get OVER this, they are SO confident they camp out right smack in the open, leaving their city unmanned except by women, old men, and boys, and their campfires are like the stars. Boy. They await the dawn.

    Our intrepid heroes, (So MUCH in the new issue of People Magazine about heroes this month, I've torn it to shreds to bring here for comparison) but Agamemnon is in tears. I assume these are tears of frustration, how did you take them? And when Nestor says hey you were wrong, he says yes I was. Yes. Give her back, yes. Give him anything including my daughter's hand in marriage and all the spoils (aren't you glad you aren't a daughter of Agamemnon? They don't do well, do they? Hahaha)

    And go, go run to Achilles, take our best people, take Odysseus, and tell Achilles he can have ALL this, but there's ONE thing Agamemnon does not say?

    And I think that's crucial to the entire thing.

    What is it? Did you notice?

    But I misread Achilles!!!! Totally! I thought he was sulking, after all, the theme of the book is the RAGE of Achilles but I think there are a LOT more layers here to peel back, what a BOOK!! I'm going to put CHOICES in the list of themes in the heading, I think that entire issue, do they or do they not have a choice, what choices DO they make, is one of the key issues here, back in a mo….

    Oh good points, All, I found myself nodding right along when I read them, and you've all chosen different aspects here to focus on, love it. Jonathan, I too, thought of the Mafia here for some reason, I was thinking that when Agamemnon told Odysseus it would not be right if HE addressed O's troops something was up and it seemed to swing back at Joan K's Medieval thing, I am glad to see that answer, now we know. Also Dr. L answered the question from the, I think it was Temple site on what has this to do with Achilles, I really learned a lot from his answers and enjoyed every one of them, how marvelous to have him here!

    This quote, from Faulkner, represents a different view of war: "Because no battle is ever won, he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools" (William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury) I want to ask Dr. Stone about this, he's another formidable mind, and we need to engage him here, also.

    For instance, this is called Nihilism. I would like to know if any character in the Iliad embodies this and, given the illustration of the hammer and the nail, how ANY military commander can lead men in battle without seeing men as a means to an end, rather than an end, themselves. I meant to ask that in the class and did not, we swept on, so I want to ask Dr. S some things, too. Dr. Stone can address The Iliad from another layer: the philosophical area, let's ask him some questions as well, do you have any for him? Am deep in the Weil at this point, what a fabulous book, those of you who have read the Shay, please also pipe up!!

    What a good point, Jonathan, considering the differences between Agamemnon and Achilles. The Iliad is, after all, a duel between these two. IS it? I love that thought, let's keep it somewhere, maybe in the long heading. I'll put it there now.

    Shasta, another wonderful point on the repetition of the Son of Atreus stuff and what that might mean: respect, again somewhat of a Mafia thing, when you think about it, thank you for that, I kept seeing it and swatting it away like flies, you are right, I think!

    "Apparently, this reference to the family line was considered a kind of courtesy, " great point, especially when their lives were so short.

    Shifrah, oh provocative point: In the case of Achilles the warrior, he is not alive until he dies. His vitality begins when he dies in battle. But then why does he choose to go home?

    Oh and I love this, Agamemnon fails to give Achilles significance. How so?

    Francoise, What can you give a God? Except recognition! oh good point, so Paris was trapped! He did not have Tom there and apparently couldn't think fast enough to be diplomatic with all three goddesses so he botched it. But again, choices, having to choose, having the deck stacked against you, and needing to MAKE a choice, Agamemnon made one, too, when he said, YES give her back, give him the first spoils, my daughters, but I'm not, no I'm NOT giving him……………………………???? You could actually diagram this thing and make much inference from the parallelsi in each camp
  • Paris and the beauty contest: choices
  • Paris and give Helen back: choices
  • Agamemnon and give her back: choices. How many others?

    And Francoise, Princes and warriors meeting and Achilles responding, is the most beautiful part of the book! I agree, possibly because of Phoenix, and do you all remember, where is Gossett, THAT story and what that word means? Ironic huh?
  • Jonathan
    Isn't that a surprising thing to say? It was interesting to hear Joan suggesting a connection between the Iliad and ancient Indian scripture; but a connection between the Iliad and any part of the Bible? I always thought the Gospels were a new departure in Judaic religiosity. Until I read the long appeal that Phoenix makes to Achilles' better nature. It's a little puzzling, but it seems to me there is talk of forgiveness, penitence and such Christian virtues. That seems to strike a new note in the Homeric god/man scene that we're getting used to.

    But Weil sees something else to support her view, and that is illustrated in phrases such as 'human suffering is laid bare', 'the sense of human misery as a pre-condition of justice and love', 'accounts of the Passion', it almost seems like a Mel Gibson take on the gospel message.

    Is it the 'I'm sorry' words that Agamemnon should have offered? I think Francoise is right when she says that Agamemnon does not comprehend Achilles' problem. And Diomedes is right, when he says to Agamemnon at the end of the Bk 9: 'He (Achilles) is a proud man at any time - and now you have sent him yet further into his pride.'

    Achilles refuses to be mollified. He just becomes angrier at the thought that Agamemnon should think that he can be bought. Can't one just hear Agamemnon saying: make him an offer he can't refuse. That's adding insult to injury. Achilles, save my skin, he seems to be saying. Agamemnon's tears are for his own honor. The situation for the Greeks is not all that serious. Although it may seem that way for Agamemnon. Again it seems like a good idea to take Diomedes advice to Agamemnon, on the return of the embassy, as a good alternative for the capo's hand-wringing: 'Get out there and fight when morning comes.' To ask Achilles to turn the other cheek seems a little unreal? Of a battle-hardened soldier? Achilles is the one sinned against. What is Homer getting at in this unusual bit of drama?

    Getting lots of spoils, your wife back, as well as getting an extra bride? I'd take the bribe if I was Achilles. But, then again, Im not Achilles, and I didn't get anything taken away in the first place. So it was probably different for him. I wonder...does Achilles die in the Iliad, like he does in the film, "Troy"?

    I found Elizabeth Vandiver’s lecture on the Trojan War, in her Classical Mythology series for the Teaching Company, so interesting. Among many other points this caught my attention:

    The ultimate cause of the war was a prophecy about the hero Achilles before he was conceived. Achilles’s mother was Thetis, a sea-goddess. She was desired by Zeus, but he heard a prophecy that she would bear a son who would be greater than his father. (!!!!!!!) Therefore, Zeus decided to marry Thetis off to a human being. The human picked for the purpose was Peleus.

    Interesting, huh???? Of course none of the gods would mate with Thetis, which of them would want a son who would be greater than they were??? Poor Achilles! Looks to me like the poor guy had a tough row to hoe before he was even born... Dr. Vandiver goes on to say:

    Thetis was less than pleased with this marriage; to placate her, Zeus hosted a magnificent wedding feast, to which all the gods and goddesses were invited except Eris, goddess of Strife. In anger at her exclusion, Eris threw onto the table a golden apple inscribed “for the fairest.” Hera, Athena and Aphrodite each claimed the apple as her own. Zeus appointed the Trojan prince Paris to judge among these three goddess.

    Hence, the “judgement of Paris”... She highly recommends The Library of Greek Mythology by Apollodorus, translated by Robert Hard, Oxford University Press, 1997. I’m not sure if this is the source of her information for this particular story or not... I singled out this lecture and listened to it among the first and also have not found the book, though I plan to as soon as I can.

    Dr. Vandiver says the Trojan War myth evolved over a long period of time... and scholars can’t be sure what Homer knew of the myth as we have it today... What do you think? Did Homer know this version of the story of Achilles??

    Achilles' thinking has gone on to other things. In a sense he's getting on with his life, a new, a different life, with a better fix on essentials.

    An Achilles doesn't accept bribes, GBfan. He wants only what he gets for himself. Achilles is a proud man, whose fate and honor rest in the hands of the gods, and not in the whims of that sob Agamemnon. Agamemnon is not playing by the rules of the warriors' code of mutual respect. Achilles is right in being angry. His anger should be admired for what it is, as a fight for what is right.

    Bribes and blandishments he refuses because that's all they are and beneath contempt. Agamemnon has put Achilles into an impossible situation. To accept the bribe, to pretend something never happened, would mean compromising his integrity. Anger over the humiliating treatment he has received from Agamemnon is worthy of Achilles. Thanks to the restraining hand of a goddess in Bk I Agamemnon is still alive.

    Withdrawing his military cooperation is understandable. It should have prodded the other Greek generals into getting rid of Agamemnon. Except for his buddy Nestor who is constantly stroking him, Ag has few friends. Unfortunately there is that 'divine right' that everyone accords Agamemnon.

    An angry man is a tricky business, if you've taken his wife away from him. Ask Paris about that.

    But how can Achilles ever resume a normal life? Ever be happy again, with that anger gnawing away at him? What does one do with anger in a practical way. Psychologically or morally, to prevent the potential harm to oneself, and others around one? As Richard Nixon used to say: you can't go on being angry. You'll only destroy yourself. Or something like that. Pardon the digression. My mind is on presidential politics.

    My guess would be that Homer did know about it, Lou. He did know more than he tells. The Iliad must be a highly selective growth, with Homer, like Shakespeare and others, taking only what he needed to make his song entertaining, while depicting a tragic theme. Historical truth, not to mention mythical truth, he left to others.

    Pride was the fall of the angels, will it be the fall of the Achaians?

    Seven virgins, Agamemnon's daughters hand, or a partridge in the pear tree. It makes no difference. Achilles of the swift feet is maddened and will remain petulant ignoring the admonition of his parents to "keep from the bad complication of quarrel." OR is it something else rather than narcissism?

    For as I detest the doorways of Death, I detest that man, who
    hides one thing in the depths of his heart, and speaks forth another.....

    He makes a great point asking why the heck they're fighting with the Torjans, if not for the sake of the lovely Helen. Agamemnon has committed the same infraction by demanding Achilles give up his prize of honor, the "bride of his heart."

    So, he dismisses them and tells them to take his voice back to Ag. I don't blame the guy; he doesn't want his bloody gifts and tells them so.
    "Nor will I marry a daughter of Atreus' son, Agamemnon,
    not if she challenged Aphrodite the golden for loveliness, not if she matched the work of her hands with grey-eyed Athene;
    nor even so will I marry her; let him pick some other Achaian..."

    He knows there are other daughters of great men and he can choose whom he wishes to "make his beloved lady."

    Like I said, I know it would have been different, much different for Achilles, because he had been dishonored. Poor Achilles...dishonored, then bribed (even though he did not accept)...poor Paris, faced with that awful decision...poor Hector, poor Priam, both thrown into a war that was not their fight in the first place...they all seem to be pretty bad off, no? Except for ol' Aggy, that is. He sits in his big comfortable tent while the army is taking losses left and right. He takes someone elses spoils, that of a great warrior, even!

    Just read your comments, Jonathan on Phoenix's speech to Achilles and its resemblence to Christian teachings about forgiveness. I agree, that element is there. In reading Hamilton, I learned that the Greek's ideas of their gods slowly changed over time and perhaps that's what we're seeing here, a new glimpse of a theology that values forgivness. As for Phoenix, I wonder too at the choice of his name. HOw old is this legend of the bird that rose from the ashes of its own destruction, and what connection does it have here? Any ideas?

    I fail to see any angels in either camp. In fact even the gods seem to be absent in Bk IX.

    Gossett, I can't find any connection between the mythical Phoenix (Egytian, wasn't it?) and Phoinix, the teacher and benefactor of Achilles. And doesn't the Phoenix of Bk IX have the strangest story to tell. Hasn't he been through something?

    Of the three ambassadors his appeal has the most meaning for Achilles. Odysseus, as the Greek bearing the gifts, only arouses suspicion and contempt. Aias' appeal strikes a sympathetic, comrade-in-arms chord in Achilles' heart; but it's not enough to change his mind, or let him forget his anger.

    It's the appeal of his old teacher that turns out to be the most fateful. Except for that, Achilles would have been gone by morning, on his way home. Phoenix's appeal serves only to keep Achilles at Troy.

    Phoenix's new theology didn't cut it with Achilles. And why should it? Achilles' pride is not only justified, it was the only honorable response he could have made to the charge that:

    'the son of Atreus (Agamemnon) treated me with contempt in front of the Argives.'

    Now he is compelled to prove his manhood before those same Argives. Perhaps he should have packed his bags and left. Would he have been able to live with himself. Phoenix tipped the balance. We really have heard nothing from the ambassadors that has been helpful in getting Achilles over his anger. He'll have to do it his way. With or without the gods. Pride can also be a fine thing. It can lead to glorious things.

    I watched Michael Wood's In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great the other day. Troy was Alexander's first stop when he stepped ashore after crossing the strait. He spent considerable time among the ruins, and meditating at Achilles memorial mound. I believe Francoise mentioned that Alexander carried a copy of the Iliad with him.

    Shasta Sills
    Somebody asked a while back why Achilles didn't leave the war and return home immediately after Agamemnon insulted him. I think this was such a blow to his pride and, in fact, to his whole philosophy of life, that he couldn't leave it unresolved. He had to stay there until he could work out in his own mind how he wanted to react to this gross insult. He had always been committed to honor and glory, and now he questioned whether it was really worth sacrificing his life for qualities that could evaporate so quickly.

    The Iliad is a great epic. However, EVERYONE has times when they just DESPISE the Iliad. Certain hard to understand passages, failing to comprehend why certain characters act that can be frustrating.

    Pat H
    The one thing that Ag does not do to win Achilles back is apologize. He has shown contempt for Achilles' honor and status in front of the whole army. It's almost impossible to put such an insult right, especially with someone as proud and angry as Achilles, because you have shown that you actually do not feel the person you have insulted is important. Ag's best hope is to go to Achilles, grovel, say he didn't mean it, he was wrong to take Briseis, make as many gestures of respect as he can think of, etc. He doesn't do this, and in fact probably can't, because he still feels himself to be superior to Ach.

    And he should submit to me, inasmuch as I

    Am more of a king and can claim to be elder. (9/164-5)

    The magnificent bribes Ag does offer aren't as tempting as they might seem. Achilles is already rich, and he knows that if he fights he will die, hence not be able to enjoy all the things he would be given after the fighting is over.

    Pat H
    Achilles' attitude toward Briseis is interesting. He not only loves her, but feels it is only right that he do so:

    Do you have to be descended from Atreus
    To love your mate? Every decent, sane man
    loves his woman and cares for her as I did,
    Loved her from my heart. It doesn't matter
    That I won her with my spear. 9/348-52

    I would guess that most captor-captive relationships of the time were not so tender.

    And his feelings do not prevent him from lying with Diomede now that he doesn't have Briseis, nor from planning to marry a Greek woman when he gets home.

    Pat H
    Phoenix describes how he brought up Achilles, holding him on his lap, feeding him and holding the wine cup to his lips:

    Many a time you wet the tunic on my chest,
    Burping up wine when you were colicky. 9/503-4

    No wonder the poor kid was colicky, with all that wine.

    hahaha Pat, and the horses drank wine mash too!

    Gosh, I just lost an entire huge message, so frustrating and I don't have time to do it all over, darn it, have to leave.

    This is a wonderful discussion, you all raise so many unique points, I am feeling some pressure to always adhere to the schedule? I notice that you all come in a few days after the new book is being discussed and I wonder if we might want to consider just taking each book as we like as long as we like instead of trying to stick to a rigid schedule: in other words, do this Iliad like we did our book discussions in our beginning days, and that is as we like it?

    You all have said you want to read it all, and I now am deep in the Simone Weil's philosophy about The Iliad and the wonderful the Best of the Achaeans by Gregory Nagy and I have tons o stuff to bring here I think you'll really like and will add to the conversation.

    Do any of you have scheduling conflicts so that if we did make an ongoing marathon out of this you couldn’t attend? I'd like to savor every moment we have, but that's just me? Let me know?

    News Flash!! Tomorrow on the History Channel, that's Sunday November 6, at 8 pm Eastern time, they will present their long awaited documentary on Alexander the Great. Although Alexander lived later than Homer, (Alexander's dates were 356-323 BC), still, the previews seem to show a lot of military information and shields, etc, which might be of interest to us. Those of you steeped in military lore will know more about the difference in Homer's Iron Age beginning warfare and this, approximately 300 years later, but it sure looks atmospheric, you might enjoy seeing it, I will write everybody also so nobody misses it!

    Shasta Sills
    Last night I watched Julius Caesar, Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, and Attila the Hun on the history channel. Now I'm looking forward to seeing Alexander the Great.

    Agamemnon is having a terrible night. Everyone is fast asleep, except for him. And those carousing Trojans around their campfires. Was there ever a more distraught king and general than the one described in the first twenty lines of Book X? He's going out of his mind. He's tearing his hair out. The turmoil in his chest, the constant groans, the frightened mind are to be imagined like those felt by someone in a downpour of rain or hail, or a snow-blizzard. Even like being caught in 'the great jaws of bighting war.' Which, of course, he is.

    Is it anything more than a bad case of nerves? Agamemnon seems close to panic. This could be traumatic. A few tootling flutes and some campfires burning brightly in the night, are as threatening as the least crack of thunder or flash of lightning. A thoroughly frightened child could behave no worse. What's to be done? Zeus has forsaken him. Well, there's always old Nestor. Let's ask him for advice. Agamemnon gets up.

    He must have looked impressive as he left his tent, dressed in the 'fine sandals under his shining feet', and his 'blood-red hide of a great tawny lion slung round him' (Hammond). And his spear!

    How is the reader supposed to react to the spectacle of such an ineffective leader of men? Homer seems to make a caricature of him. As for storytelling, these opening lines are as good as any in this epic. Also they are a verbatim echo of the opening lines of Book II, except that then it was Zeus who was having a sleepless night, devising a strategy. And, wouldn't you know it? He sends Nestor to a dreaming Agamemnon.

    What passages don't you understand, GBfan? Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by these much-commented-on books. Homer was writing for you and me. Don't lose sleep over it...

    Ginny, what do you make of Simone Weil ideas about the Iliad? I can understand in a way her deploring 'force' in human affairs. But everytime she uses the word 'force' it seems to have a different meaning. Once it seems violence. Then again fear. War and fighting. It seems at times like she means death by it. Or perhaps only negative feelings. Or even symbolic of 'matter'. All very interesting, nevertheless. And, of course! WRATH.

    Shasta Sills
    Fagles uses that same image of "shining feet" so that must be exactly what Homer said. But I can't imagine why anybody's feet should be described as "shining."

    Jonathan's description of Agamemnon's agony is almost as good as Homer's. I got quite upset for poor old Ag when Jonathan described his predicament. Before that, I really didn't care what the old devil's problems were. He got himself into this mess. Let him figure out how to get himself out of it.

    Ginny, you asked whether we had any preferences about the schedule. Whatever the others want to do is fine with me.

    Cat Woman
    Menelaus is pretty upset, too. And what does Ag do? Sends Menelaus out to alert the men on watch. But not to fight. I noticed in earlier chapters that often when M. wants to be heroic, Ag steps in and orders Little Brother to cool it. Does he think M. is incapable? Is Helen attracted to good looking, wimpy men? After all, this war is supposed to be fought to redeem M's honor, so why shouldn't he be in the thick of things? Of course, a book to come is titled (by Fagles) "Menelaus's Finest Hour," so I guess he gets his time of glory. And we can't forget that Paris will be the one to kill Achilles.

    It would be odd to picture Agamemnon asking for forgiveness even in his distraught mood. After all, his authority was summoned from Olympus. Zeus is the One who forgives, he doesn't ask for forgiveness.


    "Fagles uses that same image of "shining feet" so that must be exactly what Homer said. But I can't imagine why any body's feet should be described as "shining." "

    But it's very evocative, isn't it? I seem to remember a lot of shining feet -- Athena? Or maybe they were silver.

    Why doesn't Ag want his men to get a good nights sleep before the big battle? It seems like a bit much to wake everybody up so he can send a couple of scouts out.

    Have you noticed all the wild animal skins they wore? Do you suppose there were really lions, panthers, and leopards in Greece? The implication is that they went out and wrestled wild beasts in their spare time!! Better than watching TV anyway.

    In Book 11, Menelaus has blond hair (Lombardo, line 135). However, in Book 3, Helen describes her husband as having red hair (Lombardo, line 462). Is his hair blond from the radiance of the armor? Homer states that the sky caught the glare of the armor.

    I know that there is a code of honor among warriors. I find it odd that Odysseus would ram a spear between the shoulders of Socus (Lombardo, line 476). In the roar of battle, there may be no time to obey the rules of conduct. For Japanese samurai, to chase the enemy and to spear the person in the back is cowardly.

    Shasta Sills
    I see in Book XI that Agamemnon, "wrapped his legs with well-made greaves, fastened behind the heels with silver ankle-clasps" as he armed himself for battle. But I noticed in "Alexander the Great" last night, the soldiers all fought bare-legged. They protected their chests with shields and their heads with helmets, but their naked legs remained vulnerable. This makes no sense to me. An arrow in the knee can bring a man down even if it doesn't kill him. Why didn't they wear some kind of leg protection? (Or at least put some pants on.)

    Of course these are only Hollywood soldiers, but there's no reason why the armor shouldn't be accurate. The tomb of Alexander's father has been discovered, and it contained the armor that he used , so we know exactly what those Greeks were wearing.

    You can see what a worrier I am. Here I am worrying that Greek soldiers 2000 years ago might get shot in the knee. And trying to figure out why those intelligent Greeks never figured out what pants are good for.

    Pat H
    Shasta, It's even worse than that. I read an interview with Brad Pitt about the armor he had to wear for "Troy", and apparently a man's most vital parts were not well protected.

    Hahah Shasta, I did NOT notice that, tho I did wonder at some of the miltary costumes, but close reading on YOUR part. I would say if Homer said they put something on they put something on, should we ask Dr. L about that? The best one I ever saw was a Roman soldier in a B movie wearing a watch.

    Good point on Odysseus, Shifrah, there seems to be a lot of strange what we would consider unheroic behavior in Book X! Maybe we should ask Dr. L about that!

    I found the Alexander documentary interesting but it seemed to be about Philip of Macedon, Philip II? for the entire first hour (which suited me, I didn't know anything about HIM either). I taped it and will watch it some time when it's not so late at night.

    Golly moses, this book, this discussion, to me is like a Pandora's box. Dr. Stone mentions Simone Weil, so I order it and and read her book on The Iliad and get swamped away with her, almost can't breathe, I come back in and find the U of Arkansas talking about Kle/o/part/a in Greek means "famously fathered," and it's the inverse of Patr/o/klos ("famously fathered.")

    I open Gregory Nagy's book on the Best of the Acheaens and find whole chapters on aristeia and the different forms it takes in Achilles and Odysseus.

    The Weil book has tons of commentary, it's hard to even generalize about it. It just screams at me. And then I come in here and you all have the most fabulous thoughts, and points of view I would never have thought of.

    Here is what I was thinking on Agamemnon and Achilles?

    Agamemnon tries to buy off Achilles. He offers him tons of material things, but never an apology. Instead of an apology as Pat has said, he says, as Pat quoted earlier,
    "he should submit to me, inasmuch as I
    Am more of a king and can claim to be elder." (164-65) So he CAN'T apologize to Achilles, even tho he has admitted he was wrong, to others.

    So despite loading Achilles down in the traditional way as being given gifts by kings, etc., which is their sign of honor, and saying he thinks these gifts will honor Achilles like a god, he still demands that god bow down to him and acknowledge HIM. His ego demands he have that obedience, maybe EGO needs to be among the themes.

    But Achilles has moved on, I am really impressed with Achilles in this part, he's not a sulking child, he's made a decision, and he did have a choice and as Mippy said earlier the hero has to die to achieve this renown, (whole chapters on this in Nagy, I need about 10 years to read this, I love the way he writes)…and Homer, who is doing nothing by chance, here presents Achilles' child hood and gives us something to like in Achilles, makes him more human.

    Dr. Stone in his class pointed out something neat, also, that Homer shaped Phoenix's story to foreshadow what will happen to Achilles. The actual story was different.

    Interesting, huh?

    So now we're in Book X, let's bide a wee for just a bit in Book X and take a look in the heading at some of those questions, I can't personally answer any of them, what about you? (And I think we need to put foreshadowing somewhere up there, it's EVERYWHERE).

    And now Odysseus makes a foray out, and I'm still gape jawed over Hector's camping out like that. But we have a new Achilles to consider, do you feel more or less attracted to him now that we've seen something of his childhood? I think he's grown in stature, from all the rumors, in our eyes, too, and this makes him seem more human (that and the fact he's playing the lyre and he actually thinks rationally about his choices and rejects the pomp and glory offered him) but rejects it not out of anger but from a real choice. I'm beginning to like Achilles, what do you all think?

    Jonathan you asked about Weil, and about Agamemnon and his strange behavior, I think she explains that but first I want to reflect on what you all have said, just wanted to get this down. You should see my desk, it has so many books piled on top of each other I can barely see the screen, I wish I had three heads, one to read Homer, one to read Nagy one to read the criticism of Weil and one to read Shay (that's 4) hahahaa .


    Pat H
    Book X is certainly a bit odd. The tone is different, and it doesn't seem to advance the plot particularly. Ag wakes a lot of people up just to get 2 volunteers to gather information behind enemy lines (admittedly, he is also stirring up the sentries). So he sends out Odysseus and Diomedes to learn the Trojan plans, but they only learn the arrangement of the troops, not what's intended, then rustle themselves some horses and come back (having killed 13 Thracians and gone off with a team of horses without waking anyone). No use is made of the information they got. It's more an interval of comic relief than anything else.

    Pat we were posting (or I was composing together,what great points!) back to them in the morning I need to reread X again, so I can try to answer those killers in the heading, that's wonderful stuff about advancing the plot, I want to notice the TONE! Super points. I love tone questions.

    I finally got some of Dr. L's own comments to us focused on in the heading and I think those 4 quotes today are very appropriate for the sections we are beginning, I especially liked the one from Dr. Lombardo about the difference in Achilles' anger and that of Agamemnon. Unfortunately again the heading has lost its punctuation but Pat will fix it when she gets the chance.

    Jonathan, you mention Weil's use of the word force, I agree it's different and strange. I am not sure I understand all the points she is making but the angst and power she has in making them are just almost overwhelming. She appears to be one of those people who feels the suffering of others so deeply she herself almost can't function and in the notes of the critical edition it noted that she died of heart failure caused by "pulmonary tuberculosis and self starvation on 24 August 1943, while working for the Free French during exile in London." And I think that you can't discount the WWII context, written as it was by a Frenchwoman for her "compatriots in both occupied and unoccupied France." So a lot of it would mean more to people in those situations, I'm sure, than it would to me.

    When I first read it I thought she was some kind of saint like figure but I am not sure of a religious affiliation, but as TS Eliot said, "I cannot conceive of anybody's agreeing with all of her views, or of not disagreeing violently with some of them. But agreement and rejection are secondary: what matters it to make contact with a great soul." He also said, "We must simply expose ourselves to the personality of a woman of genius, of a kind of genius akin to that of saints."

    I agree with that too.

    So I don't feel too bad when I don't understand everything she says. She sounds a little like Dr., Shay in some parts, which we will get to later.

    And I am VERY confused on the definition of Force. For instance, speaking of Book IX she says,
    Reasonable words are sometimes spoken in The Iliad: those of Thersites are reasonable in the highest degree,. So, too, are those of the angry Achilles:
    Nothing is worth my life, not even all the gods they say
    Ilion holds, that city so prosperous..
    Because one may take cattle and fat sheep as booty…
    A human life, however, once lost, cannot be recouped. (9.401-2, 406, 408).

    Then she says,
    But reasonable words fall into the void. If an inferior speaks them, he is punished and silenced; if a superior, he does not abide by them in his actions. And there is always some god to recommend the irrational course. In the end, the very notion that one might want to evade the career allotted one by fate—that of killing and dying—vanishes from the spirit.

    She also says that "the prestige that is three-fourths of force consists above all of the magnificent indifference of the strong toward the weak, an indifference so contagious that it infects even those who are its object." That in itself would make a good discussion. I wish we could discuss this book. I am not sure I am understanding all of her points.

    But she keeps talking about the see- saw thing in all people, which explains I think Agamemnon, in Book X or does it, "People in the Iliad are not segregated into conquered, slaves, suppliants on the one side and conquerors and masters on the other; every human being may at any moment be compelled to submit to force… She kind of sees and points out that all the heroes have their moments of fear and humiliation and we meet Achilles in tears, while the person who has done this intentionally, Agamemnon, "weeps in his turn, forced to demean himself, to supplicate, and he bears the pain of doing so to no avail." THAT is very astute of her, I had missed that. Maybe THAT is why he's really carrying on? He did the necessary deed, humiliated himself, admitted to the leaders he was wrong, laid himself out, and STILL he did not get his way?

    I don't understand things like this: "The soul undergoes duress every day. Each morning it amputates itself from all aspiration, for thought cannot travel in time without encountering death. Thus war expunges every concept of a goal, even the goals of war. It expunges the idea of an end of war. The possibility of a situation so violent is unthinkable outside that situation; an end to it unthinkable within it. Thus, one does nothing to effect this end. "

    On the character of Force, she says,
    Lacking this altruism, the common soldier is like a scourge of nature; possessed by war, he, like a slave, though in an entirely different fashion, becomes a thing, and words have no more appeal to him than to matter….Such is the character of force. Its power to transform human beings into thing is two fold and operates on two fronts; in equal but different ways it petrifies the soul of those who undergo it and those who ply is. This characteristic reaches its extreme form in the milieu of arms, at the instant when a battle begins to incline wore a decision Battles are not determined among men who calculate, devise, take resolutions and act on them but among men stripped of these abilities, transformed, fallen to the level either of purely passive inert matter or of the blind forces of sheer impetus. This is the ultimate secret of war, which the Iliad expressed in its similes. In these, warriors are likened to fire, flood, wind, fierce beasts, and whatever blind cause or disaster or to frightened animals, trees, water, sand, whatever is affected by the violence of outside forces. Greeks and Trojans, from day to day , sometime seven from hour to hour, submit by turns to one or the other transformation.<br

    Wow. All these voices, which we are privileged to read here! She seems to be saying all of those in the Iliad are affected and they all will, heroes and slaves, have the same emotions and experience the same reactions because of force. It's fascinating and it does sound a lot like Dr. Shay, which we will want to look at when we get to Achilles showing what RAGE can do to a person.

    Lou, Andrea, I've so enjoyed what you've brought here!

    GBS, no Achilles does not die in this book.

    CW, good perspective, did not think of that, and Joan K, you're right, where ARE all these lions and panthers coming from, every time one of them puts on something like that I think of cave men for some reason; I seem to recall Hercules also fought a lion, it never occurred to me to think where they might find these panthers and leopards and lions!

    Gossett, that's a great question, I have no idea on the myth of Phoenix, YOU'RE our mythology expert, what can you find and tell us? I don't know why I have a nagging feeling that means something.

    Francoise, interesting point on forgiveness!

    Thank you Shasta, I think we are in pretty much agreement here about the schedule, I just need to get my own act together, YOU all are doing fabulously, you all have Shining Keyboards!!

    We need some epithets for you all but you can spare me the ox eyed anything, jeepers.

    Jonathan you bring up Nestor, now what role or symbolic part do you all see him playing? I get the feeling he's the elder statesman? And represents reason? He lost me on the battlefield urging them to kill first and strip the armor off later, I suppose that's good advice. Maybe we should look at EVERY instance of Nestor. It was HIS idea , (wasn't it?) that that delegation go to Achilles, so it makes sense for Ag to summon him, since Zeus sent Nestor to him in a dream?

    And then he is the one who proposed Odysseus and Diomedes do that scouting mission. What else, where else do we see Nestor's influence or presence and what does it mean ? He's there for a reason, put there by Homer, why, do you think??

    (What is a tamarisk by the way, line 479 in Book X, why does it keep appearing in this story?)

    And Hector's men aren't getting a lot of sleep either, there seems always a parallel, and again he asks for a volunteer! They seem sort of slow, would you say they are slower than the Greeks to volunteer for anything? I wonder if Hector has overestimated his men and himself here in this camp out?

    What's Book X about? What would YOU say has been accomplished by putting Book X in the story? Do you feel it belongs IN the Iliad? Why or why not?

    For a starter, he's a terrific role model for seniors. At his age! And he keeps himself in the thick of it. Agamemnon finds him at his tent and 'beside him lay his crafted armor, his shield and a pair of spears and his shining helmet', ready to lead 'his people into the fighting...since he would make no concessions to cruel old age.' 10:74-9

    Then, just look how Nestor takes charge, as soon as Agamemnon calls on him. 'I am in agony of fear', Agamemnon says to Nestor.

    And Nestor replys: 'Most glorious son of Atreus'...don't worry about that rampaging Hector. Zeus is only using him to bring Achilles back into the fight.

    But all the talk up here on Olympus is that Book X, with its midnight raid on the Trojan camp by Odysseus and Diomedes is all the work of Athene. She accompanies them all the way, guiding them through the corpse-strewn battlefield. And it is said she is far more pleased to receive as an offering poor Dolon's modest 'marten-skin cap and the wolf-skin', than she ever was to be offered that lovely robe from Hector's mother the day before.

    'And godlike Odysseus held them up high in his hand to Athene, and spoke to her in prayer: "These are yours, goddess, to gladden you - you are the first we will call to of all the immortals on Olympos. Now be with us once more and guide us to the Thracians' camp and their horses." ' 10:460-5

    That poor wretch Dolon. He was hoping to receive Achilles horses as a reward for spying out the Grecian camp.

    And so it turns out. The successful night mission turns out to be a great morale booster for the Greeks. Don't they need it. And it's all the work of Athene, despite her father's, Zeus' stern orders to stay out of the fight. I seem to remember that he told his favorite daughter at the time, that it would turn out to her liking in the end.

    Agamemnon may be the King, but I have Nestor as the CEO. And Book X a real thrilling adventure. It kept me at the edge of my seat.

    Dolon, Dolon. Such an overconfident, cocky fool. So much that he comes riding through the battlefield (quite loudly, from the impression I got) and gets ambushed. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Everyone has different imaginations of scenes that they read about in books. The characters, the props, and the background all blend together into a portait of the story that is unfolding. However, sometimes details in the books prove an inaccuracy in our portraits. However, we still maintain our own personal idea of whats happening, not caring for inaccuracies. For example, I can't help picturing Book X (even though it is called "Marauding through the night") happening in the early morning (rather than at night), with a heavy fog surrounding everything. I guess we're all just stubborn that way.

    By the way, a tamarisk is a kind of Old World shrub.

    What chance did he have against two of the best, Odysseus and Diomedes. A dozen quick questions from Odysseus and he gets all the information he wants about the Trojan camp. Dolon seems almost eager to spill his guts. To save his neck. But Diomedes, the cold, efficient soldier that he is, has the poor guy's head off even before he has finished talking, with the lips still moving as it bites the dust. Grim war.

    GBfan, I can understand the problem you're having with distinguishing between the natural dark of night, and the 'night' that comes with the deprivation of visibility which the gods inflict on mortals,usually in the form of a cloud or thick mist, when it suits their purpose. Some things never change. At least for the religiously curious. Too much is hidden from us. The Iliad is, in that respect, becoming a real eyeopener for me. I'm finding the association with the Olympians arousing the strangest pagan memories in me, almost with a sense of relief and pleasure. A sense of homecoming. The strangest feeling. And the universe seems grander. I wonder if Dr Lombardo had that in mind when he used the phrase about the Iliad.

    Shasta Sills
    I don't have the Weil book, but I keep trying to think how she can describe a human being as a thing. Passive, inert matter. In warfare, a human may fall back on his instincts--aggression or self-preservation--but if he becomes inert matter, he is dead. Of no use to himself or his commanding officer. If the instincts are still operating, one is still alive. He may be functioning automatically, but he is not a thing until he is dead.

    Where did the lion skins come from continued.

    Above I asked if there were really lions wandering around Greece. In the Story of Civilization discussion, the same question came up about the Romans a thousand years later. Where did the lions that they fed the Christians to come from? It turns out the Romans imported them from Africa for their Coliseum games. But they imported so many, that the species they were using became extinct. The lions ate the Christians but Christianity survived and the lions didn't. There is a moral in there somewhere.

    You're absolutely right JoanK, the moral is:

    "God protects his people."

    It does seem strange that such a well-fed species should become extinct. Perhaps it was the wrath of God.

    Be that as it may. What's just as interesting is the question whether the lion skins gave the wearer a much-needed courage. There is a reluctance to fight in some of those taking part in the Trojan war. We just have to remember Agamemnon reviewing the troops. Even Diomedes gets criticized for holding back. He in turn calls Agamemnon a coward, and thus a good candidate for a lion-skin. If it hadn't been for the eating of christians, I would have said that it was an insult to the dead lion that his skin should dress up an Ozian making an effort to be brave. Or perhaps it was retribution for the lion. Very strange to think about these things.

    Shasta, Weil's thinking isn't always easy to follow. She seems to have been philosophizing about the human situation, which must have left her feeling very pessimistic about the contemporary 1930s disregard for human dignity and worth. I have the feeling that she was reading more into the Iliad than is actually there. I may be wrong. Did Plato and the Greek tragedians read him correctly. And what did Alexander get from his perusal of the epic. I ask myself would anyone of Homer's listeners have the least notion of what Weil is saying? With all her wonderful thoughts, reflecting her obsession with contemporary horrors, her readers might be left with a truncated Iliad. Can one imagine more of the human, more of life, and less of things, than what Homer writes about?

    Shasta Sills
    In Book XI, you're right in the thick of battle, whether you want to be or not. And I don't. I'm a simple shepherd boy, drafted from my peacetime job of herding sheep on the hillsides. How did I get into this war? I know nothing about war. But here I am frantically trying to figure out what is going on and how to keep my head from being chopped off. One blow of those bronze swords can decapitate a guy. There are heads rolling everywhere and horses trampling them. Ye gods! what a mess!

    The big shots have their own chariots and chariot drivers. If they get wounded, the driver will rescue them and retreat to safety. But the foot soldier is on his own. And what's with all this rock-throwing? (low-tech warfare) Well, I know how to throw rocks. But how exactly do these shields work? I notice when Ajax was forced to retreat, he "swung his seven-ply shield behind him." Smart move, protecting his back. That means there's some sort of straps that hold these shields to the body.

    And I can't figure out why these fighters keep ramming their weapons right smack into the middle of the shield. Don't they know a sword can't penetrate bronze? Why don't they aim at unprotected parts of the body? And there's old Nestor mixing it up with the rest of them. Isn't he old enough to retire? Don't those Greeks ever quit? And even Machaon, the healer, is fighting. Shouldn't the medics remain in the rear to pull out the arrows? Great Zeus! have mercy on a helpless shepherd boy who never aspired to honor and glory but is just trying to stay alive.

    Or maybe I'm praying to the wrong god. Which one's in charge of the shepherds?

    Shasta, the Sheepherder

    I wonder if, after finishing the last of Homer's works, you experienced anything like a sense of the collective unconscious that Jung described. Since you had immersed yourself so thoroughly in the larger -than -life events of those ancient times, it would seem that you "lived" them rather than simply translated words. Understandably you felt a sense of loss.

    Shasta and Ginny have both mentioned Alexander the Great in the discussion & I recently read that he was raised to believe he decended from both the Greek heros Achilles and Haerakles.
    He recited passages from and slept with a well worn copy of the Iliad under his pillow during his campaigns.

    The amazing thing to me is how well Book X DOES fit. Again we have two parallels, we have both leaders unable to sleep, how on earth is anybody sleeping so well, we here among the Greeks, with an entire army camped practically at our footsteps. Both leaders can't sleep. I can identify with Agamemnon, he's gotten this far on hubris , he apologized, he thought Zeus was on his side, he sees not, he looks at the ships and literally tears his hair.

    Both sides call for volunteers again, the Trojans shrink back again, only one steps forward, both sides wish to do reconnaissance.

    I just saw a show on breaking the German codes and Japanese codes in WWII and this is so similar, when Odysseus grills the captive he wants all the information.

    How skillfully Homer has enticed and beguiled us into this war! Unless he does something deliberately violent as a shocker we are right there with him! I just finished The Shadow Divers about finding Nazi subs off the coast of NJ and the remarks of one of the German relatives about war in general, and it just was if a veil had lifted, for me: Homer, for all his 2,000 years, has sucked us up so skillfully into this that it seems natural, we are thinking war and about strategy and involved in the war itself!!

    Shasta, how can a person be a thing? I think it may come to the definition of what is humanity? Speaking of the Nazis if you go to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and view the last two rooms, the medical experiments, they have walls about 4 feet high in a circle so that children won't be seared for life by viewing, around actual footage of some of the medical experiments: they are absolutely searing. I will never forget the expressions on the faces of the victims. You have to ask yourself about the humanity of any person who would do that to another? You have to ask what happened to that person inside, that person would have to be a thing, not a human being. Weil wrote in partial perspective of the German WWII invasion of France, and I think it colored what she means just like any searing experience enlightens our own perception. Or any other kind of experience.

    We are vineyardists, the first time I reread anything in the Bible about vineyards (it's full of vineyards) it took on an entire new meaning for me because I knew what they were really talking about, there's a new level there, and a simple sentence means a lot more, on vineyards, say, than it would to another. I think that's what happened with her.

    We all perceive things out of our own backgrounds, that's one reason our Books & Lit discussions are SO enlightening, all these voices and different perspectives!!

    But, you might say, what has that to do here with us, Homer would never lose that humanity, right? Well he's about to and Dr. Jonathan Shay in his book Achilles in Vietnam, explains why beautifully, so we need to be moving toward Dr. Shay, this is fascinating, on so many levels.

    We're beginning to see a bit of the trickle of the dam here with the killing of Dolon. Note how the Trojans don't come forward at all, and they never HAVE , their hearts are not in this. But he does, for what? He has one goal, Homer is quite clear, and it's not heroism and we see the rewards of materialism. Now did WE say well he was only after reward? Did WE excuse this, even a little bit in our minds? Then we have the 12 (12 again!!) killed on the sly. As if they were weeds to root out and Odysseus returned with the prize: the horses and leaped that defense ditch as if it were nothing, that should have made the Greeks sit up?

    Not only to me is this not an EXTRANEOUS book, it's an important one, it establishes the position of Nestor, it shows whose heart is in this and whose not, it shows the root of heroism and it shows an increasing brutality, will this trickle hold back or will the dam break?? Here we have many levels, psychological, philosophical, moral, and from so many other standpoints. I think X definitely fits!!

    Thank you for your questions for Dr. Lombardo, we will definitely ask them the next go round.

    Let's move on to Chapter XI today!! What strikes you the most about Book XI?

    Ginny and all, I have not been able to find anything that relates the Egyptian myth to the Iliad's character of Phoinix. I'm sure that Homer assumed we readers knew our mythology but whether or not the mythical bird story fits the time frame, I don't know. I too, have a "nagging feeling" that there is some relation, but can't say what. By the way, I'm no expert at all, simply interested in the ancient world and its beliefs.

    Book eleven starts with two women: dawn who, presumably makes the sun come up, and strife, who makes up the Greeks' minds to stay and fight by making a noise, such that they would rather fight than return to their ships (anything to get away from her, I assume). Women are forgotten as soon as they start fighting, but reemerge when they return hungry to feed them. Three interesting women's roles.

    Nestor's prize was beautiful, but what about her cooking? She gives Nestor wine with grated cheese and white barley on top, and grated onion and honey on the side!!! Would anyone like to try that and tell us what it tastes like?

    hahaha sounds good to me I like onions and cheese, don't drink so can't say for the wine but wine and cheese tasting parties are all the rage. The funniest thing is that we used to go UGG GROSS BLEAH over the Romans and their diets? And now the pine nuts are all the rage in gourmet cooking, so everything old is new again.

    Thank you Gossett, in looking up Phoenix in Bulfinch I had a sigh sigh moment. In going to my old copy of Bulfinch, taken down from the shelf, I found in turning its yellow pages that it had once belonged to my beloved Latin teacher Miss Caroline T Haas, her bookplate and signature is in it, and I now recall she gave me her own books and that was what started me on my own collection of Latin texts. Dear Miss Haas. Requiescas in pace, Miss Haas, you'd be thrilled at all the SeniorNet Latin 101 students!

    But here is the Legend of Phoenix from the Online Bulfinch, now does ANY of this pertain to our story here? (I am bemused to see it with the basilisk which of course Harry Potter has made famous). The Legend of Phoenix

    One thing's for sure, many writers were intrigued by the story, NB that Herodotus himself mentioned it?

    Book XI!! Day 3: War!! Zeus Gets Involved!

    I thought you might like to see this fabulous vase depicting Zeus with his thunderbolts in hand, I've got so many of these gorgeous photographs and when you consider the AGE of these pieces you really have to gasp, I have two coming up you will wonder at, one on Athena and one simply unbelievable one. I've got a new book on Greek Mythology and they start out with the information that the Greek Pantheon consisted of 12 major gods, and there's that 12 again. It also mentions that Zeus means "to shine," and that a temple dedicated to him at Olympia (where the games were played every 4 years in his honor) was built in 5 BC, and houses a "gold and ivory statue of the god seated on his throne; it was made by Pheidias and became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World." (David Bellingham: An Introduction to Greek Mythology)

    So he has told the others to stay out and he's entered the fray, not much doubt whose side HE'S on?

    Now what must Achilles be thinking? THIS is a very important book for what happens at the end of it!!!!!!

    Zeus and his thunderbolts, Hera standing behind. A black figured Lekythos (funerary oil-vase) discovered in the Athenian Agora (market place), mid 6th century BC.

    Hera ties a wreath around the head of Zeus who wields his thunderbolts. The gods are welcoming Hercules (other side of vase) into Olympus, the entrance to which is marked by a temple column. CLICK to ENLARGE!

    You're right, Ginny. Zeus is heavily involved in the fighting. In fact, he seems to be directing every move. The warriors even sense it. Chess pieces, is what they are. And there's definitely something ominous about it all. No doubt we're seeing here a display of the Will of Zeus, which has from the beginning been the fulfilment of his promise to Thetis that her son, Achilles, will get his glory. The story does begin to heat up.

    As it does for someone else in the story. What strikes me most about Book XI is the sad plight of Shasta's poor shepherd boy. He just wants to come out of it alive. Never mind the honor and glory. Just the same I can here him telling his grandchildren: "I was there!"

    A wonderful post, Shasta. Your shepherd boy should go on praying to Zeus. In his predicament it's wise to go right to the top. But it's probably with the god Pan that he would get the most sympathy. And tell him to use his slingshot. The rocks are for the big guys, with more muscle than brains. Or fast legs. According to legend Pan had a lot to do with Zeus's upbringing and education. Strange that he never taught him to play something on his pipes. History might have turned out differently. Zeus had to be spirited away to Crete as a baby. Something about jealousy on the part of his father Cronos, I believe.

    Odysseus, too, is trying to survive. As he says in line 407, he finds himself in the ultimate battle situation, in which it is 'kill or be killed.'

    I've just become aware of the death of Iris Chang, the author of The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust. She was writing another book on the horrors and brutality of war. It must have become to much for her.

    Jumping into the middle of the violent Book 11, there is a passage that just pops off the page.
    Does it foreshadow the vulnerability of Achilles?
    Paris (line 398 ff.) draws his bow, and his arrow hits Diomedes in the right foot.

    However, it does not subdue Diomedes (lines 408 ff) -- he's no Achilles. He calls Paris a girly-man, doesn't he?
    "you curly-haired pimp of a bowman" ... "you scratched my foot!"
    However, for all his bravery, Diomedes did have to catch a ride to the ships, and take a break. He lives to fight again!

    Right on, Mippy. Of all the exciting detail in Book XI, the wounding of Diomedes by that 'curly-headed pimp of a bowman' does catch ones imagination. A good spearman like Diomedes would have contempt for an archer, all character inuendoes aside. His reaction to the 'scratch' to his foot is equally contemptuous. With a bit of cover from Odysseus, Diomedes sits down and pulls the arrow from his foot. No medic needed here. After that he jumped up into his chariot and got his driver to take him back to the ships, feeling 'sick at heart.'

    Just two pages before that Agamemnon, enjoying a fantastic aristeia, is also wounded, leaving him also feeling 'sick at heart.' But what a difference. What a fuss is made over Agamemnon's suffering. For Homer to suggest that Agamemnon's pains are those of a woman in labor, seems unfair to the latter and reflective of something unmanly about Agamemnon. Unless Homer is suggesting that birthing is also an aristeia. Several other details about Agamemnon's heroics suggest he was swept along by his high-spirited army. Riding the wave, so to speak. A flawed aristeia.

    Ajax is the one to watch. He was definitely my boyhood hero. Now I'm struck by the curious treatment he gets from Homer, who doesn't seem to know just what he sees in Aias. He needs two of his lovable similes to portray this great warrior. Attacked from all sides he turns on his tormentors, first like a wild beast, a tawny lion in fact, giving way only when the odds become impossible. Then again, Homer has him like a stubborn mule, ignoring the many sticks broken on his back.

    A great guy to have on the team.

    Jonathan: I hate to mention this, but didn't Ajax come to a bad end (after the Iliad was over)?

    It breaks my heart to be reminded of Ajax's death. I found a good account of it in Donald Richardson's book: Great Zeus And All His Children. Verily, for anyone wishing to read this mournful tale, be advised,

    'If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.'

    'On the day that was appointed Achilleus to die, the far-shooting Son of Loto, took the field and without disguise came upon Paris, who, his bow partially bent, was waiting for some Greek to drift within range. "Why waste your valuable arrows on just anyone?" taunted Apollo. "Think of your fallen brother, and draw your bow on the greatest target of all - vain-glorious Achilleus."

    'He then led the son of Priam through the Trojan ranks and showed him where the great son of Peleus was laying low his countrymen with his thick-shafted spear, taking a dozen at a time. Paris's hands trembled as he fixed an arrow in his bowstring and bent double his bow. The deadly shaft sang as it whizzed through the air towards Achilleus, who was turned aside, and struck him in the heel. This was not where Paris aimed, but it was where Apollo directed the arrow, for he knew that Thetis had made her son invulerable except for the heel when she dipped him as a baby in the river Styx.

    'The poison from the arrow took quick effect, and moments later the most honored Greek who ever lived was dead. Ajax saw him fall and fought valiantly through the thick to retrieve his corpse. The Trojans, inspired as the word was passed through the ranks, let loose a shower of arrows at the bold son of Telemon but did not deter him. He called for Odysseus to cover him and then lifted the body of Achilleus onto his huge shoulders and took him to the Grecian camp. For sixteen days the Greeks mourned their hero. On the seventeenth they burned his corpse and placed his bones in the same golden urn that held the bones of Patroclos.

    'Neoptolemos, Achilleus's son by Deidamia, had not yet arrived at Troy; and so it was decided by Agamemnon that the matchless armor of Achilleus, fashioned for him by the lame smith-god Hephaistos, intricately wrought, would be given to the greatest champion among his comrades yet alive. The son of Telemon, to whom the honor rightly belonged, stepped forward to receive the armor, but Agamemnon for reasons of his own awarded it to Odysseus.

    'And so Ajax, the man who had once fearlessly faced mighty Hector in single combat, hung his head in humiliation and walked back to his tent. No one guessed that he had gone completely mad. The son of Telemon never was one of the world's wise, and now what little mind he had was taken from him. His only clear thoughts were those of the great hatred he bore Agamemnon and Odysseus, whom he blamed for his disgrace. Into the night he dwelt upon his hate and then, as if inspired, rose from his pallet and unsheathed his sword and stormed out of his tent.

    'In a pasture not far away some herdsmen watched over their cattle and sheep. Ajax heard the lowing and bleating and in his crazed state imagined the animals to be the armies of his now bitter enemies. And so into the midst of the herds he charged, swinging his sword wildly, leaving in his wake the hacked and blood-bedrabbled bodies of men and animals. Two large, white-footed horned rams he bound with heavy cords and dragged back to his tent when he had finished his slaughter.

    'One of the rams he imagined to be Odysseus. He pried open the mouth of this animal and cut out its tongue: then crying in triumph, he clove off its head. The other ram he thought was Agamemnon. This one he stood on its hind legs and lashed to a post. Taking a strip of harness, he next fashioned a two-thonged whip with which to flog the wretched beast. The terrible curses he screamed with each blow one would have thought he had learned, not from men, but from the foulest fiends of darkest Tartaros. At last he clove the horned head from this sheep as well.

    'Then bolting from his tent, he ran out into the night laughing and screaming maniacally. "I've paid them!" he cried. "Smooth-tongued Odysseus and the cursed son of Atreus - oh, how I've paid them!'

    'When he came back into his tent, he sat down between the two slain sheep, their blood-splotched heads at his feet. For a long time he sat there, his head lowered, and did not move. Slowly, in agonizing stages, his sanity returned. When at long last he raised his head to look about, he did so almost laboriously as though he were finally forcing himself to look upon an unendurable reality that he wished were but a passing nightmare. He gazed in horror at the evidence of his madness near his feet and on either side and then beat his head with his fists and bellowed like a great bull in pain.

    '"Oh, how Odysseus, my enemy, will laugh at me now," he said, standing and walking about his tent. Then he took his sword from its sheath. "But I shall not hear it. This good sword is still mine, unless Odysseus has laid claim to that also. Stained with the blood of a hundred Trojans, its blade shall now take on more color - the richer, deeper stain of him who bears it. Only Ajax, alas, can draw the blood of Ajax." With that, he planted the hilt of the sword firmly in the dirt and the poing against his chest and fell forward onto it.

    'Because of th shame Ajax had brought not only to himself but the army as well, Agamemnon was determined to treat him as an enemy and not allow his corpse to be either burned or buried. Teucros, Ajax's brother, was just as determined to give him normal funeral rites and bury him and would have spear-headed an insurrection to do so. "I shall lay him in his grave with honor and respect. Let Agamemnon frown all he wants to," he told Menelaos, who acted as his brother's courier.

    'For one of the few times in the war, however, Odysseus opposed his commander-in-chief. "No truer friend do you have in this whole army than I," he said to Agamemnon. "If you value me, then do not, I beg you, cast out this noble man's body unburied. Except for Achilleus, he was the bravest man of all who came to Troy."

    '"Are you siding then with Teucros against me?" asked Agamemnon.

    '"Yes, I am."

    '"Do with him as you wish," Agamemnon replied. "Make it clear, though, that it is your doing and not mine. I would make him a banquet for dogs and vultures."

    'And so it was that the great Ajax was buried, though not burned. Of all the Greeks buried at Troy, we are told, he was the only one to be laid in a coffin. His armor was buried with him.

    'The war itself was once more a stand-off. The Trojans were loath to venture far from their high-towered walls; the Greeks, with their greatest champions now dead, became listless and yearned for their homes. Agamemnon, however, was not about to abandon the venture from which he expected so much glory and for which the price had already been too high. It was to the seer Calchas he now turned. "Tell me," he said. "What must I do to take the city?" '

    Calchas again? Wasn't that where we came in?

    Pat H
    So here we start the the chain of events leading up to Patroclus’ death, and thus ultimately to Achilles’ fateful choice to fight and die young.

    Achilles sends Patroclus to Nestor to find out who is wounded. Nestor’s reply to Patroclus is scathing. Why should Achilles care who is wounded when his selfish neglect of his duty has caused so many deaths? Nestor then urges Patroclus to reason with Achilles, or, if he can’t persuade Achilles to fight, to wear Achilles’ armor himself and fight, fooling the Trojans.

    Patroclus heads back, a dangerous idea churning in his head, stopping on the way to help the injured Eurypylus.

    I think the crucial line is 849:

    This speech put great notions in Patroclus’ head.

    Patroclus must be frustrated at having to sit out the battle, and here he sees a chance for glory, perhaps even a chance to outshine Achilles, whom he might reasonably resent (see my next post for a comment on this). This bit of pride will be his undoing.

    That’s how I read this scene. I haven’t read ahead, so I could be all wrong.

    Pat H
    When Nestor invites Patroclus to sit down for a while, Patroclus answers:

    "No thank you, venerable sir, no seat for me.
    I have too much respect for Achilles....
    You know, sir, what a hard man he is,
    Quick to blame even the blameless."

    Here is another example of Achilles’ touchiness and bad temper. Patroclus is his best friend, yet is treated this way. He might well resent it.

    Pat H
    Has anyone been keeping count of Priam's bastard sons? It seems like every time you turn around in a battle scene another one gets killed off.

    Patroclus represents the heart and soul of Achilles. He is his compassionate side. In his death, he will awaken the emotional side of his Lord, because that is how he sees Achilles. Their relationship is a kind of pure and deep love. Further, I will condemn any Freudian allusion to this relationship as a theory against the existence of chaste love.

    Ginny, your question in the Iliad about the number twelve is interesting. I have a theory about it. In the heart chakra, there are twelve valences. Those pertain to almost invisible nerves that are in the center heart. Their work is very subtle. The Greeks had knowledge of the subtle system when they named the sacrum bone since it contains the coiled serpent like female spiritual energy that moves up along the spine when it is awakened. Athena, born from the head of Zeus is represented with a shield and a snake, symbols of the spiritual female power of the God head.

    You're right Jonathan, what a beautiful post, Shasta, and Jonathan and Francoise, every time I come in here the depth of what you're saying is just stunning and all the extras you ADD to it, I did not know that Francoise, that's fabulous.

    I also did not know about and am very sorry to hear of the death of Iris Chang, thank you Jonathan, I am sorry.

    Mippy, a great parallel to the death of Achilles, great point!

    Hoo Jonathan ". Unless Homer is suggesting that birthing is also an aristeia." hahaah I wonder what Homer DID mean by comparing the wounded Agamemnon's suffering to labor pains!

    Gosh what a horrifying end and strange end for Ajax, thank you for bringing that here, Jonathan, from Donald Richardson's book: Great Zeus And All His Children

    I'm heading out early in the morning to the car repair but am prepared for the wait, I have my Iliad and my Nagy on heroism in the Achaeans and between the two I hope to shut out the modern world entirely!!

    But let's look at the most stunning thing about Book XI: Patroculs!! (Good point Joan K on even a friend knows Achilles has a temper! And you don't get a better friend than Patroclus, do you?)

    Now WHAT is Achilles thinking here? The Greeks are literally showered with blood by Zeus, no less, people immediately conclude the war is lost but there's that nagging prophecy.

    I am really struck by the difference in Nestor here and Patroclus. And I can just imagine sitting there listening to this, it's almost as if Homer is toying with us, I like the tension here, it's clear that the Greeks are losing but we know Troy falls.

    "We'll all be piling into our black ships soon.
    We have no defense left. All our best
    have been hit and are laid up in camp.
    And the Trojans only get stronger."
    line 864ff)

    Still you should speak to Achilles.
    It is not too late and he just might listen.
    Who knows but that with the help of some god
    You might rouse his spirit? You are his friend,
    And it is good for friends to persuade each other.
    If some oracle, or a secret his mother
    Has learned from Zeus,<is holding him back,
    Let him send you out, let you lead a troop
    Of Myrmidons and light the way for our army
    If you wear his armor, and the Trojans think
    You are he, they will back+ off and give the Greeks
    Some breathing space, what little there is in war.
    Our rested men will turn them with a shout>
    And push them back from our ships to Troy. (835ff)

    Am I the only one here having some problems with Nestor's logic? What's illogical about what he just suggested? I'm beginning to have a LOT of second thoughts about Nestor here, the thing I can't figure out is why Patroclus bought it.

    What do YOU think?

    Here are some new things to think about today, what do you think??

  • 1. Pat has mentioned these lines: "This speech put great notions in Patroclus' head? What do the other translations show for "great notions?" (849)… Is Patroclus' response heroism or a bit of glory for himself or friendship? Which do you think is uppermost in his mind?
  • Can you put yourselves in his shoes? What would have been YOUR response to this idea?
  • What effect do you suppose this idea will have on the fuming Achilles?

  • 2. . As Jonathan has mentioned Agamemnon has his aristeia (see terms above). Do you see a pattern in it compared to that of Diomedes in Book V? What do you make of Agamemnon's wounded pain being compared to a woman in labor?? (Temple)
  • 3. Why is the wounding of Machaon important? Watch around the beginning of lines 705 (Temple).
    Dr. Stone in his class pointed out that books XI-XV are rich sources for scholars.

    I am not sure I have a grip on Nestor here,

  • 4. What do you think Nestor is thinking of with his idea?? Is he thinking that Achilles will change his mind when he sees his best friend suiting up in HIS armor? What makes Nestor think that Achilles will even GIVE his armor? What makes Patroclus think "clothes make the man?" What do you think is passing thru their minds?

  • 5. Achilles seems to expect the Greeks to come to him hat in hand, " If I have it right, the Greeks will soon be
    groveling before me. They've reached their limit." (l. 648ff) but...what is your feeling that he really expects? Is it for Patroclus to wear HIS armor? What is likely to be his reaction??

    I can't wait to see what happens, let's move on to 12 tomorrow, if you all are ready, meanwhile, what are your thoughts today on any of these??
  • Pat H
    I don't know a lot about Iris Chang, or for that matter about the rape of Nanking, although a good friend of mine lost his father in it. But I do remember that she insisted on retaining control over the Japanese translation of her book, and would not consent to a sanitized version of it. This sort of integrity is something we all have to keep in mind and be willing to act on, even though most of us will never be put to the test.

    I salute her for her courage and regret whatever led her to feel that life was too much.

    1. And Zeus sent Strife down. Still in Book XI. How easily the fighting spirit among men is awakened.

    2. Zeus rained down drops of blood! Better theirs than ours. Let's go get them.

    3. Zeus sat apart...and watched men killed and being killed. A curious way of saying that the command-post was in heaven.

    4. Now Zeus drew Hector apart, out of harms way, so to speak, while Agamemnon was on a rampage. (In human terms a dereliction of duty on Hector's part.)

    5. Zeus sends a message to Hector, advising him when to get back into the fight. Perhaps that is what Achilles is waiting for.

    6. An injured Agamemnon blames Zeus for cutting short his aristeia.

    7. Hector enters the fray, and, giving Zeus the glory, slaughters ten warriors just like that, and then falling on the ordinary soldiery, disperses them like a storm-blast lashing the clouds in the sky.

    8. Indomitable Diomedes feels the withdrawal of Zeus's support to his regret.

    9. With another nudge from Zeus the fighting becomes a pitched battle.

    10. Zeus lends strength to a surrounded Odysseus and gets him out of a tight spot with only a wound.

    11. Zeus does what no man on earth could do, when he puts fear into the heart of Ajax!

    12. Nestor supplies the twelfth role for Zeus in the affairs of men, and the most crucial, when he, Nestor, ponders Achilles' fate, an Achilles who may be deliberately waiting out the Will of Zeus. It is at this point that Nestor suggests to Patroklos that he take Achilles' place on the battlefield.

    So much for the gods. The Iliad is also a tale of the greatness of the human spirit, and we're still left with the problem of Achilles' anger and how it plays its part for better and for worse.

    We know the immediate cause of the anger. Losing Briseis was cause enough for wrath, but it seems to have unleashed the dogs of fury in Achilles' heart. If we can believe Patroklos, Achilles is a forbidding man, quick to anger, a terrible man, likely to blame even the blameless. 688ff

    That is enough for Nestor, and he goes to work on Patroklos, who really needs little convincing, good soldier that he is. Didn't he come out of his hut 'looking like Ares, the god of war' when Achilles called him? (642) And that was without any armor. Achilles, despite his anger, is very much concerned about the way the battle is going. If he wants them all to come crawling to him for help, it's only because he felt let down by all of them in his confrontation with Agamemnon.

    That's what Patroklos meant, it has just occurred to me. It's the whole Greek army, who are the 'blameless' that Patroklos had in mind when he said, 'Achilles is apt to blame the blameless.'

    Thus there is no question where Patroklos would rather be. Fighting alongside his fellow soldiers. Helping a wounded buddy. But posing as Achilles; now that's tempting fate. Very fateful the curious role that smart old Nestor plays in it. He must still be smarting that Odysseus bungled it on the embassy to Achilles in Book IX. It was Nestor who had coached Odysseus on that occasion, I seem to remember.

    First, some verse translation from Pope, backing off 4 lines from your suggestion, so start at Lombardo line 845 ff:
    Clad in Achilles' arms, if thou appear,
    Proud Troy may tremble, and desist from war;
    Press'd by fresh forces, her o'er-labour'd train
    Shall seek their walls, and Greece respire again"

    This touch'd his generous heart, and from the tent
    Along the shore with hasty strides he went;

    "Greece respire again" compared to Lombardo's "give the Greeks some breathing space"
    ... perhaps could mean the Greeks will actually live to fight another day, and Patroclus would have the great glory of accomplishing that achievement. So he was indeed tempted to try the "clone" ploy, and try to fool the Trojans.

