Weekly Journal 1
August 23rd First Day of School 11:10–12:30 + 6:00–6:30
Considering we were just about to dive into The Iliad, it was fitting that we began the semester by discussing what Professor Sandridge described in our assignment as “life’s five greatest stories”. His writing talked about how stories about your career, friendships and romances, partnerships, leadership opportunities, and intellectual enlightenments are typically filled with more characters and lengthy plots that involve plenty of planning. These two attributes play a significant role in making a story great. This made me think about what my life’s greatest story would be, especially because I have lived an extremely average and unexciting life so far. I grew up in a comfortable home with a regular middle class family; I have always attended good schools, never experienced any type of trauma, and have never done anything extraordinary. I’m the type of person who cringes during icebreakers when you have to say something cool about yourself. When I was sitting in my room later that evening looking over my class notes, I realized something so simple. Who ever said that everyone’s story had to involve a Lifetime movie worthy event? Professor Sandridge wrote about his decision to not be an astronaut and because his piece was well written and tied into such a bigger plot, it was a pleasant and interesting read. This made me realize that life’s five greatest stories all have the potential to be great because of all of the complex people we meet, places we go, and things we learn by reflecting upon our everyday experiences.
We were also given some much-needed background on the Iliad. I read the epic in 10th grade and can barely remember a thing. I am interested to see if reading the Iliad four years later in what seems to be a more important setting will help me to see it’s true significance and understand why it has such a prominent place in our society.
August 24th- 9:00–10:30pm
My roommate was watching TV, so I made my way into a study room before diving into the first book of the Iliad. It took me a second to hit my stride with the style of writing and language that we see in the book. I made a character list to help me connect the complex backgrounds of the characters introduced in the first book, as well as the one’s who were mentioned in class.
Book 1 gave us a quick but meaningful glimpse of Achilles and Agamemnon and their values. Agamemnon cares about power and total domination. His values and ego are reassured by the large amount of people he has under his control and his title as King. Achilles cares about his natural born and earned right to power and respect. He values people’s recognition of his greatness through prizes like Briseis. I noticed that the two of them seem to value many of the same ideas, but they’re very conflicting in a Mean Girls type way. There could never be enough room for two Regina George’s in just one school.
August 25th- 11:10am–12:30pm +10:10–11:100pm
We started class by listening to Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” (I recognized the song from Forrest Gump) which matched Achilles’ mood in Book 1 perfectly. It was interesting to see that other people in the class favored Agamemnon over Achilles like I did. Although they are both controlling and I don’t exactly like either of them just yet, Agamemnon seems to be less entitled and more genuine. Despite this, I have noticed many faults in his self-centered leadership. We also discussed the question of how do you decide how much a human being is worth. After talking with my teammate for an hour, I came to the conclusion that how you determine a person’s value is based off of whether or not they are more of a partner or friend/ significant other. When you are looking for a partner, you determine value based off of what someone can do for you or what class they belong to in society. When you are looking for friend/ significant other, you judge their value based off of their potential, personality, and how well you get along with them. In class, someone mentioned that they believe you judge value based off of whether or not someone has the potential to be a productive member of society. According to his theory, if he had to chose between saving a bus full of elderly people or an infant, he would chose the infant because he or she could grow up to be a very productive member of society, while the older people have probably already left their mark on the world. I question this logic because personally, if I had a loved one on the bus full of elderly people, I would save the bus instead of a child who I have no type of attachment to. I believe that we determine the worth of a person based on our personal feelings of attachment towards them.
We also discussed the Judgment of Paris. I said that I would have chose Athena, because power through knowledge is something that is very important to me. I am somewhat of an introvert and would much rather prefer to have the option to run a big operation from behind the scenes. This is reflected quite clearly through my career aspirations. I am a political science major and am very interested in going to law school, but I could never see myself speaking in a courtroom or on the same platform that President Obama and other highly ranked government officials do on a daily basis. Is this something that is conflicting in my aspirations or have I just not discovered my niche in the world of politics?
