homer. writer of two Epic Poems – the Iliad and the Odyssey Long – each 24 books of average 500 lines each (12,000 lines) narrative (tells a story) – not about feelings emotions hymns etc about lofty characters – heroes and gods. a single writer? Traditionally Unity of poetic vision
writer of two Epic Poems – the Iliad and the Odyssey
Long – each 24 books of average 500 lines each (12,000 lines)
narrative (tells a story) – not about feelings emotions hymns etc
about lofty characters – heroes and gods
Who/WHAT was HOMER
How might it have happened?
This way of telling a story lends itself to epic conventions
At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (parents of Achilles – divine origins – of course)
Eris (discord) not invited but tosses in an apple “for the fairest”
Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each claim it.
Zeus asked to decide, but pikes out and picks a poor mortal to do it
Paris prince of Troy chooses Aphrodite (best bribe – he can have the most beautiful woman in the world
Helen (daughter of Zeus and Leda)
Paris steals back to Troy with Helen
Husband Menelaus of Sparta get Br Agamemnon of Mycenae, and all the Achaeans to retrieve her.
10 yr siege with no side winning and the gods interfering to protect their favourites at various points
Great heroes on both sides
Gk – Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus;
Trojan – Hector
Trojan horse (an idea of Odysseus) used to break the siege
AFTER The war
Many stories of the difficulties the heroes had after the fall of Troy
Most famous Odysseus (told in the Odyssey) Circe the witch, Cyclops, Lotus eaters, wife’s suitors, Reunited with his son Telemachus.
Aeneas - a Trojan – son of Aphrodite - escapes with his father and son
Eventually founds Rome – Caesar traced descent from him (told in Virgil’s Aeneid)
Schliemann – great discoveries, but over the top claims the war starts
Archaeological work shows there were such cities, and warfare between them.
Focuses on a short episode in the final year of the war, not the whole story
The rage of Achilles at being insulted by Agamemnon, then hector
Agamemnon takes Achilles war-prise so he leaves the fighting
Things go bad for Gks so Agamemnon asks him to return (in vane). Bk9
His friend Patroclus fights in his armour to restore Gk confidence BK16
Patroclus killed by Hector and Achilles finally returns to battle to avenge dead friend BK20
He kills Hector, and defiles the body
Priam king of Troy ransoms the body of his son Hector from Achilles and the Iliad ends with the funeral of Hector. Bk24
What motivates heroic behaviour
Individual’s duty to society
Cooperation verses competition and conflict
Place of fate in men’s live
Interaction of the gods (God) in human affairs.
How best should mortals live their lives esp in the face of imminent death
MAC RAP in dactylic octameter
not exactly heroic –
but shows the hopnotic effect of rhyme and rythmn in story telling
SOME SAMPLESBk1 line 1:the rage of Achilles
Sing, Goddess, sing of the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus—
that murderous anger which condemned Achaeans
to countless agonies and threw many warrior souls
deep into Hades, leaving their dead bodies
carrion food for dogs and birds—
all in fulfilment of the will of Zeus.
SOME SAMPLESbk1/158 Achilles & Agamemnon
“You insatiable creature, quite shameless.
How can any Achaean obey you willingly— 
join a raiding party or keep fighting
with full force against an enemy?
I didn’t come to battle over here
because of Trojans. I have no fight with them.
They never stole my bulls or horses
or razed my crops in fertile Phthia, 170
where heroes grow. Many shady mountains
and the roaring sea stand there between us.
But you, great shameless man, we came with you,
to please you, to win honour from the Trojans—
for you, dog face, and for Menelaus.
You don’t consider this, don’t think at all.
SOME SAMPLESbk 4/473 Ajax kills Simoisious
Then Ajax, son of Telamon, hit Simoeisius,
Anthemion’s son, a fine young warrior. 550
He was born on the banks of the river Simoeis,
while his mother was coming down Mount Ida,
accompanying her parents to watch their flocks.
That’s why the people called him Simoeisius.
But he did not repay his fond parents for raising him.
His life was cut short on great Ajax’s deadly spear.
As he was moving forward with the men in front, 
Ajax struck him in the chest, by the right nipple.
The bronze spear went clean through his shoulder.
He collapsed in the dust, like a poplar tree, 560
one growing in a large well-watered meadow,
from whose smooth trunk the branches grow up to the top,
until a chariot builder’s bright axe topples it,
bends the wood, to make wheel rims for a splendid chariot,
letting the wood season by the riverbank.
That’s how godlike Ajax chopped down Simoeisius,
son of Anthemion.
SOME SAMPLESbk 5/860, 889 Ares wounded & insulted
aren’t you incensed at this barbarity?
We gods are always suffering dreadfully
at each other’s hands, when we bring men help.
We all lay the blame for this on you. 1000
Scowling at him, cloud-gatherer Zeus replied:
“You hypocrite, don’t sit there whining at me.
Among the gods who live on Mount Olympus,
you’re the one I hate the most. For you love war, 1020
constant strife and battle. Your mother, Hera,
has an implacable, unyielding spirit.
It’s hard for me to control how she reacts
to what I say. You’re suffering because of her,
through her conniving, that’s what I think.
But I’ll leave you in pain no longer.
You’re my child—your mother and I made you.
But if you’d been born from any other god,
by now you’d be lower than the sons
of Ouranos—you’re so destructive.” 1030
SOME SAMPLES bk6/441,466 Hector’s leaving family
With these words,
glorious Hector stretched his hands out for his son.
The boy immediately shrank back against the breast
of the finely girdled nurse, crying out in terror
to see his own dear father, scared at the sight of bronze,
the horse-hair plume nodding fearfully from his helmet top. 
The child’s loving father laughed, his noble mother, too.
Glorious Hector pulled the glittering helmet off 580
and set it on the ground. Then he kissed his dear son
and held him in his arms. He prayed aloud to Zeus
and the rest of the immortals.
So let the same container hold our bones, 110
that gold two-handled jar your mother gave you.”
Swift-footed Achilles then said in reply:
“Dear friend, why have you come to me here,
telling me everything I need to do?
I’ll carry out all these things for you,
attend to your request. But come closer.
Let’s hold each other one short moment more,
enjoying a shared lament together.”
Saying this, Achilles reached out with his arms, 
but he grasped nothing. The spirit had departed, 120
going underground like vapour, muttering faintly.
Achilles jumped up in amazement, clapped his hands,
and then spoke out in sorrow:
It seems that even in Hades’ house,
some spirit or ghost remains, but our being
is not there at all.
SOME SAMPLES bk23/70 Ghost of Patroclus
The ghost spoke to Achilles, saying:
“You’re asleep, Achilles. 80
You’ve forgotten me. While I was alive, 
you never did neglect me. But now I’m dead.
So bury me as quickly as you can.
Then I can pass through the gates of Hades.
The spirits, ghosts of the dead, keep me away.
They don’t let me join them past the river.
So I wander aimlessly round Hades’ home
by its wide gates. Give me your hand, I beg you,
for I’ll never come again from Hades,
once you’ve given me what’s due, my funeral fire. 90
We’ll no more sit together making plans,
separated from our dear companions.
The jaws of dreadful Fate are gaping for me,
ready to consume me—my destiny
from the day that I was born. You, too,
godlike Achilles, you have your own fate, 
to die under the walls of wealthy Troy.
I’ll say one more thing, one last request,
if you will listen. Achilles, don’t lay your bones
apart from mine. Let them remain together, 100