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Discussion - Homer, The Iliad > Iliad through Book 15

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The difference between Greek and Christian conceptions of god is magnified tenfold here. Zeus is NOT a god one wants to emulate or be anywhere near. Not only did we find out last book that he is a serial cheater and rapist, but now we see him as the consummate bully and domestic violence abuser. This is not a nice guy.

And I guess Homer didn’t read this group’s no spoiler policy – he just spills a whole bunch of major future plot details. Oh well.

I loved Poseidon’s hostility to Zeus here. Not only is it dramatic and fascinating, but it’s also fascinating that the Greeks would envision this level of filial competition and hostility on the part of their gods.

The drama and excitement seem to mount ever higher as the battle rages closer to the Greek ships. Hector and Ajax (Aias for Lattimore) – what portraits of courage and brilliance in action on both sides.

And, don’t you love the simile Homer uses of Apollo kicking down the wall like a little boy who has built a sand castle and kicks it to bits? Marvelous.


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Patrice wrote: "I'd love to know what others think of Hera's oath that she in no way was responsible for what happened to the Trojans. Is she being disingenuous? Is she sincere?
Is she just saying that she was n..."


I read it to say that she was just denying telling Poseidon to aid the Greeks. But it's pretty clear to me that she's afraid, even terrified, of Zeus at this point. Another interesting aspect of the Greek gods -- they can feel real fear, even though they can't die.


message 3: by Bill (last edited Feb 22, 2012 08:15AM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 365 comments Everyman wrote,

Another interesting aspect of the Greek gods -- they can feel real fear, even though they can't die.

They can feel pain. They can be miserable. That's a serious fear, sometimes particularly because you can't die.

Also, with regard to spoilers.

Marjorie Garber once wrote something to the effect that "No one reads Hamlet for the first time." I think a similar thing would be true for Homer's audience. Children would have grown up hearing these stories.

I don't think anyone would have been surprised to learn that Patroklos goes into battle. Even I, 3000 years later, knew it at 8 years old.

But the speech is interesting if you think of Zeus as a story-teller and the other gods as interfering, making editorial suggestions he just won't listen to.

As for Zeus and Hera, this seems a replay of the situation in Book I when Hera complains and complains about Zeus listening to Thetis -- until he finally loses his temper.

Zeus always seems to me to be the father of a group of difficult kids whose power is limited short of truly damaging them.

I think, to be sure, Homeric religion is very different from what we're used to. We live in a universe that is brutish and unfair. Naturally, if the gods are responsible, they too must be that way. It's the logical conclusion.

It seems a very sophisticated notion that despite appearances, the gods are really both benevolent and moral. It's not the obvious interpretation.


message 4: by Adelle (last edited Feb 23, 2012 11:52AM) (new)

Adelle | 127 comments What emphasis Homer gives us to consider how quickly the fortunes of men can turn:

Book 15 opens:

"Back through jutting stakes and across the trench they [the Trojans] fled /
and hordes were cut down at the Argives' hands--the rest,
only after they reached the chariots, stood fast,
blanched with fear, whipped in desperate flight" (Fagles 15.1) {I loved that phrase: "blanched with fear"}

But it wasn't long ago that it was the Argives in the perilous position:

"Back through stakes and across the trench they [the Argives] fled,
and hordes were cut down at the Trojans' hands--the rest,
only after they had reached the shipways, stood fast
and shouting out to each other, flung their arms
to all the immortals, each man crying out a prayer"
(Fagles 8.389).


message 5: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Pity. Even after 15 books, I am surprised every time I read that this or that god is filled with pity.

"At the sight of Hector
the father of men and gods filled with pity now
and shooting a terrible dark glance down at Hera..."
(Fagles 15.14)


message 6: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Homer tells of Zeus's breaking heart when Hera was plotting miseries for his son Heracles. No wonder there is so much acrimony between Zeus and Hera. Also, does hearing of Zeus's "stark grief" for his son Heracles set us up emotionally to commiserate with Zeus over the upcoming death of his son Sarpedon?


message 7: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Patrice wrote: "I'd love to know what others think of Hera's oath that she in no way was responsible for what happened to the Trojans. Is she being disingenuous? Is she sincere?
Is she just saying that she was n..."