    If Achilles would not fight, just put a look-alike out there, said Nestor. Implying: those dumb Trojans will not know the difference. Bad, bad advice, but I've been thinking that Nestor had some Polonius in him, (neither a borrower nor a lender be) ... way too much talk, and not enough thought.
    As we all get older, perhaps we ought to try not to be like Polonius, or Nestor.

    Shasta Sills
    After Patroclus was killed, Achilles was absolutely inconsolable. I can't help thinking that his grief was mixed with guilt. By sending Patroclus into the battle, wearing Achilles' armor, he sent Patroclus to his death. The Trojans thought they were killing Achilles. If he had not been wearing Achilles' armor, they might have paid no attention to him. The armor singled him out for death.

    I'm reading Cold Mountain along with The Iliad, back and forth from one to the other and I'm amazed at the similarities in the battle s cenes. In each,they yell taunts to the enemy, and when the fighting is done they strip the corpses. In the Iliad it was armor and in the Civil War, it was mostly boots and other necessary garments to replace their own worn out clothing. Still, I can't help but wonder... what has the human race learned in three thousand years except, as Thomas Hardy said, " to make red war yet redder." I'll try to stay more on the subject next time, but just wondered if anyone else has had similar thoughts while reading ?

    Blood and sweat without any tears so far. There is no time to grieve since the dead are stripped of their armor and the wounded are dragged back to their own lines. Can you imagine what the sand looks like?

    Book 11 has a foreboding of events. Paris shoots an arrow through Diomedes' right foot. (Lombardo, line #400). We all know that Achilles is vulnerable in the heel and Paris will not miss.

    Hector is described as an avalanche. How deadly.

    Diomedes's comment reminds me a bit of a quote from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

    "It's only a flesh wound. I've had worse..."

    I can picture Diomedes saying something like that, though.

    Shasta Sills
    Aha! We Trojans have driven the Greeks back behind their rampart! Look at them scurrying across their ditch and scampering up their wall like a pack of rats! But wait. Now Hector is ordering us to follow the Greeks and storm their wall. Is he out of his mind? We will all get out skulls split open when those boulders come raining down on our heads. What about using a battering ram or a catapult? Well, a battering ram wouldn't work because you have to get a running start and we would all fall into the ditch before we rammed the wall. And perhaps he does not know what a catapult is? But there goes Sarpedon up that wall and he's ripped a hole in it with his bare hands! With a man like that, you don't need a catapult.

    I just came across a copy of Archaelogy, Sept/Oct edition and there is a letter from one Candace Bacon Cordella who says her great-great uncle was the true discoverer of Troy. His name was Frank Calvert and he supposedly hired Schlieman, who later tried to convince the world that he was the real discoverer. One book miss Cordella refers to is Finding the Walls of Troy, by Susan Allen, though she says there are many publications now clarifying the truth of the dig. Just thought I'd pass this along if anyone is interested in following up.

    'built without the immortal gods' sanction, and therefore it did not stand long' Bk 12:8

    But what men did there, and all their passions, are still there to be discovered in Homer's great epic.

    Here's that wall again, built at Nestor's suggestion, when things began to look bad for the Greeks in an earlier chapter. What an oversight to build it without asking the blessings of the gods. It's difficult not to become philosophical at the start of Book 12. Just as Homer intended, no doubt.

    What mighty battles men fight over things that in the end leave no trace behind. Except for Homer's monumental epic of the grand exploits of the warriors, nothing remains of the wall built on sand. All washed away. Just an empty beach now. How melancholy.

    But the fighting continues. We happy few. Isn't it exhilarting to reimagine that mighty event?

    How much trouble Homer goes to to explain why it is no longer there! I assume sailors of his day knew where Troy had been and could see there was no wall left standing.

    So are all of the scenes of Troy's glory gone? They scaled the wall and broke through it at great cost: now it is nothing.

    Well...there are three different ways to look at this.

    The normal approach:

    "It's just a wall, and someone knocked it down. Big deal."

    The peacemaker's approach:

    "This is the effect of war. Therefore, war is bad."

    and finally...our approach:

    "It is a wall. Even though it has ceased to exist, it still holds great historical significance. There was a wall standing there in ancient times."

    Shasta Sills
    There is a touching little description of a working woman in Book 12. (Lines 502-505)

    "They held tight as a working widow holds the scales,

    painstakingly grips the beam and lifts the weight

    and the wool together, balancing both sides even

    struggling to win a grim subsistence for her children."

    Who but Homer would have thought of comparing two battling armies to a working woman selling her wool. She has a few sheep and she sells their wool to support her children. Her husband was probably killed in one of the Greek wars. These little descriptions of how the Greeks lived are always appealing to me.

    The walls of old Troy are still there, or, at least the evidence of their having been there. As well as the evidence of the place having been sacked and burned.

    Thereby hangs a tale, Homer must have said to himself. With a little help from the muses, and, voila, the first literary canon shot heard in the march of western civilization. The Greek defensive wall is a clever little literary device at the very least. Just look what Homer did with it, and, finally, reminding his listeners not to go looking for it. The destruction of the wall after the fighting is over is put to good use, once it has served its purpose as protection for the one side, and military objective for the other.

    Its easy to forget the gods in Homer's epic, that is, in the sense of not taking them seriously. What irony was it that left the Iliad a song, a literary piece, and the Hebrew Torah a religious work? Both classics lose something for being considered only one or the other. IMO.

    Homer may have known his Bible. He would have made contact with the children of Judah, if we can believe JOEL 3:6. "The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border."

    It certainly surprised me to hear, (Bk XI), that Zeus had also placed the rainbow in the heavens, to declare His omnipotence. Did Zeus regret his role in the bronze-age calamity and carnage at Troy? Homer seems to suggest it when he has Zeus helping to destroy an important piece of evidence, namely, the wall. It was, after all, the rain that Zeus sent down from heaven that helped Poseidon and Apollo in their act of vengeance against the Greeks. It seems strange to me that the readily discernable religious insights in the Iliad are neglected in all the turmoil of chasing honors and glories that are often just as transient as the sandcastles heaped up on the beach.

    Sometimes, when the bloodshed in the war is overwhelming, I love to read just for the poetry:

    ...very powerful lines in the Lombardo edition, at the end of 12:

    And the Greeks? In rout to their hollow ships,
    With a noise like the damned stampeded into hell.

    Comparing, these poetic lines, now, to Alexander Pope's final lines of Ch 12:

    Then pouring after, through the gaping space,
    A tide of Trojans flows, and fills the place:
    The Greeks behold, they tremble, and they fly;
    The shore is heap'd with death, and tumult rends the sky.

    In this comparison, Lombardo wins the prize; the Pope is somewhat weakened by being forced to rhyme --
    what do you think?

    Here is an interesting page, with a game:

    Lombardo's translation certainly conveys a more shocking impression of the scene than Pope's. What one wouldn't give to be able to read it in the original. For further comparison I'll add three more translations of the sound of battle at the wall:

    'With a noise like the damned stampeded into hell.' Lombardo

    'tumult rends the sky' Pope

    'there was turmoil and uproar unceasing' Rouse

    'and the din rose unceasing' Hammond

    'tumult was at its height' Chapman

    I think Lombardo conveys more than the others; but I also feel that he is a little unfair to the Greeks, since it would have been the Trojans making most of the noise, and since they were winning at that point, the noise could be expected to sound hell-defying.

    Simone Weil, obviously has been very influential for some in interpreting the Iliad

    Shasta Sills

    "The wall, storm the wall! They rushed to obey him,

    some swarming over the top at once, others streaming in

    through the sturdy gateways--Argives scattering back in terror,

    back by the hollow hulls, the uproar rising, no way out, no end---"

    There seems to be disagreement among the translators.

    Mippy, I prefer Pope's rendering which has the tide of Trojans supplying the exultant tumult that rends the sky, and not Lombardo's routed, terrified Greeks. Other than their rattling armor as they flee, what noise would they make?

    Fagles puts it beyond question. His rising uproar has to be coming with those Trojans 'swarming over the top,' 'streaming in through the sturdy gateways.' Their terrified enemies would be too busy retreating to make much noise.

    Perhaps I'm making too much of this. There is considerable scope for interpretation here, and differences of opinion. If that matters at all. Can you imagine the hushed audiences that must have listened to these stirring lines in solemn silence?

    I am suprised to find how much the heart of men is the same in times of war, today and 4000 BC. According to the last N.Y.Times magazine, during the year 2002, Americans prayed to God for peace and the end of war 71% of the time. Albeit the time or the place on earth, it seems men have always being aware of the divine presence and praying to that force unequal to them.


    No time to read because of all the books I have to read this semester, but I found a quote today in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian on WAR that I thought some people reading this very war-oriented poem might like to read:

    It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.

    ~Blood Meridian

    Greetings from The Big Apple, New York City!! What a week this has been , I barely know what day it is, but I hope you have felt my nodding self, I’ve just loved reading all your points, you just soared into Chapter 12, and did such a good job with it! I have some other thoughts on it, as well. Wshat a wonder this discussion itself is? It’s not like any other I have led or participated in. It’s an epic in itself, I am really enjoying it. And SOON soon soon we shall reach the point of no return and we will SWITCH sides, we’re not there just yet, but we’re gaining on it. But where ARE we?

    Well I’ve read Homer in the auto store, waiting for a 5 hour repair job, and now I’ve read Homer (Chapter 13) on the Great White Way listening to sirens screaming as I type. It’s amazing how good Homer really is (AND the Lombardo). It’s as good as anything else you can find, (better, to me), and it’s kind of strange how everything else pales in comparison.

    I left at 5:30 am and thought I could not find the Lombardo, so threw in the Lattimore, I bet I am one of the few travelers this holiday season with TWO versions of the Iliad in my suitcase hhahaha yes, the Lombardo was there, what a difference in the two!!!

    OK first off I had put this in the Latin 101 class and Joan remarked it was apropos for the subject matter of the Iliad and having just read Book 13, he could be describing this sarcophagus, (or vice versa) so, with apologies for the wrong time period, if you needed any other description of battle and horses and men, here’s one:

    The magnificent Ludovisi sarcophagus: click to enlarge!!

    Found in the Palazzo Altemps in Rome, a place very few people, if any, ever visit, the sarcophagus is huge by anybody's standards. It's gigantic and white and overwhelming, stands in a big room almost all by itself, there are benches in front of it and two other incredible sarcophagi, either one of which would be a prize in any museum, if I remember correctly, to the right, but this one sarcophagus takes the entire room and your attention. It's decorated as you see on three sides, the back is plain.

    This is a rare piece which many have heard of but few actually get to see (it's not on the tourist maps of Rome) is the description of the front?

    The front of the sarcophagus shows a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Germans. The Germans have distinctive clothing, beards, and hairstyles that distinguishes them from the cleanshaven Romans. This work has been dated to ca. 250 A.D. The Roman on horseback in the center-top has been identified with Hostilian, son of the emperor Decius, who died in 252 A.D. --- The Popolo Project-, Museo Nazionale)

    "Sarcophagus," according to The American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 ,

    The word comes to us from Latin and Greek, having been derived in Greek from sarx, “flesh,” and phagein, “to eat.” The Greek word sarkophagos meant “eating flesh,” and in the phrase lithos (“stone”) sarkophagos it denoted a limestone that was thought to decompose the flesh of corpses placed in it. Used by itself as a noun the Greek term came to mean “coffin.” This Latin word was borrowed into English, first being recorded in 1601 with reference to the flesh-consuming stone and then in 1705 with reference to a stone coffin.

    The Ludovisi Sarcophagus is preternaturally cold even in the hottest weather, I believe it's marble, but am not sure. The strange thing is that as I stood there and felt its cold presence, I thought how soothing it might be to get IN it and cool off (it was about 100 degrees that day in Rome) and was surprised at myself.

    AND tomorrow, camera in hand, I’m going to the Met, but this time not to see the Roman antiquities, but the Greek!! I declare I am as excited as a child, I have never had “time” to see the Greek things, always had to see the Egyptian or the Roman or the Cloisters, etc., etc., etc, but because of this discussion I’m on FIRE to see the Greek art, and tomorrow I hope to bring back to YOU some wonderful photographs of…hopefully something Mycenean, I’ll try for the very oldest stuff I can find. Found some great stuff right before I left home, too, in my new book on Mythology, one of a poet-singer and a fantastic double vase thing just as Book XII describes!! But enough of me, let’s move on to Chapter 13, with a look tho at several things that stuck out about what YOU have added to the discussion and what struck me, as well. More…

    Jonathan what a super list of the 12 things Zeus does to show he direct things! I was really struck with the "numbers' in Books S XII and XIII. You mentioned the rain of blood and I was struck by the snowfall of stones, you mention 12 things and I was struck by 9 days of flood against the wall, (9 years against Troy) 9 days of flood and the wall stands, until Hector breaches it.

    And you say so much for the gods. Have you all noticed that the gods, particularly lately, almost seem for…a sort of light hearted effect?

    I just saw Billy Crystal's new show last night and parts of it are very serious, but he…lightens it here with a seque into sports or baseball and there with humor, and the effect is really quite striking. I wonder if what Homer is doing here with his similes, which are SO much better at describing things, and ….what do you suppose Homer meant by having the gods behave in such….capricious and almost funny ways? We will see a major statement made in Book XIII on Zeus, let's go there now and see if you can tell ME what they're talking about.

    Let's begin looking at Book XIII today.

    But posing as Achilles; now that's tempting fate. Very fateful the curious role that smart old Nestor plays in it. That is brilliant, Jonathan!!

    And the comparison with Odysseus and Nestor's role, are you seeing Nestor in another light?

    Oh good point Mippy on another possible reason for Patroclus to fight! I wonder how many reasons…and you raise ANOTHER good point and one I've been wondering about myself: why WOULDN'T theTrojan's know that was NOT Achilles?

    I mean they are not THAT clothed?

    I agree, Shasta, about Achilles grief and guilt, guilt is always SO terrible in grief, Billy Crystal's show was about THAT, too, very graphically, he portrayed himself as Sisyphus. But why do you think Achilles let Patroclus WEAR his armor in the first place??

    Oh great point Gossett on the similarities of Cold Mountain and the Iliad, we are getting to the point now where we need to look at Jonathan Shay's book Achilles in Vietnam. I have also been thinking along the lines you mention. Didn't Patton consider himself the universal warrior?

    Good points Shasta on the shooting in the foot, by Book XIII there seems no body part unscathed, which of course there would not be. Oh great point on Hector's being described as an avalanche, would ….let's see what you think of Hector as Book XIII closes?

    Greatbooksfan, I thought the same thing, and laughed out loud, I bet that is where they got it, one of the new shows opening in February on Broadway, I think it's February, is "Spamalot," I don't have to tell you what THAT'S from! Hahahaah

    Only movie I ever saw where people laugh at the opening credits!

    Shasta you mention Sarpeidon and it's interesting to me that he, a son of Zeus, gives such a statement about why they are fighting: (l. 338ff)
    But as it is, death is everywhere
    In more shapes than we can count
    And since no mortal is immune or can escape,
    Let's go forward, either to give glory
    To another man or get glory from him."

    How is that different from 2004?

    Gossett, I had heard something a few years ago, but you say it's in the new edition (September/ October) of Archaeology? wow?? But Schliemann has the photographs??

    I will try to find that gigantic Barnes & Noble I saw today and see if they have a copy!! Thank you for that, isn't this interesting, I don't believe I have EVER seen such a Pandora's box of a book!

    Hegeso, thank you for that neato game!!! We will attempt it when we come to the end, I bet we are all perfect, thank you!!

    We can write our own Millionaire's version of The Iliad, are you all game?

    Good point, Francoise, on the heart of men being the same in times of war!

    Thank you Deems, for that somewhat stunning quote, I wonder if it's true, has there always been war, even before man? The Greeks seemed to think so, if you remember your mythology, Chaos, etc?

    Ok here are some of the things in Book XII which stood out for me:

  • Hector. I've been worried about Hector since he did that camping out from the city walls facing the enemy. That does not seem bright, to me. But here I guess I'm wrong as he's victorious. He's also lifting up huge stones nobody else could and is out of control, " No one
    Cold have stopped him, except the gods.
    …his eyes glowed with fire." (493). I am not sure about the Greek noises and the comparison, Jonathan, I got all hung up on the GATE in the wall, what do the other translations have for gate? The Greeks here go like the dammed stampeded into Hell.

    But that GATE?

  • Omens: I wonder how important omens seem to be here? Have you noticed the one in line 207? I have problems figuring out these omens? They seem to mean one thing to those watching and another thing when you consider the whole of the plot and who is going to lose? What do you make of the omens in Books XII and XIII?

  • Temple talks about warnings from Polydamas to Hector and "note when and where he stops listening." (Temple) Had you noticed anything about warnings? Are Omens warnings? I am somewhat unclear, when it comes to Omens, on who is being warned and by whom and of what? Or why Homer has us see Hector being warned??

    OK let's move on to Book XIII today, there's a lot I would like to have your opinion on!

  • 1.
    "He never dreamed that any of the immortals
    Would go to help the Trojans or the Greeks. " (l. 9ff)
    One thing I have a problem with is how Zeus can be so dense? He told them all to sit back, but apparently Poseidon, King of the Sea is his brother and thus figures….at least while Zeus is away, he'll do his own thing. (Loved that initial description of watching the Greek ships from his "topmost peak." Thought of that looking down at Newark, actually.

    So he goes down in disguise, as Calchas the Seer. The reader of Omens, bird entrails.

    Isn't that fascinating? Because we've already had a reference to "reading" and it was in Chapter 12, I absolutely love the power in these lines, love this, want to know what the others have?

  • Hector's bronze mask leaned toward Polydamas:
  • (line 238). Note how dramatically that is set off, note how frightening that is? What do the other translators have for that? What does this description convey?? What has just happened here?

  • Ginny
  • Hector says "Birds? You want me to obey birds?" (line 246ff). I think this new fascinating sub….theme or whatever it is is fascinating. Why am I thinking of Augustus, was it Augustus on the ship waiting for the augurs to tell him if it were favorable or not to wage war and the birds would not eat? (If I were an augur I would try to think up some excuse too) but anyway, he was increasingly delayed and still the birds would not eat so he threw them in the sea saying, well if they will not eat perhaps they will drink. Something along those lines, may have the leader mixed up tho there do seem to be a lot of aprocohaystories about Augustus and birds in general. But it shows you a decidedlyu strange attitude or…what would you call it towards the omens, augurs, and, dare we say it, the gods?? I mean what IS man to make of these …"gods?"

  • The Greeks are getting the wind back in their sails, the words "pumped up" are used twice on page 241 alone, but on page 242 we have something stunning in line 110, that I am not sure we have seen before, have we?

    "Because, thanks to our leader's cowardice…"

  • Who is the leader being spoken of? What does this mean?

  • Who is the speaker?

    What other epithets are used in this section?

  • line 360ff:
    As to which human heroes they should afflicted,
    Zeus planned victory for Hector and the Trojans
    To honor Achilles. He had no desire
    To destroy the Greeks on Troy's dusty plain,
    But meant only to honor Thetis and her son.

  • What does this mean? To what does it refer? How would conquering Troy honor Achilles, he's not fighting?

    Now in Book 13 we have several bloody passages, we have an AX brought out (golly) and people being "stitched," several times., and an interesting speech about how Zeus gives different people different gifts, did you notice that in lines 770f?

  • Polydamas AGAIN approaches Hector and tries to reason with him. What does this do to the reader? Does it give you a lot of confidence in Hector's leadership ability, to have somebody constantly saying hey, this is more reasonable? What's happening to Hector?

    What is the effect this time of Polydamas's warning? Does it have anything to do with this line, (line 787)
    He is still waiting back there, you know, and he loves
    To fight. Hew won't sit out the whole war.

    I am struck here by the difference, and it's quite subtle, in how the Trojans and the Greeks see Achilles at this point. Those of you who are Trojans, what does Achilles mean to you at this point? Those of you Greeks, how do you honestly think YOU would be feeling? A LOT of good men are being lost.

  • Another Omen!! (line 864ff: )
    His words were not out efore a bird flew past
    On the right, a high-soaring eagle.
    The Achaeans shouted, taking heart.
    At the omen.

  • What does the juxtaposition of the omen which gave the Achaeans heart and Hector's threat to Ajax have to do with each other? What happens in the closing paragraph of Book 13??

    One fine shield, made of ox hide, in fact several ox hides tall, with a silver boss of Medusa's head in the center for your thoughts?
  • Shasta Sills
    Jonathan, are you paying attention to what those gods are up to? The minute Zeus turned his back, Poseidon entered the fray. As Ginny points out, Zeus and Poseidon are brothers, but they have no love for each other. That whole family is dysfunctional, always quarreling among themselves. Well, Zeus is married to his sister, so what can you expect? Poseidon was furious when the Greeks first built their wall. He went complaining to Zeus that they were messing up his beaches. I don't blame him. That makeshift wall of logs and boulders was bound to be an eyesore.

    But when the Greeks began retreating, Poseidon took their side and infiltrated the troops, rallying them on, exactly as Zeus told him not to do. When Zeus notices what Poseidon is doing, there'll be thunderbolts flying in all directions. Did you know Poseidon had blue hair? That comes from spending so much time underwater. When I was a young swimmer, my hair tended to turn green from the chlorine in the pools I swam. But Poseidon didn't have that problem. He had beautiful, long, streaming blue hair.

    Shasta, the way I see it up here on Olympus, the best thing you hope for in heaven is getting respect from the other gods. There's little love lost among them. Cliques and factions galore, that come with all the scheming and conspiring. Our human limitations may make it seem like all madness and no method, but the gods say it's the freedom to which human beings can only aspire.

    I had some very serious thoughts I was going to post, on how to know when you're having an encounter with a god, based on the evidence supplied by both the Lesser and the Greater Ajax. (early in Book XIII) But your post just cracked me up. You do have an amazing way of looking at things.

    Very interesting to hear that your hair took on a green color from swimming in chlorinated water. Of course, that explains Poseidon's blue. His home is that 'wine-dark sea.'

    Shasta Sills
    Jonathan, let's hear your thoughts about the Ajaxes. Isn't it strange that the plural of Ajax is Aeantes? I thought at first they were brothers, but they're not. Ajax the Greater is a swordsman and Little Ajax is an archer. I've noticed that swordsmen have contempt for archers because they don't engage in hand-to-hand fighting. They're always making insulting remarks about the archers: (XIII-825)

    "They had no love for stand-and-fight encounters--

    had no crested bronze helmets to guard their heads,

    no balanced shields in their grasp, no ashen spears,

    only their bows and slings of springy twisted wool.

    Trusting these, they followed their chief to Troy...

    So the men in heavy armor fought at the front,

    they grappled Trojans and Hector helmed in bronze

    while Locrians slung from the rear, safe, out of range,"

    Sounds to me like Little Ajax and his Locrians had the right idea. How can you tell if you're having an encounter with a god? Because everything gets all screwed up?

    What a day I've had among the Greeks, what a time. Troy is playing on the in house movie screen and I must say, I like the spectacle? But having read The Iliad as closely as we have it almost bears no resemblance, Briseis is given by Agamemnon to the men and they are about to brand her when Achilles intervenes? Helen runs off with Paris…it's not the same focus or premise, (there certainly aren't any gods!), I like the costume details tho, I just saw those same helmet crests in the Met! And what a time there, just look:
    and here's the text on these things, look how OLD they are!! Helmet information

    What a treasure trove the Met really IS, it's unbelievable. You walk past so many pieces you should stand and admire for years. Unbelievable. I got some photos but then disaster struck, read on!!

    There are breastplates and lower abdomen plates and spear tops (about 15 inches long) from the Trojan War era, and ankle guards which came later, there are shin guards (grieves) with the head of Medusa on them and a huge vase of the death of Sarpedon with his name right there! A whole wall of helmets and stuff and in case you're wondering why you are not looking at them, the crisis happened when I stumbled on THIS out of Book 13!!!!! It's Poseidon himself, in the guise of Calchas, between the two warriors Ajax (but holding his trident), look look!!! and here's one of the two explanations: Explanation connecting this vase to Book 13 of The Iliad

    AND they have the guy who came to the Met from the British Museum, remember him from Thomas Hoving? Can't think of his name, reading, the first book of the Iliad with a drum accompaniment, and it's fabulous. I note Dr. Lombardo has used a drum also, it's very effective in the recording.

    They also said that the soldier (they called them Hoplites) if I have that spelled correctly, supplied his own armor and to get the armor of another was to win honor.

    But no sooner had my wondering eyes turned from the 13th Book of the Iliad illustrated to a huge krater showing Sarpedon when the battery went DEAD despite my having put in new ones before the trip. The Met does not sell batteries, nor for the desperate, throwaway cameras . Well said I this a lot (I have a lot more) but then I turned and saw a wall of armor and breastplates so lifelike they must have been casts, and I thought, oh they have to see that! So out I went in the rain block after block, found a GREEK store, bought the batteries, came back, put them in, they also were dead!!! I gave up, had a show to go to this afternoon, but the bookstore said they did have a book of the collection, bought it, no go, they are not in there. They are probably on the Internet!! Also gorgeous things that looked like horns with the faces of animals, and they were drinking cups, just incredible. I do have more, but will need to get home where I have better photo imaging stuff.

    This is a wonderful vase, the explanation says it’s showing how the Greeks would hold their shields in front of them for protection and advance this way in a phalanx. Click to enlarge and see details!

    Pat H
    And the Greeks? In rout to their hollow ships,
    With a noise like the damned stampeded into hell.

    This is another example of what I like so much about this translation. Lombardo says something in a bald, in-your-face kind of way, and while you are still reeling from the impact, the understated beauty of the language finishes you off.

    The previous description of Hector is pretty magnificent too.

    Shasta Sills
    Greek vases are some of the most beautiful things ever made. The shapes are so graceful. How could a people so dedicated to warfare produce such lovely art?

    I was interested in the comment that a soldier supplied his own armor and to get the armor of another was to win honor. I've been wondering why the fighters would stop right in the middle of the battle and strip a victim of his armor, and go hurrying back to his tent with it. That seems impractical, not to mention dangerous with the arrows still flying. Why couldn't they wait till the battle was over before they collected the trophies? I suppose the answer is that these war trophies were very important to them, and they didn't want to chance losing them to some other scavenger.

    There may have also been a practical reason. Since each man supplied his own armor and weapons, it was up to him to re-arm himself if his lance broke or his shield was shattered.

    Meriones says, "I've just splintered the lance I used to carry..." And Idomeneus answers, "If it's spears you want, you'll find not one but 20, all propped on my shelter's wall: Trojan weapons stripped from the men I kill."

    All this business about stripping other people of their armor reminds me of an online fantasy computer game that I play. In it, you walk around all over the place, in towns, caves, woods, and other places, hunting everything from rats to cyclopes. However, players have the ability to attack eachother, and when you kill another player, you get everything in their bags, as well as sometimes getting a piece of the armor they were wearing. Good fun!

    I've been looking everywhere and I can't seem to find where the Apple of Discord legend comes from. It's not in the Illiad, Aenead or Oddessy....where is this recorded? I've looked everywhere.

    This is going to drive me crazy until I figure this out.

    Welcome, menotyou, we are delighted to welcome you into our company!! The Apple of Discord sounds like Herodotus to me, have you checked in Bulfinch? Welcome!! Do pull up a shield and sit a spell!

    Shasta what a great question, how CAN you tell you’ve had an encounter with a god? What an insightful question, up it goes in the heading!!

    What do you all think? Love it!

    I agree on the Lombardo translation, Pat, felt quite bereft without it when I got here till I found the book, will be reading ahead on the plane back tomorrow, I wonder who did the Loeb I just bought, it will be fun to compare them!

    I think you’re right Shasta on that explanation of the spoils, they really are intense about gathering them, kind of reminds you of the Civil War and great parallel also Greatbooksfan, on the video games. I hear there’s an entirely new one out on the Egyptians, much more advanced than Sim City, you get to care about the characters, think of that, a 3,000 year old idea. Hahaha

    They’re still talking, but I wonder how YOU all would feel if YOU were in the Greek camp and our hero is not doing ONE thing? I hear there are rumors he’s a “sulky boy” and others of disenchantment, after all we’re losing our best. Is Achilles causing some of our losses? If we all think he’s the best that has ever been, how can we NOT blame him? Do you think if you took a poll among the Greeks that they would support him, resent him, mock him, or how do you think they would feel about now?? I’ll tell you, seeing that armor up close and personal really drove it home, for me. Here’s a breastplate, I wish my camera had not given up the ghost because there was one anatomically modeled that looks like an ad for Pilates, but here’s one and the description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Explanation of the cuirasse: note it’s only LENT!!

    Am still on the road in my home town, actually, Philadelphia, and today bought a wonderful Loeb of the Iliad II, with the Greek on one side and the transtlation on the other, I thought we might like to SEE the Greek as we read it. I thought it an omen that the book begins with Book 13!!!

    This will be my last posting till Sunday as I am travelling all tomorrow and then have Thanksgiving. I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and those of you NOT in the US, I wish you a wonderful weekend! See you on Monday!

    Pat H
    In her "Mythology", Edith Hamilton tells the stories as one piece,but has introductions giving her sources. She says: I have taken....the Judgement of Paris from The Trojan Women, a play by his (his is Aeschylus, 5th century) contemporary, Euripides.

    Her next comment is amusing; she says she got a few details from "...The prose-writer Apollodorus, who wrote probably in the first or second century A.D. He is usually very uninteresting, but in treating the events leading up to the Iliad he was apparently inspired by touching so great a subject and he is less dull than in almost any other part of his book."

    Pat H I was so glad you pointed out the humor in Edith Hamilton's comment on Apollodorus. To be "less dull" than usual is a left -anded compliment if I ever heard on. Makes you glad we're not reading his works, hum?

    Having finally put away the Thanksgiving wine glasses, not unlike the women serving the soldiers on the beaches of Troy (joke), I want to note the lines showing how Ajax knew he was having an encounter with a god:

    (Line 70ff) Oilean Ajax ... said to Ajax, son of Telamon:

    That was one of the Olympian gods ...
    ... I could tell from the tracks he made when he left ...
    However, how do we understand this? Did Calchas, the human, leave ordinary tracks of a man,
    while the disguised Poseidon did not?

    Bird omens had a lot to do with what the birds carried and which way they flew:
    Book 12, lines 207 ff
    ... an eagle overhead
    That skirted ... from right to left,
    Clutching ... a huge scarlet snake
    compared to
    Book 13, lines 865 ff
    On the right, a high-soaring eagle,
    The Achaeans shouted, taking heart
    At the omen.

    meaning that "on the right" was a good omen for the Greeks.

    While back in Book 12, line 246, Hector is distainful:
    ... I don't care which way birds fly,
    Right to the sunrise or left into the dusk.

    So we now see that "right" is east, "left" is west.
    Plus carrying or dropping dangerous snakes is never a good sign.

    Birds as omens: according to google sources, the Greek word for omen was the same as the word for bird. The play "The Bird" is a satire on the practice of seeing an omen in everything.

    The Romans caried this "divination by birds" even further. There was a special office, called "auger" whose job was to tell the future by reading the birds, and Roman armies wouldn't leave their cities until it had been done. They assigned a special protective bird to each god.

    This site has some more:

    Aias, Oileus' son, gives that as evidence that he and the other Aias have just had an encounter with a god. But how can that be? Just before that the god 'left them, as a swift-winged hawk darts into flight.' That suggests a fast take-off to me, and not one that leaves footprints behind. Perhaps the translator meant to suggest speed, or an instant vanishing from sight.

    Further evidence for both of them seems to be the suddenly renewed strength and eagerness to do battle.

    The simile involving the hawk reminds of the other role that birds play in Homer's tale: the bird of omen. That's a fascinating link to ornithomancy, Joan. It makes one want to learn more about the subject. What a statement:

    "Found everywhere in parables, metaphors, signs, omens and proverbs, birds have always inspired soothsayers, prophets, wisemen and poets, for it really seems as though their song, flight, plumage, habits and language contain so many signs which shed light on human life and our destiny."

