Wednesday, October 23, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes Hour 13

I am taking The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours online from Harvard with Professor Gregory Nagy.  Here are a few random notes from Hour 13 of the wonderful class.

Od 12:334  “therefore, I (Odysseus) went up inland that I might pray the gods to show me some means of getting away. When I had gone far enough to be clear of all my men, and had found a place that was well sheltered from the wind, I washed my hands and prayed to all the gods.”    Meanwhile his men at 359 “...killed the cows (of the sun-god Helios)and dressed their carcasses; they cut out the thigh bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set some pieces of raw meat on top of them. ".   Seems like Odysseus and Moses had some of the same issues with the troops and cattle . Ex 24.18  And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount”  Meanwhile Ex 32.8 “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto.”  What is it about unsupervised mobs and cows?

Nagy’s translation of Od 24.59 "weeping piteously, and they [the Nereids] clothed you [ Achilles] in immortalizing clothes... You were burning while clothed in the clothes of the gods, ".   I read once that God gave Adam and Eve animal skins to wear, represents giving their souls bodies.  Hence, Nagy’s “immortalizing clothes”  would represent the gods giving Achilles a body for his immortal life

Solon speaking to Croesus " just as no land is self- sufficient in what it produces. Each country has one thing but lacks another; whichever has the most is best. Just so no human being is self-sufficient; each person has one thing but lacks another. Herodotus 1.32

And Pontos begat trusty and truthful Nereus, eldest indeed of his children, but men call him old, because he is unerring as well as mild, neither does he forget the laws, but knows just and gentle purposes.  Theogony 234

“   "Where, from the standpoint of Homeric poetry, we never find out who's right
and who's wrong, because Homeric poetry doesn't use those criteria, those critical ways of judging things of what's right and what's wrong, what's dikaion, and what's not, what is dike, and what is hubris. In Homeric poetry, you don't have that.”
Nagy 13.CB22.1  in the textbook;  The Ancient Greek Hero In 24 Hours 




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

TFBT: Nestor’s Aristeia in the Iliad

In the Eleventh Book of the Iliad, the Trojans armed with fire surge towards the beached boats of the Achaeans (Greeks).  Achaean warrior after warrior falls before the onslaught lead by Hector and Paris, princes of Troy.  After rescuing one of the most vital of these heroes, aged Nestor gives a lengthy speech; a bitter diatribe against Achilles, the hero of the Iliad.  Achilles sulked in his tent for most of the epic to that point.    I suggest that this speech has nothing to do with Achilles and everything to do with Nestor. 

The speech in question is prompted by Achilles sending his best friend Patroclus to ask of Nestor how things are going.  Nester responds to Patroclus in Book 11: 656-803 of the Iliad.  The speech begins with justifiable comments about Achilles indifferences to the suffering of his fellow Achaeans, then recounts Nestor’s greatest exploits as a young man and then ends with recommendations on what Achilles could do beside sulking in his tent.    

He is renown among the Achaeans for his eloquence and wise counsel. “Nestor, sweet of speech, the clear-voiced orator of the Pylians, from whose tongue flowed speech sweeter than honey. Two generations of mortal men had passed away in his lifetime, who had been born and reared with him before in sacred Pylos, and he was king among the third." (Iliad 1.247) He might not be strong enough to heft and throw a spear or to pull back a bow string, but he can provide vital strategic advice, lead by example, marshal his troops and vitally at this point in the story, drive a chariot. 

First in his speech,  Nestor complains that mighty Diomedes took a sharp arrow in the foot, Odysseus received a wound in the side by a spear thrust, Agamemnon took a spear thrust to the lower arm, and  Eurypylus too was struck by an arrow in the thigh, “and this man beside (Machaon) have I but now borne forth from the war smitten with an arrow from the string. Yet Achilles, valiant though he be, careth not for the Danaans.” (Iliad 1.660. “ Danaans“ is another poetic term for the Greeks.)    Oddly he does not mention warriors injured earlier in the epic like Menelaus after the botched duel with Alexander. ( Book 4.104)  Nestor only references those he personally could not aid this particular day.  This is an elderly  man complaining that Achilles did not do what Nestor could not do himself.   

Next,  comes a lengthy tale about a war in Pylos during Nestor’s youth.  The story  in no way compares to situation the Danaans find themselves in currently, nor compares to Achilles current situation.  I would follow ”The Paradigmatic Nature of Nestor's Speech in Iliad 11” by Victoria Pedrick in suggesting that this is Nestor’s aristeia in the Iliad.  An aristeia is a warriors finest moment in battle.  This is the moment when a hero is most akin to the gods.  This is his moment of kleos (glory) and if it happens in the Iliad, a chance at unending fame.  If Protesilaus (Iliad 2.695) and Ipidamas (Iliad 11.221) can both come to Troy in order to attain kleos in the Iliad, why not Nestor?  As Pedrick points out this is the moment in the battle for the ships, where Nestor’s great aristeia affects Patroclus’ return to battle and the course of the war forever. From the moment of Nestor’s aristeia, the tide of battle turns, the Trojans will soon be routed and Hector’s fate sealed.  