Fagles translates that opening line in the scene in which Hera swears...whatever she swears...with the words "Her eyes wide." That description was used previously (Fagles 14.318), back when Hera was seducing Zeus: "Eyes widening, noble Hera coaxed him further."

Wasn't Hera the "ox-eyed" goddess? So maybe it refers to her wide-spaced eyes. But as that description is used in scenes in which Hera is acting unethically, it might be referring to her trying to feign innocence.

As Everyman pointed out, she's afraid of Zeus ["Queen Hera shuddered before his thunder"].

WE know she's lying...OR, as Eman and Patrice posted, she's being technically truthful because she hasn't directly "pushed" Poseidon....merely faciliated the field so that he could actively engage on the field like he already wanted to.

I studyied on that oath she made, as well.

"Earth be my witness...
and the dark cascading waters of the Styx--I swear
by the greatest, grimmest oath that binds the happy gods!

By your sacred head, by the bed of our own marriage,
that I....... why, I'd e the first to counsel him
to take your lead, Zeus, ... my king of the black cloud!"

I agree with Patrice. One way or another she's pulling a Clinton. Maybe she feels she is invalidating the oath by swearing by "the happy gods"...and there aren't any "happy gods." Or maybe, as what she seems to be offering to lose if she's lying -- Zeus's "sacred head," and "the bed of our own marriage" -- are things she doesn't care about losing.

SOMEHOW she must think that she has an "out" on this oath. According to "A Guide to the Iliad," Hesiod "identifies the Styx as the 'eldest daughter of Okeanos' and says the penalt paid by a god who swears falsely by the Styx is to be immoilized for a year and then to spend nine years (there's that 9 / 10 again) separated from the company of the gods.


Mmm... on the other hand, if one is immortal, perhaps nine/ten years is as nothing, and Hera thinks the time bought by seducing Zeus is worth whatever it might cost her in the end.


message 8: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Smiles.

I wondered about Zeus's smile.

Hera has just sworn "a flight of winged oaths" that she didn't will Poseiden to help the Argives.

"A rousing appeal,
and the father of men and gods looked down and smiled ...'Excellent, Hera...'"

And was it an honest, approving smile, or was it an I-see-through-you-and-we'll-see-who-comes-out-ahead smile?

I think it's the latter, because, I mean, just look at that next section, at how tremendously much Zeus forsees:

Achilles will launch his comrade Patroclus,
and glorios Hector will cut him down with a spear
... Sarpedon will be cut down...

"But then--enraged for Patroclus--
brilliant Achilles will bring Prince Hector down"
...
"till Achaean armies seize the beetling heights of Troy
through Athena's grand design"

(the "Guide" says that last line is an allusion to Athena's inspiring the Achaean's to build the Trojan horse.)

But back to fake smiles... Hera's smiles falsely, too:

"She smiled with her lips only."

This Homer guy, he knows people.


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Adelle wrote: "What emphasis Homer gives us to consider how quickly the fortunes of men can turn: "

And when we read the accounts of hand-to-hand or close combat in the past, this seems to be not unusual, one side surging forward, then the other side counter-attacking and surging forward. I find Homer's accounts wonderfully accurate, if a bit stylized (although I do note the lack of major crippling wounds, which I think is a creative decision by Homer).


message 10: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Everyman wrote: "Adelle wrote: "What emphasis Homer gives us to consider how quickly the fortunes of men can turn: "

And when we read the accounts of hand-to-hand or close combat in the past, this seems to be not ..."


That's a good point. Now one side, now the other...without seemingly solid reasons to explain why.