    I'm certainly going to take a second look at any curious or suspicious behavior of the birds which fly into sight or within hearing. That raven at the window at midnight sounds omen-ous. Certainly not august. Talk to the birds, the article suggests. People will think you know something. Let's remember to point this out to Ginny, when she comes back. With her run of bad luck, she might find it useful. Looking for omens, I mean, not talking to them. She seems to have as many adventures when she goes travelling as that other guy in ancient times. Fantastic pictures, Ginny. I loved the helmets. The one on the left looks like it may have seen battlefield use. The one on the right is a magnificent piece of armor. But worth killing for?

    A thought just came to me. An army that looks for omens is an army in trouble, it seems to me.

    Thanks, Mippy and Joan, for resuming the discussion. The break has been fine, but I was beginning to feel forlorn without the Iliad. Ginny I believe said that scholars have serious problems with the section we're getting into. Surely it's not the delightful diversion provided by Zeus and Hera which seems un-epical to them?

    Just imagine, taking the flightiest of creatures as a guide.

    Pat H
    "Birds? you want me to obey birds,

    This is actually a very bold thing for Hector to say, given the feelings of the time about omens. I also feel that there is humor in the line; did anyone else see it, or is it just me?

    Pat H
    In Wagner’s Siegfried, after Siegfried tastes the blood of the dragon he has slain, he can understand the language of birds. Following their direction, he works his way to Brunnhilde, and his union with her sets us up for the end of the world. The music involved in this, as usual with Wagner, is so magnificent as to make us forget for the moment the viciousness of his underlying message.

    Hector can afford to feel very bold in scorning the signs or omens conveyed by birds. Especially so, when they're put to a wrong use, or interpreted incorrectly, perhaps, the way he sees it. Here, specifically, it concerns the eagle with the snake in its talons. A shudder runs through the Trojan troops, noticed by Polydamas, when the eagle drops the wriggling snake at their feet. How can this be ignored, they must be thinking.

    Hector, on the other hand, doesn't accept the meaning read into it by the others. To do so would mean calling into question the will of Zeus. Putting his trust in birds and their flapping wings would amount to not trusting Zeus, not having faith in Zeus's 'promise and solemn assent' to Hector's success on the battlefield

    Even so there seems to be a bit of doubt in Hector's mind, even about that, about having faith that a god, Zeus himself, is on his side.

    Why else would Hector conclude his remarks on the subject of omens and even the 'will of great Zeus' with that memorable line:

    'One omen is best of all - to fight for your country.'

    That in the end was the only thing that mattered to Hector. That was reason enough to fight on. To prevent the enemy from sacking his city, from threatening the lives of his wife and son. What help from the birds in that? Why be misled by them?

    Furthermore, he says to Polydamas:

    'But if you do hold back from the fighting, or work your persuasion on anyone else to turn him away from battle, then my spear will instantly strike you down and take the life from you.'

    From that I would conclude that Hector was very serious in the way he talked about birds.

    Oh good point, Jonathan, that's pretty strong, isn't it? Still you do get a strange feeling about these "gods," we have it with Augustus who, noted earlier, tired of the endless prattle from the augurs and uttered the famous "if they won't eat then let them drink," about the birds of devination, and here our "gods" certainly don't ACT like what we have come to think of AS gods, tho I must say some of the Indian gods (of India) don't either, it's fascinating to read this far back in history. The whole Polydamus thing looks different now, to me, with that line! I wonder what Polydamus means in Greek, I can see poly meaning many. The talking, I am seeing in Books 14 and 15, seems to be slacking off on the battlefield, have you noticed at all?

    And it's about time to change sides, let's do that at the end of this week.

    I think Jonathan, that what Dr. Stone was saying about these chapters is they are very valuable to classicists and historians because of the wealth of detail about how people that long ago fought, the weapons descriptions, etc…. I must say, and meant to mention back there that they don't seem to have much of a grasp of chariot warfare, at all, very strange passages I am thinking if I am reading them correctly (and may not be). It doesn't seem to show the came use of the cavalry that we have come to associate with later armies.

    On the armor, you didn't SEE some of it, doggone batteries!!! There was one breastplate that might have been considered legendary, it was quite extraordinary!

    Homer could have made a shining icon of it, I bet! Hahahaa

    Pat I agree, also it reminded me of Augustus as I've said and the droll if they won't eat then let them drink.

    Bold tho, I have to agree.

    Here's what I'd like to recommend for us all? Let's do 14 and 15 this week? I say that because 14 has very little IN it and 15 is full of stuff I really don't understand and really need your input on? THEN we can approach 16 which is a pivotal book in a lot of ways, and maybe we can approach it all together, I'll write everybody.

    So here in Book 14 we begin with the screams rousing NESTOR again and out he goes to find Agamemnon. Let's look at Chapter 14 these first few days??

    I have "ironic" written next to line 40, but I can't recall why? "Why have you left the battle and come here?" Maybe I wondered why Agamemnon is not in the battle, he's quite in the rear, didn't you love the description of how the ships were drawn up?

    I found Agamemnon's speech in 46ff very telling, the Greeks are as angry with HIM as they are Achilles!! So again we see the result of the "wrath of Achilles" in that the Greeks refuse to defend their ships. So the leaders take council, I think that's interesting.

    OK help with this one, "it must be the pleasure of Zeus Almighty/ For us to die here, nameless and far from Argos." ( 67ff) Ok now why nameless? I thought the whole aristeia thing, the whole hero thing was if you died courageously, then your name would live forever? Isn't that right? So why are they saying "nameless, " here? Do any of you know what is meant?

    Now the bottom of that page seems to be a sentiment to me like "better Red than Dead," did you get that also?

    And now we have sort of a frisson between Odysseus and Agamemnon, The Best of the Achaeans by Gregory Nagy mentions this quarrel and its significance a lot I need to go reread it, I'm beginning to feel sorry for Ag, he's not much of a leader of men, is he? What a nightmare he's caught in. Really from Achilles at the very beginning, he's had nothing but grief. I wonder if this is a tragedy, because he certainly caused some of HIS problems, but I'm not sure he's the central figure??

    Then we have this strange interlude where Diomedes gives this long background history, I don't know why? Hera seduces Zeus, (I did have to laugh at the numbers of "ors" on the top of page 275 as Zeus lists how much more desirable to him she has been over the other conquests, which seem pretty darn many ahah or…or…or… and then, don't you know the audience gasped!! (they can't see how much is left hahaha) Hector is down! And the Trojans are getting beaten and the battle see saws back and forth again…and then Zeus woke up in the beginning of Chapter 15 and my personal puzzle begins. I really need this explained to me and Zeus himself tries but somehow the message is not clear.

    What points struck you about Book 14? Why do you think Homer has put these strange interludes in here in the middle of all this bloodshed and fighting? The long histories and the argument between Odysseus and Agamemnon and the strange Zeus/ Hera interlude?

    Why does he address the Muses in 521 suddenly and ask who was the first Greek to bear away spoils? I forget, wasn't it Hector who was first over the wall, but who was the first Trojan to bear away spoils? Do any of you remember?

    What does it mean that the Trojans circled Hector and lifted him up? In contrast to the Greeks or???

    In other words, I guess I'm wondering what you saw significant/ interesting/ strking/ in Book 14??

    OH PS: I can't resist this, have you seen the newest issues of Newsweek and Time? The Greeks are hot! So glad to be reading this with you! I'll get what you'd like to talk about in 14 and 15 in the heading later today, if we can do those two this week?

    So glad to see you here, Ginny! Changing sides, you say?

    Do you remember the movie, Changing Places? It was a comedy with the underlying quite serious message (IMO)
    of the haves vs. the have-nots.
    When we change sides, I would like to join JoanK (my classmate in Latin 101) in expressing the viewpoint of the women on both sides of the war ... plus drawing attention to the multitude of women slaves with no rights.

    This Thanksgiving weekend, putting away the wine glasses and good dishes, I was reminded of all the references to the woman serving the men. Watching football, instead of watching battlefields. (Same testosterone?)
    So we see in the opening page of Book 14, Nestor tells Machaon (line 5) to "keep sipping that wine," while Hecamede waits on the men, no doubt in more ways than one.
    I know we can hardly consider women's rights in the era of ancient Greece, but we certainly ought to connect with the heartbreak of loss of loved ones... as well as the plight of both the captured women and the wives in Troy and back in all the Greek cities.

    Every male reader must envy the wounded Machaon. A welcome break from the fighting, and the soothing care provided by a lovely nurse. And what Nestor does for Machaon, Homer does for all his listeners in Book XIV. The fighting has been furious, grim beyond imagining. How to relieve the dramatic tension? Sex in heaven!! This must have seemed outrageous to some in the audience. Or was it another instance of the gods providing comic relief? In that case, why hurry through the chapter? This is Hera's big moment. It's Hera's aristeia, and it begins just as the others, by getting dressed, or armed, to go into battle. And what a victory she scores by making a shambles of Zeus's plans for those poor mortals on the battlefield. Dressing for the part is only a small part of wily Hera's strategy. She must have been quick to notice that Zeus had taken his attention away from the fighting as soon as he had Hector and the Trojans reaching the Greek ships, at the beginning of Bk XIII. Things are going according to his plan. Why not permit his roving eye to look elsewhere for some some new pastime. And as we soon find out there have been lots of wonderful pastimes in times past. All of Hera's cleverly laid plans to deceive her husband are not really necessary. He's waiting for her. And the ending is neat, with Homer turning the whole thing into a beautiful metaphor of nature's spring ritual.

    In the meantime a lot of uncertainty had been brought back into the outcome of the fighting. With Poseidon also making the most of Zeus's absence, the battle again swings in favor of the Greeks. Between the two of them Hera and Poseidon are ruining Zeus's plans. So while the listener gets a break from grim war with this romantic interlude, a great deal is happening that will affect the course of history. Don't go away.

    Why will they die nameless? Losers are soon forgotten, are they not. With nothing to brag about when they get home, with even all their booty left behind, being routed...where's the courage in that? To be counted as courageous, one should be fighting for something involving sacrifice or great risk in a noble cause, not this wretched business of going for trophies, like stripping the other guy of his bronze scalp.

    And for the third time Agamemnon is saying, let's get out of here. What a troubled leader he must have been. 'Oh, it must be that the rest of the well-greaved Achaians are lodging anger in their hearts against me like Achilles, and refusing to fight by the stern of the ships.' 14.87 What are we fighting for, must have been running through the minds of many in the Greek camp. And even with his anger, does Achilles have anything to fight for? Is he really all that great? The constant references to him are making me a little impatient with Homer's stalling the action with these distractions of heavenly, matrimonial shenanigans. Let's get on with it.


    If I change sides you will have to
    drag me kicking and screaming all of the
    way over to the Greek side. I am not going

    Tiger Tom

    What did the Greek and Roman soldiers eat while they took a break from the fighting?

    I read an article about the Roman soldiers eating lots of grain, particularly corn. These warriors were not the flesh eaters as Homer depicts them to be. A grain based diet was helpful in limiting infections from the slashing wounds that they received.

    Oh, oh. Movie title was Trading Places. Senior moment!

    Jonathan, you posted "Every male reader must envy the wounded Machaon" which does confirm the point that all literature in the ancient world was written by men, for men.

    I agree that the rites of Spring, actually rites of the gods, must have been a welcome "lite" relief to the listeners of this epic. Just as in Shakespeare, where comedy is intercalated with tradegy in his outstanding plays.

    MIPPY: glad to have your company: I look lonely in that box by myself. You are right about the women serving. I remember Virginia Woolf asking how did a society like Greece, where the women were made so subservient, produce a literature with so many strong women characters. She was talking about the later Greek playwrights, not Homer. So far in the Iliad, only the goddesses have any independence: the Greek and Trojan women serve, wait, and perhaps plead.

    We see here the limits of the goddesses independence too. They are all under the fear of that awful old tyrant Zeus!! The way Zeus treats Hera may tell us more than we want to know about Greek family life. It is supposed to be a compliment when he compares her to his zillion mistresses. All she says in reply is "What a thing to say". indeed! Hera may trick him, but when he finds out, he reminds her that he has tortured her before, and could do it again. Once earlier, he said he would beat her if she didn't shut up. There's no indication that this behavior s seen as unusual.

    Imagine being married to a man like that for eternity! Immortality isn't all it's cracked up to be. Hera seems very realistic to me: bitter, deceitful, getting her own back whenever she can, obsessive about what shreds of honor or esteem she can get. She has no compunction about using women as men do (giving one of the graces to sleep as a bribe). Not likable, but very understandable.

    Of course, Zeus bullies the men too. What was that line about him getting mad and throwing gods all over the place? I wonder if Ag would have been like Zeus if he had had the power. They seem very much alike in some ways: weak, stupid, bullies. But Ag is frustrated because he can't make people do what he wants. They both produce sullen rebellious followers. Could this have been the Greeks' idea of leadership?



    I, for one, would love to hear it. Women's role in history is an untold story. When it finally is told I'm sure it will turn out to be most surprising, despite being suspected. There are hints everywhere. Homer gives all the women in his poetry every respectful, sympathetic consideration, it seems to me.

    I'll concede that it's a man's world, as told by himself. But surely heaven is ruled by goddesses not disturbed unduly by that growling old teddybear with his thunderbolts, limping along on an unearned reputation of past glories. All he really controls is the weather, and we've all learned to live with that.

    I truly believed that on top of all the trophies and glory for the men it was a case of...all this and heaven too. Meaning that once in heaven it meant to be waited on with wine and warm baths lovingly supplied by the goddesses, and not being further harrassed by old Cloud-gathering Zeus.

    But back to the playwrights. Didn't Homer, at the very least, provide them with very suggestive themes, namely the forgotten, but not nameless, female heroes of the story? And it only goes to show what a profound work of art Homer's epics really are. With true perception and understanding the women did come into their own. A good a proof as any to look beyond the fighting and the noise, at ground level or in the sky, for what Homer was really trying to say.

    Getting going here on the women's point of view:
    Months ago, somewhere in some reference, I read that this section indicates that that writing, or at least a syllabary like
    Linear B, was known in the time of Homer.

    In Book 14, l. 214 ff:
    Aphrodite giving the sash to Hera:
    And with that she unbound from her breast
    An ornate sash inlaid with magical charms.

    In Pope, it's called the "magic girdle of Venus"
    With various skill and high embroidery graces.
    In this was every art, and every charm.
    To win the wisest, and the coldest warm ...

    But I don't see that this means writing, do you?
    The charms could be pieces of gemstones or beads, inlaid or attached in a beautiful pattern.
    Or small amulets, as have been discovered in archeological digs in both Europe and N. America.
    Roman women wore all sorts of tiny vials holding perfume or other aromatic substances;
    perhaps that was the charm. What do you think?


    I will take the warm Bath, pass on
    the Wine and can only give the girls
    a Grandfatherly smile. So, there isn't
    much to intice me to the Greek side.

    Might go with the Gods in Olympus.
    Always wondered what Ambrosia tastes

    Tiger Tom

    Pat H
    Jonathan, are you going to remain a god? Once you are immortal, it's forever.

    Zeus and Agamemnon are not so different... they are both power abusers...and neither one of them are ashamed of it.

    Shasta Sills
    We keep getting these blow-by-blow reports of who killed whom in the battle. In a real battle, soldiers would not know the names and parentage of each man killed. They would just be anonymous enemies. So why does Homer give us these details of each individual death? Because this makes them more real.

    I know that today when we hear on TV about the death of an American soldier in Iraq, and we see a picture of this young man, and get some information on his background, his death becomes more real to us. He is no longer a faceless statistic, but a human being with a family, and his death matters.

    Pat H
    Jonathan, are you going to remain a god? Once you are immortal, it's forever.

    Ambrosia? Taste? I have no idea...but no matter how good it tastes,

    it must get monotonous after awhile...for example, you'd ask "Hey,

    what's for breakfast?" and someone would tell you "Ambrosia on

    toast". Then, a few hours later, you ask, "Hey, what's for lunch?"

    and someone else would tell you, "Macaroni and Ambrosia.". I'd get

    sick of it real fast...

    Pat H
    hahaha, Greatbooksfan, maybe that's why the Gods stir up so much trouble on earth. Paradise is boring.

    What!?! And lose the respect of my friends? Not on your or my fleeting life, Pat.

    Shasta, you're so right. Some of the most moving detail in the Iliad is found in those one or two-line background vignettes. I couldn't even begin to list all those that made a death on the battlefield seem doubly tragic because of the powerful personal and family identification in a few words of background.

    Shasta Sills
    GreatBooks, not only would ambrosia get boring, but who wants to live in a world where there's no pizza?

    I'll bet all the Greeks on the ground didn't have pizza. Maybe that's why they fought all those wars: they weren't looking for glory, they were hoping the Trojans had a good pizza place <g>.

    Why yes, they probably WERE looking for a good pizza place! We have been misunderstanding and mistranslating this book the whole time. Troy is probably similar to the Greek word for pizza place! Troy is probably a pizza place, run by a man named Priam! His sons probably worked there, too. Helen was probably an employee of Priam's rival pizza place, run by Agamemnon. Helen, tired of being underpayed, went to work at Priam's instead. So, Agamemnon formed the ancient equivelant of a mob, promising them free pizza, trying to get Helen to come back to his pizza place!

    haha Well I'll tell you what, I forgot you all have been encamped or enwalled for 9 years, here, that does do something to the mentality haahaha The GOAL was to change sides midway thru, we're there, but I learned a valuable lesson from Agamemnon (don't you have some sympathy for him? I still want to know how you can LEAD men in battle and not think of them as the means to the end). But we don't have that here, so I will ASK you politely to change a side ahahahaha and pick another, it MAY give us new insights? hahaah We've already gotten some, I think I am pretty sure no other discussion of the Iliad is talking about pizza in heaven hahahaa.

    However, what exactly WAS the status of man and heaven in Greek mythology? Did they all get to go? We know Hercules did, one of these vases shows Zeus and his thunderbolts, remember, welcoming Hercules but what of the other men? Are they trying to work THEMSELVES into "heaven," that's some heaven, isn't it?

    Today I'd like to move on to Book 15, if for no other reason than I don't understand it, and see what you all think. As you mention in Book 14, there's a lot of back and forth, but it's clear that the Greeks are hard pressed here and trying to figure out what to do. If your men are dying around you and tearing their hair and one man, the best one, the one who COULD win it, or so you tell yourself, sits out in a huff, what's going to be YOUR reaction? We have seen several snide comments and directed at Ag, too, let's try to undestand the complex layers of this thing, and, in Book 15, Zeus's reasoning. It all goes back to Book I, let's move on today to Book 15 and see what we can make of it (am I the only one who noticed that the little vignettes that make the war so human are getting shorter?)

    hang on a sec....

    I bought this Loeb Iliad because looking at the Greek fascinates me and I thought you might like to see it, too, here's the first page of Book 15:

    Page 1 of Book 15 of the Iliad, click for a great view!

    I can see Zeus there, can you? What can we pick out, wouldn't you love to learn GREEK!! I love that. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art they were talking about inscriptions that sometimes ran left to right and sometimes right to left and sometimes serpentine, back and forth, can you IMAGINE being able to read that? I spent so much time on Latin (and there'a lifetime in Latin study) I never got to Greek, LOOK at that thing!

    Today we take up Book 15, I guess in preparation for the devastating and very important 16, but there are a lot of things in 15 I really don't understand, good thing we have armies on both sides, some gods and some women handy to help out!

    I wish somebody would produce an Annotated Iliad, don't you? There is a lot of stuff I would like to know that's not immediately clear. Let's see what happens!

    Ok when Book 15 opens, the tide has turned against the Trojans and Zeus wakes up. (I thought by the way that Hera here does a masterpiece of…what would you call it? What do you call it when somebody asks you a question and you answer another one so as to avoid the first one? Slyboots! ) At any rate, that was smooth!

    Then in lines 60+ we have the future again, lots of foreshadowing, Achilles, Patroclus, and Achilles will kill Hector and the Trojans will be driven back by Zeus!

    I wonder what the effect was on a listener in the 15th book when he heard this? They must have had long attention spans in Homer's day, I can just see it now, so they know the outcome, does that make it more or less suspenseful?

    I can't help wondering if this were today's audience if they'd all get up and say well hey, it's been fun. Hahaah

    But by gum here's Thetis AGAIN, and I simply don't understand this reference or this continual Will of Zeus thing!

    Line 75f…………….as I
    Promised at the first with a nod of my head
    On the day when Thetis begged me by my knees
    To honor Achilles, sacker of cities."

    All right, there it is again that nebulous promise he made Thetis to "HONOR" Achilles.

    Let's take a look at it again:

    Book I, 533ff (page 17)

    And so you can have some peace of mind
    I'll say yes to you by nodding my head,
    The ultimate pledge. Unambiguous,
    Irreversible, and absolutely fulfilled,
    Whatever I say yes to with a nod of my head.


    And what is it he has said "yes TO?"

    Book I: line 536 ff:
    Honor my son, doomed to die young.
    And yet dishonored by King Agamemnon,
    Who stole his prize, a personal affront.
    Do justice by him, Lord of Olympus.
    Give the Trojans the upper hand until the Greeks
    Grant my son the honor he deserves.

  • 1. What does this mean, do honor to him? Do you understand this prayer and its implementation? Does it explain Zeus at all? What honor are the Greeks going to give Achilles? Do you think Achilles knows it, and is waiting for it?

  • 2. "Let him be content with his third share…" (line 197) Did you realize that Poseidon, god of the Sea, the Earth Shaker, was an equal of Zeus? Do you have the hierarchy of the gods straight? Can you see his point of view since his own portion was gained by lot? How many instances in The Iliad are there when conflict is solved by crafty words? Is there a difference in the conflicts when crafty words solves a problem rather than force?

  • 3. Why does the sight of Apollo Revived Hector strike such fear into the Greeks? What is prophetic and significant about Hector's threat to the Trojans? (lines 355-359)

  • Apollo (365) "Danced on the banks of the trench and pushed the earth
    Into the cavity, making for them a causeway.

    Does this represent a change in Zeus's having told the gods to butt out?

  • 4. lines 388: "Nestor heard the old man's prayer
    And the sky pealed with thunder.
    But when the Trojans heard the rumbling overhead,
    They redoubled their efforts against the Greeks."

    What do you make of Homer introducing this duality into the story? Both sides are praying to Zeus. Both sides seem to interpret the thunder as being on their side, is Homer saying anything by this? ?

  • 5. With the Trojans storming the ships, Patroclus, in a nice scene much removed from the battle, decides to go to Achilles one more time and "talk him into fighting." If the Trojans are at the ships, what are Achilles' choices, realistically, about fighting? Would he stand there and let the Trojans cut him down? That will not give him honor and the Greeks would not honor him, either. Can you understand Achilles at this point?

    The images of a cord drawn tight in the simile in line 425, that repetition of that image, makes me wonder if that's significant, have any of you remarked on the image of tying with cords?

    Have you noticed all the personification in Book 15? A horsehair plume "nods grimly," and spears quiver in the ground, "lusting for flesh."….and we need to talk about what Zeus wants on page 300, in lines 604-632, and what he's doing and how that helps Achilles!

    And Hector reaches out and puts his hand on a Greek ship! So much here!!

    What did you make of Book 15? What struck YOU about it the most?

    Even though Hector said not to take any spoils and run for the ships, I could not resist (you see, I have changed sides, because the Trojans are obviously winning, aren't they? They have Zeus behind them, right?) But it's so prettily carved, I just could not resist pausing to pick it up, I think it belonged to Cycaestus (how do all these soldiers know the other side so well? ) so I'll give it to the person who can explain what Zeus's plan is and how it honors Achilles?

    A carved helmet for your thoughts?
  • Ginny
    PS We know that the heading has lost its apostophes and its quotation marks, Pat will fix it, it's an epic in itself trying to get that heading to mind! Once she fixes it I'll fool with the wording, do YOU have any questions you'd like put up for Books 14 or 15??

    anytime. Even if it looks Italian because it tastes LOVE.

    Taking stand, I am now on Priam's side and honestly...still partisan of Achilles since he is the only King who gave him the honor he deserved. You will hear about it when we get there.

    I admit, it is not easy to change side, but if we need to betray our party I am taking a chance to give "ambrosia" subsidies on the side. After all the famous Zeus is doing it!


    Those are the words of Zeus, quoted above. 'Grant my son the honor he deserves', Thetis had asked Zeus on that famous occasion, when she pleaded on behalf of her son Achilleus. So who should know more about honor than Achilleus? Was it that, that made him generous enough to extend the same to others in the end, namely Priam, as Frnacoise tells us?

    All this honor comes at a terrible cost to others. That so many should have to die for the sake of one's man honor! The appalling thing is that it is a mother's prayer that leads to the worst of the fighting and bloodletting in the Trojan war. Homer shows his own dismay when he refers to that 'disastrous prayer of Thetis.' (15:639, Hammond)

    Dr Shay says in his book, Achilles in Vietnam, that 'the Iliad is the story of the undoing of Achilles' character.' Surely that wasn't what his mother was praying for.

    Ginny, that is a glorious helmet pictured in post 482. You have it belonging to Cycaestus. I tried to imagine it on the head of Periphetes, as he ran from a furious Hector, when he, Periphetes, tripped 'on the rim of the ankle-length shield' he was carrying:

    'And his helmet rang fearfully around his temples as he hit the ground.' 15:685

    Did his helmet strike a rock? And with that terrible din in his ears, did Perphetes see Hector standing over him with an uplifted spear? And then blackness.

    As for Zeus's plan, He makes it plain enough in his own words. Zeus will send Apollo to revive a disabled Hector. Hector will then:

    '...raise a cowardly panic in the Achaians and turn them back again, so they are driven back on the many-benched ships of Achilleus, son of Peleus. And Achilleus will send out his companion, Patroklos: glorious Hector will kill him aith his spear in front of Ilios, after Patroklos has slaughtered many of the other young warriors, and among them my own son, godlike Sarpedon. In anger for his friend godlike Achilleus will kill Hector. And from that time on I shall make a turn in the battle, driving it constantly back from the ships, until the Achaians capture steep Ilios through the design of Athene. But I shall not cease my anger or allow any other of the immortals to give help here to the Danaans, until the son of Peleus' desire has been fulfilled, as I promised him at the beginning and nodded agreement with my head, on that day when the goddess Thetis took hold of my knees, begging me to show honor to Achilleus, sacker of cities.'

    What a sorry business. Hector is only being used by Zeus. Hector believes he is doing it for his country, for his wife and son. And Zeus? It's hard to imagine that this is the same Zeus who just an hour earlier was dallying with Hera at the top of Mt Ida. A Zeus, who for the sake of Hera's sudden modesty, gets himself into a heckuva creative mode to make it nice and cosy for the two of them. I like Chapman's translation:

    '" thick a cloud of gold I'll cast about us, that the sun (who furthest can behold) shall never find us." This resolved, into his kind embrace he took his wife: beneath them both fair Tellus strew'd the place with fresh-sprung herbs, so soft and thick, that up aloft it bore their heavenly bodies: with the leaves did dewy lotus store th'Elysian mountain; saffron flow'rs and hyacinths help'd make the sacred bed, and there they slept: when suddenly there brake a golden vapour out of air, whence shining dews did fall, in which they wrapt them close, and slept till Zeus was tam'd withal.'

    Not until Shakespeare did the world get poetry like that again. But it's hard to know what to make of it all. An annotated Iliad would be just the thing. How about the one that Alexander carried with him? The Iliad annotated by his teacher Aristotle. That Zeus's own son had to die!

    The wave after wave of Hector touching the ships seems to build up like a crescendo in music
    Lines 655 ff:
    So Hector, with a numbus of fire about him,
    Leapt high and fell upon their bulk.

    then, line 743:
    Hector laid hold of the stern of a ship...

    and again, line 755ff:
    ... Hector
    Once he had grasped the horn of the ship's stern,
    Would not let go ...

    Zeus appears, at this point, to have allowed Hector to seize the ships, and thus to actually destroy the Greeks!
    This has the intended poetic, dramatic impact on the audience ...
    But we know, if we have read the next book, that Patroclus and Achilles are not out of the picture, yet ...

    Shasta Sills
    I suppose that Thetis wants Achilles to be honored by forcing the Greeks to realize how important he is to them. He must not be insulted by having his reward taken away from him. When they realize they cannot win the war without his participation, Agamemnon will come to him with hat in hand and offer apologies and restitution. This is why Achilles remained at Troy; he was waiting for this apology from Agamemnon.

    But why should Zeus do what Thetis asked him to do? He does not want the Greeks to lose the war but he agreed to a temporary setback because Thetis asked for it. It always seems to me that these gods do things for no reason at all. Is that why the Greeks invented them? To account for the inexplicable aspects of life?

    ?lo?se De Pelteau
    I love to lurk in this discussion and see so many familiar faces talking about handsome Greek gods, warriors, beautiful women, love, battles, more wars than you can shake a stick at. I wish I had the time to linger, but unfortunately, I don't so I will keep on lurking.

    Bonjour Fran?oise.


    You're right, Eloise. This 'book' has it all. One could spend a lifetime with it and still find something new about it. I find it much more interesting and challenging now than I did when I last read it as a teenager. The heroes seem both larger and smaller than they did then. An exciting drama at any level. Get serious about it and, it seems to me, it could easily become for many...well, I remember a pre-discussion post that used the word 'intimidating'. That seems to have turned out to be prophetic.

    But along comes Shasta and finds a lot of puzzling questions and ideas to play with. Do the Greeks make use of their gods to explain 'the inexplicable aspects of life'? And in the Iliad that means the inexplicable aspects of war. We could have a long and loud discussion about that. Homer goes to considerable trouble in giving that question an affirmative nod. Or perhaps ambiguous, like the nod Thetis got from Zeus, regarding Achilles fate.

    'But', Shasta asks, 'why should Zeus do what Thetis asked him to do?'

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but once upon a time Zeus was in love with Thetis. In some way he got to hear that a son born to Thetis would be greater than his father. Zeus bowed out. But the spark was still there.

    Why did Thetis want Achilles to be honored? Another long discussion in that. I'm tempted to suggest that Homer was making a parody of the warrior class in the Iliad, with their very vivid, practical notions of honor, chivalry and courage. So many of these fighters want to be thought of as the greatest, want to be remembered, want to live up to a tradition, and be part of it themselves

    But things go badly for the best of them. Or beautifully. Win glory in a fight, or by a death confer it on someone else. An inexplicable culture. The Iliad, it seems to me is inconclusive whether these vagaries of life and death are decided by the gods or by a higher fate. Homer seems to come down on the side of the gods as puppeteers of human marionettes. But he also seems to give mortals a freedom of choice.

    For Achilles, I believe things have gone too far for apologies and even restitution. He's itching to get into the fight. He is, after all a fighter. He has a reputation to live up to, to fight for. He has vowed not to fight until he is convinced that everything depends on him. That only he is left to take the battle to the enemy. But war, like the gods, has a peculiar logic of its own, for every soldier sucked into the cannon's mouth. Lots of experts are working on it, but for this layman, the search for answers is helped a great deal by the questions posed in this discussion. Achilles' character is not a simple thing.

    Pretty exciting adventure, ain't it?

    Shasta Sills
    There's a charming little passage in Book 15. (425...)

    "and he tore that Argive rampart down with the same ease

    some boy at the seashore knocks sand castles down--

    he no sooner builds his playthings up, child's play,

    than he wrecks them all with hands and kicking feet,

    just for the sport of it..."

    Isn't it fascinating to think that boys built sandcastles all those years ago just as they do today, and then knocked them down just as they do today.

    But charming as the image is, there is a sinister side to it. Adults do the same thing. They build cities, brick by brick, and then they have wars and smash everything they built. What is this destructive trait that seems to be part of human nature?

    Even in 2004, the divine is involved in the human affairs. There are omens, symbols and images; archetypes within every civilization, to dwell upon, immersing our minds and will. The destiny of men is an evolution towards perfection, men's own reputation to mark the collective memory, to grow forth and not repeat the same mistakes again. Learning from the divine, "chef d'oeuvres" are inspired, which in turn inspire other men to become more perfect.

    Reading the Iliad's epic of war, I find Homer created the ultimate poetic beauty using men at arm's reputation, honor and glory, to impress historic value to mankind on the battleground. Alongside the story, albeit the ugly, is to be forever remembered and imprinted upon the deterred human soul of mankind, the wisdom lying within.

    Zeus has the luxury of playing with humans without being responsible for the consequences. He delights in his mortal life since day after day with Hera can be a "bitch." (Lombardo, Book 15, line 15). He raises hell among the gods and just mauls them with his might. They can't defeat him. In contrast, flawed humans put up the good and noble fight against all odds. Zeus is more like Agamemnon since they are both "troublemakers."

