Weekly Journal 3
This week, I read Books 10–13 of Homer’s Iliad and reflected on what I found interesting in each of the books. I spent about an hour to two hours reading and thinking about what I read and answering the thought provoking questions in the syllabus.
September 7, 2017: (11am-12:30pm) During today’s hour and a half class period, we talked a little about self-awareness and how our own self-awareness can be cultivated and enhanced by reading literature. