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Questions on the Iliad

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Questions on the Iliad

Postby Ireclan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:44 am

I figured I'd start a thread here on the open discussion boards to house all my questions that will inevitably come up when reading the Iliad. Here's to hoping that this thread will be successful! I'm using the Lattimore translation, by the way. Here's my first question:

Now when they were all assembled in one place together
Achilleus of the swift feet stood up among them and spoke forth:
"Son of Atreus, I believe now that straggling backwards
we must make our way home if we can even escape death,
if fighting now must crush Achaians and the plague likewise.
No, come, let us ask some holy man, some prophet, even an interpreter of dreams, since a dream also
comes from Zeus, who can tell why Phoibos Apollo is so angry,
if for the sake of some vow, some hecatomb he blames us,
if given the fragrant smoke of lambs, of he goats, somehow
he can be made willing to beat the bane aside from us."

- Pages 60 and 61, Lines 57 through 67


My question is, why does Achilleus seem so schizophrenic here? When I read "Son of Atreus, I believe now that straggling backwards we must make our way home if we can even escape death, if fighting now must crush Achaians and the plague likewise.", it seems that Achilleus is in favor of going back home. But then in the next sentence he says "No, come, let us ask some holy man, some prophet, even an interpreter of dreams, since a dream also comes from Zeus, who can tell why Phoibos Apollo is so angry, if for the sake of some vow, some hecatomb he blames us, if given the fragrant smoke of lambs, of he goats, somehow he can be made willing to beat the bane aside from us.", which seems to be indicating that, suddenly, he's for staying. So what gives? Why the abrupt change? Is this supposed to be an indication that Hera's at work, and the sudden change is her "putting a thought into his mind" (which I didn't quote)? This doesn't make much sense though, because the text clearly states that the thought she put into his mind was calling the Achaians to assembly. It makes no mention of any further interaction between Hera and Achilleus...
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Re: Questions on the Iliad

Postby annis » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:05 am

William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby IreneY » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:54 pm

I read it as "Look, if we have to fight and deal with the plague at the same time (see annis' comment on the translation of the word), we are history and we should pack up and go home because it's just not possible. So what we have to do is see how we can deal with the plague first so that we can actually fight our enemies."
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Postby Ireclan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:13 pm

Well, that seems to be a reasonable interpretation. Thanks.
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Postby Ireclan » Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:11 pm

Well, I have another question.

King who feed on your people, since you rule nonentities;
otherwise, son of Atreus, this were your last outrage.

--Lines 231 through 232, Page 65


Just to provide context, this is Achilleus speaking to Agamemnon after Agamemnon has said he will take the girl Achilleus won in battle. What I don't get is he says OTHERWISE....But otherwise WHAT? The otherwise implies that it would be Agamemnon's last insult, but for SOMETHING. What is that something though? The previous line I took to mean "You exploit your people mercilessly, and they are nothing because they do not stand up to you". But how does this tie in with the next sentence? I know I'm probably not being clear, but this is the best I can do.
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Postby timeodanaos » Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:48 pm

I take otherwise as meaning 'if you were not king' in this context.
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Postby Ireclan » Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:08 am

Hmmmm.....Well, I suppose that could be a valid interpretation. After all, the Greeks of this time DO seem to have great respect for their kings, or at least, the poet of this work does. I don't have exact quotes, but when I tried reading this before (with no help, so I eventually got frustrated and quit), I noticed that the poet of the Iliad seems to believe that kings derive their authority from the gods (not an uncommon belief, for most of human history).
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Postby timeodanaos » Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:22 am

Ireclan wrote:Hmmmm.....Well, I suppose that could be a valid interpretation. After all, the Greeks of this time DO seem to have great respect for their kings, or at least, the poet of this work does. I don't have exact quotes, but when I tried reading this before (with no help, so I eventually got frustrated and quit), I noticed that the poet of the Iliad seems to believe that kings derive their authority from the gods (not an uncommon belief, for most of human history).
Ahem, ahem... The Iliad and the Odyssey do not stem from one poet called Homer, although tradition has maintained that. In the links section of annis' website www.aoidoi.org, there are many link to pages about the so-called Homeric Question, the question of the origins of these epics. It is commonly held that The Iliad and The Odyssey are the products of a long, oral tradition of reciting heroic poetry and thus have not one, but many authors.
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Postby IreneY » Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:17 pm

Homeric question aside, a) respect yes. Divine right the "midieval" way no, not really. b)respect for kings in this poem indeed. But not to the point of not presenting them, often, as little @#!@$. c) Agamemnon is a king, true. He's elected (more or less) chief of the army. Achilles is not a commoner though, not by far and has also a wee bit of trouble with holding his temper
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Postby Ireclan » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:24 pm

timeodanaos wrote:Ahem, ahem... The Iliad and the Odyssey do not stem from one poet called Homer, although tradition has maintained that. In the links section of annis' website http://www.aoidoi.org, there are many link to pages about the so-called Homeric Question, the question of the origins of these epics. It is commonly held that The Iliad and The Odyssey are the products of a long, oral tradition of reciting heroic poetry and thus have not one, but many authors.


