The Iliad The Iliad discussion


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Achilles vs Hector

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message 51: by Fil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Fil Old-Barbarossa wrote: "Jo wrote: "...I could cry over Hector too. For such a good man he is treated so badly after his death instead of being honoured as he should be. It's the ultimate insult, and completely undeserved...."

I like it because it puts everyone on a equal footing.

People of our times look like real idiots when they state that others, whether it be China, North Korea, Iran et cetera are malevolent, evil and cruel.

Throughout history, the other side has always looked inhuman by ignorant, myopic people. It is refreshing that the author of the Iliad has chosen not to go down that road.


message 52: by Jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jo Danilo Completely off at a tangent, I moved to New Zealand in Feb and was talking to a lovely Maori guy at his marae a few weeks ago. He said that, in Maori warrior culture, one of the worst insults is to eat the flesh of an enemy because it means he has become your sustenance. But the ultimate insult is to take the jawbone of your enemy and fashion it into a fish-hook. Then your enemy is feeding you and your family for years to come.

I made sure I was very nice to him, just in case!


message 53: by Shannon (last edited Jul 06, 2011 04:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shannon ...a shade of grey ... even Hector of the shiny hat.

:) I suppose that's the crux of it. All the characters (and all readers) are capable a great acts of heroism, acts of savagery and many things in between. That's why, after all this time, we still turn to, contemplate and discuss works like The Iliad.

In college, I considered Achilles to be too self-involved and whiny to be the hero many believed him to be. I favored Hector. Now, I consider his wife's words after Hector's death, "...and the boy only a baby, the son we bore together, you and I so doomed. Hector, what help are you to him, now you are dead?" His hat has definitely lost some of it's shine.

If I had to pick a hero today, I might go for "staunch" Polydamas, who with "...a clear head ... saw what lay in the past and what the Trojans faced." I have to admire a man who has a clear head and can see the past and its ramifications on the future. Not only that, he had the courage to argue an unpopular point. Again, though, I'm sure even his character contained shades of grey.


Lucinda Elliot Yes, isn't that an awful threat? Perhaps this is because the men in question (and even half-gods) are brutalised by war?

Jessica


message 55: by Lucinda (last edited Jul 07, 2011 01:43AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lucinda Elliot Oh, just seen previous post, that is interesting, Old Barbarossa. I wish we had access to those folk tales...It is interesting how Thersites gets beaten by Odysseus for critcising Agamemnon, and everyone laughs...

Yes,that is a horrible threat from Hector, and I wonder if it is meant to show that all men (even half-gods) are to some extent brutalised by war?

Jessica


message 56: by Jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jo Danilo Yes, war does nasty things to people, but yet again, I have to side with Hector (I'm so predictable). The war has been brought to his very door. His family are directly affected, unlike those of the Achaeans, far far away. If the same thing was happening to my own precious family, I'd be making plenty of threats of my own. Grrrr.


message 57: by Lucinda (last edited Jul 21, 2011 11:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lucinda Elliot Very true, Jo, he is so sympathetic because his motives are so comprehensible. He is a happy man,who fits well into his society. I feel sorry for Achilles because he comes across as isolated through being only half human, and capable of Godlike passions of pride and savagery,not fitting in anywhere...



Jessica


message 58: by Jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jo Danilo Yes, you're right. he doesn't fit in anywhere. Probably the only one who really understood him was Patroclus, and I suppose that was why Achilles' rage was so very great when Hector killed him. It's another interesting point - Achilles standing basically alone/Hector surrounded by family.


Jacques Antoine Thersites is fascinating. He rails at Agammemnon in terms quite similar to Achilles' complaint. But what does it get him? A beating. He has no right to speak in the assembly. But Achilles does. It costs him, too, obviously. But eventually, people listen to him, obey him etc.

Now in this respect, there is no difference between Homer's Greeks and Trojans and the people of today. We also don't listen to just anybody. And there is often a political cost even to aristocrats when they take up some kinds of causes.

That's just an interesting truth about political life, and Homer shows it to us in pretty stark colors.

jd

I do find the 'artistocratic' bias of 'The Iliad' intriguing; the only common Greek (though I think he was later given artistocratic parentage) is Thersites, who is depicted as contemptible and everyone laughs when he is beaten by Odysseus for insolence to Agamemnon as a shoking act of subversion. All the leaders are of course, authoritarian in their views. Agamemnon, Hektor and Achilleus would have that in common..."


message 60: by Lucinda (last edited Jul 24, 2011 12:29AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lucinda Elliot Jo; - Yes, it's an ingriguing contrast indeed. Achilles'wild mourning and rage with Hector over Patroculus' killing is Godlike in its excess, as he sacrifices twelve hostages in his memory. It seems as if the extent of his mourning represents the extent of his isolation.
Jaques;- Yes,I think Thersites is the only common soldier who is so much as named, and for sure the only one who dares to speak out in public. For sure it would be grim if we were no more democratic at base than in Homer's time or the Bronze Age, but you may well be right! Odysseus in beating Thersites is seen as maintaining the status quo of unquestioning obedience, and applauded.

Jessica


Jacques Antoine Let's not forget about Dolon. He isn't one of the heroes, but he gets a long passage describing his ambitions, his confidence, and his demise. He doesn't rail against the powers that be, like Thersites. He actually risks something.

