Essay

| January 7, 2016

Does the final book of the Iliad provide a resolution for the issues or problems raised in Book 1? How so?
You have to watch youtube video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onIapU0z0aQ&feature=related and read the related readings to write the question. The related readings are uploaded.

1. requirements:
In a well written piece of ~500 words, drawing on your reading and the lesson notes, re-spond to the following question:

Does the final book of the Iliad provide a resolution for the issues or problems raised in Book 1? How so?

2. related readings
Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as much as the Bible, have shaped the narrative imagination of the west. Standing at the beginning of western literature, these two epics were the primary texts for classical Greek civilization and, after three thousand years, continue to speak to readers.
Our aim throughout the course is to approach the stories we read not as museum pieces but as artistic works that raise universal, familiar, and meaningful questions and themes. Broadly speaking, the Iliad is a book about war, and war is a pervasive fact of the 21st century. In the film Patton (1970), the general walks through the devastation of a WWII battlefield, kisses a dying solider, and takes-in the chaos and havoc spread out before him. “I love it,” Patton says. “God help me I do. I love it more than my life.” War activates a perverse attraction, and many soldiers returning home have recounted the sublime nature of battle—war is a kind of religious experience, if a dreadful one. But dread, horror, sublimity—these have always been elements of the sacred, and Homer’s account of battle is a revelation of both the horror and sublimity of war. New age spirituality has had a powerful impact on contemporary conceptions of the “sacred.” In general, the sacred is associated with wholeness, tranquility, peace, bliss, transcendence, mystical experience, unity. Historically, however, notions of the sacred include the experiences of terror, madness, transgression, sacrifice, violence, awe, power, the sublime—experiences that pervade the Iliad.
More narrowly, the Iliad is about the “wrath” or “rage” of Achilles, the Trojan War being the backdrop or context for the dramatic action set in motion by Achilles’s rage, directed at the leader of the Greek forces, Agamemnon. Homer’s narrative details the consequences of this rage, which culminates with Achilles killing Hector and the mutilation and humiliation of the Trojan warrior’s corpse. By the end of the tale, Achilles has recognized something about the nature of mortality, the power of yielding and controlling one’s will, setting limits to conflict, observing societal values, and honoring the gods.
Our approach to reading and studying this work considers historical contexts and authorship, aesthetic features and qualities, and the philosophical or religious dimension of the Homeric world projected by the Iliad.
We focus on Books 1 and 24, the first and final books of the Iliad.

For this lesson you read two books from the Iliad, Book 1, “The Quarrel by the Ships”& Book 24, “Achilles & Priam.”
1 Beforereadings Books 1 and 24 of the Iliad, you should read and view summaries of the Iliad.
1 Watch a 20 minute, three part summary of the Iliad on YouTube: Link to Part 1. (It is a somewhat quirky, but it does provide you an overview of the story.)
2 Read the notes below, “A Summary of the Story” and “The Historical Dimensions of the Iliad.”
2 Afterreviewing these summaries, dive in and read Books 1 and 24.
1 As you read, keep the following questions in mind:
1 In Book 1, note how Agememnon and Achilles bait each other. With whom do you sympathize? How does Homer’s use of language and plot direct our sympathies for one or the other?
2 Homer moves the action in Book 1 from the ships to the gods. Do the interactions among the gods parallel those among the humans? How so? What do the gods do here that the humans do not?
3 In Book 24, what message does Zeus give to Iris to deliver to Priam (Bk. 24, 144-152)? What prediction does Zeus make about Achilleus’s reaction to Priam’s supplication (158)? In what condition does Iris find Priam (162-165)? What does Priam do first when he enters Achilles’ dwelling (478-480)? What ritual act is Priam performing with these gestures? What is the irony of his kissing Achilles’ hands (478-480)? What arguments does Priam use to persuade Achilles to return the body (486-506)? How does Achilles react to Priam’s acts and words (507-524)? According to Achilles, what is the basic difference between divine and human life (525-526)?
