1) It is so obvious why these Ancient Greek stories have survived for so many years-- it's all gory violence and sex. The ancients must have read this and been like "please, girls, just... Seeing as The Iliad is all about the Trojan War, there are a lot of war scenes. I like the Greek gods because they are so flawed and jealous and vindictive and, um, human. Sometimes you have to wonder what was going through the heads of Ancient Greeks when this is how they imagined their gods. From Hera calling Artemis a "shameless bitch" like something out of Mean Girls, to all the gods supporting their favourite team (Greek or Trojan) in the war like it's a damn football match.
What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1.Victory or defeat in ancient Greek wars is primarily the result of marital spats and/or petty sibling rivalry in Zeus and Heras dysfunctional divine household. 9.There is nothing more glorious for a warrior than to sack enemy cities, plunder their wealth, kill all their men, bed their pretty women and enslave their children. You could be: a.a runaway wife who sparks a cosmic battle between your thuggish hubbys city-state and your cowardly boyfriends (1); b.a war booty with a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome (2); c.a manipulative uber bitch (who also happens to be a goddess) (3); d.a long-suffering wife and mother (4). Homers mortal women might be meek and mild, but his goddesses can kick ass with the best of them, and even occasionally best their male counterparts: Zeus is not above being manipulated by Hera, and Ares the God of War actually got whacked on the head by Athena. But the big spear's point still stuck in the eye socket ---." I imagine that this kind of anatomically precise, brain-splattering, gut-spilling action scenes made the Iliad popular with the Romans, who routinely went to the Colosseum to watch gladiators hack each other to death, but there is only so much of it that I could take in one sitting, which is why it took me almost three months to finish it. The Iliad is assumed to be the written version of a much older oral poem, and such characters might represent collective memories of real Bronze Age warriors, but by Zeus, hundreds of pages of them being hacked, cleaved and skewered to death almost did me in. The Iliad both celebrates and laments the warrior spirit: the haughty pride and terrible thirst for vengeance and plunder that set men to distant shores, intent on razing cities and putting its inhabitants to slaughter, but also the stark, tragic consequences of such acts. . But since youd like a lesson in warfare, Artemis, just to learn, to savor how much stronger I am when you engage my power --- The gods are deathless, so you know that there wont be any lasting harm from their catfight, but the cost of battle to all too mortal men is heavy indeed. Troys old king begged for his sons body, and in the magnificent, poignant last book, Homer showed us the real cost of war, both on the vanquished and the triumphant.
I have conquered The Iliad. Angst, love, honor, angst, family, drama, death, angst.
Each death is has consequence, and as each man steps onto the stage to meet glory or death, Homer gives us a moment to recognize him, to see him amidst the whirling action, and to witness the fate Zeus metes. Fate favors some men now, others later, and in the end, none escapes the emptiness of death. Though Homer paints some men as great, as noble and kind and brave, these men do not uphold these ideals for some promised paradise, but simply because they are such men. Later traditions make other claims: that the righteous will be rewarded, that the lives of good men will be good and the bad will be punished. The English language does a few meters well, and Homer's is not one of them.
the epic of the iliad has its roots in oral storytelling and i am so impressed at how the flow of the language in this feels like someone is sitting next to me, personally telling me a tale about the best of greeks and their plight against the trojans.
I liked this professor in general, and his graduation speech was a grand: warm congratulations on a crisp early-summer day. He decided to inform us, however, that anyone who had not read The Iliad and The Odyssey should not be graduating from college. This story is about what Homer doesnt describe as much as what he does, and reading it evokes some kind of mirroring response from my body. The Iliad is the almost-death of Achilles, the almost-destruction of Troy, and reading it is an almost-panic-attack, an almost-sob. So, just because I think its fun (and, also because it seems kind of absurd to write a review of The Iliad, so Im wandering in the dark here), Im going to give a brief summary: This story is about a bunch of guys fighting over some women fleshlights and jewelry. As you probably know, the war initially started because Paris, a Trojan, stole Helen, who was the iPhone 5 of fleshlights, from Menelaus, an Argive. This story, Homer clearly tells us, is about Paris and Helens betrayal of Menelaus, and it is about the death of Achilles. The story opens with Agamemnon, the king of the Argives, having stolen a fancy new fleshlight from Achilles, who is a child of a water nymph. Achilles refuses to continue fighting if Agamemnon is going to take his fleshlight. Then, Achilles has this beautiful, beautiful moment where he questions the very nature of fighting over fleshlights. The gods are compelling on their own, but my heart tries to escape my chest not because of their story, but because, yes, humans do live and die by some kind of petty lottery run by a rapist married to his sister. I can picture Achilles's death so vividly, picture lying in that hammock and reading it after I graduated from college, but that never happened. This is a story that I could think about for days: Helens mourning, like the women Ive seen apologize for causing their husbands abuse (no, you didnt cause this); war, and the futility of killing each other, as though we are controlled by the Kardashians of the sky.