Isn't the problem with Thersites that he is a "good for nothing"? He risks nothing in battle, hangs back away from the fighting, but still tries to criticize the people who do risk themselves. I don't think we would tolerate that sort of behavior any better now, though perhaps we would not give him a beating for it. We would just consign such people to oblivion.

And yet, Homer goes out of his way to put Achilles' complaint initially in Thersites' mouth. It is worth asking what he wants us to understand by that.

Using an ancient poem to try to assess the politics and social norms of another society is an important thing to do. But I don't think it should be our first interpretive impulse. We should ask what the author means first, try to connect with him or her as another thinking person, before we reduce their work to mere evidence of a bygone time. Once we understand the author, we might have a better idea how to assess their historical moment, and our own.

Jacques



Yes,I think Thersites is the only common soldier who is so much as named, and for sure the only one who dares to speak out in public. For sure it would be grim if we were no more democratic at base than in Homer's time or the Bronze Age, but you may well be right! Odysseus in beating Thersites is seen as maintaining the status quo of unquestioning obedience, and applauded.


message 62: by Jacques (last edited Jul 24, 2011 05:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacques Antoine BTW, on the Achilles vs Hektor front, I also have always found Hektor to be in some respects more appealing than Achilles. But why are we (me too) willing to overlook all his faults when we say this? I mean, Hektor is a complicated mix of courage and cowardice. He shares all of the aristocratic hauteur of the best of the Greeks. Of course, he risks much more than any of the Greek heroes. If any of them dies, well that sucks for them. But if Hektor dies, his city falls, his wife is enslaved, his infant son is killed. So I suppose we could say that he has to be sort of a coward in order to preserve himself and his city. But I think that excuse only goes so far.

Maybe a way to think about this is that Hektor represents a sort of heroism, namely that of a citizen. But Achilles represents something greater, a heroism that can't quite be contained by the bounds of the city. With our democratic sensibilities, it's easier for us to appreciate someone like Hektor, even with his flaws. He is better than us, but not so much better that we can't recognize his virtues. Achilles, on the other hand, is just too much for our bourgeois sensibilities. He seems terrible, and maybe even a little offensive to us. But there are moments when I think we can catch a glimpse of his greatness, like when he fights the river.

Jacques


Lucinda Elliot Very true, Jaques. As I say,I have a lot of sympathy for Achilles; he must always been seen as a demi God, not a human, and so his standards and talents are different. To judge him as a human isn't fair. Yet, as I said above, this does make him quite a sad character, too, because cut off from humanity in general.
Apropos Hector and cowardice, that is always the problem for anyone worrying about the vulnerablity of their dependents when dealing with an implacable enemy. It is much easier to be heroic without dependents, it is a terrible conflict for a would be hero...


David Lentz I would also cast my vote for Odysseus, whom Homer so favored as to write the "Odyssey" and whom James Joyce honored with his inspired masterpiece in "Ulysses." Odysseus is in many ways an ideal man -- fit, courageous, shrewd, intelligent and strategically adept at war. Achilles was built for war but cannot endure peace -- he is childish, overly emotional, narcissistic and egomaniacal. Hector is noble but overmatched and makes a bad bargain which costs him his life without advancing the cause of his family or his people. Achilles is a genius in executing the skills of war driven by a rage which ultimately consumes him. However, Odysseus lives on victoriously to fight another day after the seige of Troy. Odysseus returns safely home after astonishing adventures to extract the suitors of Penelope and reclaim the balance of his life with his faithful wife and son in Ithaca. Admire Hector or Achilles, if you will, but imitate Odysseus in the battle that life surely is.


Old-Barbarossa Regarding the issue of Achilles being a demigod vs Hector being "merely" human...I don't see this mattering too much as there are other demigods fighting (eg: Sarpedon, a son a Zeus). Apart from his skill in battle I think Achilles foreknowledge of his doom is important, more-so than his parentage. He is untouchable up until Hector's death then all bets are off...and he still goes toe to toe with him and doesn't hold back. Hector on the other hand doesn't have this prediction, well, not anymore than the next man that goes up against Achilles...and even though he runs once confronted by him, he does turn and stand against the unstoppable force knowing he's had it...would he have stood quicker if he'd known his death would bring about Achilles own demise?


message 66: by Hock (new) - added it

Hock Tjoa By the way, how many guys do you know named Achilles versus those named Hector?


Christos Tsotsos Hock wrote: "By the way, how many guys do you know named Achilles versus those named Hector?"

I know quite a few named Achilles. Ector is not as popular a name in Greece...


message 68: by Slavica (new) - added it

Slavica This book was my nightmare when I was in high school,so many good books to read and I had to read this one....oh my god I was so happy when I read it....


Old-Barbarossa Hock wrote: "By the way, how many guys do you know named Achilles versus those named Hector?"

Think it'll be a cultural thing...if your national mythology links you to Troy then Hector will be common, if to Greece then Achilles. As early medieval Brit national myths linked the countries founders to those that fled Troy (Brutus, if memory serves) then Hector will be more common there, and by extension in English speaking areas...same for any country with strong links to Rome (via Aeneas) and the former Roman empire.


message 70: by Jacques (last edited Jul 27, 2011 09:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacques Antoine Old-Barbarossa wrote: "Hock wrote: "By the way, how many guys do you know named Achilles versus those named Hector?"

Think it'll be a cultural thing...if your national mythology links you to Troy then Hector will be c..."


It is odd, when you think about it. Homer presents the Trojan side as speaking a gaggle of languages, while the Greek side speaks only Greek. I suppose that signifies that the allies of the Trojans spoke other languages, the Lycians and Dardanians and whoever else. But the Trojans themselves seem to be Greek speakers. At least, their names are for the most part Greek. Though the name Hektor is hard to figure out. It might come from ektoreo, which means to stab to death. But that word lacks the initial h sound. If that's what his name means, then the poem ends: "So died Stabber, breaker of horses."

We might think that since Homer was a Greek, he gave them Greek names. But it seems likely that he was drawing on even older sources for his story, and had to use the names that people already knew, at least for the main characters. It is also likely that the people on both sides of the Aegean sea shared a common ancestry in India.

So I guess the Greeks weren't fighting an alien enemy, just other Greeks.


message 71: by Christos (last edited Jul 28, 2011 04:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christos Tsotsos Jacques wrote: "So I guess the Greeks weren't fighting an alien enemy, just other Greeks

Rhapsody Z lines 119 to 220 (greek version) diomedes and glaucus talk of their descend to be of the same origin.

The Trojans believed in the same gods as the greeks, buried their dead in the same way and spoke the same language. For a region that was mainly dominated by city states and city controled kingdoms that was a way of identifying one another as a Hellin. In fact the fight was mainly between the Achaeans and the Trojans.

According to Thucydides Homer does not distinguish Trojans as barbarians or different than the rest of the greeks.

In B line 809 (again ancient greek script) Homer says (i am freely translating here) 'in the big city of Priam there are many allies but these foreigners speak different languages.' Therefore he distinguishes some of the allies of Priam as foreigners.

On another incident in Δ 437-439 talks about the mourning in the Trojan camp that there were different languages. Again in there you see that the Trojans had foreigners as their allies but Homer does not directly point out Trojans as foreigners.

(Although saying that, the above comments can be viewed as proof that there may have been a difference between Trojans and the Greeks...)

In high school I do not remember the teachers discussing the argument. I graduated Lyceum and still cannot conclusively say that the Trojans were or were not Hellenic. The region of Ionia and Troad and Lycea were Hellenic during Homer's time. Troy is taught as a myth.

In modern greece names like Paris, Helen, Achilles, Ector, Odysseus, Athena, Artemis, Menelaos, Patroclos, Aris are still around. However Achileas is more popular name than either Ector or Odysseas. Go figure!

To claim that the Trojan war was a civil conflict may have some merit, but it is a story bound in myth. The fact that the Trojans had foreign allies may hint that the region was a rich trading spot and a few thousand years ago the Achaeans and Mycenaean being more dominating found an opportunity to summon enough army and wage war to control troy and its rich trade.


Jacques Antoine "According to Thucydides Homer does not distinguish Trojans as barbarians or different than the rest of the greeks.

In B line 809 (again ancient greek script) Homer says (i am freely translating here) 'in the big city of Priam there are many allies but these foreigners speak different languages.' Therefore he distinguishes some of the allies of Priam as foreigners.

On another incident in Δ 437-439 talks about the mourning in the Trojan camp that there were different languages. Again in there you see that the Trojans had foreigners as their allies but Homer does not directly point out Trojans as foreigners."


Hi, Christos.

Just out of curiosity, what word does Homer use for foreigners? I'm pretty sure Thucydides would have spoken of barbaroi. But would that term have been available to Homer? Did he have a different word?

Jacques


Christos Tsotsos Jacques wrote: ""According to Thucydides Homer does not distinguish Trojans as barbarians or different than the rest of the greeks.

In B line 809 (again ancient greek script) Homer says (i am freely translating ..."


Jaques you are very right in this Homer did not speak of barbarians here is line 809

Ἕκτορ σοὶ δὲ μάλιστ᾽ ἐπιτέλλομαι, ὧδε δὲ ῥέξαι·

πολλοὶ γὰρ κατὰ ἄστυ μέγα Πριάμου ἐπίκουροι,

ἄλλη δ᾽ ἄλλων γλῶσσα πολυσπερέων ἀνθρώπων

τοῖσιν ἕκαστος ἀνὴρ σημαινέτω οἷσί περ ἄρχει,

τῶν δ᾽ ἐξηγείσθω κοσμησάμενος πολιήτας.

He actually says 'another language of others'. He does not mention barbarphones. So 'another' is not exactly 'foreign'. He calls them 'πολυσπερέους' meaning scattered people. This could mean foreign i.e. not belonging to the Hellenic tribes. Again I am only an amateur here and ideally it will be best to have an expert view, but we can just discuss for our own pleasure.

You are right however Homer does not call them barbaroi (not barbarians). It could be that they spoke dialects that were not the common Aechean greek.


Jacques Antoine "He actually says 'another language of others'. He does not mention barbarphones. So 'another' is not exactly 'foreign'. He calls them 'πολυσπερέους' meaning scattered people. This could mean foreign i.e. not belonging to the Hellenic tribes."

Hi, Christos.

Thanks for that citation. What in intriguing way of speaking about people. They are πολυσπερέους. They are scattered, like seed, to the winds perhaps. They are also πολυ-, many, not one. I wonder if that's meant to be a contrast to the Greek unity, of language, of custom, etc.

The Greeks are not politically unified in Homer. He mainly refers to them by names like Argives, Achaeans, Danaans. Only occasionally, I think, does he call them Hellenes, and he may not even understand that as a unifying name for all Greeks.

