depiction of Ares in Iliad 5: humor? satire? straight?

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bcrowell
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depiction of Ares in Iliad 5: humor? satire? straight?

Post by bcrowell »

Ares has a long speech to Zeus in Iliad 5.872-887. He's upset because Athena has helped Diomede to wound him and Aphrodite.

I guess discerning the tone of a piece of writing is a high-level reading skill, and my level of fluency in reading Homer is pretty low. To me, this comes off like it's too over the top to be taken seriously, but maybe I don't have an accurate idea of how the ancients expected their gods to behave. The fearsome, bloodthirsty god of war goes running to Daddy to complain that his sister helped a mortal give him an owie. "ἀλλά μ ̓ ὑπήνεικαν ταχέες πόδες." Is there so much irony here that it has to be taken by Homer's audience as a farce?

I guess it could be compared with the depiction of Thersites in Iliad 2.
Ben Crowell, Fullerton, California
an innovative, free, and open-source presentation of Homer: https://bcrowell.github.io/ransom/

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Re: depiction of Ares in Iliad 5: humor? satire? straight?

Post by Hylander »

The scene between Aphrodite and Dione that precedes Ares' complaint to Zeus is equally farcical.

The gods aren't necessarily depicted as admirable in the Iliad or the Odyssey, and Ares is not well-liked. Even Zeus rebukes him for complaining.

For other farcical scenes involving the gods, you might compare the Deception of Zeus in Iliad 14.153-353, where Hera seduces him.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deception ... jan%20War.

And the song of Demodocus, in Od. 8.266 ff., on the adultery of Aphrodite and Ares, who are caught and bound by Hephaestus in a net and humiliated before the other gods. But when Apollo asks Hermes whether he would want to be caught in chains sleeping with Aphrodite, Hermes says yes he would gladly endure the punishment to sleep with Aphrodite. Od. 335-342.

The gods are indifferent to human suffering, except for certain of their individual favorites. After all, the Trojan War was set in motion by petty jealousies among three goddesses. In the Iliad, the gods' frivolity and pettiness contrast dramatically with the grim seriousness of mortals who unlike the gods confront death. This is a powerful theme in the Iliad, and it imposes itself particularly on Achilles, who knows his life is fated to be short.
Bill Walderman

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Re: depiction of Ares in Iliad 5: humor? satire? straight?

Post by bcrowell »

Thanks, Bill. That's very interesting. I guess for someone of my time and cultural background it's a little hard to decode pagan attitudes.
Ben Crowell, Fullerton, California
an innovative, free, and open-source presentation of Homer: https://bcrowell.github.io/ransom/

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