:-) With both Book 15 and 16, I couldn't help but think, "This is an action film."


message 11: by Silver (new)

Silver Adelle wrote: "Wasn't Hera the "ox-eyed" goddess? So maybe it refers to her wide-spaced eyes. But as that description is used in scenes in which Hera is acting unethically, it might be referring to her trying to feign innocence."

Oxen are also notoriously known for their stubbornness, which I think can certainly apply to Hear. In addition the image of her being the Ox-eyed goddess instantly made me think of Isis in Egyptian mythology who at one point in time grew the head of a cow after her own was cut off. As I wonder if there is something domestic in the description of connecting Hear to a cattle animal, as both Hera and Isis play rolls as being like Mother figures to rest of the gods, and Hera rules over the hearth. They are maternal figures, so I wonder if this linking them to domesticated beasts reflects their role within the household, which is the realm of the domestic.


message 12: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 365 comments Now that's interesting, Silver.

Because I believe Homeric gods were often conflations of different gods/goddesses traditions that would explain Hera, domestic, hearth -- although not much of a mother figure in Homer.

My favorite conflation is Artemis who, among other things is goddess of childbirth and virginity/chastity and the hunt -- not your usual combination. But if you imagine three different goddesses combined -- it makes some sense.


message 13: by Adelle (last edited Feb 23, 2012 09:03PM) (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Silver wrote: "Oxen are also notoriously known for their stubbornness, which I think can certainly apply to Hera.."

I hadn't considered the stubborness characteristic, but yes, I can see that. Hera could be considered stubborn, or determined to plow on...even if her rows weren't straight.

:-)


message 14: by Silver (new)

Silver Adelle wrote: I hadn't considered the stubborness characteristic, but yes, I can see that. ..."

Yes, determined, and resistant are words that come to my mind which can be linked to stubbornness. She frequently does act contrary to what Zeus wants. And in the same way the farmer might eventually urge his oxen into obedience, by the whip or other entreaties, in this moment Hera is cowed by the wrath of her husband (no pun intended)but she does not readily comply and obey and can put up a struggle and make things difficult.


message 15: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Hera...clever.

Around line 130 Hera, having returned to Olympus, says,

"Why, Ares, I gather, has just received his share...
his son is dead in battle, his dearest son, Ascalaphus--"

PAUSE

"doesn't invincible Ares claim to be his father?"

And I imagine Hera to be all wide eyed as she says this.

Hera, goading Ares. Stoking his anger....so he will be useful to her on the killing fields below.

And then Athena steps in. Athena, with all her wisdom. But Athena, Athena seems to only know rationality. Her words to Ares offer no comfort:

"So now, I tell you, drop this anger for your son.
By now some fighter better than he, a stronger hand
has gone down in his own blood, or soon will go
"
(Fagles 15.about 160)


message 16: by Adelle (last edited Feb 24, 2012 06:42PM) (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Did you happen to notice the rough parallel between Poseiden and Achilles? (Granted, there are a good number of parallels between the situations of the gods and the situtations of the men.)

Fagles, about line 235:

Poseiden has been going on about what should be his share. (Like the accusations Achilles made concerning Agamemnon.) Poseiden says, "He's their father--
they HAVE to obey his orders." (Similar to what Achilles had said regarding Agamemnon--that the others had to obey Agamemnon....but he, Achilles, had taken no oath, and did NOT have to obey.)

Poseiden, in complaining of Zeus, is similar to Achilles and Agamemnon...arguing over ranking.


[must be quiet now. will edit/expand tomorrow.)

EDIT ADDED: Poseiden says: "Still, this time I will yield, for all my outrage..."

Achilles back in Book 1 had said he wouldn't fight THIS time...over Brisies...though he was outraged.


message 17: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Silver wrote: "Adelle wrote: I hadn't considered the stubborness characteristic, but yes, I can see that. ..."

Yes, determined, and resistant are words that come to my mind which can be linked to stubbornness..."