Herodotus makes a case for Greek unity in his History, and I imagine that's because they still didn't feel particularly unified in his day, several centuries later.

Jacques


message 75: by Christos (last edited Jul 28, 2011 08:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christos Tsotsos Jacques wrote: ""He actually says 'another language of others'. He does not mention barbarphones. So 'another' is not exactly 'foreign'. He calls them 'πολυσπερέους' meaning scattered people. This could mean forei..."

πολύ it is plural for neutral it means 'very scattered' than 'many scattered'. The second word σπόρος, for seed makes you wonder what Homer meant by using this. So thinnely scattered that they barely make or fill a field?

We use today the word Diaspora, the scatter of one single seed across the land, the world.

It gives food for thought sometimes.

Yes you are right about Homerian times. Herodotus clearly distinguises the Hellenes from the Barbarous. As for the unity, when I was in school it felt that greeks were united only to fight the persians or under alexander the macedon to destroy the persian threat once and for all.

Trying not to be political is dificult here. In modern greece they forced a Hellenocentral idea teaching history. During my time they were well into trying to make a direct link of modern greeks with the ancient greeks (have not check what they teach recently). According to my teachers a nation is defined based on language, custom and religion. We were taught that the ancient greeks identified as Hellenes based on that, and modern greeks too define themeselves as hellenes based on language and customs that even to this day find their routes in ancient greece (i.e. we still place money in the cofin for the dead to pay Charon, in certain villages celebrate spring similarly to the ancient tradition, etc). Religion changed somewhat but they even linked the newly founded christian God to the missing God the ancient greeks secretely praised.

I suppose the idea of using language, custom and religion to define a nation can be equally used to fabricate or create a nation. Maybe this is why the European Union is failing, since it only tries to unite nations under a common currency and has no chance in unity since not one of them speak the same language (apart from Germany and its satelites - maybe the only true european union, the others are probably under their occupation; something like the Athenian alliance, the Delian League in 470 BC ). Few countries in Europe have common custom (again apart from very few). Maybe this is why the EU is reluctant to include a country like Turkey in, too many parameters are becoming different like too many religions and you have very little to none common ground for unity (and a potential ground for the development of a European Patriotism).

I wonder what part of the ancient greek tribes sence of unity we are using today to create nations and unions based on ethnicity (or sense of ethnnic origin). Sometimes I wonder on patriotism based on ideas from ancient greece to napoleon to nations today...


message 76: by Jacques (last edited Jul 28, 2011 08:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacques Antoine Christos wrote "...modern greeks too define themeselves as hellenes based on language and customs that even to this day find their routes in ancient greece (i.e. we still place money in the cofin for the dead to pay Charon, in certain villages celebrate spring similarly to the ancient tradition, etc). Religion changed somewhat but they even linked the newly founded christian God to the missing God the ancient greeks secretely praised.

I suppose the idea of using language, custom and religion to define a nation can be equally used to fabricate or create a nation. "


Fascinating. It is always surprising to hear that very ancient customs live on. But I guess they really do tend to persist. I guess they grow out of universal human experiences, so they get reinforced by everything happening around us, even if we think we are growing past them.

I imagine that all nations are fabrications--that's what heroes are for, to give people something to identify with, to unite around. Of course, that in no way means that nations aren't "true." They are powerful political and cultural realities. But they aren't based on genetics or biology. They are based on a sort of political imagination, and a very powerful one at that.

Jacques


message 77: by Laura (new)

Laura Gill Christos wrote: "Jessica wrote: "Read 'The Iliad' a few weeks ago. Very interested in tje comments on here, excellent discussion.

I suppose because Achilles is meant to be half-god he has godlike (and therefore, u..."


Are you talking about Classical Greek society, or Mycenaean society? There might be a slight difference. The Sparta and Athens you refer to did not exist back in 1250 B.C.


Christos Tsotsos Laura wrote: "Christos wrote: "Jessica wrote: "Read 'The Iliad' a few weeks ago. Very interested in tje comments on here, excellent discussion.

I suppose because Achilles is meant to be half-god he has godlik..."


Classical for my reference to Delian League (477 BC) I was digressing from the subject pondering on the unity of the ancient greeks.


message 79: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl With the appearance of the movie Troy in 2004, a lot of new interest was sparked in The Illiad. So after watching the movie I bought the Fagles version at Barnes & Noble and read it again, the first time since college when it had been required reading for my Ancient Greek History course back then. I am not a trained historian but I love reading history.

What I got out of The Illiad was the will to power, in a martial sense, and that kings have been ruling the Earth since pre-history, and kings have been about the business of conquering other kings and sacking their cities and enslaving their peoples.

Very brutal, but we have seen it in recent times as well with Sadam Hussein's invation of Kuwait, and North Korea's invasion of the South, and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, and the Nazi German invasion of the rest of Europe as an inevitable conclusion to the First World War which was triggered by mobilizations against Germany. It never ends.

The movie was excellently done. In the movie version, Brad Pitt as Achilles says, "It never ends."

As for the roles these characters played in The Illiad, Achilles is the sacker of cities and Hector is the protector of them. Achilles would not be a popular figure in modern times, no.

Throughout history, the mightiest kingdoms always prevailed over the weaker, however none has remained mightiest forever. History and the Illiad teach us that.

I worry that the USA with all its problems will not remain the mightiest for long. But the other nations tied for 2nd Place and their own citizens/subjects probably await with 'bated breath until the USA will finally fall.

