Journal 6: Books 22–24 of the Iliad
Day 1: February 22nd
In today’s class we talked about the so-called delusions that Agamemnon suffered from when he took away Achilles’s girlfriend. He thought that comparing himself to Zeus would make his argument stronger. We also talked about the meaning of Patroklos’s name. “Patr” means ancestor or father and “kleos” means glory. Patroklos translates to the glory of the ancestors or the glory of his father.
Day 2: February 23rd
We have finally arrived at the scene we have been waiting for since the epic started. I felt bad for Hector’s parents knowing that they are about to watch their son’s death. Even though I felt bad, his death is inevitable and I’m ready for them to hurry up and get it over with. I was surprised that Hector’s mother Hekabe showed her breast to him. That was a horrible way to persuade him to come back into the walls of Troy. Maybe if they had Andromache show her breast, it would have made him come back. What man in their right mind would say “Hey my mom is showing her breast to me so I’m going to go back home to be with her”. I know that these things were normal in Ancient Greek culture, but it still feels weird to me.
Hector basically ran around the walls of Troy thirty times before he stopped. I don’t think it was morally right for Athena to trick him into fighting Achilles, but I understand why she did it. It was fated for Hector to die, so the she probably got tired of seeing him escape death like I did. I was surprised at the fact that the final battle scene was so short and fast. I’ve waited 7 weeks and read thousands of lines of the Iliad just to be let down at the end. I thought the last battle scene would be like a movie and make me want to grab some popcorn and read it over and over again. When all it did was bore me like the other scenes.
I was expecting Hector to die from getting his head chopped off or being crushed by a boulder. He was stabbed in the neck one time and just died. The only interesting thing about the whole scene was Achilles saying he would eat Hector’s flesh. That showed that his menis has yet to go away even though he has killed his biggest enemy. Achilles attaching a hook to Hector’s tendon in his ankle is very ironic because it is the same way Achilles will die. He basically foreshadows his own death with that one move.
Day 3: February 24th
The Myrmidons driving Patroklos’s body around reminds me of how the hearse drives the casket around after the funeral. I don’t understand how they are able to feast with not one but two dead bodies sitting next to them. I guess the bodies don’t have smells because they are being protected by the gods but I’m pretty sure Hector’s body is spilling blood. If I was Achilles and the ghost of Patroklos showed up, I would have passed out and died. I honestly believe that ghosts and spirits are real. However, I don’t want one to come up and have a conversation with me. It kind of weirded me out that they want their ashes to be mingled together. No matter how much I love my friends, I wouldn’t want to be buried with them.
The games and contests they have after burning the body can be compared to a repast at an American funeral. Even though repast usually don’t have games and contest, they both are parties and gatherings of people that knew and loved the person who died. They both are used to celebrate the life of the dead. I’ve noticed that there is no such thing as a fair fight, battle, or competition in the Ancient Greek culture. In every single game, somebody either cheated or had the help of a god. Me being the sore loser I am, I would be upset if I lost because someone had the help of a god and I would want a rematch.
Day 4: February 25th
I’m glad Achilles decided to give Hector’s family his body back. I would hate for somebody to have killed my brother, mutilate his body, then refuse to give him back for a proper burial. At this point, Achilles knows he will die soon so he doesn’t care about the feelings of others. If the gods didn’t tell him too, he probably would have burnt Hector’s body in front of his family to be spiteful. I thought that Achilles would kill Priam when he saw him, so I was surprised to see him being hospitable. He was even nice enough to hide him away from everyone else so he wouldn’t be taken as a prisoner.
Honestly, I hated the ending of the Iliad. The main thing I was expecting to see was the death of Achilles. How could Homer allude to the death the whole book but then not show it. I still don’t know who was responsible for the death of Achilles. I wanted to see if they actually threw Astyanax from walls of Troy and how they came to that decision. Did Achilles die after they invaded the city with the Trojan horse? I’ve always heard about how Odysseus ended the war with the idea of the Trojan horse and I was excited to see it. I have already read the Odyssey twice and they only alluded to the event but never gave full details. That is the only battle scene I would pay to see. I was ready to hear about thousands of men jumping out of a horse and destroying a city in a matter of minutes.
Day 5: February 26th
Compared to the first book, book 24 was boring and uninteresting. The first book pulled me right in with all of the drama. The first book set you up for a book filled with excitement and I felt let down once I got to the end. I would extend the epic for about 3 more books. I would write book 25 about the Trojan horse, book 26 about Achilles’s death, and book 27 about life in Troy after the war. The epic ends on a cliff hanger and leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
Day 6: February 27th
In today’s class, we discussed the ending of the book. I talked about how I was surprised that Homer decided to remove Achilles’s death from the epic. They talked about his death so much throughout the epic, I expected it to be the end of book 24. I would have been happy if they just said, “Achilles was killed by so and so from a cut in the tendon in his ankle”. They didn’t talk about his death at all. We also discussed how Hector’s final battle scene against Achilles was so short. His death was prolonged for 20 books only for his death to be two seconds long. A comparison was made between Hector and Patroklos. In Hector’s funeral speech, Helen says that Hector was always kind to her and made her feel welcomed like Patroklos made Briseis feel.
Day 7: February 28th
Overall, I enjoyed the Iliad, but I wouldn’t read it again. The epic consisted of too many battle scenes which I should have expected being as though the epic is about a war. I kind of expected the battle scenes to be more descriptive and gruesome and all the poet did was tell me about the events instead of showing. It was hard for me to understand some of the epic even though it was translated into English. The epic was not translated into the version of English we have today, so I had to re-read a lot of scenes in order to comprehend what they were saying. I’m more excited to read the Odyssey because it was one the only books I actually read in high school. I’m looking forward to analyzing it more deeply than I did in high school. Now that I have read the Iliad, it will give me an even better understanding of the events that take place in the Odyssey.
The theme I connected with the most in the Iliad was the theme of love. Being as though I have recently fell in love with someone I can now understand the attachments Andromache had to Hector and the love between Helen and Paris. My attachments to my significant other are not as dependent as theirs but it’s similar in some ways. It would suck to have my significant other snatched away from me the way Andromache had Hector snatched away. Once you become attach to someone and start to plan your futures together or in their case have start building a family it would break my heart to have that taken away in the snap of a finger. I also related to the love between friends and family. I care for my siblings and friends the same way Achilles did for Patroklos and I would have their back in life and death the same way Achilles did.
Since this week is my birthday week (march 2nd), I have been on top of my work. I wanted to make sure that I had everything completed before Friday, so I could enjoy my birthday without stressing about homework. I wish I was as dedicated every week as I am this week. I’ve also decided that I want to try a different studying method for the Odyssey. I want to try reading different summaries first before I read the Chicago version so I can have a better understanding of the ideas and events. Although I have read the book twice before, I didn’t pay attention to the close details and I want to see if I will be able to discover things I didn’t find the other times I read the epic.