August 28th- 4:00–5:00pm
Today I read books 2–4 in my room. The much-anticipated introduction of Helen in book 3 is what stuck out to me the most. I knew that she was always described as the definition of beauty and sophistication; so reading about how conflicted she was over the war was slightly surprising. I think this is because I had always imagined her as more of a prize, someone who was too perfect to have real emotions and worries. From what I was able to grab, it seems like she longs to be back home with the Greeks, but cannot act or speak to freely about this because at the end of the day she is a slave to the Goddess Aphrodite.
August 29th- 2:00–5:00pm
“Unchain My Heart” by Ray Charles came to my mind as soon as I saw this sculpture. I immediately thought about how it speaks to the nature of love in the way that love is consuming, controlling, and can leave you feeling vulnerable. Loving someone can make you feel trapped and controlled just like having your hands chained. Being chained down into love is not always a negative thing. Chains are sturdy and hard to break in the same way that love should be reliable and able to survive in difficult situations. The woman in the sculpture is naked and almost looks as if she is unveiling herself. Love makes us vulnerable because in order for it to grow stronger through trust, you must share mental and physical parts of yourself.
This sculpture reminded me of love in more of a rational, pre-planned, family setting. In class someone talked about a painting they saw of a grandmother teaching her granddaughter how to pray. Love in a family aspect has power over our ideologies and behavior. This type of love gives us values through religion and helps us to conquer our fears by acting as a source of comfort.
This piece is totally the concept of “shooting your shot” but in the 19th century. It shows how although love can sometimes be planned and calculated like shooting an arrow, chance is still one of the biggest factors. Is the wind going to blow the arrow left of your target? Did the girl you want to DM on twitter suddenly disappear from your timeline?
Naturally, one the first ways we judge someone when it comes to love is based off of their beauty or in this day and age, their twitter profile pictures. To the Greeks, beauty was a very important medium for love. In Ancient Greece every man alive probably dreamed of shooting his shot at someone as elegant as Helen. Paris was so struck by Helen’s beauty that he even chose her over royal sovereignty and wisdom. He was extremely lucky to have Aphrodite shoot his shot for him.
August 30th — 11:10–12:30pm
In the public eye, a hero is someone who is a prominent member of society that preforms an extraordinary act of bravery. From an individual point of view, a hero is usually someone you look up to even if they don’t do anything outstandingly amazing. When I was growing up my hero was always my dad. Partially because he is very tall and athletic, two physical attributes that I always associate with heroes, but also because he is a great man. To me the most important type of heroes are the unassuming ones scattered all over society. Although heroes on a bigger scale like Barrack Obama or even Batman are beneficial members of society because they show a larger demographic of people what its like to be strong, resilient, and poised; I think the unassuming heroes have a more direct and beneficial impact on the people around them. My father has always been my hero because of his outstanding work ethic, pride, dedication to his religion, and the kindness he shows to others. I am sure that a poem has been written about my type of hero before. It’s normal for children to view their parents as heroic figures because of the large influence they have on your life.
August 30th- 1:00–2:30pm
Today I read Book 5 right after class, so I could have our review of the previous books fresh in my head. It follows Diomedes through his great battle fueled by Athena. Diomedes acts as one of the larger scale heroes I talked about previously. However, the resilience and faith he showed after Pandarus wounded him while praying to Athena are a variation of the qualities I see in my father. He shows bravery while fearlessly tearing through the battlefield with the help of Athena. His sole dependence on the Goddess after his injury is not exactly hero like. I feel like the type of hero I believe in would have gotten back up and fought until he absolutely couldn’t, then gone to seek the help of higher powers. However, this is Ancient Greece and it seems regular for characters to pray and request help from their favorite Gods. I do seriously question Diomedes motives. Did he ask for Athena’s help in order to prove himself to the Trojans and the Greeks especially after Zeus had insulted him and called him less of a warrior than his father? Or did he call to Athena for help because he truly believed in the Greek cause and wanted to bring vengeance for his community? A hero would call in Athena because he wanted a victory for his people.