    A common motif is the "hero on the beach" scene.

    On Zeus honoring Achilles by killing the Greeks: I think we are having trouble translating between our American concepts of fighting a war, and the Greek idea. We are used to thinking of those fighting as sacrificing themselves for their country, of for something bigger than themselves. With this idea, it would be unthinkable that an Achilles would ask that his fellow soldiers be killed to honor him.

    But as far as I remember, I haven't seen this idea of fighting expressed at all by any of the Greeks. It may help to think of the Greeks as closer to mercenaries that our regular army. They are fighting for honor, glory, wealth, and, presumably, for the love of fighting.

    To Achilles, his honor is more important than the "cause" or the lives of his fellow Greeks. It is vital to his sense of himself that his not fighting turn out to matter: to make the difference. If everything goes on as before without him, he is dishonored: i.e. shown not to be important.

    The fact that Homer shows Thetis, and later Zeus, understanding this point of view and agreeing with it, means that it was not just a peculiarity of Achilles character, but something that Homer expected his audience to understand and relate to. It is a very different concept of fighting than most of us in this discussion are used to, but presumably was familiar to the Greek audiences.

    Again, I am indebted to reading about France in the Middle Ages, where the knights had to fight -- if there wasn't a war, they invented one. But they had the same ideas of their personal honor being more important than what they were "fighting for" or the lives of their fellows. Strange (to me) but true.

    On a different level, I assume that the details of how the fighting went were part of the history or legend, and couldn't be changed. So Homer had to explain why, if Zeus was on the side of the Greeks, they did so badly for awhile.

    I found something that made me laugh. It's a parody of the Iliad poetry style. Just read it.

    Shasta Sills
    I thought it was interesting (Book 15, 223..) to see how the three brothers--Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades--split up the world among themselves. The Big Three called a summit meeting and drew lots. Zeus drew the heavens, Poseidon drew the oceans, and Hades drew the underworld. Hades got the short end of the stick. If I was him, I would have asked for a re-draw. Zeus probably rigged up the whole thing some kind of way so he would get what he wanted. Why is it that I never trust Zeus?

    Beats me. I don't either. But why do I get the feeling that this discussion is dying a slow and painful death?

    Sorry sorry, no no nothing could be further from the truth. I do apologize, tho, and do have a suggestion for a new schedule for us after the holidays I'd like to finish it up in January and I'd like to start with Book 16 after Christmas, say on the 27th and I suggest a break until then, for the holidays, if that suits you all? I want to write to everybody and bring them up to date on where we ARE in our own epic here, again I apologize, just too many irons in the fire and a busy time of year; and I appreciate each of you keeping on.

    I appreciate Joanthan, your description of what Zeus meant and Joan your take on the honor of the day, but I must admit I myself am hopelessly stuck and spinning my wheels, I just can't seem to ge over over this HONOR thing.

    Zeus will HONOR Thetis' request, that the Greeks HONOR Achilles. Now we know how you get HONOR in their day, and we know that TODAY Achilles is considered a hero, so Zeus definitely won.

    I am not sure what else Achilles wants, they HAVE begged him, they HAVE come crawling to him, but Agamemnon didn't? Tho he gave concessions. Something here is missing, a puzzle piece missing but I CAN see why normally a class would skip Books 9 through 15, but WE persevered and WE got thru it, hahahaa and if it dies it will be over my own dead body ahahaha and again I do apologize, let me see this afternoon if we can put this thing aright and, like the Phoenix, rise from the ashes after Christmas, we have all the ingredients, we have the BEST book you could have and the BEST group to discuss it with! AND Dr. Lombardo and Dr. Stone, what else can you ask for!

    Thank you for your patience!!

    Absolutely no apology necessary, Ginny. Classics are always nice to come back to. Besides, we've all been through some very serious fighting, and the break will do us all a lot of good. We've waited through fifteen books, now let that hothead sitting in his tent wait for us. Let him cool off a bit. His temper doesn't impress me. Let him wait. The rest of us have a life too, as you say.

    Now tell me where I can announce my invitation to another epic adventure.

    Pat H
    I haven’t lost interest, just been out of town and busy, although not nearly as busy as Ginny. I have more things to say, but it takes me a while to get them in coherent order. Since many of us are getting busier with Christmas, maybe afterward we will be able to move forward more vigorously. I’ll keep looking in, and post if I can, and whenever the discussion picks up, try to be more faithful.

    Fine with me. I will have three preschoolers here, and when I use the computer, it will probably be for Sesame Street games. But I'll poke my nose in from time to time.

    You all are very kind. First, we have news: Marcie has put this notice out for today, FYI: SeniorNet Update:
    The SeniorNet web site will be updated with a new look and upgraded discussion software on December 15 and may be unavailable for part of the day. Thank you for your patience.

    We're sorry not to give you more notice but our server technicians are available [on the 15th] to make the change which will give you some new discussion tools. More information to come!

    Until we see what comes over to the new server and what does not, I'm going to be very scant in my postings on SeniorNet today. You may want to consider this, as well, and IF you post something you will want back up copies, traditionally these changes lose posts?

    There's no use in duplicating work.

    I have the new schedule ready and will be writing you all in the next few days. I have no idea if this post will make it across the change to the new iteration of SeniorNet about to be unveiled, but I have made a copy of it, just want to tell you a few things.

    Jonathan I loved this, (and have written you on your Invitation, an Invitation from Jonathan is something nobody should miss!)

    We've waited through fifteen books, now let that hothead sitting in his tent wait for us. Let him cool off a bit. His temper doesn't impress me. Let him wait.

    I loved that and your other remark about how you can always come back to a great book. Isn't it AMAZING how you can just pick up this manuscript which is thousands of years old and immediately be transported away?

    I will confess something to you all and that is, I don't want this to end. I think subconsciously that's the problem? When we read The Odyssey it took us over a year. It BECAME an Odyssey and yes it's true there weren't a million posts per day but we all loved the journey. Don't you feel (or is this some sort of rationalization) that somehow the length of this discussion and everything that has attended it, sort of carries home some of the feeling of the Iliad itself? Sort of living it?

    Pat has mentioned something that really bothered me at first, and that is, when I read this, I can't even read a page that I haven't underlined and made notes and envisioned you all commenting, I exhaust myself WITH notes and can't wait to get IN here and then I come in here and have been so blown this way and that by your various viewpoints I forget entirely what I wanted to say and go back out and think on them! Hahaha Now OBVIOUSLY that is not going to work! Hahaha

    I found it quite frustrating to be moving right along at first, I couldn't formulate my own thoughts, OR get them down. And as Pat says, it takes a while. I'm not sure I EVER reach coherent order. Hahaha

    This book, tho, I have carried with me on planes, sat with in Central Park while the ice skaters whirled, sat in the glorious fall here waiting for customers to bring in their own harvest down in our own vineyard, sat with on Broadway in NYC in a noisy restaurant across the street from Bombay Dreams while waiting for it to open, read it in the airports, on busses, I can't say trains, but it looks like it will be with me at the beach on January: it's so beat up it's almost unrecognizable, and every time I open it, I'm transported away from wherever I am, I think it's a VERY powerful book. It's not as well known or liked as the more fairy tale-ish Odyssey, such adventure! Or the more forceful and interesting Aeneid, (which spell check would like to change to adenoid) but it's so unexpectedly powerful in its own right, isn't it? I am SO glad we're reading it and for your steadfast and constant presence!

    Here's more effect this experience has had on me: because of this discussion and book I'm going to Greece in March on a study trip, it will focus on Greek History, we'll GO to Mycenae! We'll SEE some of the home places of the Greeks mentioned in this story!! Ag's home! The Lion Gate! The wine dark sea!! Crete by boat!

    Am also taking a course in Ancient Greek history and Material Culture in January, so this book and this discussion have sparked an interest, at least in me, that was not there before: I go to Rome every year, never considered Greece. Till now.

    So, yes, let's take a small break, if the Trojans can camp out on the plain and the old men can sit on the walls for a spell, and the Greeks can play the lyres in their camps and eat huge feasts (interludes) let's take one too and return on December 27 with a pivotal book: Book 16. I'll write everybody and be sure they're up on this. There is no earthly reason any person could not join us at this stage, (except for Joan K, she will be teaching youngsters the glories of Latin AND Greece (THREE?) hahaah what fun! You'll be ready for the Trojan War, or too exhausted to care! On the 27th!) hahahaa

    We're about to see what Homer has promised us from line one: The Rage of Achilles!! Who is he mad at this time? And we will want to consider Dr. Shay's book Achilles in Vietnam and also if this is a tragedy. LOTS to consider on the 27th! I do hope to see you then! As Jonathan so rightly said, Achilles has been waiting lo these 15 books, he can wait for us! Ky e mera!

    Yes! I FINALLY finished that Iliad quiz game. It was grueling. It was hard. But I...

    Good for you, GBF, aren't you clever!!

    Yes, Ginny, let's let the Greeks sit by their black ships and celebrate their winter feast. And the Trojans behind
    their high walls, as well.

    Look for all you WONDERFUL readers after the break. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    Merry Christmas to all! Happy Holidays!

    Thank you GBF and the same to all of you! See you back here on December 27, when something pivotal will happen, don't miss it!

    Our Story to date….

    It's WAR!

    The Greeks have sailed from several of their lands to Troy, near Turkey, to get back Helen of Troy whom Paris, son of the king of Troy, (Priam), has carried off. Long story why.

    The Greeks have been out on the shore at the foot of the Trojan citadel in their ships for 9 years when the action begins. But an incident in the Greek camp puts a kink in the works.

    The Greek Leader Agamemnon, angry over concessions demanded, seizes a prize, Briseis, of his chief Warrior, Achilles. Agamemnon is all macho man and doesn't care much for leadership skills. Achilles is enraged (the first word of the Iliad is "Rage." The rage of Achilles) and says fine. You dishonor me? I won't fight, I'll go home.

    So he sits out.

    He's their best one, they don't know what to do.

    Meanwhile the war rages on, we hear a lot about the fallen men, some duels, the Trojans come out from their citadel and advance and stay the night camped under the leadership of Hector, Priam's son.

    The Greeks begin to suffer losses and get scared, both sides are praying to Zeus, but unfortunately for all of them, he's promised Thetis, Achilles' mother, early on he will honor her request to honor Achilles. There is more machination going on behind the scenes, including in the gods's camp, than we can imagine in 2004. You might say this is "deep."

    The Greeks are catching it, the Trojans keep advancing, losses are heavy, the Trojans come across the wall and ditch the Greeks built up, and Hector actually TOUCHES a Greek ship! He calls for the Trojans to bring fire! Things are looking bad for the Greeks.

    Nestor, tho, has a plan. He convinces (not entirely for altruistic reasons) Patroclus, Achilles' best friend, to put on Achilles' famous armor and go out, this will
  • scare the Trojans and carry the day because they don't know who's in that famous armor and
  • maybe….shame Achilles into fighting.

    Patroculs agrees. Nobody else knows what to do. Agamemnon has sent all sorts of offers to Achilles but he's failed to say he's sorry, Ag tears his hair at their impending doom.

    And that's where Book 16, shown here in the original Greek, begins.

    Hope to see you assembling here, either with the ships, in the sky, or up in the castle: choose your side, or play referee, on the 27th!
  • Ginny
    Well a bright good morning to you as we take up Books 16-24 here through January 31. The chapters align themselves perfectly with the weeks, and even tho I hate to see it end, it's time to finish up, sob. Please post any question you have for Dr. Lombardo here and we'll ask him for any answers, he's been very kind and I have a billion new ones for him in this thing.

    I am confused over the identity of Patroclus, it's clear that not EVERYBODY thinks the guy in the shining silver trussed armor is Achilles! Did you catch that? Can you keep straight who knows and who does not and why?

    What's Apollo doing in this all of a sudden, I thought they were supposed to sit out! And what is Achilles thinking of, letting Patroclus go out there. If he LOST, that is, was killed, Achilles would lose his armor and his best friend, Achilles is not thinking, or is he? What seems to be his own attitude here?

    There's one place where the lines seem to take on their own cadences and they repeat each other exactly? Did you notice starting with 700? What does that look like in YOUR texts if you don't have the Lombardo and what do you suppose that is? There's no mention of it in any of the University notes I'm unabashedly using haahaha

    I am struck in this chapter by what appears to be irony,…the soul "Forgetful of his horsemanship," etc? Why? This is a strange place, isn't it, for Irony? Or is it irony, why are these university questions silent on some of this stuff? Hahahaa (why don't they supply answers!?!) What can it mean?

    And Patroclus! What on earth happens to him, he goes from…altruistic helper to madman and the, note the, killings increase exponentially, no talking here about whose father's son played on what hill! One after the other, what hits Patroclus?

    And then Sarpedon dies. I thought Zeus controlled everything? What's going on?? Here, from the Metropolitan Museum of art, is an incredible work, it's called a krater and it dates from 515 BC. It would have held wine mixed with water for a symposium, it's huge, about 18 inches tall. It's called the "red figure" technique for obvious reasons, but it's the most astounding thing. If you look closely, click on this, you can see WRITTEN NEXT TO THE FIGURES their names and can you see what's below the recumbent figure?

    The Death of Sarpedon. Click to enlarge and read his name!

    That apparently is Sleep and Death, I'm not sure which is which at the direction of Hermes, center, lifting him up, just as the text describes. Amazing thing to stumble on, I nearly fell over, really attracted the guards! Hahahaa

    Look at that helmet on "Death?" This book and these incredible art treasures (you have to see this giant thing to believe it) have given historians precious insights into the warfare and armor of the Greeks hundreds of years BC. What a joy it is to be reading it. Note the phalanx the soldiers get into:

    The Myrmidons
    Closed ranks until there was no more space between them
    Than between the stones a mason sets in the wall…
    Helmet on helmet, shield overlapping shield, man on man
    So close the horsehair plumes on their bright crests
    Rubbed each other as their heads bobbed up and down.

    That's quite a picture.

    I don't know why, but this book suddenly brought home the cost of this type of war. I think it was somewhere around line 350 where I began to realize the cost in man power, I am not sure why I did not realize it before: this is a heck of a way to fight, no wonder long range weapons were invented, Book 16 is quite a book.

    So we've lost TWO heroes, Patroclus, who initially wanted to help and Sarpedon, the son of Zeus. We have a LOT of mystic foreboding of the future, what do you make of all this? What of Patroclus: "Nice dive!" And I loved the section beginning on line 834: "no, that couldn't be right—" I thought so, too? I love that, Homer drags us right in it, we're disbelieving too! What has happened here?

    A silver trimmed hero's helmet for your thoughts!

    I do need to thank Pat Westerdale who worked all day Christmas Eve Day to get out the brown sidebar which the new software put in this discussion, THANK you, Pat !!

    Pat will fix the heading this morning which refuses to show quotation marks and apostrophes, she's surely had her work cut out for her in this discussion and we appreciate it, very much!

    The cost of this type warfare... We watched the expanded version of The Return of the King, the third Lord of the Rings movies this weekend. It made me think of book 16... men (and others!) in a line, each one determined to kill the other.

    The krater is amazing. Would almost be worth a trip to NYC just to see that.

    ... and yet, reading the Iliad has not been depressing, as you'd think reading of so much death would be... It must be the language... between Dr. Lambardo and Homer, this is quite a gift for us.


    Lou's note brought me in here, even before reviewing Book 16.
    I do think reading this is depressing! or at least, many sections do make me very sad! Men are still killing each other as in the Iliad after thousands of years! There just are not enough tears!

    Two women I've spoken to this month have relatives just back from Iraq or on the way there. One is a Reserve officer with a master's degree, who is being sent over to train Polish troups on peace-keeping. The other is a career Marine, who asked my friend, his grandmother, if God will forgive him for the men he has killed in Iraq. There are not enough tears ...

    Achilles is talking to Patroclus:

    "Nevertheless, Patroclus, you must save the ships. Attack with all your force before they send them up in flames and cut us off from home. But listen while I tell you exactly how far to go, in order to induce the whole Danaan army to value and respect me as they should and to send the lovely lady back to me, with ample compensation too. Return to me, directly you have swept the Trojans from the ships. Even if Zeus the Thunderer offers you the chance of winning glory for yourself, you must not seize it. You must not fight without ME the Trojans - you would only make me cheaper."

    Further in the book, when Achilles had drawn them all up, officers and men, in their proper places, he made them a forceful speech. "Myrmidons", he said, "let none of you forget what you have been threatening to do to the Trojans all the time I kept you here beside your ships while I indulged ny anger. There is not one of you who did not abuse your prince. You called me a brute for keeping my men idle here against their will. I was a sort of monster, brought up on bile instead of mother's milk. "Achilles," you said, "is in such an evil mood that we might as well take to the ships and sail home again." I know you often met and discussed me in this style.

    "Well now, a bit of real work has come your way, just such a fight as you longed for. Go to it then, and fall on the Trojans like brave men."

    Achilles did not ask the Myrmidons to only save the ships. Could he not give the same order to them and prevent Patroclus to go ahead with the company on the Trojans ground?


    Achilles to Petroculus:"But listen while I tell you exactly how far to go, in order to induce the whole Danaan army to value and respect me as they should and to send the lovely lady back to me, with ample compensation too. Return to me, directly you have swept the Trojans from the ships. Even if Zeus the Thunderer offers you the chance of winning glory for yourself, you must not seize it. You must not fight without ME the Trojans - you would only make me cheaper." (Bold mine).

    What a piece of work Achilles is. Even when he is sending his dear friend out to fight for him, he tells him to come back, not because he is concerned for his friend's safety, but because he wants the glory for himself. I'm getting pretty sick of Achilles' "honor". If that's honor, give me dishonor anytime!

    Do we blaim Achilles for the death of Patroclus? or the gods?

    Achilles seems almost a different person. He appears to be sincere in his prayers (line 244 ff.) He actually sounds wistful, longing (line 263)"to see the grim struggle of Troy's windswept plain".
    ...and generous to Patroclus: line 251: send forth glory...
    These are some of the "tone" changes, mentioned in #7.

    But Zeus is planning the death of Patroclus (line 258 ff.)
    ...heard [Achilles] prayer
    And granted half of it.

    And Apollo (lines 829 ff.) is really the "bad" god,
    Standing behind you, and the flat of his hand
    Found the space between your shoulder blades
    ...the sky's blue disk went spining in your eyes ...
    no, that couldn't be right
    ... and the helmet fell to the ground.
    then ... Patroclus "stood there, naked, astounded, his silivery limbs floating away"

    Does anything ever change? Do our soldiers today say "oh, God" when their vehicles fall apart and
    the enemy wounds them? Will men always go to war?

    Te Kines! Welcome back!! (Mippy we were posting together, see below?)

    What a joy to see you all again! I think you've each made incredible points and just reading your own posts makes me realize the depth of this thing! You THINK you have a handle on it and then somebody sees something else and you realize the building has a second floor and a third and a fourth and it just keeps going, I've spent all day on Francoise and Joan K's lines which I inexplicably did NOT see and it's thrown a complete kink in my thinking. I need to get this down so you all can straighten me out on this!

    Let's just ponder all you've brought to the table here!!

    Francoise, I can see you're drinking ambrosia, are you moving up in the clouds for your change of sides???

    Lou, so glad to see you again, I have not seen the third Lord of the Rings, but I the first two brought this kind of warfare home, to me, the Iliad has not depressed me, either. I think the reason for me is that, tho I see it has depressed Mippy, Homer keeps hammering in on other themes, yes they ARE killing each other but that seems secondary (or does it), but it gets worse, I feel like Lemony Snicket here, there's no happy ending here.

    And you are so right, that krater is out of this world, would you believe there are MORE and bigger ones? BIG HUGE ones, I think I scared the guards by stretching out my arms to try to see if a person could even put his arms around one (they are in glass but you never know about the crazy public.) There's one with a stopper that floats, I did get a photo of that one, those Greek rooms at the Met are absolutely out of this world, I plan to go back and stay a long time, this spring, but I tell you I will have 30 pounds of batteries this time! The treasures in that one room, breathtaking!

    I agree with you also that this IS a gift and I am going to be sorry when it is over!

    Mippy that's a good point, war is a terrible thing, and men are still killing each other, we have to ask if the reasons are the same! There are all sorts of things we could talk about, it's as fresh as the morning paper, tho. Let's watch and see if logic prevails in this war we're reading about, by our standards these people should be cave dwellers, right?

    Francoise, you, too, have honed in on this phrase and I missed it entirely! I guess I got caught up in his anger, and missed that!! I really want to talk about this, Great Minds run together!! And what a question you ask! I don't know? What do the rest of you think? Two different orders to two different sets of people!!

    I have to go back, we ALL have to go back, to Book I where Achilles is really upset, he's in tears, he tells his mother to go ask Zeus, since he's to have such a short life, "to grant me honor." (line 368). We need a positive definition of what HONOR was to these people? The only thing he says he wants is for Zeus to be

    "willing to help the Trojans
    Hem the Greeks in between the fleet and the sea.
    Once they start being killed, the Greeks may
    Appreciate Agamemnon for what his is.
    And the wide-ruling son of Atreus will see
    What a fool he's been because he did not honor
    The best of all the fighting Achaeans." (lines 425ff).

    That's all he asked for? He's angry. He wants the Greeks so hard pressed that they will appreciate him and see what a fool Ag is, and he wants it badly. He's asked for it. He's been dishonored.

    But that is ALL he asks for?

    So Thetis goes, with the knees business as he suggested and asks THIS:

    Honor my son, doomed to die young.
    And yet dishonored by King Agamemnon,

    Do justice by him, Lord of Olympus.
    Give the Trojans the upper hand until the Greeks
    Grant my son the honor he deserves.

    And that's all SHE asked for.

    Now the bad part in all this is HOW you get honor? Is the vain praise of man that important? HOW are the Greeks supposed to give him honor? They have begged him, torn their hair, pleaded with him, died horrible deaths, but no, NO: he has heard them complaining about him, scoffing at him, no, they are not honoring him. I can truly see his point of view here, can you? (Didhe say he has heard them or imagined it?) Is he paranoid, too?

    Can you see his point of view at all? Here's how I see it, I truly want to hear what you think about THIS reasoning! Joan has said,
    What a piece of work Achilles is. Even when he is sending his dear friend out to fight for him, he tells him to come back, not because he is concerned for his friend's safety, but because he wants the glory for himself. I'm getting pretty sick of Achilles' "honor". If that's honor, give me dishonor anytime!
    And she had me agreeing with her, and I started wondering how many other interpretations might there be, after a long time today agreeing, I suddenly see a new possibility, but am I on shaky ground? Read on?

    To the Myrmidons he says OK you have been griping about ME, let's see YE do what you want ME to do? Here's YOUR chance. But he does not WANT them to win because in his own opinion, they don't honor him, yet. But he does want Patroclus to win, and stay alive.

    Now Patroclus throws a big monkey wrench in all this, to me. I can see why Achilles would not care about the other Greeks, after all, he's sent his own mother to Zeus to pray that they ARE hard pressed and surrounded, just so they will give him honor, . His honor matters more, isn't that some kind of old saying?

    And also, remember if the fallen body of a soldier were not buried properly it could not hope to go to the Afterlife, again a terrible slight. A dishonor. When your life is short and you live by the gun, honor may be all you have. The hope of fame?

    So he's angry at THEM, the levels are breathtaking.

    Let's look at Joan K's question again while we struggle with Francoise's.

  • Achilles to Petroculus: "But listen while I tell you exactly how far to go, in order to induce the whole Danaan army to value and respect me as they should and to send the lovely lady back to me, with ample compensation too. Return to me, directly you have swept the Trojans from the ships. Even if Zeus the Thunderer offers you the chance of winning glory for yourself, you must not seize it. You must not fight without ME the Trojans - you would only make me cheaper." (Bold mine). –Joan K

    Why would Patroclus' dressing in Achilles' armor make Achilles anything at all? Cheap or (what do the other books say here for cheap?) honored? How can Patroclus do anything here for Achilles' honor?

    Is Achilles here saying that he KNOWS what Thetis asked? That she ASKED that the Greeks be swept from the ships and hemmed in and THEN he can come out?

    Is he, in fact, stating a battle plan in accordance with what he thinks has been arranged? Is he then, in effect, warning his friend kindly, KINDLY, not to go too far?

    OR is he actually wanting to have all the glory?

    Is this done so that blame can be put on Patroclus because he did not listen, he got overcome with his own glory, sort of like Daedalus told Icarus: don't fly too close to the sun, when Icarus had no business up there anyway?

  • Whose is the blame when Patroclus gets killed? Is it Patroclus' fault? Is it Achilles'? Is it Apollo's? Is it Zeus'?

    What kind of friend would allow his best friend to go out there, a living target, in a wholesale slaughter when he KNOWS that he has asked, through his mother, and been granted that the Greeks would be hard pressed so he can have honor? In his own suit of armor? I am not clear on how many people actually think that figure in the suit IS Achilles? Are you all?

    So what are we looking at, the layers are incredible, it's quite exciting, to me. Is he saying now be careful, even if you are tempted by Zeus himself, don't succumb for your own sake, this one is mine. I'm lending you this armor….so that the Trojans will be frightened and withdraw …. but the glory and honor or mine, as Joan says?

    WHY is Achilles allowing Patroclus to wear his armor at all, does he say??

    AT the beginning of Book 16, Patroclus says to Achilles,

    "You and your damned
    Honor! What good will it do future generations
    if you let us do town to this defeat….

    What is it? If some secret your mother
    Has learned from Zeus is holding you back

    At least send me out, let melead a troop
    Of Myrmidons and light the way for our army.
    And let me wear your armor.

    Now here Patroclus himself seems very altruistic, don't you think?

    If the Trojans think
    I am you, they'll back off and give the Greeks
    Some breathing space, what little there is in war.
    Our rested men will turn them with a shout
    And push them back from our ships to Troy.

    That was how Patroclus, like a child,
    Begging for a toy, begged for death.
    (line 50 and above).

    So now Patroclus seems to be the more noble of the two here, he's got the good of the army in mind, right?

    And what does Achilles say? No, he's troubled, but no, his mother has not told him anything, but by gum, "I take it hard." So he doesn't know the Thetis arrangement.

    Do you believe him?

    He's still ANGRY. Tho he says he had not intended to keep it going this long, he still can't get over it, this almost seems like him yielding a bit?

    "I never meant
    To hold my grudge forever. But I did say
    I would not relent from my anger until
    The noise of battle lapped at my own ships' hulls.
    So it's on your shoulders now. Wear my armor…"

    His RAGE, his anger, at this point is going to kill Patroclus. Because he canNOT yield. He SAID he would not fight, and he INTENDS to honor his own word: not to fight, period. But why does he allow his friend to go out to what must surely be a death??


    There's no doubt that RAGE is a major theme, is there? His rage influences every single thing going on here, does HE know that?

    Now Achiilles did not stop with Joan and Francoise's quotes but went on.

    And if you get so carried away
    With killing the Trojans that you press on to Troy,
    One of the immortals may intervene.
    Apollo, for one, loves them dearly.
    So once you have made some daylight for the ships,
    You come back where you belong.
    The others can fight it out on the plain.

    To me, that puts another slant on it. I believe him? I think his RAGE has gotten the best of his judgment. He's still whining about that girl and his dishonor and Agamemnon.

    But I believe he THINKS Patroclus can do it? He really does. You go out in MY armor, THEY will be scared, you are a good fighter, you go ahead push them back, just don't let it go to your head, don't get carried away, you can't handle THAT, and here we can see some care: BECAUSE one of the gods who loves them, if you get TOO close, may take after you, like Apollo (and isn't that exactly what happened?) You come back where you belong, this one's mine. If you are determined to go, go ahead, but only so far, Icarus, this one's mine.

    But what I don't understand is this quote:

    Win me my honor, my glory and my honor
    From all the Greeks...

    What does that mean?

    How is that possible? Do the clothes make the man THAT much? Some people know it's NOT Achilles in there! When does Hector find out? HOW can this win Achilles any honor? What sort of HONOR is this?

    WOW!! WHAT a book!!!

    A nice spear of gold for your thoughts on any or all of the above!! How do you see Patroclus? Altrustic? Team Player? What is going ON here?
  • Ginny
    Mippy we were posting together, and a whole NEW take on Achilles!! What fun!! I'll be back tomorrow once I think of YOUR "new Achilles here!" Love it (I did not mean for my post to get SO long, sorry).

    OR...(this is ridiculous, I have got to fix dinner, I have done nothing but think about this all DAY) could it possibly BE that when Achilles says win me honor and glory he MEANS by your pushing them back the Greeks will realize that even the sight of me or the notion of me (my armor) so frightens the Trojans that the Greeks then get that breathing room and then, finally then, the Greeks will give me honor and I can come out and finish the job, winning honor and glory for my own self?

    When I posted the last, I hadn't seen the papers for a few days -- too busy with grandchildren. After I did, I was even more out of tune with Achilles -- he thinks he's hot stuff because he can kill half a dozen people for no good reason, when nature with a flick of the finger can kill 44,000. We humans are so stupid!!!!! It's not just the Greeks -- we haven't learned anything since then.

    I was interested in my grandkids new toys -- after 911 a new series of toys was put out called "The Rescue heroes", people like police, firemen, life guards who SAVE lives. These are my grandkids' heroes, the ones they look up to and want to be like. ALL RIGHT!

    Pat H
    I’m just back in town, and need to regroup mentally before rereading chapter 16 and leaping back into the fray. Maybe by tomorrow I can say something coherent. But Ginny’s beautiful krater reminded me that I had meant to comment on a 4th or 5th century B. C. amphora I saw at Thanksgiving in the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It showed a warrior with his charioteer setting off for battle, and I spent some time poring over the details of armor and equipment. But what really struck me was the incredible beauty of the shape of the vase—it’s much better seen in the round than in pictures. I kept coming back to look at it again. What an eye the Greeks had! I wonder if this was an unusually fine example, or whether all the amphorae had pretty much the same proportions.

    Is this Book 16 about the gods? Zeus and Apollo seem to be on good terms, but they sure are ‘meddling’ with this war... especially in this book. Or am I just realizing what they’ve been up to all along?

    Line 242 Achilles prays to Zeus 470- Zeus watching and tempted to protect Sarpedon 540's Glaucus prayed to Apollo 600- Zeus stretched hellish night over the armies 690- Zeus’s decision... Hector felt his blood turn milky 699- Zeus has Apollo rescue Sarpedon’s body 720- Zeus put fury in Patroclus’ heart 730- Phoebus Apollo on wall of Troy and stopped the Greeks “... but the others ran, Back to Troy, which would have fallen that day by Patroclus’ hands... 750- Apollo again with Hector 759- now the Greeks feel a sudden chill 829- Patroclus acknowledges Zeus and Apollo knocked off his armor

    Apollo and Zeus meddling... Apollo doing Zeus’ bidding... but also making his own impact on the battle. There poor mortals don’t stand a chance, do they?

    I know I'm to be a Trojan now... BUT, I just can't get into the Trojans... I can't get over Helen's abduction...


    I want a hero…. Happy New Year!!

    How old IS this poem today??

    Lou , good points on the machinations of the gods. Until you posted that, I had not realized THEY also are dealing with choices!

    Well remember now, about being a Trojan, that the Trojans did meet and did say give her back? And give back with her everything that came with her and Paris for once standing up, said no. So I'm not thinking the Trojans are the worst here or are the most at fault, but then who IS?

    Pat, I do so agree, and enjoyed your description of your trip to the museum, in person some of these artifacts really ARE just incredible. I had isolated in these many books a photo of one vase in black of Athena which just blew me away, it's literally breathtaking, and in person they are out of this world. I can't FIND the photo of the black vase but I'll keep looking, am drowning in books about the Greeks, what fun.

    I have, as soon as we can upload, a fantastic thing for you to see from the 14th century on the abduction of Helen, from an old Latin text, I happened across it yesterday. It's amazing how this story has influenced art and literature.

    Joan I agree, our modern concept of the "hero" is quite different from that of the ancient Greeks. I found a fascinating take on it in the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature I thought you all might like to see:
    In archaic and classical Greece the Greeks thought that in times past there was living in Greece a race of men and women who were bigger, stronger, braver and more beautiful than the men and women of their own day. These were heroes and heroines, the offspring or descendants of unison between gods and mortals, but still essentially human.

    The age in which they lived, the Heroic age, was quite short, embracing not more that two or three generations and not wholly remote. It was the period of the siege of Troy.