Ha ha...I LIKED "cowed."


message 18: by Silver (new)

Silver Adelle wrote: "Poseiden has been going on about what should be his share. (Like the accusations Achilles made concerning Agamemnon.) Poseiden says, "He's their father--
they HAVE to obey his orders." (Similar to what Achilles had said regarding Agamemnon--that the others had to obey Agamemnon....but he, Achilles, had taken no oath, and did NOT have to obey.)


That is interesting, and while it may be up for debate if Zeus himself is a more competent leader than Agamemnon seems to be, the whole discussion of arguing about shares, and ones fair share and Agamemnon in particularly taking more than his fair share, brings to mind that Zeus himself could be seen as having taking more than his fair share of the power.

Hades being the eldest of the brothers theoretically should have been the one to have the greatest power and take the position of leaderships, but Zeus (the youngest of the brothers) argued that he felt it ought to be his because in his mind he was the one who was predominately repressible for defeating the Titan's so he saw himself as having done the most work, so he felt he should get the biggest reward.


message 19: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments At 22 Silver wrote: "Hades being the eldest of the brothers theoretically should have been the one to have the greatest power and take the position of leaderships, but Zeus (the youngest of the brothers.."

Hey, Silver, here's a quirky, cool bit:

Zeus, supposedly, could be considered both the youngest and the oldest. He was the youngest, because he was the last born. Yet he was the oldest, because his father, Cronus, had swallowed all the others right after they were born. [I think because---there's that old prophecy: because Cronus had been told that a son of his would be greater the he]. But Zeus mother tricked the father into swallowing a stone instead of Zeus, so Zeus grew up (hidden) until he was old enough to force his father to regurgitate the others, so Zeus was "living longest" on this earth, so Zeus was the oldest.

Eh?


message 20: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Underground.

OK, you people probably already know this...but I had forgotten...mayhap you forgot as well.

Right after that speech by Poseiden, Fagles 15. about 270, Zeus says to Apollo:

"Go, my friend, to the side of Hector armed in bronze.
The god of quakes who grips and pounds the earth
has just this moment plunged into his own bright sea...
Just think
what the gods would have heard if we had come to blows,
even those beneath the ground who circle Cronus."

"A Guide" points out that Cronus and the Titans were banished to the underworld after their defeat and the hands of Zeus.


message 21: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Fagles 15. about 405:

Hector, seemingly more desparate for success than Nestor was a few books back. Remember how Nestor had gone amongst the men and admonished them to leave off plundering for awhile and to concentrate on fighting?

Here now is Hector:

"So Hector commanded his Trojans, sounding out,
'Now storm the ships! Drop those bloody spoils!'"

(Mind you, now, Hector wasn't British. :-) )

And then Hector goes further than Nestor had. Hector is willing to dishonor the corpses of his own men if they don't stop gathering booty and FIGHT! Also...another pre-image of corpses not properly reverenced.

"'Any straggler I catch, hanging back from the fleet,
right here on the spot I'll put that man to death.
No kin, no women commit his corpse to the flames--
the dogs will tear his flesh before our walls!'"


message 22: by Silver (last edited Feb 24, 2012 07:30PM) (new)

Silver Adelle wrote: "At 22 Silver wrote: "Hades being the eldest of the brothers theoretically should have been the one to have the greatest power and take the position of leaderships, but Zeus (the youngest of the bro..."

It was one of those Self-fulfilling prophesies that the Greeks are so found of. He was told that his son would grow to overthrow him, and as always goes, his efforts to prevent such from happening led to that very outcome.

Haha perhaps he should have tried using that argument if he had managed to convince his brothers through logical means maybe there would be less resentment and anger among them. Instead he got them to agree to draw lots. How convenient for him that Hades drew the shortest stick and Zeus got the biggest.


message 23: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments At 26 Silver wrote: "It was one of those Self-fulfilling prophesies that the Greeks are so found of. He was told that his son would grow to overthrow him, and as always goes, his efforts to prevent such from happening led to that very outcome.
."