Well, really it depends on how you define "author". I believe that a single entity composed both poems, but that the authors were different for each (if you know what I mean). Now, I agree that the authors drew inspiration from a long line of poetry on the same subject, and probably the framework is exactly the same as the inspirational sources, but really, I see no reason why it need be a compendium, if that's what you're saying. It sounds too coherent to have had multiple authors, at least for the incarnation that got written down.

IreneY wrote:respect yes. Divine right the "midieval" way no, not really.


How do you arrive at this conclusion? I see them as being very similar. Wasn't divine right were you claim your authority from a divine being or beings? Well, in the Iliad, the poet says again and again that kings derive their authority from Zeus. Or have I missed some subtle gradient here?
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Postby IreneY » Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:27 pm

Oh they were all offsprings of one god or another and all the other stuff I grant you, but you seem to forget how different Zeus and co were and how differently they were portrayed in relation to the Christian God. :D Odysseus is a king, Achilleus is a king, Agamemnon is a king and the list goes on. If you read what we know about them (from Homer(s) at least since it's Illiad we're talking about) you'll see that there is a great difference between the two.
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Postby Ireclan » Fri May 02, 2008 1:49 am

Well, I haven't had another question for awhile, but now I am truely stumped.

"For this day let us put an end to the hatred and the fighting
now; they shall fight again hereafter, till we witness the finish
they make of Ilion, since it is dear to the heart of you, who
are goddesses immortal, that this city should be made desolate."

~ Book Seven, Lines 29 - 32



This is Apollon, speaking to Athene. He seems to be saying that the sack of Ilion is a forgone conclusion, but if this is true, why is he even helping the Trojans? Is it a matter of honor?
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Postby IreneY » Sat May 03, 2008 7:16 pm

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Postby Interaxus » Sat May 03, 2008 11:08 pm

IreneY:

Thanks for dictionary practice. Answer to your question: prelude, preamble, preface, introduction; hymn.

Take your pick.

Cheers,
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Postby Ireclan » Sun May 04, 2008 1:06 am

IreneY wrote:The reason it is phrased like this is another example of the trouble ancient Greeks seemed to face, at least at that cultural point, in deciding whether things were fated to happen in a certain way or it was men themselves who decided their own future.



Ooooh....Deep thoughts, IreneY.... :) Thank you for clearing up this point for me.
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Postby Ireclan » Sun May 04, 2008 7:10 pm

Yet another question.

And then would murmur any man, gazing into the wide sky:
"Father Zeus, watching over us from Ida, most high, most honored,
grant that Aias win the vaunt of renown and the victory;
but if truly you love Hektor and are careful for him,
give to both of them equal strength, make equal their honor."

~Book Seven, Lines 201 - 205


How in the world do the Achaians expect both of them to have equal honor? The way it works is whoever lives gets all of the honor, right? So how would "equal honor" work?
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Postby IreneY » Mon May 05, 2008 12:23 pm

"Hono(u)r" is not synonymous with either "victory or "life" in quite a few cultures, even today :D

Oh and thanks for the term translation; It's nice to know I can be lazy when I feel like it :lol:
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Postby Ireclan » Mon May 05, 2008 6:04 pm

IreneY wrote:"Hono(u)r" is not synonymous with either "victory or "life" in quite a few cultures, even today :D


Oh, OK. I guess I did misunderstand how the culture works then, at least where that's concerned.
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Postby Ireclan » Tue May 06, 2008 6:10 pm

Another question, if I may...

They accomplished likewise full sacrifices before the immortals,
and the winds wafted the savour aloft from the plain to the heavens
in its fragrance; and yet the blessed gods took no part of it.
they would not; so hateful to them was sacred Ilion,
and Priam, and the city of Priam of the strong ash spear.


But what about Apollon and Aphrodite? They're on the side of the Trojans, are they not? This passage makes it seem that ALL the gods are angry with Ilion, when in fact they aren't. Why?
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