And finally Nestor suggests what Achilles should do or should let Patroclus do. It sounds a lot like what Nestor wishes he could do.  In tone it recalls (Iliad 1.255) when Nestor whined that men better than those of the current age use to listen to his advice. 

In summary I would suggest that, like Nestor’s famous speech about chariot-racing in Book 23 which has nothing to do with chariot-racing; Nestor’s famous speech about Achilles in Book 11 has nothing to do with Achilles and everything to do with Nestor.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Random Notes 10.CB22.1x

I’ve stated before that my Harvard on-line class; “The Ancient Greek Hero” helps with my understanding of scripture.  Here are few similarities I’ve seen lately.
·        Now the Cyclopes neither plant nor plow, but trust in providence, and live on such wheat, barley, and grapes as grow wild without any kind of tillage, and their wild grapes yield them wine as the sun and the rain may grow them. (Odyssey 9.109) That reminded me of “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.” Matt 6:26 
·        She passed through the midst of us without our knowing it, for who can see the comings and goings of a god, if the god does not wish to be seen? (Odyssey 10.573) Which recalled of JesusBut passing through their midst, He went on His way.  Luke 4.30

Odysseus changes from the brave leader of the Cephalonians into a man who in succession loses his fleet, his ship, his friends, his filotimo, his raft and his clothes. Classmate Rien from CB22.1x

Why are Atlas, Aeetes and Minos "magicians"?  (Odyssey; 1.52, 10.136 and 11.322)  Apparently, the word used here can also mean poisoner.  (Just like “witch” in the Old Testament.)  I understand that calling Atlas a sorcerer is pro-Olympian propaganda against the sons of Iapetus.  Calling Aeetes a “magician” isn’t a stretch with his sister being Circe and daughter being Medea.   But Minos a “magician”?  Where’s this coming from?

In class we constantly compare Achilles and Odysseus; brawn vs. brain, bia vs. metis; no homecoming vs. a famous homecoming.  But here is another difference.  Achilles men made it home, Odysseus’ didn’t;

“They say the Myrmidons returned home safely under great-hearted Achilles’ glorious son Neoptolemos” (Odyssey 3.189.)
Odysseus was  “seeking… to achieve the safe homecoming of his companions: but… they perished .” (Odyssey 1:6)


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes from 9.CB22.1x

I speak as it is borne in upon me from the sky, Odyssey 1:202

“She it was who now lighted Telemakhos to his room, and she loved him  better than any of the other women in the house did, for she had nursed him when he was a baby. He opened the door of his bed room and sat down upon the bed; as he took off his khiton he gave it to the good old woman, who folded it tidily up  and hung it for him over a peg by his bed side,” Odyssey 1.434-41  I just thought it was a moving scene.

[Demodokos], setting his point of departure , started from the god.”  Odyssey 8.99 
Reference to two different therapon in two different books.  Is it plagarism, if you repeat yourself?

·        ”…the son of Capaneus (Sthenelus, charioteer of Diomedes)…gave them to De├»pylus his dear comrade, whom he honoured above all the companions of his youth, because he was like-minded with himself;” Iliad 5:318

·        ”…a herald attended him, a little older than he, and I will tell thee of him too, what manner of man he was. He was round-shouldered, dark of skin, and curly-haired, and his name was Eurybates; and Odysseus honored him above his other comrades, because he was like-minded with himself.” Odysseus 19:24

As for the other five ships, they were taken by winds and seas to Egypt, where Menelaos gathered much gold and substance among people of an alien speech. Meanwhile Aegisthus here at home plotted his evil deed. For seven years after he had killed Agamemnon he ruled in golden Mycenae, and the people were obedient under him, but in the eighth year Orestes came back from Athens to be his bane, and killed the murderer of his father. Then he celebrated the funeral   of his mother and of false unwarlike Aegisthus by a banquet to the people of Argos, and on that very day Menelaos of the great cry came home, with as much treasure as his ships could carry.  Odyssey 3:300-311  Talking about timing!

The tradition of Homeric poetry is a tradition of “civilised” people, “civilised” being they who are conscious about rationale or their reasoning powers when allowed to choose between options. They who listen to Homeric poetry actually choose to listen to the sufferings and sorrows of the Trojan war as if they’re listening to the Gods speaking, who are the ultimate civilised personas in the entire spectacle performed by the Homeric Poet. The Poet’s memnemai (total recall) is another pointer that the Gods are speaking and not humans; of course, the Poet’s having made contact(mental or otherwise) with the state of mind(sophoi defined as intellectually skilled, agathoi defined as morally qualified, and philoi defined as emotionally attuned)of Zeus, the Supreme among Gods, is something that heightens the power of the spectacle.  Thumri 9.22CB.1x