Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

2101 Iliad and Odyssey


									Iliad & Odyssey
    Honors 2101
     Unit 2: Greece

            Rough Outline
•   Homer in Ancient Greece
•   Themes and Persons
•   Illiad
•   Odyssey
•   Closing Thoughts

    Homer in Ancient Greece
• Earliest Greek Literature
  – Written c. 750 BCE from oral trad. (c. 1200 BCE)
  – Recited by Rhapsodes
  – Epic = dactylic hexameter or long poem on
• Cultural Importance for Greeks
  – Taken as History
  – Hellenic Unity
  – Educational Texts
Greece and Trojan War

             Some Themes
• Glories of War/Adventure
  – Reasons for War
  – Realistic Descriptions
• Ideals of Heroism
  – Areté, timé, and kleos
  – Fate & Courage
  – “shame culture”
• Others
  – Gods & Humans
  – Individual vs. Society
  – Word vs. Deed
    Excellence, virtue, or what makes and individual
    the best or among the best; usually some
    combination of physical prowess & persuasive
    speech or command.
    Honor, material symbol of status among others,
    usually capable of being taken away (prize, booty,
    Glory or Fame, understood as public opinion, or
    what others say or remember.

         Persons in the Iliad
• Acheans                  • Trojans
  – Achilles & Patrocles     – Hector & Alexandros
  – Agamemnon &              – Priam, Helen,
    Menalaos                   Andromache
  – Odysseus, Ajax,
                           • Gods
                             – Zeus, Apollo,
                             – Athena, Hera, Thetis

Iliad (Book I)
 • Wrath of Achilles, Part I
    – In medias res: Trojan War & Plague
      of Apollo
    – Menis: Quarrel with Agamemnon
 • Consequences
    – Thetis’ Supplication of Zeus
    – Glimpse of Olympus

 • Is Achilles’ anger his own fault?

Thetis supplicant to Zeus
               Iliad (Book VI)
• Behind the Walls of
   – Hector as Tragic Hero
   – Women and Family Life
   – Fate
      • Troy & Hector
      • Trojan Women

• Is Hector a sympathetic
  hero? Why or why not?

                Iliad (Book IX)
• Embassy to Achilles
   – Discourse among
   – Odysseus’ plea
   – Phoenix’s plea
   – Ajax’s parting words

• Is Achilles being
  unreasonable? Why or
  why not?

         Death and Heroism
• The prospect of death drives the heroes to
  pursue timé (honor).
• The hero is defined by his(her) action in the
  face of mortality, especially in combat or
• And resulting kleos (glory) is the hero’s only

Sarpedon declares to Glaukos
             (Book XII.322-28)

“Man, supposing you and I, escaping this
battle, would be able to live on forever,
ageless, immortal, so neither would I myself
go on fighting in the foremost nor would I
urge you into the fighting where men win
glory. But now, seeing that the spirits of death
stand close about us in their thousands, no
man can turn aside nor escape them, let us
go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it
to others.”
               Iliad (Book XXI)
• Wrath of Achilles, Part II
   – Death of Patrocles and Achilles’ Armor
   – Death of Lycaon: a ruthless death
   – Death of Hector: revenge

• Is Achilles’ anger inhuman?

   Hector at the Gates of Troy
…Achilles was coming closer, like Enyalius,
the warrior god of
battle with the shining helmet.
On his right shoulder he waved
his dreadful spear
made of Pelian ash. The bronze around him
like a blazing fire or rising sun. At that moment, as he
watched, Hector began to shake in fear.
His courage gone, he
could no longer stand there.
Terrified, he started running,
leaving the gate.
Peleus' son went after him, sure of his speed
on foot.
Just as a mountain falcon, the fastest creature
of all the
ones which fly, swoops down easily
on a trembling pigeon as it
darts off in fear, the hawk speeding after it with piercing
heart driving it to seize the prey in just that way
in his fury raced ahead

                Hector faces Achilles
When they'd approached each other, at        Swift-footed Achilles, with a scowl,
close quarters,
great Hector of the          replied: "Hector, don't talk to me of our
shining helmet spoke out first:"I'll no      agreements.
That's idiotic, like a faithful
longer try to run away from you, son of      promise
between men and lions. Wolves
Peleus, as I did before, going
three         and lambs
don't share a common heart
times in flight around Priam's great         they always sense
a mutual hatred for
I lacked the courage then to fight     each other.
In just that way, it's not
with you,
as you attacked. But my heart      possible for us, for you and me, to be
prompts me now
to stand against you          friends, or, indeed, for there to be sworn
face to face once more,
whether I kill       oaths between us,
till one or other of us
you, or you kill me.
So come here. Let's     falls, glutting Ares,
warrior with the bull's
call on gods to witness,
for they're the     hide shield, on blood.
You'd best
best ones to observe our pact,
to            remember all your fighting skills.
supervise what we two agree on.
If           you must declare yourself a spearman,
Zeus grants me the strength to take          fearless warrior. You've got no escape.
your life,
I'll not abuse your corpse in     Soon Pallas Athena will destroy you
any way. I'll strip your celebrated armour   my spear. Right now you'll pay me
off, Achilles, then give the body back       back,
the full price of those sorrows I
to the Achaeans. And you'll do         went through when you slaughtered my
the same."                                   companions.” With these words, he
                                             hefted his long-shadowed spear,
                                             hurled it.
Achilles abuses Hector’s body
Then on noble Hector's corpse
he carried out a monstrous act.
He cut through
the tendons behind both feet, from heel to
threaded them with ox-hide thongs, and then tied
onto his chariot, leaving the head to drag behind.
climbed up in his chariot, brought on the splendid armour,
lashed his horses. They sped off eagerly, 
dragging Hector. A
dust cloud rose above him,
his dark hair spread out round him,
and Hector's head,
once so handsome, was covered by the
dust, for Zeus
had given him to his enemies to dishonour
in his
own native land. So all his head grew dirty.

