|ὕβρις||ἁρπάζω||ἔρις||νεῖκος||ἄλγος (pl. ἄλγεα)|
|hybris ----»||harpadzein ----»||eris ----»||neikos ----»||algea|
Iliad, Part 3.
How to read Homer (& other literature)
Read the words. Consider the possible meanings.
Odyssey 1. 31-35
ὢ πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτιόωνται·
μόρον (Odyssey 1. 34) Beyond what was fated,
contrary to fate. The Fates are the
algea - woes, sorrows, misfortunes, sufferings
Mείραι - the
to cause to be divided
to receive as a portionr
passive voice - eímato - it was ordained by fate
Humans are born with an allotment from fate.
Shield of Achilles represents the parts of the human condition - peace & war alternate.
1. Principle 1 - Life is in flux
Zeus in Odyssey 1 argues that we make our own pattern which has more woes (ἄλγεα) than necessary. Then we blame the gods
Archilochos - 1st Lyric poet - says we should practice tlémosunē - endurance. Whether things are good or bad, don't get too excited - things will change soon.
Homer's thought has long shadow in Greece & Western civ.
2. Principle 2
- What causes woes? strife
- What causes strife? snatching something that rightfully belongs to someone else
- What causes snatching? Our pride & arrogance
- My pride leads me to take something not mine, the other person resists & strife ensues. Suffering results.
Cutting - Heroes also cut up meat for feasts
Everybody has a place at the feast. Everybody gets a part. Δίκη Dikē - justice - a basic Greek principle
Not everybody is equal. Foot soldier gets some meat, but not the best.
The person who has fought the best gets the best portions. The best deserve the most. Aristocratic ethos. Those who do the most dangerous work in society get the biggest portion.
Aristotle's Politics. Some govts are 'democratic' bc free males vote-those who fight in phalanx. Children, women, slaves, foreigners don't vote.
Iliad focuses on this question - who is the best of the Achaeans (áristos Achaiôn)?
Achilles - killed most people; Trojans don't come out to fight him any more.
Agamemnon - king of Mycene, leads most troops, thinks he's the best, but several other heroes outshine Agamemnon on the field Achilles, Diomedes, Odysseus
The quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon is inevitable.
Agamemnon always takes more than his share after a battle. Why? His pride
This culture places higher value on warriors than on
kings. Division between kings and their best
warriors is a motiff. Arthur vs Lancelot fighting
Hero of epic embodies highest values of their culture
Achilles the hero of the Iliad
Odysseus the hero of the Odyssey
Hector also very admirable. Is very good; just isn't Achilles. Or even Diomedes.
Gregory Nagy has written an excellent book entitled The Best of the Achaeans about this subject. It's online free, and it's a good secondary source for research papers.
Later when the polis developed
and the gynmasia were
opened, Homer was taught to the students.
Positive models - Achilles, Odysseus, Hector
Negative models - Agamemnon, Paris
What are the qualities that make somebody the best?
- βία , bia Ion. βίη Bíē - strength, esp fighting ablilty. Courage. The main quality of Achilles
- Mῆτις Mētis - thinking
abilty. Wisdom. Know how to build a bed, a
raft, how to persuade others, how to lead troops, how to
find the will of the Gods. Odysseus is
the embodiment of Mētis.
He is always thinking and is very tricky. The
Trojan Horse is just one of his many tricks.
BTW, would the Trojan Horse work today? We’ve seen how effectively it worked with the literal horse. Now let’s put Osama bin Laden in a motorcade and see if he can get to George Bush and other world leaders in a prank by the same guys.
Two poems about two types of heroes -- Iliad and Odyssey. Other Indo-European traditions have these also
The Courage and Wisdom Topos.
Iliad begins with Achilles associated with Bíē, but the high point is when Achilles has undergone a transformation of his thinking when he receives Peleus
Odysseus is a great fighter; Odysseus' is more prized for his thinking ability.
Through the Odyssey, Odysseus is noted for his craftiness. Climax centers on his fighting.
Nestor is the
other wise man in the Iliad. His wisdom comes from
his long life & experience.
Odysseus wisdom comes from his quick thinking.
Which god has both of these qualities the most?
Athena - she favors Achilles in the Iliad & Odysseus in the Odyssey
She grabs Achilles in Iliad 1 to tell him not to kill Agamemnon
End of the Iliad, she pretends to be Hector's
brother & says they can face Achilles
together. She disappears when Achilles gets there.
In the Odyssey she's everywhere, both directly & indirectly
Olive tree is all around. The bed in his bedroom is made of olive.
Pulls himself out a stormy sea by grabbing a small olive tree
Hides in an olive grove in Phaiacia
She likes Odysseus bc he has both these qualities.
Having these qualities doesn't automatically make you a hero. You have to use these qualities to help your philoi, your beloved.
Odysseus does this when he disposes of the suitors.
What about Achilles? Begins by thinking of his philoi as members of his family - mother, father. Also his comrades, like Patroclus.
Patroclus & Achilles grew up togther. He accidentally killed a playmate & went into exile. Was thereafter like an older brother to Achilles living in his household.
As a leader in the war, he thinks of his men as his philoi. Doesn't value the other Greeks. Likes Aias. Suspects Odysseus - knows he's a liar & doesn't trust him.
Expects the other elite warriors to speak up for him when he fights with Agamemnon. They don't speak up for him, & he feels alienated. They are no longer his philoi. He's ready to leave those Greeks to themselves.
Sits in his tent while the Trojans breach the Greek wall and burn their ships. The Trojans don't come down as far as his tents & his ships.
Achilles watches while the ships burn. Greeks beg him to come back, but he won't.
Why won't he return to battle? He's been insulted by Agamemnon & the other Greeks who backed Agamenmon. Nullifies 9 years of fighting.
Is this a sign of pride? It's close to it.
His ego has been hurt.
Hector has both Bíē and Mētis and always uses them for his philoi. Even kind to Helen. Fights for his city as well as his family.
Hector is in some ways the ideal figure. Not the best fighter, but very good. Uses his mental abilites also
May be a good fighter & a smart person, but if you
don't help your philoi, you aren't a hero.
The hero shares his Bíē and Mētis with those who have less
Why not give Helen back after Paris loses the showdown?
- It would be contrary to fate and the earlier songs about the war. Troy is fated to fall.
- The Trojans would lose face if they gave Helen back. There are opportunities to restore her in the poem that the Trojans don't take. Even had Menelaus killed Paris, they might not have given her back. It's hard to give her back after men have died - would have meant they died for nothing. As leaving Iraq would undo the sacrifice of the earlier soldiers.
Would understand kidnapping someone in a raid better than running off with your host's wife.
Ancient slavery is a little vague. Can start out
as a slave and become a part of the family later, like the
4. Principle 4 - Centering
Two most notable elements of Greek thought bc they were the two areas Greeks were most lacking in.
The problem of hubris & snatching. Even bia
& metis don't always help.
Must be centered. (meden agan) Aristotle sees virtue as being in the middle between two extremes.
If you verge toward the extreme, you lose your center, your balance.
The flow of forces constantly change around you. You must change your center point to meet the challenge. Must turn to face the challenge.
Forces attacking us try to knock us off balance.
How do you know what your balance point, your center is?
Through your experience & being able to feel your own center point.
How do you handle the things trying to destroy you? Have to react to different things based on what they are AND based on what you are.
Always try to maintain balance.
In a centered position, you take only what it is appropriate for you to take.
ὕβρις hubris, pride - you are unbalanced, trying to take what doesn't belong to you.
If you are centered, you don't create unnecessary suffering;