Iliad SparkNotes Literature Guide: Volume 35 (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)
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Because the poem begins in the middle of things like this, the inciting incident of The Iliad is different from the inciting incident of the Trojan War itself. Curiously, though, the two inciting incidents mirror each other. The event that set the Trojan War in motion occurred when Paris, the prince of Troy, stole away from Sparta with the young woman Helen. Similarly, the event that sets The Iliad in motion occurs when Agamemnon steals from Achilles a young woman named Briseis, who had come to Achilles among other spoils from victory in battle. In this way, the beginning of The Iliad symbolically repeats the beginning of the Trojan War. Yet in spite of their symbolic similarity, these two abductions have opposing effects. Whereas Paris’s abduction of Helen pushes the Achaean and Trojan armies into battle, Agamemnon’s abduction of Briseis so enrages Achilles that the warrior removes himself from battle entirely. Before, however, entering into particulars respecting the question of this unity of the Homeric poems, (at least of the Iliad,) I must express my sympathy with the sentiments expressed in the following remarks:--
The Iliad: Symbols | SparkNotes The Iliad: Symbols | SparkNotes
What shame, what woe is this to Greece! what joy To Troy's proud monarch, and the friends of Troy! That adverse gods commit to stern debate The best, the bravest, of the Grecian state. Young as ye are, this youthful heat restrain, Nor think your Nestor's years and wisdom vain. A godlike race of heroes once I knew, Such as no more these aged eyes shall view! Lives there a chief to match Pirithous' fame, Dryas the bold, or Ceneus' deathless name; Theseus, endued with more than mortal might, Or Polyphemus, like the gods in fight? With these of old, to toils of battle bred, In early youth my hardy days I led; Fired with the thirst which virtuous envy breeds, And smit with love of honourable deeds, Strongest of men, they pierced the mountain boar, Ranged the wild deserts red with monsters' gore, And from their hills the shaggy Centaurs tore: Yet these with soft persuasive arts I sway'd; When Nestor spoke, they listen'd and obey'd. If in my youth, even these esteem'd me wise; Do you, young warriors, hear my age advise. Atrides, seize not on the beauteous slave; That prize the Greeks by common suffrage gave: Nor thou, Achilles, treat our prince with pride; Let kings be just, and sovereign power preside. Thee, the first honours of the war adorn, Like gods in strength, and of a goddess born; Him, awful majesty exalts above The powers of earth, and sceptred sons of Jove. Let both unite with well-consenting mind, So shall authority with strength be join'd. Leave me, O king! to calm Achilles' rage; Rule thou thyself, as more advanced in age. Forbid it, gods! Achilles should be lost, The pride of Greece, and bulwark of our host." Although upset by the loss of a favorite prize, what bothers Achilles most is the way Agamemnon’s action upsets the norms of Greek warrior culture. Agamemnon has leveraged his power as a king to take something away from Achilles without actually earning it. Not only does this strike Achilles as a personal betrayal but it also indicates a crisis in the principles that guide warrior ethics: honor and glory. Agamemnon has not acted honorably, nor has he won glory by demonstrating bravery in battle. Even so, he walks away with the best prize simply because he’s in a position of power. What Agamemnon’s action teaches Achilles is that his own glory as a warrior is not simply a matter of personal integrity and performance; it is subject to external forces over which he has no control. Scandalized, Achilles sees no reason to continue fighting under the Agamemnon’s command. War is a matter of life and death, and if it can’t offer the kinds of rewards he’s accustomed to, then there’s no point in risking the one life he has. As Achilles puts it in Book 9: “I say no wealth is worth my life!” At this time," continues our narrative, "there lived at Smyrna a man named Phemius, a teacher of literature and music, who, not being married, engaged Critheis to manage his household, and spin the flax he received as the price of his scholastic labours. So satisfactory was her performance of this task, and so modest her conduct, that he made proposals of marriage, declaring himself, as a further inducement, willing to adopt her son, who, he asserted, would become a clever man, if he were carefully brought up."
In his poetical compositions Homer displays great gratitude towards Mentor of Ithaca, in the Odyssey, whose name he has inserted in his poem as the companion of Ulysses,(13) in return for the care taken of him when afflicted with blindness. He also testifies his gratitude to Phemius, who had given him both sustenance and instruction." Meanwhile, a surrogate conflict is being waged between the gods on behalf of the Trojans and Achaeans. Athena, Hera, and Poseidon support the Achaean forces, while Apollo, Aphrodite, and Ares support the Trojans. As the battle rages on, the gods give strength and inspiration to their respective champions. Eventually Zeus, planning to shape the conflict by himself so that he may fulfill his promise to Thetis, bans intervention in the war by the other gods. Zeus helps engineer the Trojan advance against the Achaeans. Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. The Achaean Ships
The Iliad: Style | SparkNotes The Iliad: Style | SparkNotes
Scepticism is as much the result of knowledge, as knowledge is of scepticism. To be content with what we at present know, is, for the most part, to shut our ears against conviction; since, from the very gradual character of our education, we must continually forget, and emancipate ourselves from, knowledge previously acquired; we must set aside old notions and embrace fresh ones; and, as we learn, we must be daily unlearning something which it has cost us no small labour and anxiety to acquire. The Greeks in shouts their joint assent declare, The priest to reverence, and release the fair. Not so Atrides; he, with kingly pride, Repulsed the sacred sire, and thus replied:In addition to the many translations that have appeared through the centuries, numerous poets and novelists have offered creative retellings of The Iliad. Among the most important poetic reimaginings is Christopher Logue’s long-term project in which he sought to compose a poetic “account” that would retell the events of Homer’s poem in a modernist style. Logue used numerous translations of The Iliad as references while composing a version that emphasized a loose, Imagist style that did away with many of the formal conventions typically associated with Homeric verse. Logue’s poem initially met criticism from classicists when the first installments of the work appeared in 1981, but the project eventually achieved recognition, with Logue receiving the prestigious Whitbread Poetry Award in 2005 for the installment titled Cold Calls. Though not completed before his death in 2011, Logue’s project includes accounts of Books 1–9 and 16–19, all of which were originally published separately and later collected in one volume titled War Music. I will conclude this sketch of the Homeric theories, with an attempt, made by an ingenious friend, to unite them into something like consistency. It is as follows:--