2 If you have a print edition of the Iliad, you may certainly use it.
3 Otherwise, you can link to the Iliad online: Homer’s The Iliad, a translation by Ian Johnston
4 After reading, complete your review of the lesson notes.
A Summary of the Story
The Iliad begins in medias res (in the middle of the subject). It is not a chronicle of the Trojan War, but a study of rage. In other words, it deals with a particular and all too human emotion and experience: rage (wrath, anger) driven by, the contemporary reader might say, too much testosterone—this, not the war as such, is its subject matter. Book 1 launches us immediately into the action.
The Iliad narrates the events of a short period of time near the end of the Trojan War.
• The focus is on the Greek hero Achilles, his anger at Agamemnon, and the conse-quences of that anger for himself and for all those fighting at Troy.
• In Book 1, Agamemnon takes Achilles’s war prize, Briseis, thereby angering Achilles and causing him to leave the fighting.
• Trojan successes follow Achilles’s departure and prompt several Greek responses.
? In Book 9, Agamemnon asks Achilles to return to battle, but Achilles refuses.
? In Book 16, Achilles’ friend Patroclus enters battle in Achilles’s armor, temporarily turning the Trojans back, but then dies at Hector’s hands.
• In Book 20, Achilles returns to battle, driven to avenge his dead friend, and kills Hector.
• In Book 24, Priam ransoms the body of Hector from Achilles, and the epic ends with the funeral of Hector.The Historical Dimensions of the Iliad
1 The Iliad and Odyssey are the earliest works in the western literary tradition, introduced into Greece in the 8th century BCE (Before the Common Era). They describe events surrounding the sack of the city of Troy, thought to have occurred 500-600 years earlier.
2 The Iliad and the Odyssey are set in a common mythological or legendary background, namely, the story of the Trojan War.
3 The story of the Trojan War, in brief:
1 Paris, son of Priam, King of the city of Troy, abducts Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, and the wife of a Greek king Menelaus.
2 Menelaus and his elder brother Agamemnon, muster an army and sail to Troy to fight for Helen’s return.
3 The war lasts ten years.
4 The greatest Greek warrior is Achilles, son of a goddess, Thetis, and a human father, Peleus. The marriage of the two was arranged by Zeus.
5 The greatest Trojan warrior is Hector.
6 Hector is killed by Achilles. Achilles is in turn killed by Paris.
7 Fighting to a standstill, the Greeks resort to trickery. Odysseus, a Greek warrior known for his cunning, suggests leaving behind a large wooden horse, inside of which soldiers hide. The Trojans take the horse inside the walls of the city, and the Greeks sack the city that night. Achilles is killed during the assault, by an arrow shot by Paris. The Greeks inflict horrible violence on the Trojans. Priam is unceremoniously killed; Hector’s baby is tossed from the walls; Priam’s daughter is raped in the temple of Athena.
8 These outrages anger the gods, and they harass the Greeks as they make their way home. Agamemnon’s wife and her lover kill Agamemnon when he gets home. (The story of the “house” of Agamemnon would be a staple of Greek tragedy). Odysseus needs 10 years to make it back to his wife and family.
9 Against this mythological background, the epic tales of the Iliad and the Odyssey take place. (Twentieth century archeology has set the Trojan War on a historical foundation. If you would like to read a brief article on the connection between the historical and mythical Trojan war, go here: http://www.archaeology.org/0405/etc/troy.html)
4 Was the Iliad the work of one or several poets? Was there a Trojan War? Did Homer exist?
1 These questions (termed the “Homeric question”) have been at the forefront of Homeric studies since the beginning of the nineteenth century. Definitive answers elude us; in fact, the attempt to answer such seemingly simple questions has led to a great deal of controversy—a history of scholarly squabbles and debates that we will set aside in this course.
2 What we do know is that in the culture of ancient Greece, the Homeric epics occupied a central and illustrious place in Greek culture, more central than did Shakespeare in Elizabethan England. The Iliad was fixed as a text by the 6th century BCE, and in the centuries that followed the texts were edited, regularized and traditions of Homeric scholarship and criticism started to emerge.
