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Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

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Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Bart » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:24 am

I’ve just finished book 22 and…. Hector is dead! He’s really dead. I knew of course this would happen, knew it long before I began to read the Iliad, and even so, reading book 22 was heartbreaking. Most of all perhaps the last desperate attempt by Priamus and Hecabe to persuade him to retreat inside the safety of walls. It’s a very long time since I was thus blown away by a story, War & Peace maybe.

Two more books to go. Maybe book 23 will offer some emotional respite before the finale.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby demetri » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:46 pm

Chuckle. I understand your feelings. I still remember my emotions at first reading Ajax falling on his sword in Sophocles. That was 45 years ago and it is still in vivid memory. :shock:
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Markos » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:42 pm

Bart wrote:(spoiler alert!)I’ve just finished book 22 and…. Hector is dead! He’s really dead.

There is a sense in which Hector is the real hero of the poem, and Book 22 it's emotional climax. Book 23 is a sort of digression, and Book 24 wraps up some things with Achilles' character. But I think Homer has a special--I don't know what else to call it--love for Hector.

To me Hector's son has the Iliad's last word:
Iliad 22:505: νῦν δ᾽ ἂν πολλὰ πάθῃσι, φίλου ἀπὸ πατρὸς ἁμαρτὼν,
Ἀστυάναξ

The contrast between this and Hector's prayer for his son back in Book 6
Iliad 6:480: φέροι δ᾽ ἔναρα βροτόεντα,
κτείνας δήϊον ἄνδρα, χαρείη δὲ φρένα μήτηρ.

is indeed heartbreaking, but also tinged with all sort of levels of irony. Hector loves his son, but he lacks the wisdom to break the cycle of the futility of war. Indeed, he prays for its continuance.

I'm really glad to see that you are about to finish the Iliad. About a year ago, you announced on Textkit that you were getting ready to read Homer and you asked for resources. We get dozens of these posts a year, and we dutifully answer them, but almost none of them actually stick with it. I'm glad that you have.

So, what to read next? An argument can be made that you should now, while it is still fresh in your mind, reread the Iliad. Maybe this time with your Gaza diglot. But of course the Odyssey awaits.

There is a strange irony that, as far as we know, the first two books ever written by Europeans were the Iliad and the Odyssey, and they remain the two best ever.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Bart » Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:23 pm

Markos wrote: So, what to read next?


Good question. I'll stick with Homer of course, both reading the Odyssey and going through the Iliad a second time. Apart from that I would like to expand my horizon. Possible projects so far: Herodotus, Greek lyric poetry, Hesiodus, the New Testament and Plato. If that seems too much, yes, it probably is. But then this is a hobby, and I can follow any side track I want to and reverse course if I have enough of it. As long as I'm reading Greek (and some Latin too) I'm happy.

Markos wrote:We get dozens of these posts a year, and we dutifully answer them,


Yes, you did (and do). What's more, you guys answered all of my questions and showed patience with my profound ignorance in Homericanibus. Thanks for that.
Last edited by Bart on Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:11 pm

Congratulations for (almost!) finishing the Iliad. We have had many good discussions.

So, what after the Iliad? By now you must be pretty well versed with the Epic dialect, so the Odyssey is an obvious choice, and much easier for you now than, say, Plato, or even Herodotus. But that's not the only possibility: you have also Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and some (but not all) Lyric poetry that will be equally easy (or difficult) for you as the Odyssey, because they are all written in the same dialect.

But you know what? The Odyssey is over 12000 lines. Although shorter than the Iliad (which is over 15000 lines), it's like twice as much as everything else together that survives in the Epic dialect (the Iliad and later Epic excepted, but including Lyric poetry written in the "Homeric" dialect). So why not read an assortment of those before engaging the Odyssey. You could actually "enlarge your horizon" pretty wide in only 2000 or 3000 verses, which is really nothing compared to reading the whole Odyssey. Let me suggest a very tentative reading list:
- Hesiod. Either the Theogony or Works and Days, about 1000 verses each. The language is the same as Homer's (There are excellent, although typically expensive, commented editions of both by M.L. West)
- A selection of Lyric poetry. I don't know these very well, so someone else can probably help you out better, but at least Archilochus, Callinus, Tyrtaeus and Mimnermus should be about the same difficulty as Homer to you. Stay out of Lyric in other dialects for now, if you want to keep it simple (so no e.g. Sappho, Alcaeus or Alcman). Individual poems are about 100 lines max, so you can read a representative sample in no time.
- A Homeric Hymn or two. The longer ones are the most interesting (e.g. the Hymn to Aphrodite is nice), about 500 lines. (These are the most similar to Homer, so I'd prioritize reading Hesiod or Lyric poetry over these, if necessary...). M.L. West (yeah, right!) has produced a nice Loeb edition of these.
- After these, attack the Odyssey!

And how about re-reading the Iliad? Leave it for later! Read something else first to enlarge you perspectives - and it's also nice to return to a great work of literature after an interval and be able to rediscover it.