Yes! Do you ever wonder if they might avoid their Fate...if they didn't try to run away from their Fate?


message 24: by Silver (new)

Silver Adelle wrote: "Yes! Do you ever wonder if they might avoid their Fate...if they didn't try to run away from their Fate? "

That is a very interesting question. Though I suppose the message the Greeks send is that you cannot run from your fate no matter what you attempt to do.

Though it can be very mind boggling to contemplate what the implications might be. Does fate already know how they will respond to prophecy, so it is in fact their own future actions that are possible for creating their ill fate in the first place?


message 25: by Adelle (last edited Feb 24, 2012 08:23PM) (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Prayer/ Sacrifice/ Patroclus

To me, this seems too well woven to be only coincidence.

Fagles 15. about 425:

So the Greeks have their backs to the sea and the Trojans are pushing forward. The Argives have lost that last measure of defense, their work wrecked, as Apollo
"tore that Argive rampart down with the same ease
some boy at the seashore knocks sand castles down--"

The Greeks in disorderly retreat,
"each man crying out a prayer.
But none as rapt as Nestor [...]
who stretched his hands to the starry skies and prayed,
'Father Zeus! If ever
......
one of us burned the fat thighs of sheep or bulls...'"

In other words...a sacrifice

"'Save us from this ruthless day!'"

So Nestor pled, and so Zeus heard.

Nestor has suggested that a sacrifice might save them.
But it must be a comparable, a worthy sacrifice.

It must be...

"Patroclus [who groaned and slapped] his thighs"

And then there's that twist at the end of that passage.

Patroclus says to Eurypylus,
"The persuasion of a comrade has its powers."

Words Nestor, a comrade, had said to Patroclus to bring Achilles to battle. Words Nestor, a comrade, had said...which brought Patroclus to battle. Bringing Patroclus to battle ... was like an answer to Nestor's prayer...Patroclus was sacrificed in order to bring the Argives respite.

"The persuasion of a comrade has its powers."


message 26: by Adelle (last edited Feb 24, 2012 08:41PM) (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Silver wrote: "Adelle wrote: "Yes! Do you ever wonder if they might avoid their Fate...if they didn't try to run away from their Fate? "

That is a very interesting question...."


It is rather. What if they faced their Fates head on. As Book 15 is constantly admonishing them: "Be men! Be men! Be men!" Sometimes given for the sake of variety, "Fight like men! Fight like men! Fight like men!"

Here's Achilles...with the wrath of a god...great-hearted Achilles on the minds of all in this war right now...and he's there because Zeus didn't want to be his father...since it was known that Achilles would be greater than his father.

Cronus...swallowing his sons...because it was known that one of them would be greater than he...and maybe if he hadn't swallowed them, Rhea, the children's mother wouldn't have felt so hostile to Cronus...and she wouldn't have raised her one-saved-son to revenge himself on Cronus.

Or Oedipus...If his mother and father hadn't left him on some mountain side unattended to die...had raised him in their loving home... well.... how different might events have turned out?


message 27: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Patrice wrote: "I just got back from a trip. I did not take the Iliad with me and boy did i miss it! I was up half the night thinking about it. Can't wait to read these comments but I have to say I am getting s..."

Willkommen, beinvenue, welcome Fremde, etranger, stranger Gluklich, zu sehen, je suis enchante, Happy, to see you, ...


message 28: by Juliette (new)

Juliette Adelle wrote: "Yes! Do you ever wonder if they might avoid their Fate...if they didn't try to run away from their Fate?
..."


All the time. I also wonder what the heck is so wrong with a son being greater than their father? Would Hector have tried to stop his son from being greater than himself? I understand wanting to stop your own son from destroying you like Oedipus, but greater than? Is is just a Greek God thing? And why?


message 29: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 365 comments Well, Zeus had overthrown his own father Cronus, who had in turn not merely overthrown but castrated his father.

Cronus in fact ate his children.