3 In classical Greece, in city-states like Athens, public readings of Homer were commonplace. By the 5th century BCE copies of Homeric texts were available everywhere in the Greek world. Homer was a household name, as were the names of the heroes and gods that appear in the epics.
4 For the purposes of this course, we will treat the Iliad as a unitary work, and I will refer to Homer, assuming there was such a poet who authored the text. Note however that many scholars disagree with such an assumption.
5 Religion has a conspicuous place in the Iliad. Gods inhabit its pages, and animal sacrifice is a recurring part of the action. It is helpful to have a bit of background on ancient Greek religion.
1 In the second millennium BCE, successive waves of Greek speaking Indo-Europeans invaded the territory now known as Greece, the lands around the Aegean and Ionian seas. They brought with them a heroic, patriarchal pantheon of gods and goddesses, presided over by the great sky god Zeus. Scholars refer to this period of conquest and settlement as the “Dorian invasion.”
2 During the Dorian invasion, the existing gods and goddesses of earth and fertility were replaced by or integrated into the Olympian pantheon.
3 The patriarchal character of Olympianism is illustrated by the depiction of Athena’s birth from the brow of Zeus, without female participation.
4 Although the ancient matriarchal religious traditions and myths were subordinated to the new mythology, they were never entirely suppressed; rather, there was an amalgamation that took place, which meant that religious and mythological background of Greek thought had a deeply pluralistic character.
5 Women are portrayed in much ancient Greek literature (e.g., the plays of Euripides) as driven by passion and lust, while men are portrayed as rational. This is a residue of chthonic religious belief that new life is formed out of death. Earth-gods and especially goddesses are associated with fertility and procreation.
6 Whereas Olympianism was Apollonian and rational, chthonic religion was superstitious, earthly, and oriented to procreation. The latter was appropriate for an agricultural, static society grounded in earthy and earthly processes of life and death. These older beliefs continued to resonate on into the classical period.
7 A dichotomy of sorts emerged as a result of this blending of religious and mythological traditions. Greek public religion focused on polis festivals and civic rites and games, presided over by the major Olympian deities (Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Athena, etc.). Alongside these public, civic dimensions existed the mystery religions—Orphic, Dionysian, Eleusinian—whose esoteric and somewhat secretive rites reflect a pre-Greek, Eastern-influenced religious tradition. Death and rebirth, fertility, worship of mother goddesses continued to thrive, in spite of the relative dominance of more masculine, rational, patriarchal myths.
8 The religion of ancient Greece has little in common with major contemporary religions.
1 Unlike the monotheistic religions of the ancient Mediterranean and North African civilizations, ancient Greek religion had neither a sacred text nor a permanent, authoritative priestly class of interpreters.
2 Temple rites were a staple of Greek religion, with various temples built to honor the pantheon of gods and goddesses. The action of the Iliad centres on the dispute over the return of Chryseis, the daughter of a temple priest, who was taken by Agamemnon as war booty.
3 Though there was a priestly class, priestly functions were also served by the citizenry at large, particularly during specified festival periods. Greek religious rituals and practices, like Greek theater, were inextricably bound up with civic life.
4 There was also a tradition of “seers,” or visionaries, whose insight and wisdom was honored and respected. In the Iliad, this role is played by Calchas.
5 Although the ancient Greek world had no official religion, the polis was never entirely secular. A diffuse but unmistakably religious cast of mind is evident in ancient Greek life and literary works. (Polis — Greek word for city; the term refers to both the citizens of the city, and the social organization of the Greek city-state.)
9 Sacrifice was an important characteristic of ancient Greek religion.
1 Human sacrifices were not uncommon in early Minoan and Mycenean civilization. By Homer’s time, they had been replaced by animal sacrifice.
2 Homeric victories are marked by sacrifices. Oxen are slaughtered and their thighs are cooked as offerings and then consumed by the assembly.
3 Sacrifice is based not on giving the gods something they want or need�they live on nectar and ambrosial delights, not meat—but instead on parting with something of value in order to reciprocate gifts from the gods.
4 Sacrifice-giving is above all an expression of gratitude, a recording of the understanding that good fortune must accompany good works. It reflects the ancient Greek recognition that nature is sacred (hieros).