So The Illiad is relevant, even to this very day, as are the Hectors and the Achilles' of our modern world.


Ilusha's Revenge Can't wait for The Odyssey discussion.

After all, Odesseus was the most respected and the smartest, not to mention a great warrior in his own right. And to think of all that he endured just to be with his family. He is a cooler Hector on steroids.


message 81: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl The Odyssey is really just an adventure story.

Although it contains tidbits about The Illiad in it, it is not really history.

By reading the Odyssey carefully you can tell it was written by a woman. She must have been a well educated and smart princess or queen someplace. Sparta was known for its independent women, so she may have been a Spartan woman. But we can only guess. It may have been Helen of Troy herself, who was the author of it. If so, then Helen was fantasizing about being a faithful "Penelope" because we all know that Helen was not faithful to Menelaos at all.


Old-Barbarossa Karl wrote: "Although it contains tidbits about The Illiad in it, it is not really history.

By reading the Odyssey carefully you can tell it was written by a woman...."


Implying the Illiad is Hx?
Heard the "Homer as woman" idea before, know Robert Graves thought so. Have Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of the Epic on my to read list and that seems to think so too. Any other pointers as to arguements on this?
I'm not convinced. Currently think along the "Homer as commitee".


message 83: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Well "Homer as committee" is a popular notion, since this epic poem is believed to have evolved in prehistory before writing was known. If you actually read it yourself, you can tell it was written by a woman however, therefore it is unlikely to have been "a committee" of bards. It is simply an adventure story, the first adventure story, with a romantic ending, and it was written by someone who was intimately familiar with The Illiad -- a very well educated princess or woman of nobility status.

It is no more or less a hoax than any other fiction story.

The Illiad clearly seems to be a history however, immortalized by professional bards telling the story over and over again.

Herodotus was clearly imitating "Homer" of the Illiad as Herodotus attempted to tell the story of the Persian Wars. The Illiad was clearly his model.


Old-Barbarossa I can see that the Illiad may be based on actual events (In Search of the Trojan War and The Trojan War: A New History show this and back up much of their speculation with ref to non-Greek sources and archeology). But I think there is a difference between that and actual Hx...there was about 500 years between the alleged war and the composition, whereas the Hittite texts ref'd in the books above are more contemporary, more Hx docs than Homers "based on real events" stylee tale.
I think Homer is as Hx accurate in ref to the fall of Troy as Thomas Malory is in his portrayal of post Roman brits war against the Saxons...OK, maybe not quite as anachronistic.
As to the gender of Homer, how can you tell that from the text? Is it word use? Is it knowledge of weaving? Could it have been an effeminate man instead? I know I'll explore this when I read Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of the Epic, but at the minute I'm curious.


message 85: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl You can tell because The Illiad is told from a very masculine perspective, and focuses on battles, and the gore associated with armed combat with spear, shield, and sword. It is readily apparent that a male composed the story.

Whereas The Odyssey is a love story, about the many loves of Odysseus (ODYSSEYS in Greek), and his final arrival home to Ithaca (ITHAKE in Greek), and his long suffering wife Penelope (PENELOPEIA in Greek), with the physical descriptions of the players in the drama being from the perspective of a woman, or else an extremely effeminate man.

That's how you can tell.


Old-Barbarossa As to The Odyssey being an adventure story (tongue pops into cheek here) I think it is actually (like the glorious Tam O'Shanter) an excuse for coming home late after a night out with the boys.
Pen: Where have you been? You said you were just nipping out to Troy for a bit!
Od: Well...(stinking of wine and hungover)...aye, there was this cyclops...that's it...er...wrath of the gods...you know how it is?
(Pop! Tongue out of cheek...)


message 87: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Anyone who has ever written a non-fiction account of an adventure or a novel has always told a story similar to Odysseus in The Odyssey.

Thus, Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air is an Odyssey.

As is also Gone With The Wind.


message 88: by Lucinda (last edited Sep 10, 2011 11:05AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lucinda Elliot Karl wrote: "With the appearance of the movie Troy in 2004, a lot of new interest was sparked in The Illiad. So after watching the movie I bought the Fagles version at Barnes & Noble and read it again, the fir..."

Hello, everyone, pc been down for a while. Now it's been repaired...

Sorry to enter into a discussion of a film on 'GoodReads', but I had to rant a little.

Oh, dear, Karl, apologies in advance if I seem opinionated and impolite, for I know tastes vary, but for myself, I thought 'Troy' purely terrible. Of course, I know that men are struck by different things in films than women; perhaps you were impressed by the battle scenes, whereas I was dismayed by the personal relationships.

The Gods being written out meant that Achilles had to be portrayed as an emotionally challanged human rather than an uneasy Demi God, which I thought unfair on the Achilles of 'The Iliad', whom I like, as in the discussion earlier. I thought the characters to be caricatures,the whole thing humourless, the acting wooden,and the relationship between Achilles and Briseis nastily redolent of Stockholm Syndrome.

Brad Pitt was miscast, being, as a slightly built man who'd buffed up, nothing like the giant hawk faced Demi God, complete with long Grecian nose, as depicted in those Ancient Greek vases, etc.

I had a good rant on the Briseis of the film 'Troy' and Stockholm Syndrome in this article:[[-http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/...]].

Not sure that link will come out,should anyone be interested, as you may gather, I'm not good at IT...Red face in advance...

