Greek Literature Weekly Journal Update Seven
Reflections for October 4, 2016 — October 6, 2016
Class Reflection for October 4, 2016 (11:15 a.m. — 1:17 p.m.):
The class did not meet today, so I used the time to review The Iliad in its entirety. I also devoted a portion of this time to studying the class notes I took while reading the epic. My reflections on the readings brought about several overarching realizations. First, the glory and grief a person experiences largely determines their character. Second, authority is a weapon; how it is used influences the success of a leader and their subordinates.Third, the more selfish an individual’s intentions are, the greater the consequential suffering.
The overall behavior of Achilleus verifies my first conclusion. Achilleus is honored among the Achaians because of his impeccable skills as a warrior. His superiority in warfare is established in the first book of the epic. Achilleus states “ always the greater part of the painful fighting is the work of my hands” (Lines 165–166). Knowing that he is fighting alongside the best warriors in all of Greece, this statement insinates that in combat he is supreme. This trait however is not what grants him the kleos we recognize him for. Achilleus is remembered as “the greatest of Greek heroes” because of the two-tiered menis he unleashes. One aspect of his wrath can be characterized as passive. This occurs when Achilleus becomes so enfuriated by Agamemnon’s taking of Breseis that he decides to abstain from battle. When Achilleus learns his beloved friend Patroklos has been killed by Hector in Book 18, grief consumes his very being. He hardly eats, barely sleeps, and he develops an insatiable lust for Hector’s blood to avenge the death of Patroklos. Achilleus bereavement persists until the end of The Iliad. His continuous state of mourning enables him to unleash an unprecedented level of indiscrimnate divine fury, which he becomes notoriously known for. That characteristic grief propels the hero into an aristeia thus enabling him to kill Hector and give the Achaians the upper hand in the war. Therefore Achilleus serves as a prime example of how the peaks and valleys of our life experiences determine the type of person we become.
Agamemnon and Hector’s governing styles of their respective armies corroborates my revelation that authority is a weapon; and the way it is employed determines how prosperous a leader is in their endeavors. With respect to Agamemnon, he initially misuses his power over the Achaians. He is initially domineering and selfish. These traits are first displayed during his arguement with Achilleus in Book 1 (Lines 102–120, 130–147, and 172–187). His attitude impels him to make destructive decision that ultimately results in him displaying defective leadership skills. My third weekly journal update explains in detail how he uses his weapon of authority to inflict his personal demise and the downfall of the warriors at his command. By Book 9 Agamemnon appears pesimistic, regretful, and almost pathetic when he realizes how catastrophic the war has been for the Achaians; due in large part to his tendency to abuse his power. When he reassesses how he manages the Achaian army, the tide begins to turn in his favor. For instance, in Book 9 Agamemnon sends the embassy (Ajax, Odysseus, and Phoinix) to persuade Achilleus to return. Although the effort is unsuccessful, it does lessen Achilleus’ animosity towards the Achaians. In Book 19, Agamemnon delivers his unusual form of an apology to Achilles and allows the hero to exert more authority over the Achain forces. As a result, the Achaians become more successful in battle; an indirect result of Agamemnon’s actions. Therefore Agamemnon proves that projecting the force of one’s authority on an enemy rather than the people under one’s command results in victory.
Hector’s governing style juxtaposes that of Agamemnon, but ultimately illustrates the same point. Initially, Hector uses his authority to encourage and guide the Trojan troops and to correct anyone that hinders the progress of the Trojan army. His encounters with Paris are prime examples. When Paris fails to meet Hector’s expectaions in battle in Book 3 (Lines 38–75), Hector publically criticizes him. That criticism convinces Paris to duel with Menelaus. When Paris is found resting behind the walls of Troy in Book 6(Lines 325–341) while other Trojans fight the war he caused, Hector scolds his brother into action yet again. His exemplary leadership skills, both on and off the battlefield, causes the Trojans to experience triumph during most of The Iliad. Nevertheless, when we witness Hector succumb to ate in Book 18 by disregarding the word of advisors, like Poulydamas, he begins to inflict suffering on himself, Trojan warriors, and Trojan civilians. Hector’s transformation in perspective eventually leads to his death which foreshadows the defeat of Troy. Once again Hector’s conduct demonstrates how dangerous the retention and use of authority can be either to oneself or their enemies.