    The exploits of the heroes of Troy was the stuff of epic poetry, often called in consequence "heroic" poetry.

    The close association of heroes and gods and the latter's intervention in the heroes' lives often give a moral significance to heroic myths and the characters of the heroes.

    From the 8th century BC onwards, when the Homeric epic became widely popular, ancient burial sties came to be thought of as the graves of Homer's heroes, and, since they had been superhumanly powerful, sacrifices and rites were performed by the graves in the hope that in return for cult the heroes would actively defend their own locality, rising from the dead when the need arose.

    Any community would be glad to have its own hero: aristocratic clans often claimed descent from one.

    Hesiod….described the heroes as constituting the glorious race that existed before this present sadly degenerate age of iron.

    So we can see that the concept of "hero" was really important, something to hold up to the masses. The Romans did the same thing, in fact they were proud to claim descent from Aeneas.

    Also apparently "Homer was regarded with reverence by most Greeks, the source (with Hesoid) of their knowledge of the gods, the formulator of the heroic code of conduct, a touchstone of wise behavior, and he was constantly quoted." (OCCL)

    So when you combine that with this:
    The hero is distinguished above all men by his strength and courage, and is restrained only by a sense of honor.

    Then you can see better the defining parameters. When you add the aspect of eternal glory to it by performing bravely in battle, and we remember that these were people before the iron age whose exploits had been added to over the centuries, then you can almost see it.

    For instance, I would have to say that Achilles so far has been anything BUT a hero. I mean he refuses to fight, and he DOES have choices.

    Again this is where the business about choice comes up. Should he go home where he CAN live with his family or should he fight, lose his life and die, but gain glory? Those are his choices by their standards.

    Complicating things is the sure knowledge of what's going to happen: all the players know what's going to happen. It's one thing to sail out when you know you're going to win, you've been told you will, you're GOING to win, or die, or lose, so why even bother?

    This is one way in which the Iliad differs from our modern literature where we read eagerly to find out what happens and the characters plow ahead, thinking their twists and turns will change the outcome, and the Homeric heroic epic, where they KNOW what's going to happen, and so do they. Hector KNOWS he is going to lose, his wife enslaved, his baby thrown from the ramparts, his brains dashed out: he's been told often enough, so why not stay with her a few more minutes? Achilles KNOWS he's going to die, he's been told so enough, he wants his short life to matter.

    So the burden then seems to shift to the WAY in which you conduct yourself, and that's a greater moral burden (is it?) than if you go out with success assured.

    Look at Hector in this book, he's TWICE been afraid? He's TWICE had to be shamed into returning into the battle. But he KNOWS it's coming. You can almost feel for him, IS he the braver of the two at this point?

    I found the remarks by Patroclus and about Patroclus, stunning. Patroclus, when he had the Trojans trapped in the ditch, just snapped, by the code of the Greeks, went berserk, Homer says "he unleashed himself." (What do your versions say? That's in line 821). He just let it loose. He was told not to do that. (Dr. Shay writes about that berserk mode, and we'll take it up more in the next chapters) but he just goes overboard and what happens? When he made his fourth "demonic charge"…

    Then—did you feel it, Patroclus?—out of the mist
    Your death coming to meet you.

    And again Patroclus to Hector who is taunting him, saying, "the vultures are going to eat you, Guy, you're not going to have a hero's burial, with honor, oh no and your soul is not going into the afterworld either, you're toast. " Patroclus says

    I see Death
    Standing at your shoulder, and you going down…

    These ancient personifications of Death, how one and then the other character see Death standing or coming are totally chilling to me they give me chills, after all this time!!!

    Sitting here with chills. THIS seems to indicate to me, what does it do for you, that Homer is not glorifying war, at all, but rather restraint. I am not getting the feeling of glory in battle here, but one thing's for sure, the descriptions of the fallen are getting shorter, heck Patroclus took out, what 9 at once and none of them even have NAMES. We've lost that feeling where we called across to each other and remembered old times.

    So you've got as we've said this sense of kleos or glory or renown, that if your body dies and is corruptible still your legend may live on, if you can perform great deeds. Life, as Homer has made clear, is short, we have seen destruction coming to both sides, I think Homer makes this point over and over, life is fleeting, and so what do you have to cling to? If you live a life of honor and make honorable and brave choices then maybe your deeds can outlive you. It's something we think of as strange, perhaps in 2005? But something that worked, didn't it? Everybody knows who Achilles was in 2005?

    So Hector knows what's going to happen, and so does Achilles. The irony in Achilles' situation is he ASKED for this situation? And because he asked not only does Patroclus have go out, but he gets killed. Achilles and Hector still have a choice? And what they choose will make them, I personally see them as tragic figures. I mean Hector can't lose, tho he'd love to stay with his wife and baby, his responsibilities to Troy, he makes the decision to go into battle (tho he wavers twice in this section, do you think this means the beginning of the end for Hector? ). The issue with him seems to be can he keep his courage UP? IS he going to be a hero or not?

    Achilles has not DONE anything but what he has not DONE—the choice not to do anything--- has had repercussions. Now the Myrmidons, who have not been fighting, are sent out. Patroclus has had to GO out, he's not the equal of Achilles, but Achilles is still stuck on his own brand of honor, smarting over the loss of face.

    Then Patroclus gets killed! Whose fault is that, would you say??

    Who is really to blame? Are you going to stick it on Apollo? Hector? Achilles? Patroclus himself? I'd love to know what you think about that?

    It's DIZZYING!!

    There's a lot of irony in this thing, and it's deeper than the ocean, so many twists and turns as each of the main characters acts out of their own…individual angst. Zeus, hampered by… (wasn't that strange) what Hera warns him the other gods will do if he saves Sarpedon, lets Patroclus kill him> I can't get over that. ZEUS caring what the others think? ZEUS ruled by Fate? Jeepers, things are changing here. This sets off a chain reaction: Zeus will avenge that thru Apollo.

    I bet if you put all these characters and their actions and reactions together like fisson and charted them you'd be amazed.

    One chain reaction after another, it would be fun to chart actually.

    But at the end, we have to ask ourselves, who is the more courageous? Hector or Achilles? At this point? Why?

    I am almost thinking that since Achilles caused the death of Patroclus, he has less honor now than any of them.

    Poor things, every time they pray for something or make a wish, it's like the Monkey's Paw story, they end up with bizarre things granted which often have awful repercussions. As Lou said, they can't win!

    Small wonder they lusted for glory, they can't even depend on the gods, and the only hope they have is IN choosing honor and bravery and the choices they make, because the choices they make determine if they have eternal glory for honorable bravery.

    So seen that way, Agamemnon is out, but Patroclus? IS he or is he not hero here would you say? And who would you say caused HIS death?

    A shin guard (greave) with silver tracery, for your thoughts on this or anything in Book 16, we must move on tomorrow to Books 17 and 18!!!

    I wish I could stop making these long posts! How DO you all manage to condense your thoughts so succinctly?!?

    Pat H
    According to your timetable, we still have tomorrow to finish up 16. I'll try to say as much as I can.

    Pat H
    Yes, Ginny, the warriors in Iliad are indeed portrayed as heroic, larger than life. They throw rocks that it would take 2 "modern" men to lift, their spears are 16 feet long, and some of their weapons are described as too big for a modern man to wield.

    Oh GREAT! We have another day! I just found a drawing/ depiction of a Macedonian phalanx, talk about long spears, (of course we realize that post dates the Iliad but it really is a striking thing to view), but we can't upload yet in the new server, so I have another day to put it in, wait till you SEE this thing! About as long as a city block, those lances or spears were, it's unbelievable. Actually the text says they would be exhausted from carrying the things and the damage to the BACK ranks from the butt of the spears was enormous but more tomorrow!

    Looking forward to hearing everybody's collected and coherent thoughts, mine never are. hahahaa

    Pat H
    All through the poem, whenever someone acts as a messenger, he or she repeats the original statement exactly. It starts with the wooly dream, Then Hector retelling Paris’ offer to fight Menelaus (3/72-95), Talthybius repeating to the physician Machaon Agamemnon’s message of Menelaus’ wound (4/210-222), Nestor repeating to Achilles Agamemnon’s offer of reparation (9/128-162, 267-307), etc.

    I assume this was a necessary convention to insure the accurate transmission of messages when no one could read or write.

    In 700 ff, the message is actions, not words, but it fits the same pattern.

    Pat H
    Lou2—Yes, I have been reminded of the Lord of the Rings more than once. The Greek perception of battle was one of individual heroics being decisive even though there were great masses of soldiers fighting each other. JoanK pointed out that people held the same view in the 14th century, unrealistic though it was. The battles in Lord of the Rings have this same quality, perhaps more in the books than in the movies. There are hordes of combatants, but the individual heroes are crucial.

    It’s interesting that Tolkien saw battles this way, since he fought in the trenches in World War I, so his personal experience of battle was of quite a different type.

    Shasta Sills
    Ginny, we were discussing those long spears in the Story of Civilization, and I asked how on earth a man could throw such a spear. Someone explained to me that they didn't throw it. It rested on the shoulders of several men, one behind the other, and they carried it forward like a ramrod, slamming into the enemy line with it.

    I think one reason why things are repeated is that the Iliad is a very long poem, and when a bard recited it to an audience, it was not all performed in the same day. Sometimes he had to repeat something to remind the audience of an earlier passage. But other times, the repetitions seem to occur simply because they liked repetition.

    Years ago, when I taught English, I realized over and over that my students viewed all events in literature from the vantage point of their own belief system and ethics. Naturally, of course they found some things hard to agree with. Now, some who have changed sides are apparently having trouble empathizing with the Trojans. One said it was because of Helen's abduction, I think. But remember, the Greeks were men who also kidnapped helpless women, stealing them from their homes and families, regarding them simply as the spoils of war. As for who is to blame, it is well to keep in mind the role of fate in Greek thought. This whole thing started with king Priam's efforts to thwart fate that had decreed Paris would bring disaster on his nation. The Trojans don't feel loyalty to Paris, they hate him for what he's brought upon them. But now, they're fighting for their very survival. I don't see anyone to blame, since Fate is the deciding factor here and in Greek plays the recurring theme is that you can't avoid it. If you try to, you only suceed in helping to bring it on yourself. Some scholars think the Trojan war was really fought over trade routes and riches. But, whether Homer was only trying to entertain or keep history alive, or even to justify the sacking of Troy to his Greek audience, he has produced an interesting story. HOw dull it would be if it were only concerned with battles fought for money and power, minus the heros, sex and violence. I doubt we'd be reading it today!

    Pat!!! BRILLIANT!! As the commercial says BRILLIANT! Would you believe I never noticed that about the messengers and their message always being the SAME!! Well done!! It might be as you say, I assume this was a necessary convention to insure the accurate transmission of messages when no one could read or write. I don't know but now I want to, let's ask Dr. Lombardo! Well done!!! All through the poem, whenever someone acts as a messenger, he or she repeats the original statement exactly. HO!! How SMART you are, sharp eyes!

    Shasta, welcome back, I was just wondering where you were and I think you also have a point about repetition and the oral tradition, I skimmed over the introduction again in the Lombardo book (and enjoyed rereading the part about Heroic Society) but I'm not sure I'm seeing the WHY for this repetition. Do any of you know WHY it would have so much repetition, it's not an oral presentation, but a written document? But see below for an incredible drawing on the spears, Shasta!!

    Gossett! Welcome back, and I'm glad to see an English teacher here, am I the only one who sees a lot of irony in this? You may be right about fault, and fate! Good point! And it's good to note that their culture was completely different from ours, and so were their expectations. I guess I am thinking now more of Achilles, in that he does seem to be a person who bears grudges. Real grudges... ("I take it hard.") Usually, (or would you say this is true psychologically?) a person who harbors and nurses grudges is a person who also afixes blame. They are actually almost inseparable.

    In this case he's allowed his friend to wear his armor, he begged him, BECAUSE he's harboring a grudge. I wonder, based on Achilles' personality, if HE is going to affix blame for Patroclus's death. And if he does, I am thinking the fickle finger of fate is going to have to point at him. But I may be wrong, let's follow these different streams of thought and see what we all think! The action is still rising in the book, we haven't hit the climax yet, I don't think?

    Here is something out of this world, it's a drawing of a Macedonian Phalanx.

    Macedonian Phalanx: click to enlarge!

    Macedonia, of course, is later than Homer, in fact it was around 359 BC that the rise of Macedon occurred under Philip of Macedonia, and of course is the time of Alexander the Great.

    However we do know that the Myceneans used the phalanx as we've heard Homer mention it and have seen it on vases, etc.

    But this is something else! LOOK at that. Here's the description:

    The Macedonian phalanx relied on unflinching discipline for its effect.

    The first five rows of pikes all reached targets in the initial collision, their wall of jostling spears harpooning attackers and-like bristles-bouncing back the pressure of the enemy advance.

    Men in the middle and rear, too, kept busy, wearing off arrows with raised pikes, stabbing the enemy wounded on the ground with their butt spikes, pushing on with their shoulders the men ahead. Accidental casualties from a swarm of bobbing spear-butts in the faces of the men behind must have been severe.

    Exhaustion came in minutes, given the weight of the pike and the pressure of the pushing ranks. The carnage would have been horrific, so it was perhaps no wonder that sleek youth and elegant muscle were not wanted for this sort of fighting. Stout, war-wise, un-squeamish veterans with the nerve and experience not to flinch from the task would have been the driving force of a Macedonian phalanx. –Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece.

    nor was it unusual TO mix armor and fighting styles in the Iliad. The OCCL reports:

    The picture of Homeric warfare seems basically confused. The noble still rides to battle in a chariot which disappeared from warfare at the end of the Mycenaean age, but has forgotten how to use it, preferring to dismount and fight on foot. He fights with a jumble of weapons from different periods which are all made of bronze, although iron is known and used for implements of peace (in historical fact iron seems to have been used for weapons first.).

    Then here's an interesting bit in Harris's History of Ancient Greece about the capacity of the ships:

    Naval warfare was a relativey late development. In the Homeric epics, ships are used solely to transport forces to and from combat areas, and are rowed by the warrior themselves. [!! I did not know that, did you??]

    Though sails might be used, oar-power was more reliable during this early period and became increasingly important when true warships began to be built and speed and maneuverability counted most.

    Fifty rowers were the maximum it was possible to fit lengthwise into a ship, but in about the 8th century BC speeds were doubled by inserting a second bank of oars; this type of vessel is known as a bireme.

    From the 7th century the three-banked trireme was developed, and triremes were the warships that defeated the Persians at Salamis and upheld Athens' maritime empire.

    According to Thucydides, the earliest sea battle on record took place in 664 BC between Corinthian and Corcyran vessels.

    Now look at this spectacular thing! From the old Allyn-Bacon Latin series Using Latin I:

    Paris' kidnapping of Helen, attributed to a follower of Fra Angelico (1387-1455) in the National Gallery, London: click to enlarge!

    Is that not spectacular? I love this type of art.

    All of the figures except Cupid and the boatmen are in medieval dress and the ship is also of medieval design.

    It's amazing how the events Homer wrote about have influenced the entire world for so long!

    But poor Patroclus! Apollo has literally stripped him of his famous armor! His breastplate is split loose, his spear is splintered wood, the very shield on the ground, he's dazed, he doesn't know what happened to him. Do WE know why Apollo did this?

    Did Zeus have anything to do with this? I thought he JUST got thru telling them to butt out?

    Achilles is self-possessed. He suggests that his dear confidant Patroclus charge into battle wearing his unique armor. Achilles is a hypocrite. He requires the death of a loyal friend as a noble reason to fight.

    Homer provides the reader with the dramatic delayed entrance of the hero. We read about his absence from the daily battles and how the wounded keep pouring into the Greek camp. Achilles arises and the Greeks fight for another day.

    Shasta Sills
    When you see that Macedonian plalanx coming at you, it's time to retreat.

    Pat H
    Yes, the Macedonian phalanx looks formidable. And how about Ajax in book 15, siezing a 40 foot long pike designed for use on a ship and leaping from ship to ship terrorizing the Trojans and encouraging the Greeks. Pretty dramatic.

    Pat H
    What’s Achilles thinking of, letting Patroclus go out there? (post 508)

    I can think of 2 reasons. First, he must be pretty frustrated sitting by, watching a battle, with his comrades getting killed and not being able to take part in it. So when Patroclus begs him, let me fight if you won’t, he can’t resist.

    I particularly like lines 49-50:

    That was how Patroclus, like a child
    Begging for a toy, begged for death.

    The second reason is that he sees he ships are about to be lost. If the Trojans burn the ships, Achilles (as well as all the other Greeks) is stuck, and can’t get away. He knows it can’t be allowed, so, although he isn’t willing to relent yet, he lets Patroclus go out to prevent it.

    Pat H
    And then Sarpedon dies. I thought Zeus controlled everything? (post 508)

    This is a theme in the poem I find very interesting. The gods don’t seem to have absolute power. They can control some things, but if something is fated to be, they can’t change it. Starting with line 471, Zeus debates whether he should save Sarpedon, and Hera points out that S’s fate has long been fixed, and if Zeus tries to save him it will create chaos as other gods try to save their sons from death.

    Earlier (15/140 ff) Ares is trying to avenge the death of his son Ascalaphus, and Athena scolds him, saying

    So please get over your anger for your son.
    Better men than he have been killed or will be.
    Human offspring are hard to save.

    It must be a recurring source of grief to the gods to see their mortal offspring die, as they all will. Immortality has its disadvantages.

    Welcome back Shifrah and what an interesting point you make! So you think, or you see Homer manipulating this for a reason? So in a way the characters are as much a pawn of Homer's as they are the gods' and fate? Interesting!!

    Shasta, you got that right! Frightening looking thing, I'm not sure how the ones in the back managed, tho, I can't spear YOU if I don't move and when I do I get the guy behind in the face, they are pretty closely packed.

    Pat, good point on the gods not having absolute power and I agree, it does seem a theme and we see a lot of it in these next two books, I'm not sure what we're to make of it tho?

    Is Homer saying FATE is the ultimate power?

    A 40 foot pike!! Can you imagine what that had to weigh? Much less move around with it.

    Oh and good point on the meaning of the SHIPS in this thing! That IS their only way home, without those ships they would be sitting ducks on the beach, no wonder Hector's first hand on the ship and his call for fire sent Patroclus in tears. The wonder of it is why it didn't send Achilles the same way, but he is now!

    I'm just going to mix in the million and one questions I had on 17 and 18 here in the post and then try to pick them out for the heading to see what you all think, these two books, 17 and 18, were amazing! I nearly jumped out of my chair!

    I am noticing a big difference in Book 17, for one thing they are fighting in a mist, in a fog, it's dark (what must that have looked like?) lots of spooky things going on here and of course the fight for the body of Patroclus.

    Gosh the armor is gone (and now I DO see, now that Pat has brought attention to it, the same message of the messenger twice here and a third time changed, to Achilles, did you notice that? A bit of a change). Stuck right now now.

    Now Hector here hardly acts the hero while Achilles does! It's amazing the change, were you struck by it? Hector is going to dishonor Patroclus, he's going to cut him up in pieces, Iris told Achilles in Book 18 exactly what Hector had in mind, quite gruesome: no hero's funeral and afterlife for him. They are really fighting OVER this body. Ironic, isn't it? When you consider Hector's own end. Do you think this was put here so you'd not have quite so much sympathy for him when his turn comes? Not be so shocked? Not take away from Achilles' heroism? Because Achilles DOES emerge in this bit very strong (or did you think?) and very much the man of honor?

    Book XVII: ..."he might still save the body"

  • 1. Why does each side want the body of Patroclus? What is unusual about Glaucus' reasoning and why does Hector have to offer 1/2 the spoils of war to whoever gets the body back to their lines?

    (Did you see what looks like a phalanx in line 363? "The Greeks
    Had formed around Patroclus a wall of shields

  • 2. What's going on with the fog and mist? "Zeus poured over their dark gold helmets
    A profound mist.." (271) and "a combat in darkness with merciless bronze." (385). "Athena wrapped herself in an iridescent mist." (562). "They're all lost in the dark mist, their horses, too.? (659)

    What a strange description, what is the effect all this fog and mist has on the reader, what does it convey? Why is it suddenly dark and foggy in the middle of the day? Does this symbolize something? Whose advantage is this dark?

    (Wasn't there one place here where one group was in the sun and the other in this mist, and one could see the other??) And then Zeus "instantly dispersed" the darkness and mist
    And the sun shone." (664). Does this signify anything?

  • 3. "Any fool can see that Father Zeus himself
    Is helping the Trojans…Let's try to come up with the best plan we can." (649). Do you think this courageous of Ajax or foolhardy? What are his choices?

  • 4. " You violated the order of things," (line 203). This armor of Achilles seems to have a spirit of its own. Why would it violate anything if Hector took it and why would Hector put it ON??? Is this a good choice for Hector? What's the result of his decision?

  • 5. "Right, Menelaus. You and Meriones
    Get the body up on your shoulders
    And carry it out…" (730ff). What took them so long to decide this? They've been pulling over it like animals for some time, in the dark and the mist, quite surreal, why now do they finally decide to pick the body up?

    Book XVIII: "I loved him, and I killed him."

  • 1. " Patroclus, Menoetius' brave son, is dead.
    Damn him! I told him only to repel
    The enemy fire from our ships,
    And not to take on Hector in a fight." 13)IS that what Achilles originally said and how does he know here what happened to Patroclus?

  • 2. "I loved him
    And I killed him"
    (85) Achilles takes full blame for Patroclus' death and mourns him:

    "Then let me die now. I was no help
    To him when he was killed out there. He died
    Far from home, and he needed me to protect him….

    What are some of the changes that Patroculs' death has brought about in Achilles? Are they all positive?

  • 3. "I wish all strife could stop, among gods
    And among men, and anger too-it sends
    Sensible men into fits of temper…" (112ff) Does this seem in character for Achilles or could it be Homer's philosophy? Does it seem logical at this part of the book?

  • 4. "And conquer our pride….But I'm going now to find the man who destroyed
    My beloved-Hector." (120) Is this the only reason Achilles is going to enter the battlefield?

  • 5. "Speaking bronze…" (237). When Achilles yells, his voice is amplified like shock waves, what do you think speaking bronze means?

  • 6. " Lady Hera
    sent the tireless reluctant sun
    Under the horizon into Ocean's streams." (255). What happens when night finally falls? What is ironic about the two assemblies held, one on the side of the Trojans and one on the side of the Greeks? Why is Polydamus's advice ignored by all the Trojans?

  • 7. "Attendants made of gold who looked like real girls…" (450) Are these robots? What is Homer describing here??!!??

  • 8. Why does Hephaestus agree to help Thetis? Why is Thetis' story introduced at this point in the book?

  • 9. "He threw a triple rim around it, glittering.
    Like lightning…" (518). The descriptions of Hephaestus work are magic, and Homer's description of the shield is an example of ekphrasis, a description of art in poetic terms.

    Can you imagine such a shield? Could you draw a picture of it? (I spent all day trying to draw all the stuff on it, what would it look like?) How does the shield contrast to the brevity of time in the narrative?

    Oh so much more, what stood out for YOU in these two books? Did anything surprise you?

    A fantastic mansion out of starlight and bronze for your thoughts!
  • Shasta Sills
    It seemed to me that none of the Trojans were fooled by Patroclus in Achilles' armor. I think Homer forgot to bring out that they were supposed to think it was Achilles. Still, they seemed just as eager to kill Patroclus as Achilles.

    I loved the part where Achilles' horses wept because Patroclus was dead. (493) "...their heads trailing along the ground, warm tears flowing down from their eyes to wet the earth...the horses mourned." Do horses really produce tears when they are sad? I wouldn't have thought so, but it's a very moving image.

    I have finally returned, after a long vacation. And believe it or not, in a week or so, I will be going on yet another long, relaxing, vacation. But I will do my very best to make sure I keep up with reading this classic. I have noticed several crossovers between Herodotus's Histories and the Iliad. Has anyone else noticed any other interesting crossovers?

    Shasta, I've been kind of going back over that myself, it was not clear to me who knew or thought he was Achilles. Now that I look at it again, I am seeing Patroclus all got up in Book 16 with his shiny famous armor and ACHILLES going around to the Myrmidons, all of them, lots of them, and they have not fought before, urging them to enter the battle. And they did.

    Now the appearance of these men, closed in ranks till there was no space between them 220ff, "Helmet on helmet, shield overlapping shield, man on man
    and their horsehair plumes on their bright crests.." After seeing that drawing of the phalanx, I have a feeling the total effect was frightening, here's "Achilles" in his famous armor and there are his own famous Myrmidons!

    But then strange strange, back in Book 16, Achilles says, " So that Hector will see that my comrade
    Knows how to fight and win without me."

    Now how is Hector going to see this? How is HECTOR going to know?

    And then Achilles says further in his prayer,

    "And when he has driven the noise of battle
    Away from our ships, may he come back to me
    Unharmed, with all his weapons and men."

    And THEN it says Zeus in his wisdom….
    granted half of it."259. So again as in Books 17 and 18, we can see that the gods don't always do what they are asked. That's even remarked on in 17 or 18.

    And it says that when the Trojans saw Patroclus the first time they "fell apart." So I think at FIRST they did think it was Achilles. They were frantic and screaming. But how long could he keep that UP?

    But the jig is up in line 755 when Apollo says outright to Hector, "Get in that chariot and go after Patroclus."

    So you think none of them were fooled maybe after the first shock of seeing him and the Myrmidons coming from afar? I mean they didn't have binoculars. I don't see how he could be mistaken close up. It's a puzzle! It would make for good reading actually to see when each person realized. They also didn't have walkie talkies, so news would spread slowly.

    I don't know about horses, I have had horses all my life until last summer when my last horse died but I have not seen them cry, but something is nagging me about that, do any of the rest of you know?

    Greatbooksfan!! Welcome welcome back! I'm so glad you are rested and now off again, oh NO! Well we will conclude in a couple of weeks I hope you can stay as long as you can. Tell us about the parallels you see in Herodotus and Homer??

    We have some wonderful (if I do say so, myself) questions in the heading on Books 17 and 18, anybody want to take a shot or suggest others??

    Shasta Sills
    Don't you love all those names of the water nymphs? Glitter and Spray, Mist and Spindrift, Whirlpool and Brilliance, etc. Homer was having so much fun naming those nymphs that once he got started, he couldn't stop.

    And how about that shield that Hephaestus made for Achilles? Here's another place where Homer got carried away. (558 ff) It took 262 lines to describe all the things he put on that shield. A wedding feast, a marketplace quarrel, two whole cities, farmers plowing fields and harvesting crops, a herd of longhorn cattle, and even Ginny's vineyard. There's no way you could put all those scenes and activities on a shield. Is there a symbolic meaning here? Does this battle-shield, an emblem of death, carry with it scenes of life? I love the way Homer constantly weaves together images of life with images of death.

    Having little insight at this moment, not being able to transport this quickly from the world
    of Latin with Ginny to Troy, I offer some lines, regarding claiming the body of Patroclus,
    from the Pope edition (unnumbered), Book XVII:

    Whatever hand shall win Patroclus slain,
    Whoe'er shall drag him to the Trojan Train,
    Wtih Hector's self shall equal honours claim;
    With Hector part the spoil, and share the fame.
    Fired by his words, the troops dismiss their fears,
    They join, they thicken, they protend [sic] their spears;
    Full on the Greeks they drive in firm array,
    And each from Ajax hopes the glorious prey:
    Vain hope! what numbers shall the field o'erspread,
    What victims perish round the mighty dead!

    Pat H
    Book 18 really blew my mind away, and I have to think a bit before I post much, but how about ll 336-8 (mourning for Patroclus):

    Achilles began the incessant lamentation,
    Laying his man-slaying hands on Patroclus'chest
    And groaning over and over like a bearded lion...

    The man-slayer mourns the man slain.

    Book 18 knocked my socks off!!

    I keep thinking of what DEEMS once said of another poet (paraphrased, I hope correctly): we can analyze him to death and cut him to pieces, but he lies there, waiting for each new person to discover him.

    In the description of the shield, all of the Greek world is lain out before us, as Homer saw it with his poet's eye -- it's cruelty, danger, and death, and its simple joy. Not a true picture I'm sure, but a picture that has spoken to something within us through the centuries. What a gift.

    Pat H
    Why is the forging of the shield so moving? I’m not quite sure, but I was almost in tears when I finished reading it. Here is a link to a poem by W. H. Auden I have always liked describing Thetis watching the forging of the shield and seeing, instead of the classic scenes, some grim examples of later times. I always thought it was a very powerful poem, but now I have read the original I see that is even better. Warning: It’s a bit brutal—don’t read it if you aren’t feeling strong.

    Thanks for the link, Pat. I love poetry and that one, as you said, was enough to bring tears to your eyes. The visions on the shield, seen through Auden's eyes, are terrible in their relevance to our world today.

    I really am enjoying this discussion. I love all of your comments and insights and like to go away and think about them for a while, they always enrich my experience!

    Shasta, yes!! Super point hahaha, on the names, I notice the names seem to be picking up a bit and OH yes on the shield what a point! The contrast between the peaceful scenes and then the shield being carried into battle/ death. GOOD GOOD point on the way he "weaves together images of life with images of death." I'm sure it symbolizes something! It's also about sort of a timeless universality according to one of the critical essays I read, which contrasts with the short time period that all this action takes place in. I've lost count of the days but are we in Day 3?

    Hahaha Mippy, you're a Time Traveler from Latin to Troy and back again!

    I like Pope. I personally have a yen for jingles. And I like rhyming poetry, I must admit that I get caught up in the rhythm and often miss the meaning but thank you for that Pope, I have enjoyed it!

    Looks like Pope is saying whoever gets Patroclus' body back shares half with Hector, that's a powerful incentive!

    Pat, yes ISN'T this powerful, oh and I like your twist on words there about the man-slayer. I was quite taken with Achilles in Book 18, how about the rest of you? Showing some soul and some emotion besides self centeredness, maybe.

    JoanK, me too! Socks all in disarray, I agree hahaha.

    Yes it's a lovely voyage for each person and I personally like the time it has taken. Seems like just yesterday I was discovering him under the fall leaves in the grape harvest now it's winter, I love that. Tomorrow we're supposed to move on but let's not do it till late tomorrow so we can hang on here one more day. I agree with you it's a gift, imagine if it had been lost!

    And the shield has Hate and Din and the Angel of Death too. Wonderful images:

    On it he put a vineyard loaded with grapes,
    Beautiful in gold. The clusters were dark,
    And the vines were set everywhere on silver poles.
    Around it he inlaid a blue enamel ditch
    And a fence of tin. A solitary path led to it,
    And vintagers filed along it to harvest the grapes.

    Pat thank you for that very moving and stunning Auden, powerful is not the word. I really appreciate how you each bring here such wonderful additions to our experience as a whole, we need to read Auden, gosh. And it's so germane to us here, I agree GBF!

    Odds and ends: did you understand the reference in line 267 to "the only Trojan who looked
    Both ahead and behind."

    The ONLY Trojan who looked both ahead and behind, apparently the only one who thought things out? Polydamas (wonder what that name means?) and they dismiss him? And it says all the crowd cheered Hector on as they dismissed his advice "The fools, their wits dulled by Pallas Athena
    Hector's poor counsel won all the applause. " I hate to say this, but that happens a LOT in our day, the crowd moved by…more by the way something is said or the way it's delivered than the good sense in the plan. Why do you think Hector said no?'

    I'm continually interested in watching Hector, and in this part (lines 300-ff) he reveals they HAVE no treasures any more, they've sold them all, all the gold, all the bronze all the "great houses are empty, their heirlooms
    Sold away to Phrygia, toMaenoia

    But I'm confused in that I can't understand how if they could get OUT to barter or sell their treasures, how the Greeks could not get in. Obviously there was something going on here, people coming and going? How did you understand this bit? There's no treasure left or gold, so when they told Paris to return Helen, and what she brought with her, there's nothing left.

    What do you think (just projecting) would happen WHEN Menelaus finally did get in that stronghold?

    How many times has Hector ignored advice? I can think of two right off the bat, that he should have taken and I'm wondering now how many times he took advice he should have ignored? I think you could do an entire book in Hector!

    I HATE to see the end of this book approaching, any last thoughts on 17 and 18??

    Must speak of the unbeatable, beautiful poetry in our Lombardo edition (lines 520ff):
    On it he made the earth, the sky, the sea,
    The unwearied sun, and the moon near full,
    And all the signs that garland the sky,
    Pleiades, Hyades, mighty Orion,
    And the Bear they also call the Wagon,
    Which pivots in place and looks back at Orion ...

