Weekly Journal #1

Tuesday August 23rd

Today was our first day of class and I’m pretty excited for what this class has to offer. I’ve read both the Odyssey and the Iliad before but not at the collegiate level so I’m excited to think about it in a different way then how I did in high school. I feel like I could appreciate them both better now after learning to appreciate different themes and different styles in literature.

We started off by talking about the “5 Great Stories” in literature as well as the ones we tend to tell over the course of our lives. Those stories are career, love/social relationships, spiritual/intellectual enlightenment, leadership, and partnership. Hearing everyone else’s stories and what stories they hoped to have made me think about what 5 great stories I would tell in my life.

Wednesday August 24th

Achilles seems to be suffering from having a wounded ego. When he is about to angrily depart from the war, he says, “Some day longing for Achilleus will come to the sons of the Achaians, all of them. Then stricken at heart though you be, you will be able to do nothing, when in their numbers before man-slaughtering Hektor they drop and die. And then you will eat out the heart within you in sorrow, that you did no honour to the best of the Achaians” (bk. 1, l. 240–244). While I personally think his anger at being disrespected by Agamemnon is valid, he also did not consider how anyone else’s life might be affected by his complete desertion from the war. Agamemnon seems to also have selfish ways. However, he seems to be much more motivated by what he can gain from any situation than anything else. When Achilles is asking Agamemnon to return his woman, he says, “Never, when the Achaians sack some well-founded citadel of the Trojans, do I have a prize that is equal to your prize. Always the greater part of the painful fighting is the work of my hands; but when the time comes to distribute the booty yours is far the greater reward” (bk. 1, l. 163–167). Agamemnon has a history of taking advantage of situations to get what he wants.

I think that both Achilles and Agamemnon would answer the question of “what kind of person are you?” in a similar fashion. They would both exclaim who they are, how they are a mighty warrior and where they come from, and how strong they are. At this point, they both seem to be very prideful men who see themselves as a person whose name should be a household name for tales of their bravery. They both seemed very enveloped in the idea of kleos and being glorified. Achilles sees his worth and glory coming from being the strongest fighter, and that’s what kind of person he wants to be. I don’t really see what Agamemnon thinks his worth is or what his glory will come from, but he wants it nonetheless.

For the conversation about a person’s worth, I decided to talk to my mom and see what she thought about it. She gave the answer I kind of expected her to give, which was we as other people are not really the one’s who decide what a person’s worth is. We can try our best to be caring, helpful, genuine people who make a difference in the world and that is a great thing. However, we all have our flaws and refutable qualities so we can not be the one’s to judge others for their own flaws. I told my mom that while I partially agreed with her in the sense that we are not entirely the beings who should decide another being’s worth, we also can see that some people lower their own worth and throw some of their value away. Murderers and people who commit serious crimes against other people are an example of the types of people who throw their worth away. There are so many better things a person can do with their life, and killing another person is not a good choice.

Thursday August 25th

In class today we talked about what started the Trojan War in the first place. We discussed the judgement of Paris and how he had to pick between either Hera, Athena, or Aphrodite. Paris picked Aphrodite and therefore got what he wanted, which was Helen of Sparta. However, she was married to King Menelaos, a Greek, and when she was taken from him, they went to war against the Trojans. The Greeks’ menis, while justified, was against the wrong people. While they could not be openly mad at the gods for fear of their wrath, the gods were truly at blame and not the Trojans. They meddled into human lives and others had to suffer because of it.

Sunday August 28th

I noticed how Homer constantly uses feelings or common ideas as tools of the gods. When talking about the soldiers marching, he says, “Rumour walked blazing among them, Zeus’ messenger, to hasten them along. Thus they were assembled” (bk. 2, l. 93-94).

Monday August 29th

Today I went to the National Gallery to try to find some art work that made me think about love. This was my first time ever being to that museum and I thought at first I would just get in and get out. However, there was so much art in there, types of things I had never even seen before. Before I knew it, they were telling me I had to exit because they were closing.

This picture speaks to the power of family love. There were a lot of pictures that dealt with just the mother and her child, but this was one of the few I saw that actually had an entire family, with both parents and siblings. The way they are all gathered around the newborn gives off such a strong feeling of connection and love with this baby.

This piece of art was more about the power of being in love with an idea. The picture shows a depiction of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry led by Colonel Robert Shaw marching to what would later be known as the Second Battle of Fort Wagner. This infantry unit was a mainly African-American unit and that is why I felt like it dealt perfectly with the power of love. I wasn’t exactly sure, but I thought that the woman flying above them was supposed to represent Lady Liberty or the spirit of America and her going with them is supposed to show their connection with this nation. The average white soldier might be fighting because he loves his country and wants to preserve said country, in a nationalistic sort of love. However, this to me spoke more about the love of a better life not only for oneself, but for one’s people. These men were in love with the idea of freedom and what was promised to them if the war was won. This shows love of one’s people or even of an idea have the power to conquer years of a discriminatory, hate filled system.

Tuesday August 30th

Today Dr. Sandridge asked us if we had any questions. I brought up the part in book 2 where Homer talks about every single captain and leader of the Greek fleets, a catalog of ships. I basically asked why it was necessary and was it just filler. Dr. Sandridge told me to think about this more as oral tradition instead of just a story you read. It would be much more impressive to hear someone recite all of that than it is to just read it. Another student brought up the point that it would show a strong connection to the Muses to be able to recite all of this. To the ancient Greeks it would sound like the Muses were using the orator as a vessel.

We also talked about the questions regarding love and our visits to the National Gallery. I noticed a few people talked about all the “Madonna and Child” paintings there were and I was glad I did not choose one to talk about, even though mine is very similar.

Wednesday August 31st

A hero to me is someone who puts themselves on the line to help others or to accomplish a just goal. Not all heroes look the same. In fact, they all can look very different. A hero to someone else may not be a hero to them because they have had a different experience with that person. Their values tend to be what we would consider moral. They don’t usually kill unjustly, they are usually not disrespectful in a proud or boastful way, and they tend to stand for a belief bigger than themselves. They have written countless stories about my type of hero. Most of the heroes in stories and books tend to be like this because we as people tend to like our characters to reflect the same values we have. So many people think that this is the ideal type for a hero and that’s why it is so universal.

Diomedes does a few things that fit with my ideal type of hero. He warns the other Achaians to steer clear of Hector while he is being helped by Ares, which means that he is looking out for the well being of others. Diomedes also does a few things no hero should ever do. He chased after Aphrodite after she picked up her son Aineias and tried to take him away from the battle. Diomedes had already struck a critical blow against Aineias by throwing the rock at him while he was trying to protect his friend. Both of these are dirty moves. You don’t attack a man while hes down and defenseless and you certainly don’t attack a person while they are protecting someone else. I do understand he was doing it because they are at war and you do what you have to but it seems like a very non-heroic thing to do.

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