10 A central feature of Greek religious life was a mythological sensibility in which the events of human existence were perceived as related to and informed by the eternal, immutable realm of gods and goddesses.
The Aesthetic Dimensions of the Iliad
1 The form or genre represented by the Iliad and Odyssey is the epic.
1 Epic – for the Greeks, this meant a long poem, written in a specific poetic meter.
2 The Iliad (about war) and Odyssey (about a journey) were so influential in the ancient world that they became the paradigmatic examples of the epic genre.
3 The classical Greeks distinguished between lyric or poetic works (where the narrator speaks in first person, often with his back to the audience), epic (where the narrator speaks in his own voice but allows others to speak in theirs), and drama, (where the characters do all the talking).
4 In time, the term epic came to denote any lengthy treatment of thematic material having to do with adventure, war, conquest, journeys.
5 For readers, genres are sets of conventions and expectations. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings is epic because of its scope (a quest) and length.
6 The Homeric epics began as oral narratives, which would have been performatively told. The precise context of their telling is not known, but it is widely assumed that the stories would have been sung during religious festivals that lasted perhaps three or four days. When writing was introduced, these were the two chief works set down, and became a foundation for Greek literary, religious and artistic culture. (Check out a reconstruction of Homeric singing, here: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/sh/index.htm)
7 The American scholar William Parry advanced our understanding of the oral roots of the Homeric epics, largely through his analysis of the way in which these works em-ploy repetitions and tropes, in the manner that oral poets do when singing or performing lengthy works.
2 One of the unique features of the Iliad is that more than half of the work consists of speeches.
1 The Iliad, though an epic, can also be thought of a tragic work. In fact, Plato consi-dered Homer the first of the tragic poets. The Iliad is not a play, so its form seems very different from a Greek tragedy, which was a staged play. But there is a strong performative dimension to the Iliad, because of the number and length of the speeches. The aesthetic of the speech—an individual addressing him or herself to an audience had a powerful influence on the development of Greek tragic drama.
2 The speeches in the Iliad would have a tremendous impact on the development of tragic drama in classical Greece. Not only will the tragedians build many of their plays around scenes from the Iliad , they will develop the dramatic action contained in Homeric speeches into a new art form.
3 Aeschylus, one of the great three Greek tragedians, referred to his own work as but “slices from the great banquet of Homer.”
3 Homeric “realism.” Many critics have emphasized the way in which the Iliad (and the Odyssey) offer brightly, descriptive scenes, including the feelings and emotions of the characters. In the Homeric epics, there is a keen sense of the physical world, rich description, an immediacy and freshness that marks this foundational work of western literature as unique.
1 Compared, for example, with the figure of God in the Book of Genesis, who is somewhat inscrutable and mysterious, the Homeric gods come alive on the page in a very human way.
2 For example, in Book 1, line 241, we read of “grey-eyed” Athena, and Homer gives us insight into her state of mind, her motivations, her desires.
3 In a passage like “Down on the ground he dashed the scepter studded bright with golden nails, then took he seat again. The son of Artreus smoldered, glaring across at him…” (Bk 1, 288), the scene leaps off the page, vibrant with action, color, and emotion.
4 Homer’s poetry is vivid, located in precise places and times; thoughts and feelings are clearly articulated; a clear vision of the action is represented. When Adam, in Genesis, by way of contrast, is handed the apple, where was he? In a garden, yes, but that is all we know. Was he lying down, enjoying the sun on his face? Busy harvesting? Fixing a gardening tool? How did he feel? What thoughts went through his mind? The comparison reveals just how rich Homeric description is; as we shall see, the stylistic economy of Genesis works its own kind of magic on the reader, but to a different end. Homer’s world is not very enigmatic, but it is alive and fresh.The Role of the Gods
1 There is a lot of “god-talk” in Homer. The gods appear throughout the story. How are we to understand these Homeric gods?
2 In the Iliad, the gods are ever-present, and they take direct involvement in the action, as well as serving as spectators of the action.
