Lecture Two Homer, Iliad. Lecturer: Wu Shiyu. Outline.
Lecturer: Wu Shiyu
1. Before the events of the Iliad take place, the story began with a dispute among the gods. The goddess of discord brought to a banquet a golden apple to be given to the fairest goddess. The gods requested that Zeus decide which one was the fairest, and he delegated the decision to Paris. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena offered bribes to Paris, and Paris chose Aphrodite, who offered him the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris thereby incurred the wrath of Hera and Athena. Helen, the wife of Menelaus, eloped with Paris.
4. Homer’s poetic genius was such that he chose one episode in the war to crystallize all the great themes.
1. Homer was a polytheist, believing in many gods.
2. For Homer, these gods were real, not silly creations of mythology. These real gods embodied powerful forces.
4. Mythology is a means of expressing a higher truth.
5. The god Zeus, the king of gods and men, represents a seed of development that leads to an idea of one all-powerful and all-controlling god.
1. Agamemnon’s wife murdered Agamemnon because he had acquiesced in the sacrifice of their daughter.
2. Hybris, defined as outrageous arrogance by which power is used to inflict pain upon the innocent, is a moral wrong.
4. Agamemnon believed his duty was to conquer Troy and return home in glory. The gods had made him morally blind. His absence of moral vision led him to commit hybris.
5. The gods do not forget such outrages. His judgment would come. Agamemnon might come home, but he would die.
1. Homer and the Bible agree that fear of god is the beginning of wisdom.
2. The omens of the gods should be taken seriously, because they are the means by which the gods make their will known.
1. Achilles attained wisdom when Priam came to claim his son; Achilles realized that the concept of honor could be pushed too far.
2. Each person has an ideal that he or she prizes and will do anything to hold onto that concept.
1. Achilles learned by suffering, that is, by the loss of what was dearest to him.
2. Zeus willed that we learn and gain wisdom only through suffering.
3. All generations must read the same books, repeat the same errors, and fight the same wars.