    When I step outside at night, these winter days,and look up and Orion and
    the Big Dipper, I get a thrill, like never before, thinking of Homer and
    his audience -- and the warriors at Troy -- looking up at the very same stars!

    Mippy: good observation. I'll look at Orion differently now. I notice the Greeks already knew about the North Star. As sailors, they must have already been very familiar with the stars.

    GINNY: I've been wondering since ths discussion began how the Trojans got out to get food, much less sell their stuff. They couldn't possibly store enough to have lasted through that long siege.

    The last thing I expected to find in the Iliad was robots. But did you notice there are two sets in book ten. Neptune has women made out of gold waiting on him. and Vulcan is making some cauldrons that will follow him around, when he stops to mach Achilles' armor. R2D2 watch out. And this from the Greeks who, we hear, invented the steam engine, but used it to pull children's toys!

    Pat H
    There are many ancient Greeks in the sky. The Pleiades mentioned were sisters pursued by Orion and rescued by being turned into stars (where they are still pursued by Orion, since they are in Taurus, which Orion faces). The Hyades were half-sisters to the Pleiades, put in the sky as a reward, also in Taurus.

    Helen’s brothers are there too—Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces) the Twins—one mortal and one immortal. They could not bear to be separated after Castor’s death, so ended up in the sky.

    Perseus is there, holding the head of Medusa and about to rescue the nearby Andromeda. Andromeda’s parents are close, Cassiopeia, whom many of us have seen, and Cepheus, fairly inconspicuous.

    The winged horse Pegasus is by Andromeda, and Hercules is in another part of the sky, as is the Hydra he slew.

    Interestingly, although these constellations have Greek origins, the names of many of he individual stars are Arabic.

    In a citified, light-polluted environment it’s hard to appreciate the impact and importance of stars in a time when there were no lights or landmarks at night. I do remember how impressive they were in the blackouts of World War II, when, as a child, I first made their acquaintance.

    No treasure left, but when Priam went to ramson Hector's body he took a wagon load of treasure, right? Or should I have waited on this, is it later in the book?

    You mentioned time, Ginny... Is this poem only 3 days long? I looked and looked for the beginning of this at least 3 book day, but couldn't find it... finally when Achilles had to wait for his armor till the next morning there was the end of a day... but does anyone know when it started?

    I hadn't realized how many of the constelations are of Greek and/or Roman origins... how in the world did I miss that? But then when my mom showed me the big dipper, I ask where the water bucket was... LOL Guess I'm still a 'literal' person...


    Shasta Sills
    Where I live, we almost never see any stars at all. It's very frustrating.

    Achilles and Agamemnon are a couple of characters, aren't they? Neither one is ever quite willing to admit his own mistakes. Agamemnon says, "But I am not to blame! Zeus and Fate and the Fury stalking through the night, they are the ones who drove this savage madness in my heart."

    And Achilles says he was "consumed by heartsick strife all for a young girl. If only Artemis had cut her down at the ships with one quick shaft." Now how about that? Achilles killed her husband and brothers and made a slave of her--he and Agamemnon passing her back and forth like a piece of property. Did it ever occur to him that she was a human being and may have some feelings of her own?

    Mippy that's beautiful, I agree, and I never thought of it like that, the stars, that is chilling!!

    I am not sure I would know Orion, where is it? I like the idea of viewing the very same stars that Achilles did.

    Me too, Joan, and it's obvious they did. (well, they'd have starved if they didn't). They would not have been able to hold out, don't you wish Homer had included some details about this? As it was apparently what he did include is a treasure trove for historians.

    I know it! I caught the golden women robots, but where are you seeing the cauldrons that are walking around?

    Oh Pat, that gave me chills! They're all still up there, Helen's brothers! (No Achilles? No Hector? Wonder why not??!!)

    You are right on the lights, it's amazing living out in the country how dark it is, the sky is just lit up! Well this has given me a new appreciation for the constellations!

    Fun discussion, it really has been.

    AHA Lou, GOOD point, now GOOD point, when we get there let's flag that one and ask Dr. L!!

    Lou that was cute about the water bucket!

    And Shasta, no stars??

    Why not? Too many city lights??

    Now Shasta launches us into Books 19 and 20 and I'm still looking for Lou's question about the times because I've got it written down somewhere but now how did you feel, what was YOUR, all of you, your honest reaction to 19 and 20?? Let's just do 19 for a day or so, they are both SO SHORT!!

    Agamemnon is saying "the devil made me do it," Achilles is saying most glorious (don't you know that stuck in his throat) Agamemnon, don't trouble yourself, I'm going to KILL.

    To me book 19 is such a letdown? I mean is THIS the climax? We've waited and waited and waited and for WHAT? What a let down, Achilles seems to notice it, too, he says, hey, I'm all ready here, I'm all psyched up and you want to EAT? You want to eat dinner here?

    Now that is really interesting. Whose logic do you follow there, Odysseus' or Achilles? Achilles is ready for the kill, but O says the army can't march or hold out on an empty stomach and so they need to EAT! Rituals must be observed, just because YOU finally get all het up, we need to eat.

    (Did you happen to notice at all that Agamemnon did NOT rise? Agamemnon says "But I am not to blame. Zeus is, and Fate, and the Dark Avenger?"

    Who is the Dark Avenger? I think it's interesting that the role of Fate enters here but I'm not sure I believe Ag, he stays seated. He kept a kingly thing going, no matter what.

    What did it mean "His feet turned toward the door, "of Patroclus' body and did you sit up when the goddess promised his flesh would not rot? "Even if he should lie out for a full year
    His flesh would still be as firm, or better." (l.45). I wonder if this is one of the origins of the belief that those the gods favor do not decompose? You see that a lot in the…middle ages? I am astounded to see it here, gave me a start, (along with the robots, of course).

    That was an interesting aside from Homer on line 320 and 321, wasn't on women??

    …and the women mourned with her,
    For Patroclus, yes, but each woman also
    For her own private sorrows.

    (320ff) That's very interesting and why is Briseis crying over Patroclus so ??

    All that about the body of Patroclus reminded me of Ben Hur, do you remember that old movie, the one with Charleton Heston? OK quick quick an embossed shield by Hephaestus for your answer if you don't look it up, what was the character's name who got dragged by the chariots so? I can almost remember his real name, Stephen something? What was his Roman name? Cassius? I can't remember! Now THERE is a Trivia Question?

    But remember all the emphasis on his wounds?

    What do you think about the simile starting with 379, on the snow flurries? Does it snow in Greece? Could Homer have seen snow turn into an icy blinding glare?

    And at the end of 19, Achilles is finally ready, we are finally ready, but what happens in 19? Do you feel let down or…why do you think Homer has put this section in the Book? What did you think would happen when he finally got started?

    Apparently when Achilles gave up his RAGE at Agamemnon the actual words for rage in Greek change here in the text from menis to cholos. So he's given up one rage (seems a strange thing to do prior to going into battle?) but if you look at him on line 20ff, that bit about his lids narrowing and "lowered over eyes that glared…" and he looks at the armor and "felt his rage seep / Deeper into his bones…" (that's the second level of the rage, apparently)….that's powerful stuff. So one rage is gone but there may be another one coming.

    Do you see any change in Achilles since you first met him at the first of the book? Has his character grown?

    What is the point of Agamemnon's long story here in Chapter 19??

    How do you see Achilles on the brink of war, which begins in Chapter 20?

    Why are we so attracted and at the same time repulsed by Achilles? Why is he a fascinating character? Does he seem more human now at the end of Chapter 19 than he did?

    (Funny line that Homer has Achilles say about the Greeks will remember our quarrel forever!) hahahaa (75 or so).

    A dozen bright cauldrons for your thoughts on Book 19!!

    Pat H
    Lou2, I have been trying to work out the days too, and here is what I make of it. I did this by rapid skimming, so could have missed some, but so far we have worked through at least 6 days. The VERY long day ending with Achilles waiting through the night for his armor at the end of book 18 started with dawn at the beginning of book 11! All that action in just one day. Here is my tally.

    Day 1: Book 1, Ach and Ag confront each other, Ach begs Thetis for help in his revenge. (Here we have a gap while Thetis waits 12 days for the gods to come back from a feast and the Greeks take Chryseis back to her father. I’m not counting them, since most of the action is offstage.)

    Day 2: Thetis begs Zeus for the favor, he agrees, the gods feast all day and go to sleep.

    Day 3; Book 2, Zeus sends Ag the dream, the sides prepare to fight, the roll of the ships. Book 3, Paris and M fight. Books 4-7, fighting. Dialogue of Hector and Andromache in 6, Hec and Ajax fight in 7. Night.

    Day 4: Book 7, a truce to burn bodies, a pyre at twilight, the Greeks build a wall and feast all night. I’m confused as to whether this is just one day, but let’s say it is.

    Day 5: Book 8, dawn, a full day of fighting, night. Book 9, same night, Ach refuses Odysseus’ mission from Ag. Book 10, same night, the Greeks make a foray and rustle some horses.

    Day 6: Books 11-18. 12, the Trojans storm the wall, the Greeks retreat to the ships, 14, Hera seduces Zeus, 15, the Trojans are almost at the ships, 16, Patroclus joins the fight, kills Sarpedon, and is killed by Hector, 17, fighting over P’s body, 18, Ach learns the news, decides to rejoin the fight, is promised new armor by Thetis. Hephaestus forges the armor.

    Day 7 dawns at the start of Book 19, and now I’ll go read about it.


    It was Stephen Boyd and the Characters name
    was Marcellus (sp)

    Tiger Tom

    Achilles was monumental from the beginning until the death of Patroclus. In Book 18, line 199 (Lombardo), Achilles is dismayed because he has no armor for battle. His mother gets him new armor. How convenient.

    Achilles wants to charge into battle without eating. He probably can't hold down his food. He no longer shines. The Trojan Aeneas grows in stature.

    The fighting that occurs with Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena is more intriguing than Achilles' inevitable fight with Hector.

    The VERY long day ending with Achilles waiting through the night for his armor at the end of book 18 started with dawn at the beginning of book 11! All that action in just one day.

    Thanks so much, Pat... no wonder I didn't find it, I never thought to look back all the way to Book 11... Wow!


    Book 18, around line 300...

    Hector: Polydamas, I don’t like this talk

    About a retreat and holing up in the city.

    Aren’t you sick of being penned inside our walls?

    then on down...

    But now– when the great god,

    Son of Cronus, has vouchsafed me the glory

    of hemming the Greeks in beside the sea–

    Now is no time for you to talk like a fool.

    It’s all the team, us, we... and then the glory is ME...

    Not sure what that says about Hector, but I thought it was interesting.


    Shasta Sills
    Ginny, I want one of those golden cauldrons that rolls around on wheels all by itself. It reminds me of these robotic vacuum cleaners that are supposed to roll around the house and vacuum the the floors all by itself. I'm waiting for one of those too.

    In Book 18, lines 434 ff. "There she found him, sweating, wheeling round his bellows, pressing the work on 20 three-legged cauldrons, an array to ring the halls inside his mansion. He'd bolted golden wheels to the legs of each so all on their own speed, at a nod from him, they could roll to halls where the gods convene, then roll right home again--a marvel to behold."

    Shasta Sills
    Achilles never thinks of anybody but himself. While all those other Greeks were out there fighting the Trojans, getting killed and wounded, Achilles was sitting in his tent playing his lyre. But when he's finally ready to fight, he doesn't want anybody to take time to eat. He doesn't think about how exhausted and hungry all the other men are. He's very self-centered.

    Pat H
    The trouble with robotic vaccuum cleaners would be that they would not distinguish between dirt and debris and the vital component of your child's or grandchild's toy, electronic apparatus, or whatever that you didn't pick up first. Of course, my friends can see clearly the advantage of an automatic vaccuuming system in my house.

    Pat H
    I find the attention paid to armor and weapons very interesting. Here, it’s mostly armor. The classic aristeia includes a description of armor. The armor Achilles lost to Hector (via Patroclus) was forged by the gods for Peleus and passed on to him. The replacement forged by Hephaestus is legendary. But there are many other descriptions of how many layers there are on a shield and what fraction of them the spear punched through. It was a life or death matter for them.

    Later in history, we have more attention to swords. Metal forging technique could give you an advantage. (The Arabs seem to have been especially good at this.) The swords have a life of their own. Roland (Charlemagne’s time) had Durandal. King Arthur had to pull Excaliber out of a stone to prove his legitimacy. Later (Wagner) Siegfried must reforge his father’s sword Nothung to fulfil his destiny. More recently, In The Lord of the Rings, it is important that Aragorn has the broken sword of his forebears, Narsil reforged. (I think this isn’t clear in the movies, but it is in the books.) Tolkien appreciated fully the power of myth and legend and how to get the most out of it.

    Pat H
    Ginny—you picked a good time of year to ask where is Orion. At the moment he is spang in the middle of the southern sky, moving from southeast to southwest, being due south about 10 pm. His belt is 3 bright stars slanted a bit from lower left to upper right. His torso is outlined by a rectangle of 4 stars, 3 of them very bright. Nipping at his heels is his dog, Canis major, a bit lower and to the left, containing Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. I haven’t seen any of them for a while because of weather conditions

    GINNY: I agree. After the incredible beauty of book 18, 19 is a real letdown. Anything probably would have been.

    What do I think of Achilles now? he's the same spoiled sulky bad-tempered guy he's always been. It's fitting that the gods had to feed him like a baby. I'm beginning to think he's not too bright. Notice he didn't acknowledge once, even to himself, that the Greeks were dying not because he didn't fight but because he begged the gods to kill them. And his love for Briseis vanishes like smoke once he can't use her as an excuse to sulk. I wonder if Patroclus had routed the Trojans and the Greeks hadn't needed him, what would have happened to his great love for Patroclus.

    He's very good at killing, as we find out next chapter. Lucky for him there's a war on: he doesn't seem good for much else.

    I'm glad we get to meet Briseis at last. No one else seems to give a hoot about her, but Homer doesn't forget she's a human being, and lets you know how she feels. You have to love him for that, and love Patroclus for being kind to her. It makes you mourn him too.

    Shasta Sills
    I was interested too in the fascination with armor and weapons. In modern warfare, they are a necessity but to the Greeks they were works of art as well. To me, war is just a grimy miserable business, full of death and destruction. But to the Greeks, it was something else. Homer describes it as a glorious enterprise, a glamorous spectacle with flashing swords and gleaming armor and deeds of bravery.

    (Book 19, line 427) "The glory of armor lit the skies and the whole earth laughed, rippling under the glitter of bronze, thunder resounding under the trampling of armies."

    The whole earth laughed! As if delighted by war! What an astonishing idea. I should think the earth would grieve when men make war, not ripple with laughter. Does Lombardo translate this line the same way?

    Pat H
    So Agamemnon apologizes, but doesn’t take the blame, passing it on to the gods.

    But what could I do? Gods decide everything. 19/103

    It’s a neat trick, you are never at fault. Never mind that Ag and Ach apparently had a history of disagreement.

    Achilles buys it, too.

    Father Zeus, great is the blindness you send to men.
    Else Atreus’ son never would have roused my rage
    Or insisted on leading the girl away
    Against my will. Somehow it pleased Zeus
    That many Greeks should die. 19/198-202

    At the same time he avoids admitting that it is his action that caused so many Greeks should die. It’s also a good face-saving device—the men can make up without either admitting himself to be wrong.

    Pat H
    Shasta, Lombardo says:

    ......The rising glare
    Reflected off the coppery sky, and the land beneath
    Laughed under the arcing metallic glow.
    A deep bass thrumming rose from the marching feet. 19/385-8

    Shasta Sills
    Well, if Fagles and Lombardo both said the earth laughed, they must be translating exactly what Homer said.

    Shasta, I was just about to quote the Lombardo, when I noticed it was done, above, but there's another
    possible interpretation:

    (19: 387ff)...the land beneath laughed ... a thrumming from the marching feet...

    Perhaps the stamping, drumming marching was like a "heh-heh-heh" sound, that Homer calling
    laughing -- not saying, indeed, that war was humorous.

    In the Alexander Pope edition (lines not numbered) we read:

    Broad glittering brestplates, spears with pointed rays,
    Mix in one stream, reflecting blaze on blaze;
    Thick beats the centre as the coursers bound;
    With splendour flame the skies, and laugh the fields around.

    Here, the blaze or shining may make fields "laugh", rather than war, itself. What do you think?


    Hey Slnderella, where is my Embossed Shield?

    See you 552 and my 554

    Tiger Tom

    A bright pink streaked morning to you all, what wonderful points you make. We have two more full days for short little Chapter XX, and I'm glad to see you all tearing into it! Well done!

    Pat H, great work on the time line! I could never have done that!!!! Here's the one I was trying to find from Temple U, as well for comparison, for some reason I keep getting off on the emotions and forget the actual time involved, wonderful work!

    Time Sequence, Click to Enlarge

    Well done, our Tom! How DID you remember that!! Stephen Boyd as Messalla! Unfortunately your silver embossed shield was shattered by Achilles, so only the shards remain! Thank you for that, has been driving me crazy.

    shifrah, a very good point on Achilles and eating: Achilles wants to charge into battle without eating. He probably can't hold down his food. He no longer shines So you are seeing him diminished right at the moment of his glory to the Greeks! Interesting!!

  • Lou2, good point on Hector, I want to watch Hector, he has seemed a little…brash or unheeding, to me (camping out in front of the Greek's camp. Ignoring the advice of Polydamus to go back while they still had time) I am afraid for Hector because of his own hubris.

    Also I'm noticing again some parallels?

  • The Trojans take counsel in Book 18 and Hector ignores the very good advice of Polydamus. And in 19 the Greeks take counsel , the book is very carefully written as a whole with these parallels, is this the first time they have been split? Hector emerges heedless and rash. Achilles' actual EYES glow, that's a very powerful image, they're both all heated up.

    The contrasts and similarities are interesting.

    Shasta, thank you for the actual lines, that WAS a miracle and Pat and Shasta, I have a Roomba, (the small automatic cleaner) and it's fine unless you have carpet fringe or low hanging sofas where it gets stuck, but it's so cute you don’t care.

    Shasta you note Achilles is very self-centered. So is AG, he still refuses to rise up, he's carrying out his Warrior/ King/ Priest thing to the bitter end.

    Pat thank you for noticing the aristeia should contain a description of armor!!! It sure did! And this was wonderful:
    The swords have a life of their own. Roland (Charlemagne’s time) had Durandal. King Arthur had to pull Excaliber out of a stone to prove his legitimacy. Later (Wagner) Siegfried must reforge his father’s sword Nothung to fulfil his destiny. More recently, In The Lord of the Rings…
    Good job!!

    And I've printed out your description of Orion and will sally forth tonight as it's cleared up and see if I can spot Orion which Achilles looked at too! Oh boy! Those of you who can see it, let's all set out in the next few days and give it a shot!

    JoanK, another good point, "Anything probably would have been." Anticlimactic! Yes. We waited and waited, if he had flown over the army like an aerial lawn mower we would not have been surprised, why do you suppose this STOP right in the middle for the ritual dinner?

    Oh I absolutely LOVE this: up in the heading it GOES: I wonder if Patroclus had routed the Trojans and the Greeks hadn't needed him, what would have happened to his great love for Patroclus.

    OH boy, what do you all say to THAT one!!

    hahahah: He's very good at killing, as we find out next chapter. Lucky for him there's a war on: he doesn't seem good for much else.

    Well he's a Greek hero of the Warrior Class. In contrast we now learn to the Odyssey, that is what they DID.

    Mippy, and Shasta and Pat, great conversation on that laughing ground, I think that would be a good one to ask Dr. Lombardo, let's! I will be quite late submitting the questions to him but when he answers them, will let you know!

    Reminds me of a very moving little plaque I saw alongside the sidewalk in Vindolanda, I think it was, or Housesteads in England, both Roman fortifications on Hadrian's Wall. It was this spindly little newly planted tree and a really nice plaque to a volunteer at the site and included the quote from Psalms about let the leaves of the trees clap their hands... incredibly moving, I have a photo of it somewhere...somewhere.

    Great work, all!! Your enlightened comments and points have added SO MUCH to my understanding of this story, see next post for a few of my own thoughts, still puzzling over Joan K's query on Patroclus and Achilles, love that!
  • Ginny
    Book XX!

    Yes here it is, what we've been waiting for, it's short but it's not sweet, is it?

    I have the particular joy this Fall of taking another of Dr. Stone's classes this one in The Odyssey, it's just super and he was very complimentary about this discussion in the class, very proud of you all. In Book XX, we notice a lot of things happening, essentially Achilles just goes into some kind of berserk state?

    Remember Homer's view of what it means to be human (this from Dr. Stone):

    "to be willing to talk, to consider binding self –restraint embodied in agreements, to respect others as possible friends." This quote is taken from Dr. Jonathan Shay's seminal book Achilles in Vietnam in which he broke ground in talking about what happens in war and trauma. Dr. Shay wrote yesterday that he would be able to attend and speak in our April reading of his book and I am just so excited, it has proven a very important book in its field and I hope those of you interested in what happens during any war will join us.

    Dr. Shay says the Characteristics of the berserk state of soldiers enraged in battle are:

  • Beastlike
  • Socially disconnected
  • Thinking selves Godlike
  • crazy, insane
  • Enraged
  • Cruel, without restraint or discrimination
  • Insatiable
  • Devoid of fear
  • Inattentive to own safety
  • Reckless, feeling invulnerable
  • Exalted, intoxicated, frenzied
  • Cold, indifferent
  • Insensible to pain
  • Suspicious of friends
  • Indiscriminate

    And we certainly see that in Achilles, he's talking to horses. And that pitiful scene with poor…how well highlighted Homer did this, poor Tros, clasping his knees begging for mercy. "He actually thought he would persuade him," jeepers.

    And is that Polydorus the same one nobody would listen to, how heartless the description of him, "And now he was childishly showing off
    Just how fast he was, running through the front lines
    Until he lost his life." (lines 424ff)

    Ok now Zeus, having finally fulfilled his pledge to Thetis, seems to unleash the gods and they quickly form sides, now why did he do this??

    Dr. Shay in his book talks about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the "undoing of moral character." He mentions the causes as:

  • Anger/rage and the betrayal of what's right:
  • Fairness assumption
  • fiduciary assumption

  • Grief at the death of a special comrade

  • The lack of a social context for grief contrasted with the Iliad.

    Now the focus is on Achilles and the other Greek heroes seem to disappear in these mists for a while, the whole world, in XX, seems to revolve around Achilles. I think that's an effective technique. And I guess we'd have to (would we?) say this is Achilles' aristeia? Is it any different from the previous ones??

    "But the son of Peleus pressed on to glory
    His invincible hands spattered with gore." 524-5 Well we've been hearing how superhuman Achilles IS, now we're seeing it, he's put the other Greeks in the shade, literally, he's all we see out there and notice how fast and constant and barely with comment THESE killings are, nothing like the earlier ones where we had tons of background material, why do you suppose Homer is doing this?

    (Did you wonder why the gold layer in Achilles' shield stopped Aeneas' spear? I thought gold was soft and malleable??) (272)

    Aeneas has to escape because it's been his fate to found the Roman nation, his mother being Aphrodite, all Romans liked to hearken back to his supposed founding of the city so here comes a pesky mist for Achilles' eyes (tho don't you imagine he was seeing things thru a red mist anyway?) and the spear misses. Achilles' takes this to be the work of the gods, which it IS.

    That "seeing red" that you often hear about, did you know it's true? Has that ever happened to you? I notice that Homer has mists but no seeing red, perhaps he was blind, after all? But I've had it happen to me, have you?

    This marauding lion simile in lines 170ff, my notes from the class tell me sort of pulls the entire book together? Can you see how, I can't read that part of my writing!! Hahaha How is this lion, with the entire village against him, the same as Achilles, and who might have wounded him (my notes seem to say Patroclus, a wound of the soul) and then the last bit about "no one can tell if he will kill or be killed," how does that tie the entire book together??

    I must do something about my handwriting!

    How about a stone that two men could not lift for your thoughts today on anything up to and including Book XX?
  • Lou2
    It has been so interesting to me to follow this discussion... I finished listening to the teaching company’s lectures on the Iliad again yesterday. In light of that, I find myself thinking about Achilles... and the 21st century reactions to him here.

    It is assumed that the Iliad grew out of an oral tradition... that the audience would have had knowledge of the entire Trojan War before attending a performance of the Iliad... this according to the lectures. It is also said that the Iliad and the Odyssey are the main two of many epics about the Trojan War that survive, while on the surface that may not seem important, if you consider what that meant before the printing press, then just their survival attests to their importance over a long period of time. The Iliad was written by Greeks for Greek audiences and Achilles was one of their heroes. Would they have written, passed on orally, a story to make their hero ‘look bad’? What is there within the Iliad that would ‘glorify’ Achilles in the Greek view? Or did it? Is it that our ‘world view’ is so different that he seems “less than glorious” according to what I’m seeing in the posts here? Please don’t think I’m ‘judging’ here... I’m just trying to imagine what would have brought Greeks, as well as other audiences, to hear this over and over, many, is it safe to say, hundreds of years????


    Shasta Sills
    I don't have your scruples, Lou. I judge Achilles to be a perfect stinker. But he's very real and convincing. Maybe we don't admire him as the Greeks did, but we still find him fascinating.

    There was one lengthy discussion between Aeneas and Achilles while they were preparing to kill each other. I loved it when Aeneas said (in effect), "Don't pull any rank on me, Achilles. My blood-line is more impressive than yours!" If we could get modern armies to stop and discuss their parentage before they kill each other, it would slow down the carnage. Well, they do this to some extent when they yell at each other, "Ah, your mother wears combat boots!"

    Pat H
    I have a somewhat different take on what is happening to Achilles in Book 19. He buries his anger towards Agamemnon, but it doesn’t go away. It seeps into his bones and is changed and amplified, redirected towards revenge for his friend’s death. He looks on his armor, which his own troops can’t bear to look on, and

    ......felt his rage seep
    Deeper into his bones, and his lids narrowed
    And lowered over eyes that glared
    Like a white-hot steel flame. 19.23-6

    He feels pangs of joy at the intricate beauty of his new armor (29). Thetis augments this: "she multiplied his heroic temper" (49). He doesn’t want to eat or drink, or let anyone else do so, because he can think of nothing else but his grief and its revenge. It’s a miracle that he can listen to the advice of Odysseus, sit still through the apology, presentation of amends, and the meal.

    When asked to eat he responds with a moving expression of grief. (338-60) He puts on his armor, and his eyes glow like white-hot steel. Every motion he makes is an act of passion. His terrible shield glows like fire, his helmet shines like a star. He runs to test the armor and is almost lifted into the air.

    The whole thing adds up to a steadily intensifying picture of the forging of a terrible white-hot killing machine, fueled by rage and grief.

    Perhaps Ginny is right; he is turning into a berserker. Anyway, it’s certainly effective.


    Forget the Silver Shield, Pewter, an Embossed
    Pewter Shield. I love Embossed Pewter. Can't find
    much of it here in the U.S. I have a collection of
    it from Europe. So an Embossed Shield would look
    nice in the case where I keep the Embossed Pewter.

    Tiger Tom

    Pat H
    Pewter is probably soft too, like gold. Better keep one of the gods around to deflect spears.

    Shasta Sills
    Look out, Trojans! Here comes that one-man army, Killer Achilles. He has stuffed the river with so many corpses that the river rose up and chased him. It always amazes me the way the Iliad shifts from realism to fantasy. I'm a realist myself and don't care much for fantasy, but the river scene is so powerful that it swept even me away. That may be partly due to the scenes we have all been watching of human beings desperately fleeing from an overwhelming tsunami. We've seen the terrifying force of water, and we can sympathize with Achilles even if he is a murdering machine.

    Hera's method of controlling the river wouldn't really work though. You can quench fire with water, but you can't quench water with fire. But what am I thinking of? The gods can do anything they want to do.

    A bright, starry night last night! Clutching my star chart in hand, sent to me by a kind member of this group, I turned off the barn lights (causing all kinds of outraged shouts) hahaha and sallied forth into the cold, crisp air and looked into the starry heavens, seeing Orion (or so I thought with a thrill I recognized) and also I can see how they COULD see the bow and it was magic, it's amazing really what all this discussion has brought out.

    And now I'm coming in here and I'm seeing Shasta remarking on the river scenes, that imagery, and I got up with this picture in my mind, I just can't get it out of my head!!

    …and his lids narrowed
    And lowered over eyes that glared
    Like a white-hot steel flame.

    I just can't get that image out of my mind, that's powerful!! I can see those eyes glowing almost white hot and then those lids slowly lowering over them. Can’t you SEE that?

    But why would he (this is in Book 19, lines 25 or so) want to HIDE that?

    And Thetis is a lot of help, as Pat says she "multiplied his heroic temper." (line 49)

    I don't think he needed any help, do you?

    As we're coming here to the end, I'm going to send some more of our queries to Dr. Lombardo, and I'm wondering if you have any, if there's anything you'd like to ask or know, so that I can send them and we can get them back in plenty of time for you all to enjoy them, I found his responses wonderful and would like to have more. IS there anything you have a question on? I definitely want to ask about the ROBOTS!

    And here on the last page of XX we see Achilles likened to a fire raging thru a parched forest, boy that's powerful too, if you've ever seen a fire raging out of control, and that's the way he is. Wasn't that pitiful about poor Tros clasping his knees in supplication, but Achilles "was a man with no gentleness in him,
    A man with one purpose." (line 482ff)

    I am not sure about the quality of "gentleness" in any of these heroes. Hector did seem gentle with his wife and baby and Achilles seemed gentle once Patroclus was killed, but he sure isn't, now! He's in a rage, …but now, if we accept that it was a god who killed Patroclus, why is Achilles taking it out on the Trojans and poor Tros?


    Lou thank you for that information from the teaching company’s lectures!! You are really getting a LOT out of this, and that is an excellent question. I thought that they felt that glory was automatic with bravery in war and that his only two choices, actually WERE to fight or go home and live in peace with no glory. But I agree with Pat here that he's on fire!

    Good question, Lou! Would they have written, passed on orally, a story to make their hero ‘look bad’? What is there within the Iliad that would ‘glorify’ Achilles in the Greek view? Or did it?

    I think their concept of hero was different at least as we have seen it, and of kleos or glory which apparently is only conveyed thru battle?

    We can ask Dr. Lombardo!!

    Almost literally he was on fire, I just caught that, loved this, Pat: Every motion he makes is an act of passion. His terrible shield glows like fire, his helmet shines like a star. He runs to test the armor and is almost lifted into the air.

    Talk about "our team is RED hot!"

    Tom, I have never seen embossed pewter, how interesting, here we are talking about it and I have no idea what it looks like: do you have a photo of it? The shield, alas, is in splinters!

    YEEKS!! No no this canNOT be the 17th!! We're to do XXI and XXII today! Jeepers, they're short enough, let's read and return later today and see some new takes on this old piece, just as exciting as anything else out there anywhere.

    WHAT, if you have not read XXI-XXIV, do you suppose is going to happen? What can Achilles do for an encore?

    There is little doubt, IMO, that Achilles was a hero to Homer and his audience. Deaths are listed in an
    index in the Lombaro edition, but killings?

    Indeed, "spattered with gore", Achilles, the hero, killed (with line numbers):
    a commander of a large contingent,Iphition (388); Demoleon, Antenor's son (401); Hippodamus, who had
    jumped from his chariot (412); Polydorus, youngest son of Priam (420); and after Hector's spear missed Achilles, he killed Dryops (469); Demuchus(471), Laogonus and Dardanus (474), then Tros, Alastor's son (476); Agenor's son Echeclus was next (492), then Deucalion (495), and Rhigmus, Peiros' son (505).

    That makes a dozen men killed in one frenzy.

    The black earth ran with blood.(515)

    in Pope's words:
    The spiky wheels through heaps of carnage tore;
    And thick the groaning axles dropp'd with gore.
    High o'er the scene of death Achilles stood,
    All grim with dust, all horrible in blood...

    I just saw this from Scrawler in the Mythology discussion: 'But what really struck me as interesting was the important virtue of "hospitality" in the ancient Greek culture. According to the story, Aetes cannot kill Jason outright because he has fed him and housed him: "If these strangers had not eaten at my table I would kill them." '

    This comes up in the Iliad too, when the young man grasps Achilles knees and says :you can't kill me because we shared wine (I don't have my book here for the quote). So Achilles is violating a custom of his country when he kills him anyway. I'd like Dr. Lombardo to comment on that.