The Iliad suggests that even at its most glorious, war can be advocated only by people with the emotional lives of spoiled four-year-olds....
Of a ten year epic war, the poem focuses its attention only on a couple or so of crucial, and in the end inconclusive, weeks (for it does not end with any side victorious but with Hectors death). In fact, it opens with both both Hector & Achilles reluctant and extremely ambivalent towards war. And closes with both Hector & Achilles dead - by mutually assured destruction! However, before we explore that we need to understand Hector & Achilles better and also the Iliad itself. The epic cuts out only a small sliver of insignificant time of the great battle - and thus focuses the spotlight almost exclusively on Hector & Achilles, narrowing the scope of the poem from a larger conflict between warring peoples to a smaller one between these two individuals, and yet maintaining its cosmic aspirations. So the important question is who are Hector & Achilles and why do these two heroes demand nothing less than the greatest western epic to define and contrast them? The Long Wait For Achilles In Iliad, how single-mindedly we are made to focus on Hector, but all the while, the Epic bursts with an absence - that of Achilles! Hector & Achilles: The Metamorphosis Like other ancient epic poems, the Iliad presents its subject clearly from the outset. The Other Life Of Achilles One of the defining scenes of the Epic is the Embassy Scene where a defeated Agamemnon sends Odysseus & co to entreat Achilles to return to the battle. (9.502-4) Hector & Achilles: The Battle Royale Notwithstanding Achilles reluctance and bold affirmations of life, slowly, inevitably, Homer builds the tension and guides us towards the epic clash everybody is waiting for. This calls for a significant re-look at the central conflict of the epic: it might not be Hector Vs Achilles! Patroclus and Hector instead are the real centerpiece of the epic - Achilles being the irresistible force, that is once unleashed unstoppable. Hector, instead of just defending his city, surges forth and decides to burn the Achaean ships. Which means that the Achaeans cant escape - in effect, Hector, by trying to burn the ships is in effect calling for a fight to the death! And thus Hectors own madness (going beyond success in defense) in the face of sound advice brought on a crises for Achaeans to which their prime defender and patriot, Patroclus responded - and then paralleling Hectors own folly, he too succeeded and then went beyond that to his own death. The most important moment in Iliad to me was this prior-moment - when Hector lost it - when he lost himself to war fury: Hectors first act of true savagery - towards Patroclus and his dead-body. Yet, Homer gives Hector one more chance to spurn honor and save himself and diffuse/stall the mighty spirit of Achilles that had been unleashed on the battlegrounds. Thus, fittingly, Homer starts with the Rage of Achilles and ends with the Death of Hector. Homers Prophecies It is made very clear in The Iliad that Achilles will die under Trojan roofs and that Hector will find his doom under the shadow of the Achaean ships - or, both are to die in enemy territory. Though Iliad leaves us with full focus on Hectors death and funeral, there is another death that was always presaged but left off from the story - That of Achilles own. The saga of Hector & Achilles, of the doomed-to-die heroes, leaves one death to the imagination and thus effects a very neat prophetic function. Once Hector committed his folly, once Patroclus rushed to his death, and once Achilles is unleashed, the rest is fixed fate, there is no stopping it. Homer knows that the threshold is crossed, the end is nigh - even Troys destruction is not required to be part of the epic - with Hectors death, the death of Ilium is nigh too and so is Achilles own death and past the myths, the death of the Greek civilization, and maybe of all civilization? In Gilgamesh, the hero learns the follies of life and rebuilds civilization; in The Iliad, Achilles comes into the epic already armed with this knowledge and moves towards seeking death, choosing to be the destroyer instead of the creator.
"Did you really LIKE the Iliad, mum?" My son has just finished reading it, and his question is valid. And that is where I stumbled: those ARE too - but I also LIKE reading them.
Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 BCE, while other ancient sources claim that he lived much nearer to the supposed time of the Trojan War, in the early 12th century BCE.