So if I were Zeus I'd be concerned about having a son more powerful than I.


message 30: by Juliette (new)

Juliette Bill wrote: "Well, Zeus had overthrown his own father Cronus, who had in turn not merely overthrown but castrated his father.

Cronus in fact ate his children.

So if I were Zeus I'd be concerned about having ..."


I guess so, I keep wondering if a son was raised with love, would there be room to work together like Zeus and his brothers do? But then I look at Poseidon who is obviously not happy with Zeus and if he were stronger would overtake him. I also recall a saying that goes along the lines of "a son can never reach his true potential while his father is alive". And since Greek Gods don't die....


message 31: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Juliette wrote: "I also wonder what the heck is so wrong with a son being greater than their father? Would Hector have tried to stop his son from being greater than himself? I understand wanting to stop your own son from destroying you like Oedipus, but greater than? Is is just a Greek God thing? And why?

."


It does seem such a different way of looking at the world...well, different than our way.

Pure supposition: Maybe a part of it is that concept of time. Maybe. Because this is an oral society...even now--with writing---in my family, there aren't records of family members too many generations back.

So...if the ONLY way one would be remembered is by people referring to you...then the longer one's descendants are referred to as "son of Great Man," or "grandson of Great Man," then the longer one "lives."

Whereas, if the son is greater...then the descendants soon forget your name. The descendants start being referred to as "son of New Great Man (greater than his father)"...and as one's name and memory are gone...one IS gone...completely and forever.

I know. I recognize that this point of view is more...selfish...more concerned with one's own reputation than that of one's offspring.




OR, perhaps all the emphasis on the "great" father..is because, again, this is an oral society...and probably not long-lived. The whole repository of knowledge is held by the longer-lived, the elders, the father's generation... So they would be revered. AND ... with no written works... what would motivate young men more than to have to know that father's were almost IMPOSSIBLE to surpass... so the young men would have to compete SO HARD against that revered image... It would force the young men...maybe...to BECOME more than they otherwise would. (Well, heroes, anyway. Non-heroic men would probably not bother to compete with the images and memories of their fathers.)


Hector. His son. --- I LIKE Hector because he IS willing for his son to be greater than he is. But consider: Hector's son DOES NOT. And maybe, you know, maybe that's directly attributable to Hector's living in a more "loving," more "civilized" society.

Yes, Hector can fight. But the Trojans aren't fight, fight, fight aggressers on the whole. They make their living more by trading. By being, on the whole, "softer" people. And they lose. And Hector's son never becomes greater than he. Probably he's dead.

Whereas if Hector had had the same compete, kill-those-who-insult-you aggresive mentality, then maybe events would have worked out differently. The Trojan allies aren't there due to a more primitive oath (like the Argive allies are)---the Trojan allies are there for money...at least in part...so maybe they are more civilized...and less motivated...and they don't fight with their all like the Argives, etc.

Mmm... suppose Achilles hadn't been quite so civilized....suppose he HAD run Agamemnon through with his sword...might there then have been a possibility that Achilles would have lived, would have gone home to Phythia...would have had sons of his own THERE? That maybe one of THOSE sons would have become a great man?

Anyway...just thoughts.


message 32: by Bill (last edited Feb 25, 2012 10:03AM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 365 comments Peleus had no trouble with the notion that Achilles would be greater than he is. Hektor does not seem jealous of his little baby's potential.

I think the game is quite different with the gods.


message 33: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Bill wrote: "Peleus had no trouble with the notion that Achilles would be greater than he is. Hektor does not seem jealous of his little baby's potentia.

I think the game is quite different with the gods."


And then there was Nero.


message 34: by Bill (last edited Feb 25, 2012 11:40AM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 365 comments Those Roman emperor guys were something else, though, weren't they? I think Nero in particular had his moments of charm, like burning Christians in his gardens for light.

But this was much later than Homer, not Greek, and I'm not sure the most extreme of the Roman emperors were typical examples of anything.


message 35: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Bill wrote: "I think the game is quite different with the gods."