I know that the Ancient Greek heroes were rapists to a man, but that is no excuse for modern film makers trying to titilate a modern audience with the scenes of Achilles' own potential rape threat to Briseis, as was done in 'Troy', while he was presented as her saviour from gang rape.

There's an old film (1962] 'The Fury of Achilles' which I thought managed to portray the atmosphere of 'The Iliad' far better,with Achilles half immortal,and the relationship between Achilles and Briseis not abusive.It's technically terrible, and Gordon Mitchell is often a wooden actor and the script can be silly, but that did make Achilles sympathetic.

Rant over, everyone (steam ceases to burst from ears, skin stops being green, muscles deflate). I must apologise for writing about a film rather than 'The Iliad' and I bet you think me a fanatic, Karl, but that film is one of my pet hates.

Jessica


message 89: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Jessica, my dear friend across the wine-dark sea, I must agree with you that the epic poem and the recent 2004 movie (moving-picture show) by Wolfgang Petersen are not in close harmony. And I have also noticed that the better-versed scholars of The Illiad whom I know did tend not to like the movie, not the least of which reason being because in Petersen's scrip, Menelaos is killed by Hector (EKTOR in Greek), a non-historical error. It would have made more sense if Petersen had scripted a serious wounding for Menelaos instead, so that he could recover by the end of the movie, and then confront Helen face to face, and intending to kill her, being again seduced by the power of her beauty into bringing her back to Sparta as the other classic poets tell us.

Even so, I though Petersen did a plausible job of converting the ancient pre-historic epic poem into a 2 week skirmish between Bronze Age warring states fighting each other with spears, shields, swords, bows and arrows, and ram-equipped wooden sailing ships.

But you are also correct, that we should not get side-tracked by a modern movie from the epic poem itself.

The Illiad does not ever tell us that Achilles (ACHILLEYS in Greek) fought in the Italian/Pirate fashion holding two swords, this was an anachronism. However, Petersen's invention of this pin-wheel technique of swordsmanship was a pleasant fiction to explain Achilles' superior fighting ability. Thus although "god-like" Achilles was not really "a god."

And I though Petersen's scripted plea from Achilles to Breseis for her to kill him with her hidden dagger was very emotionally touching. You see, Jessica my dear lady, all warriors secretly want to die.

There is a chance in History that either Breseis of Troy or Helen of Sparta was actually "the first" Homer, with this being the one who was the original teller of the epic story. That thought actually fascinates me the most. Either one of these two royal ladies could have done it.

Whoever Homer was, he/she had to be present at Troy, and also familiar enough with both the Greeks and the Trojans to be able to catalog them both, their ships, their kings, their commanders, and their soldier-marines. Both Helen and Breseis are a perfect choice.

Since you are avowed feminist, I am sure this thought intrigues you as well. My own logic is non-political, ergo I see the possibility of a Helen or a Breseis as being the first Homer simply an issue of evidence, very strong evidence.

Men are always being seduced by the power of women's beauty. It is an unfair trick of the Gods upon humankind, ever since the Garden of Eden, even up to our own modern times. The Illiad is all about such a seduction, and Herodotus gives it creedence by showing us many examples of it having happened in ancient pre-history. He adds, that no such woman would go away with her abductor had she not really wanted to.

Thus Herodotus must also be read in conjunction with The Illiad, in order to understand The Illiad completely.

In my spare time I am a bookworm, and I buy all my books at Barnes & Noble, since they are nearby. I love that bookstore.


message 90: by Lucinda (last edited Sep 11, 2011 12:53AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lucinda Elliot Karl, Thanks for your intriguing thoughts, and taking my - as you say - avowdly feminist critcisms in good and humourous part.

I have to say, the writing of Homer strikes me as being too male oriented in concerns to have been written by a women, the battle scenes being so lengthy and full of gruesome detail, for instance. Now, I'm have quite a gung-ho side,I used to do a martial art called Sportsfighting myself and understand all about the lure of adrenalin - but I
was yawning through those scenes,which makes me believe that in fact the writing had to be by a man (of course, those parts could have been written by a man)?

I think, too, we would have heard more of Briseis' history of The Iliad had been written by her - her opinions, etc. You note her opinions are sort of excluded - when Achilles mourns her being taken away he speaks of how it affects him, but her views aren't mentioned. She never says what she thinks of his killing off her husband and family - but it may be far from positive...

I haven't read Herodotus on women being taken as 'War Prizes', I must get round to it. I hope it wasn't expressed as (forgive me!} a form of male obliviousness? 'They like it really...' Of course, inevitably I have strong views about rape, and it seems to me that taking a women as a War Prize was tantamount to rape, as I say in that article (I don't know if you took a look at it?). Her consent was assumed, and it was given in circumstances that meant that it was nominal only. If her society had been destroyed, her male relatives killed,her status -whatever it was, destroyed - a lot of women may well have just resigned themselves to their lot, without liking it. Some may have come to be afflicated by what we now cll 'Stockholm Syndrome'. That is, women in patriarchies, of course; in any matriarchal society, if a woman went off with a warrior it may well have been voluntary. But Briseis doesn't act like a women from a matriarchal culture, for sure...

The attitude of the Bronze Age towards woman was fairly brutal, and to repeat what I aaid in that article, one gathers that the opinion of a War Prize was no more considered than that of a horse taken from another king.