                From Book XXII, translated by Ian Johnston:

Abuse of Hector’s Body

Iliad (Book XXIV)
         • Priam’s Plea
         • Achilles’ grief

         • What moved
           Achilles’ to release
           Hector’s body?
         • Has Achilles finally
           come to his senses?
      Questions about the Iliad
• What are the chief motivations for war or conflict in the Iliad?

• Compare/Contrast Achilles and Hector as representing heroic

• Does the character of Achilles develop over the course of the

• If the Iliad is about the wrath of Achilles, what is the lesson to be
  learned, if any?

• What relevance, if any, does the Iliad have for us now?

             The Odyssey
•   Journeys
•   Disguise, Deception & Craftiness
•   Fantastic Voyages
•   Women in the Odyssey
•   Homecoming: Loyalty & Order
•   Concluding Remarks

   Two Journeys in One Story
• Odysseus and Telemachus
   – Fantastic and Worldly
   – Narrative Thread: Time and Memory

• Theme: Heroic Struggles
   – Gods/immortality (Bk. V)
   – Monsters
   – Finding home

• Theme: Xenia
   – generosity and courtesy towards
1.   Mt. Olympus    6. Aeolia’s Island    11. Scylla & Charybdis
2.   Troy           7. Laestrygonians     12. Calypso
3.   Cicones        8. Circe’s Kingdom    13. Ithaca
4.   Lotus Eaters   9. Land of the Dead
5.   Cyclops        10. Sirens
       Disguise, Deception and
• Odysseus is polutropan
   – = of many twists (Bk. I,

• Odysseus’ arete
   – Cf. Achilles & Hector

• Examples:
   –   Nausicaa (Bk. VI)
   –   Polyphemus (Bk. IX)
   –   Circe (Bk. X)
   –   Homecoming (Bk. XXIII)
Fantastic Voyages

         • Horrible and Seductive
            –   Cyclops (Bk. IX)
            –   Circe’s Island (Bk. X)
            –   Land of the Dead (Bk. XI)
            –   Sirens, Scylla and
                Charybdis (Bk. XII)

    Women in the Odyssey
• Seduction and Symbol
  – Cf. Women in the Iliad
• The Women
  – Calypso
  – Nausicaa (& mother)
  – Circe
  – Penelope

Land of the Dead (Bk. XI)
             • Rites of the Dead
             • Vision of the
             • The Message

Homecoming (Bk. XXIII)
           • Disguises at Ithaka
              – Now Athena

           • Killing the Suitors
              – Xenia?

           • Penelope &
              – Loyalty and Order

       Concluding Remarks:
         Iliad & Odyssey

•   Heroic Ideals: arete, time, kleos
•   Gods and Humans: mortality or fate
•   Moral and Social Order: xenia, arete, women
•   Place of Homer in Greece
              Some Paper Topics
                              (See also slide 20)

•   Compare the areté of Odysseus with Achilles (or hector, Gilgamesh, Moses,
    etc.). How does the quest for honor and glory account for their actions? How
    important is the recognition of mortality?
•   Compare the women characters from the Iliad and Odyssey. Clearly the women
    characters are more prominent in the Odyssey, but in what way are they similar
    or different? What role do women play in each epic work?
•   What is the role of women in Homer? Clearly they represent domestic ideals, but
    they also represent other important values and features in the narrative.
    Explicate what you think of Homer’s us of women characters in the Iliad and
    Odyssey. Are there any interesting modern parallels?
•   The Odyssey is best known for the fantastic series of adventures the Odysseus
    undergoes. Pick one or two episodes and draw modern parallel. What is the
    significance of this episode? Does it teach us a lesson or reveal something
    important about the human condition (or just archaic Greek values)?
•   Odysseus is constantly trying to get home to Ithaka. He forsakes a goddess
    (Calypso) and other alluring women (e.g., Circe), so why does he seek out home
    and a reunion with Peneolpe? What does this tell us about the virtues of
•   How does Homer portray the relationship between gods and humans in
    the Iliad and Odyssey? What roles do the gods play in human life? How
    does this make a difference in the storylines?
•   In what way does Odysseus’ character develop during the course of the
    narrative? Does he develop at all? Compare other characters (e.g.,
    Achilles, Gilgamesh, etc.).
•   An important cultural concept in the Odyssey is xenia – generosity and
    courtesy to strangers, especially travelers form afar. What role does it
    play in the narrative? How is it established as a key value? Why might
    hospitality have held more significance in Homer’s time than it does
•   Draw a comparison between the themes presented in any two of the
    works we have read thus far (Epic of Gilgamesh, Genesis, Exodus,
    Job, Iliad, Odyssey). Pick a theme that spans both works and discuss
    how it is similar and/or different, but also tell us why this is interesting or
    revealing. Use specific examples to illustrate the theme(s) and your
    main point about its treatment in the stories.
•   In the Odyssey and the story of Gilgamesh have given us two visions of
    the underworld. What is the picture of the underworld we are given in
    these works? Does it resonate with modern versions of the
    underworld? Why is water so important? Blood?


To top