    Pat H
    I have 2 questions for Dr Lombardo, one simple and one complicated. The simple one: The sea is often referred to as "wine-dark" and apparantly this means grey. But why is grey like wine? What sort of stuff were the Greeks drinking? I've always wondered about this phrase.

    The second question has to do with what is expected of a soldier, and I'll have to think out how to phrase it.

    Pat H
    What a drama! Achilles chases half the Trojan army into the river, Xanthus or Scamander, killing as he goes, clogging it with corpses until it begs him to desist. Angered, Scamander rushes on Ach, arching over him, chasing him out onto the plain, flooding it. Hephaestus answers with his fire, scorching the plain, burning the corpses, boiling the river dry and taming its anger until it surrenders.

    The Trojans flee to the safety of Troy, but wouldn’t make it except for a ruse of Apollo which draws Ach away from the gate. When Ach realizes his mistake, he streaks back, shining like a point of light, like Sirius. (Ginny, if you saw Orion you saw Sirius, because it’s right there, the brightest star in the sky.)

    Hector comes out to meet Ach, loses his nerve, and is chased around the walls of Troy 3 times. Tricked by Athena into thinking he has a backup spear holder, he makes his stand. When he realizes he has no backup, he holds his ground bravely. Mortally wounded, he only begs Ach to honor the funeral customs.

    What a scenario! I am not going to watch the movie Troy until this is over, but I’m curious to see what the director made of this. I bet he left out the river and fire. The director who could have done it is Peter Jackson, the New Zealander who did The Lord of the Rings. In LOTR, he managed to make even more improbable scenarios make visual sense.

    Pat H

    Running in a dream, you can't catch up,
    You can't catch up and you can't get away.

    That hits home.

    Pat H
    In the middle of this story of constant battle and killing, we are constantly reminded of the contrast of the ordinary life that has been pushed aside by these events. In 21.414, Athena, fighting with Ares, doesn’t just hit him with a rock, it is

    ...a jagged piece of black granite
    That lay on the plain, a huge boundary stone
    from days gone by.

    When Achilles is chasing Hector, they pass by

    ...."Lookout Rock, and the windy fig tree,
    Following the loop of the wagon road." 22.168-9

    They run by the springs of Scamander with basins

    Where the Trojan women used to wash their silky clothes
    In the days of peace, before the Greeks came. 22. 176-7

    It’s an odd emotional conrast.

    Pat H

    But champion horses wheeling round the course,
    Hooves flying, pouring it on in a race for a prize--
    A woman or tripod--at a hero's funeral games

    So one woman=one tripod. Admittently, the tripods were often of gold, hence extremely valuable.

    THANK you all for roaring ahead!! Thank you for those excellent questions and Pat for that noticing of women's value thrown in here. We get so caught up with the men we forget the little bits about the women!

    It's interesting, Pat, that you mention the movie Troy, it came up yesterday in the Odyssey class, every single person who had seen it hated it. I will be interested in your frank assessment!!

    And yes the image of the dream there, so beautifully expressed, that in itself is a major poetic coup, I think. I am not sure if it's Dr. Lombardo's or Homer's, I want to ask. That really threw me personally back into so many of my own dreams. It's amazing how au courant this thing IS!!!

    I got up thinking if Patroclus had had YOU as his comrades he would not have died. Or would he? That made me wonder about the military strategy here.

    Do you realize, now correct me on this, but Achilles seems the only one who tries to do any kind of strategy? I'm foggy on this, I know they all meet but I'm not seeing a lot of "cover me" stuff, or…this is pretty primitive warfare, when you think about it? The man is out there himself, alone? And there's no air cover no people on the side providing cover or fire, there's just YOU and those horrible spears and stuff, it's no wonder, it really is NOT, that they tended to glorify warriors, it's a miracle to me Patroclus lived as long as he did? Very scary, they seem not to understand anything about chariots, either, just ride on out and lose the driver and so forth.

    Now these two books are very short. And dramatic. I would say the climax of the book has come and it should be over? Wouldn't you? Achilles at last emerges and we're stopped by this hospitality thing, they must eat first. The Odyssey class I'm in (Dr. Stone again, he is just the BEST, he really is super), is talking about the importance of hospitality and ritual in the ancient Greek world and you certainly can see it here, but Achilles is all for the kill.

    And Hector is wearing Achilles' armor! So Achilles knows just where to put the weapon of destruction, that little revelation sent chills up my spine.

    Note Hector's plea to observe the rituals and give his body due honor and what happens, his long hair bouncing in the dirt as he's tied to the chariot and dragged. Achilles here really ….I'm not sure what he could do more to dishonor Hector.

    What was that running around the city walls three times stuff? What did you make of that?

    These books are short, no more long stories and did you notice even the epithets are short, it's as if Homer is whipping the listener up to unbearable heights of shortness of breath.

    Now I have a note on lines 380 or so that Hector should have used reverse psychology on Achilles in asking that his body be burned in honor at home, and instead he shluld have asked the opposite because Achilles was in the mood not to do anything Hector asked. What do you think of that? I am not sure Achilles would do anything anybody wanted. He seems remarkably self involved?

    I thought that was pitiful about Hector and Deiphobus, didn't you? He thought he had a friend there, he called for another spear, this is one time the leader DID think he had reinforcements but Deiphobus, of course, is Athena with her nasty eyes grey as winter moons, and she disappears. I am beginning to very much dislike Athena.

    But Deiphobus was nowhere in sight.
    It was then that Hector knew in his heart
    What had happened.

    Hector can see Deiphobus still back on the wall!

    And then Hector says, I guess what really defines the hero, do you think?

    My fate is here, (331)
    But I will not perish without some great deed
    That future generations will remember."

    And of course we do, don't we? What was his great deed, tho?

    You can see clearly, or so I think, here, the concept of hero, I'm cooked, I'm toast the gods are against me, but I'm going out big. I think that's the ENTIRE thing about the Greek kleos. And doesn't it speak to their entire world? Man being essentially powerless, at the hands of the angry (literally) gods who themselves fight (did you hate Zeus sitting up there laughing, what is HE laughing at). Poor man in his little…how does that saying go? And so the Greek heroes said, well I'll make a grand show of it anyway and do my best.

    All those names. Somebody said to me yesterday in the Odyssey class, that the Odyssey is much easier to read, you don't have all those names! Yes but all those names are there for a reason, note how they have slacked off. 12 young men, we know they will come to no good (12 again) no names, no long stories, nothing, just 12 cannon fodder young men carried back to camp.

    My notes say that the dragging Achilles did of Hector's body is a way of showing Achilles has gone overboard finally and that Dr. Shay has quite a bit on the psychology of defilement of the enemy. So it happens today not only in Vietnam, didn't it just happen with the prisoners at Abu Gravi or however you spell it?

    Now again my notes say the Tragedy draws to a close here.

    So why are we continuing? The book goes on?

    Also did you notice there are THREE laments at the end of Book XXII? And there are three major deaths: Hector's Sarpedons and of course Patroclus's. Do these have anything in common? Things set in threes!

    And Achilles "returns" in Book 20, by Book 22, what aspect of him returns that is different, he's returned physically and metaphorically?

    Have you noticed that Achilles is represented in Book 22 mostly through the eyes of others? How does that differ from how Hector is described and why would it make a difference and what would the difference BE?

    And I'm wondering what you thought about why Hector refused his mother's and father's entreaties to return to the city? Why did he do that? What does that show about him?

    And the boffo question? Here's a toughie: Hector is dead. Why is Achilles still angry??

    A rolling gold cauldron for your thoughts!

    Hector chose to ignore the pleading of his father (line 46) and his mother (88) to return to the city,
    since honor was more important to him than continuing to live. In lines 100-01:

    So the two of them pleaded with their son,
    But did not persuade him or touch his heart.

    Hector knew he was going to his death in battle this day.

    And why was Achilles so angry? He addresses Hector:
    (364)... get away with it
    Didn't you? ... Killing Patroclus
    And ripping off his armor, my armor ...

    It was unclear if the armor, the old armor, not the new magic armor made by
    Hephaestus, was as important as the death of his friend,
    Then, it's made clear (428) that it was indeed the killing of Patroclus that Achilles could not forgive:

    Patroclus, whom I will never forget
    As long as I am among the living,
    Until I rise no more ...
    At long last, Achilles seems to have human emotions.

    Shasta Sills
    Dragging Hector's body around the city three times, with his parents watching, is inexcusable brutality. There is no way to justify such a savage act. Later, when Priam comes to Achilles and pleads for his son's body, what would have been left of the body? It would have been mutilated beyond recognition.

    Oh wait, did he drag him around three times? And Hector himself ran away around three times? And...all these three's! What's the third three?

    Mippy good point, but now he's avenged, right? He's got his original armor back and all? And the body is lifeless, who is he taking all this out on NOW?

    Boy talk about RAGE! (What's the definition of rage, has anybody looked it up?)

    Why does Achilles drag a corpse around the city of Troy? Because he can; his hubris is unmatched. He wants to shock every one. The awe and wonder of his act are missing. Hector is dead; Patroclus is dead. Achilles is living in the past. He's still having a meltdown about how he, the greatest of the great, has been humiliated. He probably is angry at himself.

    Hector says, "So this is Achilles," when he dies. After his dramatic entry to avenge Patroclus' death, Achilles is just a cheap fake. The Greek warriors are in awe of Hector's body as they stab away. Hector cannot feel any thing, yet this is the mentality of a mob.

    Good question, what is rage?

    When I tried the search protocol, I got road rage and "rage" events in (loud) music.
    Little relevance in our ancient Greek time period!
    So let's think about the anger of Achilles: angry at his own compatriots, anger at Hector, anger at knowing he is shortly to meet his own death. Actually nothing to be calm about, in the frenzy of all his killing. He has let all those days and weeks of rage send him right over the deep end into madness!

    Pat H
    Mippy (post 591) over the deep end into madness; Shifrah (post 590) he’s having a meltdown; Ginny (post 571) Achilles as berserker.

    What has happened to Achilles is that he has turned into something less than human. We see it starting as he puts on his armor. He works himself up into a terrible rage. He is totally focussed on his grief, rage and revenge. Ginny points out the social disconnection of the berserker, and this is evident in his dealings with some of the men he slays, and especially in his refusal to recognize normal social customs about hospitality. It’s even stronger in his refusal to grant Hector the common decency of allowing his body to be returned to his family for mourning and burial. This is a big deal in this society, felt as an important way for the survivors to work through their grief. Furthermore, if someone isn’t buried properly, his fate in Hades is even more dreary than otherwise.

    When Achilles has killed Hector, he commits the further outrage of dragging the body behind his chariot, reducing it to dead meat. He can’t stop his anger about Patroclus now that Hector is dead because he isn’t human enough to do so.

    This is the climax, Achilles’ terrible revenge. I think the resolution in the last 2 books will consist of Achilles finding a way to return to being human.

    Homer not only used threes but also twelves in Chapters 23/24.

    Pat H
    Why are the gods bothering to fight with each other? (21.395-515) They can’t really harm each other. It seems like it’s just a bit of comic relief. Incidentally, I notice that the fighting varies in seriousness in proportion to the formidableness of the god involved. Athena answers Aries’ spear with a rock, but merely punches Aphrodite with her fist (admittedly in a sensitive spot) and Hera just beats Artemis about the ears with her own bow.

    Shasta Sills
    I suspect Homer knew very well that human activity didn't need any gods to explain it, but the antics of the gods made the story more interesting. And Homer was one terrific storyteller! I'll bet he kept those Greeks spellbound when he began spinning his yarns. And the funny thing is that he keeps us just as spellbound today. He understood human nature and all its foibles. I think the Iliad is absolutely one of the most enjoyable things I've ever read. When I finish it, I feel I should start over again at the beginning in case I missed anything.

    Pat H
    Earlier (post 122) I asked the question how did the gods feel about these mortals, some of whom they loved, who died so quickly compared to the life of an immortal. Here is an answer.

    In book 15, Ares, angered by the death of his beloved son Ascalaphus, starts to interfere in the battle, but is dissuaded by Athena, who tells him to get over it, that better men have been killed or will be.

    "Human offspring are hard to save." 15.142

    In book 16, Zeus watches with pity as his son Sarpedon start his final battle, and thinks of saving him.

    "Fate has it that Sarpedon, whom I love more
    Than any man, is to be killed by Patroclus>
    Shall I take him out of battle while he still lives...." 16.471-3

    Hera points out the impossibility, and Zeus reluctantly agrees, but weeps tears of blood as he watches.

    In book 20, Zeus informs the gods that they are now free to intervene in the fighting however they choose, but says

    "I care for them, even though they die" 20.23

    In book 21, Apollo, refusing to fight Poseidon:

    "Earthshaker, you would call me imprudent
    If I fought with you for the sake of mortals,
    Pitiful creatures who like the leaves on a tree
    Flame briefly to life, eat the fruit of the fields,
    Then wither and die." 21.475-9

    So they are involved with the mortals, but have to preserve some detachment as they watch them flit by.

    Shasta what a wonderful quote! I think I need to put that in the heading! "I think the Iliad is absolutely one of the most enjoyable things I've ever read. When I finish it, I feel I should start over again at the beginning in case I missed anything. "

    I feel the same way. I have a feeling there's a lot I didn't see the first time. I am so glad we did it this way!!! It's something you SHOULD take the time to read slowly, I have loved the experience and am so grateful to all of you who have hung on!

    Kidsal, yes the numbers, everywhere, you are so right, what do these 3's and 12's signify, does anybody know??

    Mippy, such good points on RAGE, the different kinds of rage, thank you!

    The End: Books XXIII and XXIV

    Well what an ending! I agree with Shasta, you could read this over and over and get something new every time and Homer never lets it drop, does he?

    Oh and good points, Pat, about the gods and the mortals, weren't you struck with this line? I was!!

    "It would be offensive
    For a god to greet a mortal face to face." (592ff). That confused me, has there NEVER been a face to face confrontation, and who would be offended, the god?

    But Homer keeps you going, right up till the end! When I started Book XXIII I thought what on earth? Here we've had all this anger and grimness and awfulness and disrespect of the body, and now…..Games? Is this the Olympics? The hammer throw? Races? Foot races? The javelin? First, Second and Third Prizes? They're holding the Olympics?

    Apparently, tho, it's all in honor of Patroclus. I really was struck by Achilles' devotion here but I thought Patroclus was too much, when he says, "You're asleep and hove forgotten me, Achilles.
    You never neglected me when I was alive…" (line 74ff).

    I would say if any person on earth were not forgotten it would be Patroclus, what a funeral! Unbelievable and you note the 12 (12 is repeated over and over in this isn't it) young men just killed without much of a word and thrown on there with the animals and sacrifice, boy we've come a long way, haven't we, from the opening books.

    Then I was confused about wrapping Patroclus' bones in fat? Wouldn't that tend to make …the entire thing rot? I don't understand that part, did you?

    And I was not surprised that Patroclus' fire would not kindle, were you? They felled live trees, those trees would be "wet wood," it would take a heck of a lot to start them burning, that's a nice touch, actually.

    Then I was confused over the chariot race, why do you suppose all that was in there? Nestor again!! Giving advice and perhaps it's a parallel, do you think, to a prize unfairly taken away? What were your thoughts on that length of the explanation of that chariot race, loved the description.

    And THEN the games are over and we enter the last book , Book XXIV, and Achilles, who is still dragging Hector around three times every morning around Patroclus' grave, somewhere around line 47 has lost all pity and has no shame left.

    So Zeus puts it into everybody's mind for Priam to go beg for Hector's body and Hermes spirits him in. I thought this was exceptionally well done, poor Priam, seated next to that madman, what it must have taken for him to kiss those hands, (could YOU have done it?) and how back and forth it went, one minute he's afraid for his life and the next he's OK and there's a 12 Day Armistice. DID Achilles honor it or intend to honor it? We don't know, do we, as Priam made it out of there by night.

    And of course here's dear Thetis again, "It hurts me to say it but you will not live
    Much longer. Death and Doom are beside you." line 142. Thanks, Mom. Why on earth does she keep saying this? She's said this continually now for the whole poem but we don't SEE him die, didn't you think it ended strangely? Don't you want to know what happened when Achilles work up? Looks to me like this could have gone on another 25 books!

    Something about Iris here and her role that has consequences for the Odyssey but I'm not able to recall it, do any of you know?

    I love the way Hermes was "limed in silver light," love this translation!

    "Two jars
    Sit at the doorstep of Zeus, filled with gifts
    That he gives, one full of good things,
    The other of evil. If Zeus gives a man
    A mixture from both jars, sometime
    Life is good for him, sometimes not.

    (lines 566ff).

    What an interesting take on philosophy here and Fate, it's the gifts of the gods, whichever way it goes, love that metaphor.

    And what an interesting bit of rationale in line 629: "..for fear that Priam might see his son
    And in his grief be unable to control his anger
    At the sight of his child,
    and that this would arouse
    Achilles' passion and he would kill the old man
    And so sin against the commandments of Zeus." (630ff)..Now THERE is some reasoning, you cannot say these ancients were simple minded cave men!

    And then the numbers continue, 3 laments by three different women over Hector and 12 days for the funeral again.

    Numbers continually being repeated, showing us there is a lot of structure here but we're left hanging! IS there a sequel? Don't you know the ancients were hanging on to every word!

    My notes from the class say it closed thematically, emotionally and psychologically. I guess Achilles himself has come full circle, he lost his humanity there for a bit? And seems to have regained it in this reconciliation? OR?? My notes from the class say "The Poem starts with Rage of Achilles, initiated by insult, betrayal, and then there's a second level of rage."

    Apparently Dr. Shay calls attention in his book Achilles in Vietnam to the berserk state, there's a heightened attention to realism, an inability to sleep (you remember Achilles went 12 days and nights without sleeping, there's that 12 again), and Achilles just went way over the top.

    Aristotle's , according to Dr. Stone, notion of tragedy was that the character reacts in ways which, as we watch, produces fear and pity. And there's catharsis in the process. What do we feel for Achilles? IS this a Tragedy?

    Apparently Andromache's speech, starting somewhere around lines 776, are 22 classical lines of Greek Tragedy. I wish I knew more about Greek Tragedy, that's one thing we have not read much about in our Books & Lit!

    Were YOU moved by the conversation between Achilles and Priam? What (asks U of Saskatchewan) was the poet doing here?

    Achilles returning to eating and feasting and upholding the rituals is seen by one critic as his "return" to normalcy.

    Do you understand why the men about to take part in the race quarreled? What part does THIS new quarrel have at THIS late date? I personally thought, oh no, here we go again, we haven't learned ANYTHING. A never ending story!

    Ok here are some strange ideas from the U of Saskatchewan, I would never have thought of ANY of this, what is your take on them?

  • In Book 24 lines 614-617 are thought by many scholars to be added to the text by someone other than Homer. This site talks a lot about " ring composition," and that Books 1-24 form a ring as "though the whole Iliad were merely a 'circular' digression in someone's 'linear' narrative of the whole Trojan War…." And asks for what replications of elements in Book I can you see in Book 24? What an interesting question. I don't know!? Do you??

    Then Temple U mentions "three type scenes: the divine visitation of Thetis to Achilles, the suppliant scene of Priam to Achilles and the burial of Hector." And that some scholars interpret the journey of Priam to Achilles' tent as a symbolic journey to Hades…that makes sense! There's a Guide, what other things about going into Hades, which is quite prominent in these last books, are similar?

    They also say this Book 24 is one of the most profound and moving episodes in all of literature. "In what ways is it cathartic?" (Temple)

    And so 9 days have been taken up in our story when Hector's funeral begins.

    What are all of your thoughts on any of this or anything else? I have really enjoyed taking this the way we did and am so glad you voted to read every word! I can't see, now, NOT reading every word. What have we missed? What do we need to talk about? Let's send Homer off with a BANG!!

    A golden cauldron and an exquisite silver figured cup for your thoughts! And maybe even a tripod thrown in for good measure! Are there any questions YOU would like to ask the group or have answered, yourself??

    Shifrah, I am especially interested now to hear from you, do you feel any different now about Achilles?? Does this change how you look at him?
  • Ginny
    And here's a great closing picture, I simply CANNOT find Priam Setting Out to Ransom Patroclus, can any of you? But look at THIS, so apropos!!

    Athenian red- figure amphora by the Kleophrades Painter, early 5th century BC: Rapsode reciting. Early 5th century BC: Click to Enlarge!

    The painter has inscribed the start of an epic poem emerging from the poet's mouth:

    "As once in Tiryns…"

    Tiryns was a powerful Greek Mycenaean palace at the time of the Trojan war.

    Shasta Sills
    I was interested in how they built that funeral pyre. I wonder if this is an accurate description of how these things were done. Could Patroclus' bones really have been separated from all those other bones? I wondered too about the fat in the jar with the bones. I would imagine this would keep the bones from drying out too much and crumbling.

    I always get amused when Nestor starts rambling on about his past exploits. He's an old man, and like the rest of us old folks, he likes to reminisce about his glory days. I notice when I do this, the young folks start heading for the door.

    I thought the races were funny too because they demonstrated exactly how human beings behave. They accuse each other of cheating. Menelaus pulls his rank on Antilochus and makes him give up his prize. I thought this was unfair; no wonder Helen left him! But crafty young Antilochus used psychology on Menelaus and got his prize after all. Achilles decided to screw up the whole thing and give a prize to the loser instead of the winner. Now, where did he come up with an idea like that? Since when did Achilles ever show any pity for anyone? It was all so realistic that I was right in there with the rest of those Greeks, cheering and yelling.

    Homer is the skilled architect of this epic. When Achilles wants to light the funeral pyre, he can never get the fire started. Hector's corpse never becomes carrion. Something beyond human action is influencing the outcome. The immortals never leave the humans alone.

    We find that Achilles really had a neverending treasure chest from the elaborate funeral games observed for Patroclus' death. Briseis was just another bauble; his tirade was inappropriate.

    When Achilles is at his worst, he does the right thing by allowing Priam to take his son's corpse back to the city. There is some redemption in this last act, for Achilles' death will follow.

    Shasta Sills
    But the only reason why Achilles allowed Priam to take his son's body is that Zeus told him to. He sent a special messenger down to Achilles and gave him instructions. Even Achilles was not arrogant enough to disobey Zeus.

    Pat H
    Shasta—Yes, I was disappointed that Achilles had to give back Hector’s body because Zeus ordered him to. But it isn’t that straightforward. When Priam kisses his hand and reminds him of his own father Peleus, he is genuinely moved, and the two men grieve together for a while. Achilles is filled with pity and admiration for the old man’s courage in coming, and the strength of the "heart of iron" that shows such fortitude in the face of grief.

    After they eat and drink together they gaze admiringly at each other, the godlike old man and the godlike young man, Achilles "admiring Priam’s face, his words echoing in his mind." They share a moment of humanity together, a reminder that we are all the same, even when we are enemies. And Achilles returns the body willingly, out of pity as well as because of Zeus’ orders.

    Pat H
    In 24.731 &ff, two prizes are described as a cauldron worth 12 oxen and a woman skilled in crafts worth 4 oxen.

    Pat H
    Ginny’s question: books 1 & 24 form a ring; what elements do they have in common? They each have a parent trying to ransom his child: Chryses ransoming Chryseis, and Priam ransoming Hector’s body. In book 1, Briseis is taken away from Achilles. The last we see of Achilles in book 24, he is lying beside the returned Briseis. Both books contain an important consultation between Achilles and Thetis. And 24 leaves the Greeks just where they started, sitting in front of Troy, trying to figure out how to capture it.

    What is a woman worth continued.

    Priam says he has 50 children " nineteen from the same belly". I guess that is what a woman is worth.

    I've been busy elsewhere, but in spirit I've always been here with you at Troy. It's been very enjoyable to follow along in reading the posts. What a tremendous book. And what tremendous issues to talk about. I don't think I could add very much to what has already been said so well by all of you about the adventure and tragedy of the Iliad.

    One does have to wonder about the biases in these male-oriented old classics. Not the least of which, and the most disconcerting, is valuing women in terms of tripods and oxen and other chattels. It seems obscene, when it's taken at face value. And it must have happened all the time. If women were included among the war booty, then they must also have been part of the trading which goes on among men.

    But hold on a minute. Women were also the ultimate prize. Men will be seen to venture their lives when their women are at stake. Soldiers on both sides, think of Hector especially, felt that losing the war would be the ultimate calamity for their wives and daughters.

    And finally, what I find disheartening, given how many men have been marched off to the battlefields of the world to serve as cannon fodder, WWI probably the worst example, it's just as discouraging to ask, what is a man worth? Isn't it a tough question in either case?

    Glad you're back, Jonathan. What do you think of Achilles killing spree, and then return to humanity with Priam? In the Mythology discussion, Scrawler and others were saying that this is part of war, and there are some who never return.

    Pat H
    Jonathan, I think you are touching on one of the central themes of this subtle and complex poem. In battle the men are mowed down like a crop, but each one is accorded his own respect. His parentage, upbringing and abilities are important, even if he is about to be a part of a corpse-dam blocking the flow of Scamander. He will go to Hades, and not remember, but the remembrance and respect of the living are important. No one is insignificant.

    Backing off a bit, they all know that their fate is predetermined, so why should it matter what they do? But it does. They expect to be judged by their actions whether or not actions can change fate, and they know they must strive their utmost, even if it won’t do any good. We make our own worth by our actions.

    I've missed you. Glad you are in for the end.

    Even tho we're at the beach, and the discussion is supposedly over, I'm enjoying your discussion here on women, men, and the value of life, great thoughts on a great poem, what a book, huh? And we stuck it to the end and not only did we stick it, you really took it further, I'm really proud of this one, it's been great!

    Welcome back, Jonathan!

    Don't you think that #7 question in the heading is intriguing tho? Like a trip into Hades, and so it did seem, and there were other places that seemed so, also to me, when you think about the "guides" and all the parallels in literature.

    What SURPRISED you the most about this poem? I am just blown away by the evidence in this of the structure, the evidence of careful plotting (3,000 year old plotting) and the DEPTH of the thing, it's just amazing!

    What Pat said reminds of me of what Hector remarked in the previous two chapters in line 331:
    My fate is here, (331)
    But I will not perish without some great deed
    That future generations will remember.

    I reread Jonathan's post and see something of sadness about the continuning of war today and I remember Mippy's remarks which were similar, but Pat says "we make our own worth by our actions," and you have to ask isn't that what the Greek heroes also thought and tried to do?

    How's that Frank Sinatra song go again?

    But what is a man, what has he got?
    If not himself, then he has not.

    I have no idea why Frank Sinatra songs seem to commend themselves to me in trying to talk about literature, because I was NOT a fan, but it's strange, isn't it, how many universal truths a song and a 3,000 year old poem have in common.

    What other points would you like to raise or explore before we conclude? Do YOU feel a sense of catharsis? Were YOU moved by Priam's visit to Achilles?

    Let's hear from you on any parting thoughts as we leave this...what for me has been a wonderful adventure.

    Very nice to see your green-print post, Ginny, and hope that you have had a great time at Books at the Beach. Much more peaceful, no doubt, than Achilles on the beach by the black ships.

    When I opened my new copy of the Iliad for the first time in my life, last summer, I remember reading this very
    section, when Priam went to Achilles. It was especially alarming, virtually edge-of-the-seat ...
    guessing what would happen.
    And then realized how extraordinary this opus is, keeping each listener/reader in suspense,
    over thousands of years!
    ... imagining how all through the hundreds of years since it's rediscovery, people have had this same reaction.

    The structure of the Iliad, moving through the events of several days, alternating war with funeral games, brutality with moments of mother-and-son, comradeship with hatred and rage ...
    Without a doubt, this has been an eye-opening, life-altering book, and this discussion has been better than any college course in literature I ever took. This has also been even better than other "fun" book discussions on SeniorNet. To this entire group, to Dr. Lombardo, and especially to you, Ginny -- my sincere thanks!

    Pat H
    Yes, of course I was. I was almost equally moved by the visit of Patroclus to Achilles in a dream. Patroclus says

    And give me your hand, never again
    Will I come back from Hades...


    reached out with his hands
    But could not touch him.

    As a description of the frustrating longing of grief, that’s hard to beat.

    Reply to Post #609

    Ginny, perhaps Frank Sinatra's choice words are meaningful because the Iliad is a poem that sings to all. The lyricist Homer can hold our attention throughout the verses with descriptions, dialogue, and death.

    The tensions among the gods and how they make "authorial intrusions" to influence the human predicament were most impressive.

    I appreciate all the comments and resources provided by the members of the group. Thank you for the effort and the time.

    Shasta Sills
    I joined this discussion because the Iliad is a great classic and I thought I should study it. I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. All the thoughtful comments from you other readers have added to my enjoyment, and all of Ginny's contributions were wonderful. Thanks to all of you for a marvelous experience!

    The first time I read The Iliad many years ago, my loyalty went entirely to Hector. He was my hero,and even after this latest reading, he still is. I've enjoyed all the others comments, and to you Ginny, I want to say you've been the best at moderator of the discussion. Never a sneer at our naive remarks, not a sigh of superiority or "hubris"! There's a word I plan to use in the future, as I see lots of it around! Hope to meet some of you on another adventure!

    I'm really sorry to see this discussion end. I wanted to read the Iliad because I thought I "should" as an educated woman. Now I think everyone should as a wonderful experience, especially in this translation. I am overwhelmed by both the breadth and depth of this poem. It is almost unbelievable that it is the earliest writing we have from that great civilization.

    And reading it with you guys has been absolutely amazing. I know how good Ginny and you are from previous discussions, but it is always a treat to discover it again.

    I hope we can continue our exploration of the classics with more discussions. If we do, I'll be there.

    Thanks, You all, for a wonderful education here... bought the Odyssey by Dr. Lambardo also... anyone interested? This could be habit forming!


    I'm definitely interested.

    Pat H
    This has been an awesome discussion. I had no idea how complex, subtle, and exciting the Iliad was. I’m grateful to all of you for making the discussion so lively and interesting, and especially to Ginny for leading so magnificently. It’s a wrench to have it over.

    hahah Shifrah, once again I feel drawn to a song lyric but will desist!! hahahaa

    Many thanks to ALL of you for these absolutely wonderful remarks, I have been just reveling in them as each of you posted them. I also hate to see this end, it's been a long journey as Gossett says, and a wrench for me, too, Pat, and will write you all of Dr. Lombardo's answers when we finally get the second set of questions off and he sends them back, and also will post them in the Archived discussion. We'll make a Reader's Guide of this discussion, in addition, because I personally think it went splendidly, thank you Mippy, due to your incredible insights and constancy, many many thanks to all of you.

    Thank you, Mippy, shifrah, Shasta, Jonathan, Gossett, JoanK, Lou2, and Pat, our sturdy warriors till the last. I am delighted to see some of you want to continue your reading of the ancients! ! All sorts of possibilities spring to mind!! We did the Odyssey in 1997, I led it and it took almost a year, it was our first Great Books discussion, so am not over anxious to revisit it again, (I remember it as if it were yesterday), but there's the Oresteia and the Aeneid, Dr. L's newest translation, as well as a lot of things. The Great Books group might want to try the Odyssey, tho?!?

    I have told the Great Books leaders on SN of your interest and that should the GB folks not vote on another ancient piece, (the Great Books participants vote on the book they next want to read), we might, in our new burgeoning Classics area, want to try our wings with something else in the future, this one was certainly satisfying. So please stay tuned and thank you for making this discussion what it was. If Achilles had had YOU he would still be playing the lyre in his tent (and the Trojan War might still be raging). Hahahaha

    And just like the Iliad itself, with its unexpected twists and turns, we have a last enigma for you in our discussion of it! According to the Loeb Iliad, Books 13-26, translated by Dr. Murray, line 804, which ends the Iliad, (a poem hard to end, would you agree?) was under scrutiny by ancient writers.

    In the Lombardo it reads: " In this way they held a funeral for horse taming Hector." The last footnote in the Loeb reads:

    A final puzzle, whatever do you suppose that says, and a wonderful thing to ask Dr. Lombardo, I'll let you know what he says by email, posted in the archived discussion, and will post his answers in the Reader's Guide. What an epic TRIP this has been, and how I have enjoyed it!

    Many grateful thanks to each of you!

    This discussion is now Read Only and will be reluctantly and permanently placed in our Archives until we meet again.