Sunday, May 19, 2013

TFBT: All Because of Just One Girl, Just One.

More random notes from my reading for "The Ancient Greek Hero"

Iliad 9:637 “all because of just one girl,  just one.” Namely, Briseis, the cause of Achilles’ Wrath and the source of the Iliad’s power, just one girl, just one.  

Iliad 19:67 ” Now, however, let it be, for it is over. If we have been angry, necessity has schooled our anger. I put it from me: I dare not nurse it for ever. “  

They were holding high feast in the house of boisterous Zephyros when Iris came running up to the stone threshold of the house and stood there, but as soon as they set eyes on her they all came towards her and each of them called her to him, but Iris would not sit down. “I cannot stay,” she said, (Iliad 23: 200)  In reading this passage for “The Ancient Greek Hero” class was reminded of an observation I read somewhere once, that you can judge your host’s affection by how well you are received by his servants.  Zephryus and his brothers, the eternal servants of the gods, reacted enthusiastically to the arrival of the goddess Iris with no regard as to who had sent her.  Thetis gets a similar greeting from the “servants” in Iliad 24:100 and 18:386  

  “He eyed his fair flesh over and over to see where he could best wound it, but all was protected by the goodly armor of which Hector had spoiled Patroklos after he had slain him, save only the throat where the collar-bones divide the neck from the shoulders and this is the quickest place for the life-breath to escape.” (Iliad 22:320-325)  I think Homer elsewhere in the Iliad, this exact same point.  The collar bone is the quickest point on a armored warrior.  The other line, wherever it is suggests using a large rock to do the deed .  Good thing the Inca and Aztecs never knew Homer, or the Spanish mightn’t have done so well in the new world. 

Iliad 22:155-165 where in the time of peace before the coming of the Achaeans the wives and fair daughters of the Trojans used to wash their clothes. Past these did they flee, the one in front and the other giving chase behind him: good was the man that fled, but better far was he that followed after, and swiftly indeed did they run, for the prize was no mere beast for sacrifice or bullock’s hide, as it might be for a common foot-race, but they ran for the life of Hector. As horses in a chariot race speed round the turning-posts when they are running for some great prize - a tripod or woman - at the games in honor of some dead hero,
Strabo, Geography 8. 7. 2:"The sea was raised by an earthquake and it submerged Helike [in Akhaia], and also the temple of Poseidon Helikonios (of Helike), whom the Ionians worship even to this day, offering there the Pan-Ionian sacrifices. And, as some suppose, Homer recalls this sacrifice when he says : `but he breathed out his spirit and bellowed, as when a dragged bull bellows round the altar of the Helikonian lord.' 

He fled on in front, but the river with a loud roar came tearing after. As one who would water his garden leads a stream from some fountain over his plants, and all his ground – spade in hand he clears away the dams to free the channels, and the little stones run rolling round and round with the water as it goes merrily down the bank faster than the man can follow- even so did the river keep catching up with radiant Achilles albeit he was a fleet runner, for the gods are stronger than men. Iliad 21:253-264  I read this text and suddenly could see my friend Richard T. in ugly gray rubber boots herding the water from this family’s patch  of corn 

Achilles refers to his psyche as his life. Something to be lost. Which follows Homer’s plot where there is no afterlife to long for.  The playwrights have characters think and feel with their psyches.  Homer’s characters identify with their bodies and the playwright’s with their souls.  

Iliad 21:12-14 As locusts flying to a river before the blast of a grass fire – the flame comes on and on till at last it overtakes them and they huddle into the water.  Incredible image I can relate to from the fire fighting days of my youth



  1. I have read somewhere that the Aztecs tried their best to capture their enemies alive in order to sacrifice them later, and this put them at a major disadvantage against the Spaniards (and other people not bound by such worries).

  2. Maya, I've read the same thing. If they had just killed Cortez rather than trying to capture him, the whole thing might have been over instantly.

    Prior to Achilles getting serious, there was apparently a lot of surrendering at Troy,in hopes of being ransomed by your relatives.

    Thanks for the comment.