The Iliad


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A supplementary powerpoint constructed to help understand the text, The Iliad.

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The Iliad

  1. 1. The IliadA Study of War and Honor Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 1
  2. 2. Why Study The Iliad?• Some quotes taken from different scholars and poets:  “If you ask why study the Iliad and Odyssey, then poetry has ceased to matter. The word has ceased to matter.”• “If we don’t preserve a world in which we can read Homer, then the world is not worth preserving.”• Homer “saw life steadily and he saw it whole.” He saw the savagery of war. He saw the world as it is. He possessed a mid of great compassion; he had deep compassion for the human condition.” Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 2
  3. 3. Epic Hero The poem begins in in medias res—Latin for “in the middle of things”(The Iliad begins in the 9th year of the battle—the men are tired and sick; everyone is weary of the war, and both sides are at a consistent stalemate, neither winning nor losing.)• There are unusual circumstances surround the hero’s birth• (Achilles is the only child of Peleus, an honored mortal, and the goddess, Thetis. It is prophesized that he will be faced with the choice of heroism or mediocrity.) The hero faces trials and enemies while struggling on an epic journey• (Achilles finds that Agamemnon is more treacherous than the Trojans, but he later heaps all his rage on Hector, the champion of Troy.)• The hero encounters women as temptresses who threaten his completion of the journey• (Later, Achilles bemoans that he allowed the need of a woman veer him off the course of his mission. See his speech to Agamemnon when they make peace.)• - At the end of the journey, the hero must complete a final task alone• (Achilles does this with Hector and later, Hector’s grieving father, Priam.)• - After the final task is successfully accomplished, the hero returns home, a leader of his people, or he gives his life as a service to his people. (In the case of Achilles, he is indifferent to his community, but in the Homeric epic, actions, not intentions, define the individual. Achilles essentially assures the Greeks of an eventual victory.) Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 3
  4. 4. The Epic Hero--Achilles• An epic poem has one hero.—a figure who is larger than life. In The Iliad this figure is Achilles. There was an obsession with glory and honor among the Greeks. Achilles feels dishonored by Agamemnon, so he refuses to fight for him. The rage of Achilles is equal to that of a god. Even if the reader does not sympathize with him, we are supposed to be in awe of Achilles.• The first words of the epic introduce the hero. The Robert Fagels translation begins the poem with these words: “Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles.” The Stanley Lombardo translation is more direct: “Rage: Sing, Goddess, Achilles’ rage.”• Beginning the epic with the name of the hero, signifies that the poem may not necessarily be about him, but his emotions and deeds cause the subsequent actions of the entire epic. The rage of Achilles is responsible for everything that happens in the Iliad—once he reacts to Agamemnon’s insult—the story is set in motion. Diomedes’ prowess in book 5 stems from the absence of Achilles. Hector’s assault on the Greek ships could only take place because Achilles was nursing his grudge. Patrocles died because Achilles wouldn’t fight. Achilles comes back and single-handedly slaughters half of the Trojan army because of his rage. By killing Hector, Achilles effectively takes out the key factor that keeps Troy in the war: Hector is the only Trojan who can keep the Greeks at bay, so Achilles sets the groundwork for the Greek victory. Since men are judged by their deeds, not their motivations, it is irrelevant that Achilles killed Hector for personal revenge when we consider him as the hero. His deeds saved Greece, and that is why he is remembered. In the case of Achilles, his ability to excel ceased to make him human and made him god-like; he had divine gifts because he was both the son of a favored goddess of Zeus and the most admired mortal of his time— his father Peleus. This is why Achilles had no peers, no equals. Perhaps Hector is more likeable, but he does not save Troy, only stave off the inevitable—the fall of his beloved city. Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 4