3 Sometimes, we can easily translate god-talk in Homer into naturalistic language.
1 In Book 1, we read how Athena appears, to no one but Achilles, to prevent him from killing Agamemnon. “Obeying Athena’s words, Achilles relaxed his huge fist on the silver hilt and pushed the massive sword back in its scabbard.” [240]
Invoking a god here may simply be a way of saying that Achilles thought better of his actions, and put away his sword.
2 But there are many other examples when such an approach will not work. In Book 3, Aphrodite picks up Paris from the battlefield and carries him home, for example.
4 One key effect of god-talk in the Iliad is to enhance a sense of inevitably or fate.
1 An important aspect of Homeric thought is the notion of moira — the Greek word for fate; it refers to the sense that, in hindsight, certain outcomes were inevitable. When something happens—if someone dies, for example—their death at the moment becomes part of their fate. God-talk in Homer creates a sense of patterned fate at work.
2 In the opening of Book 1, we read how events are unfolding in “fulfillment of the will of Zeus.”
3 The presence of the gods suggests that the story is patterned and guided by purposes and meanings beyond the merely human. The gods thereby elevate human action to another level.
5 The gods seem at times to be all too human – petty, quarreling, shallow, vindictive; we can at times easily imagine ourselves above them.
1 Ancient philosophers and moralists often condemned the gods in such stories. Some would argue that these gods could not be the real gods (or God) because of their poor moral behavior. But such a dualistic view is foreign to Homer.
6 The Homeric gods are not:
1 Consistently good, merciful or just.
2 They are not omniscient. They know a lot, the have a sense of outcomes, but they don’t know all.
3 They are not omnipotent, though they are very powerful. The gods too are somewhat subject to moira.
4 They are not transcendent; they did not create the world, and stand outside of it; rather, they exist within the world, as powers, forces, factors shaping nature and human life; there is no natural-supernatural dualism in Homer.
5 The human-divine relationship is not based on mutual respect or love, although sometimes the gods have their favorites; rather, gods and human are entangled in each other’s lives.
7 What the gods are:
1 Personified forces of nature and society: Aphrodite is sexual passion; Ares is war; Dionysus is ecstasy, Zeus is authority, and so on.
2 Homer embodies a mythological sensibility, which we can describe as the tendency to interpret the world in terms of timeless, archetypal principles. This tendency is characteristic of Greek thought and culture.
3 Beneath the flux of concrete, daily life, are timeless, universal forces, variously de-scribed in Homer as gods and in later Greek philosophic culture, archetypes, Ideas, or Forms.
8 An important point about the gods in Homer is that belief is not at all part of the picture.
1 Paul Veyene wrote a book titled Did the Greeks Believe in the Myths? His point is that the “Greeks put the gods ‘in heaven’ but would have been astounded to see them in the sky” (University of Chicago Press, 1988, p. 18). In other words, god-talk was not taken literally.
2 The Homeric gods were not approached through a rather modern paradigm of belief or disbelief.
3 This is typical of cultures that are grounded in myths and stories, rather than in the idea of sacred “history.”
4 The stories that are foundational to a culture are taken seriously, but necessarily literarily. In fact, to take a story literally is to miss the point altogether.
5 The term “polytheism” suggests “belief in many gods,” while “monotheism” means “belief in one god.”
6 But we must be careful with the notion of belief, since our understanding of it is strongly shaped by the history of Christianity, which placed a good deal of emphasis on belief.
7 Walter F. Otto, in his study The Homeric Gods argues that Greek religion perceived the world in terms of transcendent, eternal, universal principles. The Greeks had “the faculty of seeing the world in the light of the divine, not a world yearned for, aspired to, or mystically present in rare ecstatic experiences, but the world into which we were born, part of which we are, interwoven with it through our senses, and, through our minds, obligated to it for all its abundance and vitality” (Octagon Books, 1978, p. 11).
8 To “believe in” Zeus posits Zeus a possibly existent thing, like the Loch Ness monster or aliens. In the absence of convincing evidence that such things exist, we “believe” in them. But one can see and sense the workings of Zeus in a story, without having to believe in it.

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