With regard to Hector I feel very much the same as you and Markos. Hector is so powerful, and yet at the same time so humane and sympathetic - like Achilles, but in a much different way; Hector does nothing in excess. For me, the passage in the Iliad that always makes me shiver is when Hector, the formidable ἀνδροφόνος Hector, finally faces Achilles and panics. The chase that ensues always gives me the goose bumps, much more than the actual death. With Hector, even such seemingly cowardly behavior isn't degrading; Hector didn't face Achilles because he was reckless or a braggart, but because he had to. And if out of his sense of responsibility he took up a task that was too big for him, that doesn't make him any less heroic. Although I consider myself a pacifist, we actually gave the name Hektor to our son.

(Il. 22.157 ff.)
τῇ ῥα παραδραμέτην φεύγων ὃ δ᾽ ὄπισθε διώκων:
πρόσθε μὲν ἐσθλὸς ἔφευγε, δίωκε δέ μιν μέγ᾽ ἀμείνων
καρπαλίμως, ἐπεὶ οὐχ ἱερήϊον οὐδὲ βοείην
ἀρνύσθην, ἅ τε ποσσὶν ἀέθλια γίγνεται ἀνδρῶν,
ἀλλὰ περὶ ψυχῆς θέον Ἕκτορος ἱπποδάμοιο.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby mwh » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:26 pm

I know a couple who named their son Orestes. They're a happy family, so far.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Qimmik » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:38 pm

we actually gave the name Hektor to our son.


What did you name the other 49 sons?
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:52 pm

Deiphobos, Troilos, Polydoros, Kebriones, Gorgythion, and, and... ah I forget the rest, why do you ask?

You're being witty, but you got to give 'em kids a name, can't avoid that! Either you pick up a banal one and risk having half your kids' friends having the same, or then you take one of those "oh-my-parents-are-so-weird" ones. You're stuck between Skylla and Kharybdis!

Orestes however is rather a strange choice, at least from the mother's point of view. Does he have a brother called Oidipous?
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Bart » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:14 pm

I suggested to call our two sons Ajax major and minor: for some reason their mother didn't agree.

Paul Derouda wrote:You're stuck between Skylla and Kharybdis!


If all goes well we'll have a daughter in a few months time. Thanks for the inspiration!
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby mwh » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:39 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Orestes however is rather a strange choice, at least from the mother's point of view.

As it happens, the father is a classicist, the mother not. Make of it what you will.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:46 pm

Bart wrote:
Paul Derouda wrote:You're stuck between Skylla and Kharybdis!


If all goes well we'll have a daughter in a few months time. Thanks for the inspiration!

Yes, Skylla is a nice name for a little girl! :P My congratulations in advance!
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Qimmik » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:27 pm

Charybdis would be even better!
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Bart » Fri May 01, 2015 7:23 am

Paul Derouda wrote:Let me suggest a very tentative reading list:
- Hesiod. Either the Theogony or Works and Days, about 1000 verses each. The language is the same as Homer's (There are excellent, although typically expensive, commented editions of both by M.L. West)
- A selection of Lyric poetry. I don't know these very well, so someone else can probably help you out better, but at least Archilochus, Callinus, Tyrtaeus and Mimnermus should be about the same difficulty as Homer to you. Stay out of Lyric in other dialects for now, if you want to keep it simple (so no e.g. Sappho, Alcaeus or Alcman). Individual poems are about 100 lines max, so you can read a representative sample in no time.
- A Homeric Hymn or two. The longer ones are the most interesting (e.g. the Hymn to Aphrodite is nice), about 500 lines. (These are the most similar to Homer, so I'd prioritize reading Hesiod or Lyric poetry over these, if necessary...). M.L. West (yeah, right!) has produced a nice Loeb edition of these.
- After these, attack the Odyssey!


Thanks! Those are all interesting suggestions. Hesiod is indeed high on my to read pile. Is it better to begin with the Theogony or with Works & Days? Which one is older for instance?
I have to confess that I know next to nothing about the poets you mention. Stupid question maybe and perhaps even unanswerable, but do you recommend them mostly for their historical value or is what's left of their work (mostly fragments?) also of literary interest?

M.L. West must be a very prodigious scholar; everywhere I turn in epic Greek I come across his name. Btw, I've just finished The Making of the Iliad and am now reading his Odyssey book. Fascinating stuff!

However, I don't think I'll postpone 'attacking' the Odyssey; I'm just too much looking forward to it. And then, since I can read Epic quite easily now (with emphasis on quite), I reckon I can go through 2 or 3 books of the Odyssey in a month and still have plenty of time left to read other things.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Qimmik » Fri May 01, 2015 11:45 am

Is it better to begin with the Theogony or with Works & Days?


I think Works and Days is more interesting. It offers insights into rural Greek life, and it also has more quotable passages, which are as much at the core of ancient Greek culture as Homer, and which later Greek and Latin authors (Vergil, in particular) echo. The Theogony is a compendium of mythological genealogy. As Paul said, try to get your hands on West's superb editions of these works. Steal them from the library if you have to. (Just kidding.)