  5. 5. Glory• The ultimate purpose of glory was to achieve immortality through spectacular feats. Glorious deeds ensure remembrance or as Helen says to Hector: “poets will sing of us.” (book 6) The mortals behave much better than the gods, who often squabble and act capriciously. Achilles is the son of a goddess, but he shares the fate of humankind. He seeks out his immortality through his deeds.• Homer’s world was one where death was an ultimate fact of man’s reality. Man’s destiny is seen as a key to the questions of death and immortality; what is his fate after he moves into the realm of the shades. Glory functions to negate death because that is how a man is remembered. This is why Hector fights Ajax and Achilles later returns to battle after Particles dies.• Death is the land of Hades, a shadowy world of unimportance. As Achilles later tells Odysseus in The Odyssey when he visits Hades, that he would rather be a living servant than a dead master. But he chose a short life when he chose the road of immortality.• Glory (kudos) is what defines a man, and a poor death means no honor for him or his family. Excellence (arête) is his ultimate achievement; for Hector, Ajax, Diomedes, Achilles and others, their bravery and soldiering made them the best (aristos). It was power. Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 5
  6. 6. Arete—Excellence in Greeka Achilles – faced choice of glorious short life or a long obscure life – decides to “live on the lips of men”.• b. Arete defined as personal honor of the hero – later in classical period arête also encompassed a moral and communal sense.• c. Reputation (honor) – derived from success in war – bravery – Hector fears shame, which is why he fights Achilles, even though his own father begs him to cease. As the heir to the throne, Hector is expected to obey his father, but as the Trojan general, he feels his first loyalty is to his men.• d. Expectations of hero – summarized by Hector’s desires for Astyanax in Book VI: “ Zeus and all gods, grant that…my son become, as I am, foremost among Trojans…brave and strong….and may men say he is far better than his father when he returns from war.” Diomedes also carries  that burden from his own father—a fact that Agamemnon points out in  book 4 when he says” “But he had a son who cannot fight so well,  though he speaks better in council.” Susan Bertolino--The 6 Iliad--Mosaic 2
  7. 7. Aristeia• A Homeric creation most frequently associated with the Iliad, an aristeia is defined as "an extended scene of special valor in pursuit of imperishable glory". There are six main arestias in the Iliad; they are tied to the exploits of major heroes: Diomedes in books 4-6, Agamemnon in book 11, Hector in book 15, Patroclus in book 16, Menelaus in book 17 and Achilles in books 19-22. Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 7
  8. 8. What is the definition?• What makes an aristeia? Here are the basic components: 1. The arming scene, a key element of which is the shining of the heros armor;• 2. After the fighting begins, the hero kills several opponents in duels, charges against the enemy army and starts a route among them;• 3. The hero is wounded and the pursuit comes to an end;• 4. He prays to the gods for help and his strength is restored;• 5. He then returns to the battle, engages in a duel with the enemy leader and kills him;• 6. Finally, there is a fight over the corpse of the dead enemy leader, which is eventually recovered by his friends with the help of the gods. Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 8
  9. 9. Key Books• Book 1: The Rage of Achilles• This book introduces the problem which will create "the rage of Achilles." The commander, Agamamnon, takes the prize of Achilles, humiliating him in front of the army. Achilles refuses to participate in the war until Agamemnon admits he insulted Achilles and made a public apology along with restitution. All events that transpire from this event (Achilles’ refusal) determine the events of the epic, including the altered state of Achilles’ angry return.• “ I don’t have any quarrel with the Trojans, They didn’t do anything to me to make me come over here and fight….it’s for you, dogface, for your precious pleasure and Menalaus’ honor…a fact that you don’t have the decency even to mention.” Achilles to Agammenon when he is forced to give up Briseis—Book 1 (It should also be noted that Achilles never was a suitor to Helen; therefore, no oath binds him to fight in the Trojan War.) Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 9