Sadly, in one way or another, that is happening in other parts of the world to women to this day.

I think there was a women scholar of Homer (I have cleverly forgotten her name} who suggests that War Prizes, not being allowed to express emotion about their own experiences, expressed it on their master's behalf, and that is what is meant by
Briseis' outburst of mourning of Patrocles where she thanks him for being 'always kind'.

T o present the issue of a War Prize truly falling in love with her captor in a film (as was implied in the film Troy) to present it acceptably,the Sciptwriter would have to contfront the issues of Stockholm Syndrome and sadio-masochism and issues of rape and consent, Freudian stuff... I think to undestand these issues, the scriptwriter would have to be a woman and it would take up all the film.

Apropos my pet hate film Troy (why did they choose an actor with such a ridiculously short nose? But that is by the by!) it was the Presenting Rape as an Erotic Tableau aspect that disturbed me far more than the lack of resemblance to 'The Iliad'.

For sure you must portray the opinions of the times, to try and make out that they were in any way politically correct would be laughable, but there are ways of portaying things which makes the point to tha audience, and I thought the film makers of Troy disingenuous in pretending to be against rape in general (ie, Agamemnon's nasty soldiers) while presenting the rape threat of Achilles to Brisies as erotic. He strips off in front of her and the audience is deliberately kept in doubt for some time before he gives her any reassurance.

I agree with you about warriors wanting to die, very sad. Regrettably,I found that version of Achilles mean spirited, so that I, a real softy generally, who bawls at the sad endings to films, wasn't touched by any of his misfortunes. I thought his treatment of living people, ie that scene where he roughly pushed aside one of the women with whom he had been in an orgy (previous War Prizes?) and his snubbing of the frightened small boy, ugly, much worse than his dishonouring a corpse.

In the film that abuse of Hector's corpse all seemed part of his general nastiness, but in 'The Iliad' isn't it meant to be because it is the magnaminous Achilles (for whom I have a soft spot) doing it that makes it so distressing?

Wow, I have gone on. Had you ever encountered that old film I mentioned (looks about guiltily for discussing films some more) 'The Fury of Achilles'?
The scriptwriter of Troy appears to have filched the knife-threat scene with Briseis from that. Now, Gordon Mitchell DID have the build of Achilles, he is terrifying in scenes where he pursues Hector.

Great talking to you. My loom awaits, so must sing off now...

Jessica


message 91: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl In the Barnes & Noble Classics 2004 publication of The Histories by Herodotus, translated by G.C. Macaulay & revised by Donald Lateiner, we read the following at Page 4 (Book I, Section 4):

"... though it is wrong to abduct women by force, it is folly to take vengeance for their rape, and the wise course is to pay no regard when they have been abducted, since it is evident they would never be abducted if they were not themselves willing to go."

This was Herodotus' commentary on the abduction Io of Argos by the Phoenicians, and of Europa of Tyre by the Cretans, and finally of Helen of Sparta by the Trojans. He elaborates that in the cases of Io and of Helen, there was obvious complicity by these women themselves. Details are scant however in the case of Europa.

Herodotus laments that the ancient Greeks marshalled such a large force of 50 thousand Greeks in 1,000 ships (the standard number of 50 per galley) to avenge Helen, while at the same time giving further evidence that Helen was safe in Egypt at the time, and thus the sack of Troy was the real intention, with Helen being merely a pretense.

This cause was one of the reasons given by the King of Kings in Persia, Darius (DAREIOS in Greek), besides the Athenians' aiding in the Ionian Greek rebellions from him, for attacking Greece himself.

So anciently, according to Herodotus, The Illiad was history. I agree that it was most likely written or told from the perspective of a man, possibly by King Odysseus or King Menalaos, or some other man of some significant means who was there and an eye witness.

Although Helen or Breseis would have been in a perfect position to be the originator of the tale as well, and perhaps originally it then sounded more like a love story, involving Helen with Paris-Alexander, and Breseis with Achilles, and within it the seeds of Penelope with Odysseus which came later.

Perhaps both The Illiad and The Odyssey began as stories of love first told by noble women, then these tales being taken over by the professional travelling bards of male Greeks who became the Homeroi of latter times.

We will never know in this life unfortunately. The details are lost in pre-history. Perhaps in the history and literature lectures of Valhalla in the next world we may finally find out. For now we ourselves can only speculate.


Old-Barbarossa Karl wrote: " Perhaps in the history and literature lectures of Valhalla in the next world we may finally find out..."

Lectures in Valhalla?
Between the mead and fighting? Shurely shome mishtake...
No mention of Joseph Campbell in the Eddas.


Old-Barbarossa As to the film Troy. It isn't the Illiad anymore than The Trojan Women is.
There are a bunch of tales, mainly existing in fragments or ref'd in other works, that give differing versions of events portrayed in, or hinted at by, the Illiad.
The portrayal of Achilles in the Illiad and in Aeschylus is different for example.
So the discussion we're having over the film may have similarly been carried out at a symposium in Ephesus while quaffing weird Nestor stylee wine/soup/barley/cheese combos, but with ref to Homer and some lost tale.


message 94: by Lucinda (last edited Sep 11, 2011 02:47AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lucinda Elliot Old-Barbarossa wrote: "As to the film Troy. It isn't the Illiad anymore than The Trojan Women is.
There are a bunch of tales, mainly existing in fragments or ref'd in other works, that give differing version..."


Very interesting, everyone!

