Sunday, May 12, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes on Scrolls 11-12 of the Iliad

“Glaukos, why in Lycia do we receive especial honor as regards our place at table? Why are the choicest portions served us and our cups kept brimming, and why do men look up to us as though we were gods? Moreover we hold a large estate by the banks of the river Xanthos, fair with orchard lawns and wheat-growing land; it becomes us, therefore, to take our stand at the head of all the Lycians and bear the brunt of the fight, that one may say to another, Our princes in Lycia eat the fat of the land and drink best of wine, but they are fine men; they fight well and are ever at the front in battle. My good friend, if, when we were once out of this fight, we could escape old age and death thence forward and for ever, I should neither press forward myself  nor bid you do so, but death in ten thousand shapes hangs ever over our heads, and no man can elude him; therefore let us go forward and either win glory for ourselves, or yield it to another.” Glaukos heeded his saying, (Iliad 12:310-328)  This is probably the best description of “noblesse oblige”; the concept that with wealth and power comes obligation; that those of us still standing are obliged to give the fallen a hand up.

“As a lion fastens on the fawns of a hind and crushes them in his great jaws, robbing them of their tender life while he on his way back to his lair – the hind can do nothing for them even though she be close by, for she is in an agony of fear, and flies through the thick forest, sweating, and at her utmost speed before the mighty monster“  Iliad 11:112-119  Sad and moving. 

“It was Antimakhos who had been foremost in preventing Helen’s being restored to fair-haired Menelaos, for he was lavishly bribed by Alexandros.”  Iliad 11:125  “high-spirited Antimakhos, who once at a council of Trojans proposed that Menelaos and godlike Odysseus, who had come to you as envoys, should be killed and not allowed to return” Iliad 11:139-141  I never heard about this guy before!  Does “antimachos” mean unmanly? 

“ As when some mighty forest is all ablaze – the eddying gusts whirl fire in all directions till the thickets shrivel and are consumed before the blast of the flame” Iliad 11:155  Good writing can take you to that moment;  that place in our past.  When I read the above soonly I was back there.  In my Homer induced vision; it was early summer in the Unita Mountains of Northern Utah, not scorching hot yet.  The eddying breeze moved the low fire across the long grass and fallen slash into the small thicket of winter-killed ponderosa pine thick with long orange needles.  A skid trail would stop the spread of the flames.  I knew from experience that three of us could handle it.  If it jumped the skid trail, the next thicket was older, taller and less likely to catch fire, besides the logging road was just beyond.  Then faded my vision.  All that triggered by a few lines of the first best thing; the Iliad.

1 comment:

  1. I think "antimachos" should mean something like "pacifist" ("against-battle").