  10. 10. Key Books• Book 3: Helen Reviews the Champions The two armies meet and Paris suggests that a truce be called and he and Menelaus fight for Helen. Priam at the tower asks Helen to name to champions. Menealus and Paris have their face-off. Paris is rescued by Aphrodite. We get insight into Paris as a character from this book and the kind of relationship he has with Helen.• "If Paris kills Menelaus, Helen and all her goods are his, and we will sail away in our ships. But if Menelaus kills Paris, The Trojans will surrender Helen with all her goods and pay the Argives (Greeks) a fit penalty for generations to come. If Priam and Priam’s sons refuse upon Paris’ death, this penalty to me, I swear to wage this war to the end.” Agammenon’s prayer to Zeus, book 3. Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 10
  11. 11. Key Books• Book 5: Diomedes Fights the Gods• At the beginning all the Achean heroes kill Trojans. Then the book concentrates on Diomedes who shows superhuman capabilities, aided by Athena. He even confronts 3 of the gods —he is given permission to wound Aphrodite and Ares, but not Apollo.• “Think it over, son of Tydeus, and get back. Don’t set your sights on the gods. Gods are to humans what humans are to crawling bugs.” Apollo to Diomedes in Book 5 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 11
  12. 12. Key Books• Book 6: Hector Returns to Troy• Up to this point, the book has concentrated on killing. A new theme appears of ransom and spoils. Two incidents investigate the new theme. The last part of the book deals with the effects of war on the families. Hector visits the three women of his life, his mother, Helen, and Andromache. We get a sense of how war affects women.• “Possessed is what you are, Hector. Your courage is going to kill you, and you have no feeling left for your little boy or for me….It won’t be long before the whole Greek army swarms and kills you. And when they do, it will be better for me to sink into the earth.” Andromache to Hector in Book 6 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 12
  13. 13. Key Books• Book 9: The Embassy to Achilles• Agamemnon has to be talked out of leaving Troy. Instead they propose getting Achilles back. Odysseus, Phoenix and Great Ajax are sent to convince him to come back. He refuses, but Ajax has some effect on him and he chooses to stay.• “Ajax…in the line of Zeus, everything you say is after my own heart. But I swell with rage when I think of how the son of Atreus (Agammenon) treated me like dirt in public….now go and take back this message, I won’t lift a finger in this bloody war until…Hector…comes to my hut and my black ship.” Achilles’ reaction to Ajax in Book 9 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 13
  14. 14. Key Books• Book 12: The Trojans Storm the Rampart• Hector decides on a mass attack against the Greeks. Zeus sends a dust storm to assist Hector. After many deaths, Hector finally breaks down the gates. Polydamas and Hector differ on battle strategy. Glaucus and Sarpedon, son of Zeus, talk about the reasons to fight in war. They define what is called the heroic code.• “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.” Sarpedon to Glaucus, allies of Troy, book 12 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 14
  15. 15. Key Books• Book 16: Patroclus Fights and Dies• Patroclus goes back to Achilles and asks for the chance to lead the men into battle. One of the ships is set aflame. Patroclus leads Achilles army into battle. He is very successful killing Trojans. Sarpedon, Zeus son, is killed. The book ends with the death of Patrocles and his eerie prophesy to Hector.• “Fate has it that Sarpedon (Zeus’ son), whom I love more than any other man, is to be killed by Patrocles. Shall I take him out of battle while he still lives…or shall I let him die under Patrocles’ hands?” Zeus asks Hera about his role to carry out Fate’s wishes. Hera tells him that he must do it. This is a foreshadowing of Hector’s fate as Zeus utters a similar reluctance in book 22. Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 15
  16. 16. Key Books• Book 17: Menelaus Finest Hour• Menelaus protects Patroclus body from being carried off by the Trojans, even though Hector gets the armor, which belongs to Achilles. The battle rages. Athena finally is sent down to spur the Achaeans on, while Zeus helps the Trojans. Even though the Trojans are victorious, Zeus knows that the tides of fate have now turned against Hector.• “Unhappy man, you have no thought of death, yet death is close. You are putting on the immortal armor who made you and many others tremble. You killed his comrade gentle and strong….Yet I will grant you strength in recompense for this: Andromache will never welcome you home wearing the glorious armor of Achilles.” Zeus, lamenting the fate of Hector, who took Achilles’ armor without thinking of the consequences of his rage. Book 17 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 16