Karl, I think very likely Helen was abducted willingly, somehow. Aren't there hints that she came from a matriarchal society anyway? Her sister Clytemnestra for sure acts like a matriarch, her daughter having been slaughtered, she replaces her consort and swears revenge. The warriors in Hades are all very shocked at such treatment of 'the husband of her youth' and the demeaning end Agamemnon suffered. I am sorry to say I laughed at that bit.

Briseis would seem to have had no choice in her abduction, though.

Barborossa, very likely so...Ah, but would I be allowed to participate then? Wouldn't I have been asked what was wrong with my loom/laying out bodies...

Everyone, rant, rant, sorry to discuss a film further on here but re: That Film (swear box) my objections weren't, as above, to the fact that it is not true to The Iliad, (though I do think that they did a character assisination on my favourite, Achilles - sorry, Hector!) but more that I object to a modern film maker (as distinct from Homer) using Bronze Age attitudes to women to present a rather ugly Stockholm Syndrome type relationship between captor and captive,while disingenuously pretending to be anti rape (ie the gang rape threat) and repesenting the relationship between a potential rapist and his captive as an erotic tableau, and further portraying an abusive relationship romantically. Yes, they had those attitudes to a man in the Bronze Age, but a modern film maker has to be careful in his portayals so as not to romanticise rape.

That did make steam come out of my ears, hence my article on the f word...

Of course, that is a fault in the film, and not strictly to do with 'The Iliad' so I am being to some extent out of order in discussing it here, but whenever anyone praises it (sorry,Karl, I don't suppose that is a can of worms that occured to most men or even most women when watching it) I do feel obliged as an Amzon to drag out my blunted sword and do battle.

So no takers on 'The Fury of Achilles' (tut, tut, mentioned a film again!)?

Jessica


message 95: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl My only point was that the film in 2004 aroused renewed interest in the epic poem again, which is a good thing.

Although the film was inaccurate as to the epic itself, which was not a good thing.

I thought Brad Pitt did an excellent job of portraying an arrogant overconfident young prince. "Imagine a king who fights his own battles, wouldn't that be a sight?"

And Sean Bean was excellent as a manipulative Odysseus. It was Odysseus who convinced Achilles to go to Troy, and also he who would light his funeral pyre after he was killed there. "Find peace, my brother."

And Brian Cox was excellent as a power greedy Agamemnon. "Burn Troy, burn; let it burn; burn it all!"

I imagine the actual battle of Troy contained scenes very likely almost exactly like those, so it was nice to see it on the silvery screen portrayed in 21st Century drama. Thirty-three centuries after it actually all happened.

I liked watching the sword fighting as well. There is an entire drama school in Paris that teaches swordplay for movie swordmasters. It is completely unlike actual Olympic foil, epee, and sabre fencing. But fun to watch. Thus a great movie for me. Although I still love reading The Illiad more.

If I could find a Greek Illiad with English subtitles somewhere, that would be the ideal for me. Still looking for that.


Old-Barbarossa HBO/Greek-tv mini series anyone?
Now that would be worth a look...


message 97: by Lucinda (last edited Sep 11, 2011 10:30AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lucinda Elliot Karl, Oh dear, I feel a little guilty, spoiling your pleasure in the film with my 'Hectoring' (dreadful pun
fully intended}. I may disapprove of aspects of it, but no doubt it is no more guilty than some Mills and Boon novels I shall no doubt discover and go and rant about.

Jessica


message 98: by Jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jo Danilo Thanks James. I'm really glad I started this thread. I've learnt tons of interesting things from all the very learned participants. I think you're right about Achilles. A more complicated and flawed hero is always more interesting. You only have to watch modern superhero films to see the idea replayed again and again.

Karl and Jessica, I have to admit that Troy (2004) is a guilty pleasure of mine too. Not sure about the other actors, and obviously agree with Jessica about Briseis, but Brian Cox WAS Agamemnon. And the sight of all those ships sailing into the bay was chilling. In the fashion of films like Gladiator and Braveheart, the battle scenes are tremendous to watch. The madness and bravery of close combat still amazes me. I can't begin to imagine the emotions and the fear involved in charging towards someone with a sharp sword in their hand!

Just a thought - nobody has mentioned poor Paris!


Shannon Jo wrote: "Just a thought - nobody has mentioned poor Paris! "

Paris ... "prince of beauty -- mad for women, you lure them to
ruin ...." That Paris ...? I should say Paris could be fodder for more lively debate.


message 100: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Even Herodotus hates Paris-Alexander.

He is easy to hate. A ladies' man. And the cause of the destruction of his entire city Troy.

According to Petersen in the movie Troy, "You roam from town to town bedding temple maids and merchants' wives, and you have no thought for the love for your country. You spat on our father when you brought that woman with you on this ship."

I don't remember what happens to Paris-Alexander after the Trojan War? Perhaps he escapes with Aeneas to Rome? Helen returns to Sparta with Menelaos. And Agamemnon is killed by his wife Klytaimmnestra and her lover back home in Mycenae (MYKENAI in Greek).

Helen might be Homer. As might Breseis also be.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Iliad (other topics)
Ransom (other topics)
The War That Killed Achilles (other topics)
The Odyssey (other topics)
In Search Of The Trojan War (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Robert Fagles (other topics)
Robert Graves (other topics)
James Joyce (other topics)
Thomas Malory (other topics)
Aeschylus (other topics)
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