The primary motivations of Paris, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, substantiates my third and final claim — self absorbed intentions lead to wide spread suffering. Paris is the most self-centered character in The Iliad. His conceited actions triggers a cascasde of other selfish acts and essentially causes the Trojan war. At the Judgement of Paris, Paris selects Aphrodite’s offer to marry Helen. Aphrodite’s gift is the only one of the three that will result in immediate negative reprocussions; Hera’s gift of sovereignty and Athena’s gift of military excellence would not have brought harm to anyone. Despite having this knowledge, Paris is unwavering in his decision. This solitary decision causes discord among the gods, massive loss of life, and one of the largest wars in history; but surprisingly Paris seems unbothered by the consequences of his behavior. Regardless of his indifference, it is evident that his selfishness brings immense hardship on completely innocent parties. Although the selfishness exhibited by the three Olympian goddesses are acts of retaliation for the result of Paris’ judgement, their actions are still inexcusably conceited in nature. Their misconduct causes extensive destruction as well. Hera calls for the continuation of the war in Book 4, rallies the Achaians in Book 5 and seduces Zeus in Book 14 in order to assist the Achains in sacking Troy. Athena also endorses the continuation of the war by the convincing Pandaros to shoot Menelaus in Book 4, granting Diomedes an aristeia in Book 5, and helping Achillesu kill Hector in Book 22. During the course of the epic, Aphrodite manipulates Helen in Book 3, rescues various soldiers from battle, and protects Hector’s body in Book 23 all in an effort to maintain the arrangements she made which enabled her to win the Apple of Discord. All of theses efforts to keep a senseless war going for the sake of revenge brought more destruction to innocent parties than it did to the people who started the confusion in the first place.
Assignment for October 4, 2016 - Study for the exam
October 4, 2016
- Reviewed The Illiad and the supplemental class notes in my dorm room (11:15 a.m. — 1:17 p.m.)
- Began writing my class reflection for Tuesday in my dorm room (2:13 p.m. — 4:29 p.m.)
October 5, 2016
- Reviewed The Illiad and the complementary class notes in my dorm room ( 2:00 p.m. — 4:09 p.m.)
- Finished writing my class reflection for Tuesday in my dorm room (9:08 p.m. — 10:15 p.m.)
Class Reflection for October 6, 2016 (11:10 a.m. — 12:30 p.m.):
The first activity we completed in class today was the weekly quiz. The quiz covered Books 22–24 of The Iliad. The majority of class was spent preparing for next week’s exam on the work. In essence, the exam was described as being designed to assess students’ knowledge of the epic and our ability to explain the events or themes of the work in great detail. After covering content of the test, Dr. Sandridge introduced “spider charts”. The spider charts serve as a study tool that aides students in mastering the material by networking information. Professor Sandridge then proceeded to give examples of how to practice using the technique. He also offered more tips on how to thoroughly prepare for the exam. The last segment of class consisted on discussing the principle of supplication. The encounter between Priam and Achilleus in Book 24 was the epitome of supplication. During this conversation Priam kisses Achilleus hand and grabs his legs. The gesture the Trojan king performs conveyed his complete submission to Achilles for the sake of retrieving the body of his most precious son.
- Wrote class reflection for Thursday in my dorm room (4:00 p.m. — 4:20 p.m.)
October 8, 2016
- Studied for the exam at home in my dining room (8:45 a.m. — 10:26 a.m.)
October 9, 2016
- Studied for the exam in my dining room at home (3:59 p.m. — 5:00 p.m.)
Total Time Devoted to Studying: 11hours and 56minutes