  17. 17. Key BooksBook 18: The Shield of Achilles Achilles mourns for his dead friend, comforted by his mother. He is spurred on to save Patroclus body and proceeds to frighten the Trojans by his war-cry and appearance. Night falls and at a Trojan conference, Hector vows to fight the next morning there, ignoring Polydamas’ council. Hephaestus creates new armor for Achilles. And Thetis, in tears, says to him: “I won’t have you with me for long, my child… Hector’s death means yours.” From under a great weight, Achilles answered: “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….I wish all strife could stop, among gods and among men and anger too---it sends sensible men into fits of temper…. Yes, the warlord Agamemnon angered me, but we’ll let that be…because we must….But now for glory.” Book 18 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 17
  18. 18. Key Books• Book 19: The Champion Arms for Battle• Thetis brings Achilles the armor and agrees to protect Patroclus body from decay. Achilles calls all the troops together and urges them to fight. Agamemnon gives Achilles what had been promised him, including Briseis, even though Achilles no longer cares.. Finally armed and ready, Achilles gets his chariot and stands ready for battle, but not without accusing his immortal horses of failing to protect Patrocles.• “This time we will save you, mighty Achilles…but your hour is near….it is your destiny to be overpowered by a mortal and a god.”Xanthus said this….and Achilles, greatly troubled, answered him: “ I don’t need you to prophesy my death…I know in my bones I will die here, far from my father and mother. Still, I won’t stop until I have made the Trojans sick of war.” Book 19 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 18
  19. 19. Key Books• Book 21: Achilles Fights the River• Achilles drives the Trojans toward the city and the river Xanthus singlehanded. First he encounters Lycaon. Then Achilles encounters Xanthus. The gods all attack each other, each on one or another side of the battle, provoked by the battle between Achilles and the river god. Achilles’ is completely in the berserk state, as Jonathan Shay explains in his book, Achilles in Vietnam.• “Achilles, you are stronger and do more harm than any man….If Zeus has allowed you to ill all the Trojans, at least drive then from me and do it on the plain. My beautiful streams are clogged with dead men. I can no longer pour my waters into the sea, choked with corpses, while you blindly go on killing.” ….So the river kept overtaking Achilles, fast as he was: Gods are stronger than men. Book 21 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 19
  20. 20. Key Books• Book 22: The Death of Hector• Apollo taunts Achilles. King Priam sees Achilles coming and begs Hector not to fight him. His mother also begs him not to fight. Hector regrets that he didn’t listen to Polydamas. Hector runs from Achilles around the walls of Troy. Apollo tries to help him one last time. The two finally stand and fight. Hector is killed. The Greeks deface the body in front of Troy. Achilles then drags his corpse to the ships.• But when they reached the springs the fourth time, Father Zeus stretched out his golden scales and placed on them two agonizing deaths, one for Achilles and one for Hector. When he held the beam, Hector’s doom sank down toward Hades. And …Apollo left him. Book 22 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 20
  21. 21. Key Books• Book 24: Achilles and Priam• While Achilles grieves, the gods argue about what to do about Hectors body. Thetis is summoned to hear Zeus decision and conveys it to Achilles. Iris takes a message to Priam. He goes to Achilles once he has convinced Hecuba . Hermes leads him to Achilles and he begs for his sons body. Achilles thinks of his father, Peleus, and weeps with Priam, who has lost his best sons. Priam spends part of the night and then returns with Hectors body. The book ends with Hectors funeral.• “Respect the gods, Achilles. Think of your own father, and pity me. I am more pitiable. I have borne what no man who has walked this earth has ever yet borne. I have kissed the hand of the man who killed my son.” He spoke and sorrow for his own father welled up in Achilles….The two of them remembered. Priam, huddled in grief at Achilles’ feet, cried and moaned softly for his man-slaying Hector. And Achilles cried for his father and for Patrocles. The sound filled the room. Book 24 Susan Bertolino--The Iliad--Mosaic 2 21