Which one is older for instance?


There's no clear answer to this question. "Hesiod" is almost as elusive as "Homer."

For the lyric poets (which are mostly fragments), this edition is outstanding--it will guide you through the linguistic difficulties, which you won't find as difficult as you might think after having made your way through the Iliad. The material collected in this book is something everyone interested in ancient Greek literature should be familiar with. It won't take you very long to work your way through it, and I don't think the Aeolic and Doric materials will be as difficult as Paul suggests. Again, there isn't a lot of it.

http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Lyric-Poetry-Bcp-Texts/dp/0862920086

For the Homeric hymns, the Cambridge Green & Yellow series has a good entry by Nicholas Richardson:

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Homeric-Hymns-Aphrodite-Cambridge/dp/0521457742/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1430480142&sr=8-11&keywords=homeric+hymns

It doesn't include the Hymn to Demeter, which is the most wonderful. Richardson's edition is very expensive for a poem of a few hundred lines, but on a par with West's editions of Hesiod:

http://www.amazon.com/Homeric-Hymn-Demeter-N-Richardson/dp/0198141998/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1430480224&sr=8-5&keywords=homeric+hymn+to+demeter

Less expensive and also very good:

[url]http://www.amazon.com/dp/0691014795/ref=rdr_ext_tmb#reader_0691014795
[/url]

And, of course, there's West's Loeb edition:

http://www.amazon.com/Homeric-Hymns-Apocrypha-Classical-Library/dp/0674996062/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430480673&sr=1-1&keywords=loeb+homeric+hymns
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri May 01, 2015 9:19 pm

Qimmik wrote:
Is it better to begin with the Theogony or with Works & Days?


I think Works and Days is more interesting. It offers insights into rural Greek life, and it also has more quotable passages, which are as much at the core of ancient Greek culture as Homer, and which later Greek and Latin authors (Vergil, in particular) echo. The Theogony is a compendium of mythological genealogy. As Paul said, try to get your hands on West's superb editions of these works. Steal them from the library if you have to. (Just kidding.)
Which one is older for instance?


There's no clear answer to this question. "Hesiod" is almost as elusive as "Homer."

I'd agree that Works and Days is more interesting in the way that you get a glimpse at the average Greek's life over 2500 years ago. The genre would be called wisdom literature. Read the Theogony if you just want a nice story and mythological trivia.
West has also produced a handy translation of both, to be found in the same paperback volume published by Oxford University Press.

I don't know a lot about Hesiod, but I think we can be much more certain that there was a man named Hediod behind both these texts than about Homer - whose name probably wasn't Homer and who probably didn't author both epics attributed to him. However, not all surviving texts attributed to Hesiod are likely to be his.

For Lyric poetry, I also recommend the book recommended by Qimmik, which he had previously recommended to me. (But do like me, and get an old hardback copy and not a reprint) I'm a sort of beginner myself with Lyric poetry, but there is not really that much surviving material, and my point was just to give you a couple of names that you will likely find easy to read and that I hope are representative of the genre at the same time. I agree with Qimmik that the Aeolic and Doric poems are not too difficult either, but I thought to minimize the difficulties. I have one complaint with that book though: For Archilochus, probably the best known are his very nasty and vulgar poems, and those are not included.

If you especially enjoyed stuff like the seduction of Zeus by Hera, Homeric Hymns are your sort of thing. (The subject matter in the hymn to Aphrodite is, not surprisingly, very similar...)
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Markos » Sat May 02, 2015 5:47 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:So, what after the Iliad? By now you must be pretty well versed with the Epic dialect, so the Odyssey is an obvious choice...

If you want to, as it were, cleanse your palate between reading the two Epics, check out the Batrachomyomachia. It's short, relatively easy for Epic, and lots of fun. As you know, Nikolaos Theseus includes it as an appendix to his edition of Gaza's paraphrase. In this case, Theseus himself wrote the Attic paraphrase as, I think, a type of tribute to Gaza.

I laughed twice out loud while reading the Batrachomyomachia. There were some jokes, like Athena not being able to pay back the τόκος on a robe destroyed by the mice, which I did not fully get. The poem makes fun of Homer, of course, but more importantly it is anti-war art. If Homer did not write it, he would have liked it.
Bart wrote:As long as I'm reading Greek (and some Latin too) I'm happy.

μακαρίσω σε οὖν ἔγωγε.
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Re: Iliad 22 (spoiler alert!)

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat May 02, 2015 7:27 pm

I agree with Markos, the Batrachomyomachy is really funny. No better dessert after the Iliad than a parody of it. I won't surprise anyone by telling you that it's included in a Loeb volume edited by M. L. West. Of course, it's not as early a work as the other works mentioned here; this text most likely survived to our times because it was thought to be a funny enough introductory text to Homer for schoolboys.
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