!!! Well, when you point out actual facts...

lol, it is as you say. Blows a hole in my theory, but it DOES seem to be a god-thing.


message 36: by Bill (last edited Feb 25, 2012 12:24PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 365 comments Reading this, I keep thinking of Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt, Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I don't think immortality is good for you. :-)


message 37: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Bill wrote: "Reading this, I keep thinking of Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupts, Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I don't think immortality is good for you. :-)"


Just what I was thinking. And come to think of it, the Roman emperors thought they were gods.


message 38: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Cases, too, I'm sure, in which the father is so psychologically dominant---and unwilling or unable to surrender his alpha position--that the sons, too much under the shadow of their giant father, suffered in their development, never becoming the the men they otherwise might have. And by the time the father is willing or forced to step down from his dominant position, and might actually like to see his son or sons as strong men following in his footsteps...it's too late.

But on to Book 16.


message 39: by Everyman (last edited Feb 28, 2012 05:24PM) (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Juliette wrote: "I also wonder what the heck is so wrong with a son being greater than their father? Would Hector have tried to stop his son from being greater than himself?"

If you're a human, nothing wrong with it. You know you're going to die, so you want your son to be greater and bring even greater glory to you and his lineage.

But if you're a god, and especially if you're the chief god, and if you've overthrown your father to become chief god, the only way for your son to be greater than you is to overthrow you and take over as chief god and relegate you for the rest of your life, which means for the rest of eternity, forever and ever, to a lesser position, and if you like being chief god and don't WANT to be deposed and thrust off into subservience forever and ever, there is something very bad about fathering a child who will be greater than you are. N'est pas?


message 40: by Silver (new)

Silver Everyman wrote: "Juliette wrote: "I also wonder what the heck is so wrong with a son being greater than their father? Would Hector have tried to stop his son from being greater than himself?"

If you're a human, no..."


It it is a lot like animals the live within social groups. When a male grows to adulthood, its only real options are to leave the group and formulate its own group, or eventually to challenge the present alpha and try and take his role and than drive the older former leader out of the group or kill him. Or to live a life in subservience and never gain a position of power and leadership which also would mean not having the choicest selections of food and restricted mating rites. As well its presence would be seen as a constant potential threat to the head male.

The possibility of having your son become greater than you, I think does present a challenge to ones own masculinity, I think this would be particularly true in a warrior culture. Having a younger stronger male present threatens your own position and is a reminder of your own immanent decline. I think in a culture where honor, fame and glory is also so important, there is the added threat of having your own name and deeds being over shadowed by your son, so that you run the risk of being forgotten by history and completely replaced. Humans are ever seeking to try and claim whatever form of immortality they can from themselves since they lack the immortality of the gods.


message 41: by Juliette (new)

Juliette Everyman wrote: "if you like being chief god and don't WANT to be deposed and thrust off into subservience forever and ever, there is something very bad about fathering a child who will be greater than you are. N'est pas?..."

I was also thinking of the humans who did things to their sons back then when told their sons would be great, but now I can only think of Oedipus. Since Oedipus was to kill his father, not become greater, that idea is not supporting my thoughts well. I totally get the Gods though.


message 42: by Silver (last edited Mar 01, 2012 12:32PM) (new)

Silver Juliette wrote: "I was also thinking of the humans who did things to their sons back then when told their sons would be great, but now I can only think of Oedipus. Since Oedipus was to kill his father, not become greater, that idea is not supporting my thoughts well. I totally get the Gods though..."

Though I wonder if the prophesy of Oedipus killing his father could not be seen as symbolically becoming greater than his father. For he would eesentially be over throwing his father, taking over the kingdom, and the act of marrying his own mother could be a emasculation of his father, and proving his own greater youth and vitality. Not to mention his greater physical strength and power in being able to successfully kill his father.


message 43: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Juliette wrote: ". but now I can only think of Oedipus.."

I found myself there too. Oedipus was the only human I could think of.

Silver, Very intriguing interpretation on Oedipus.


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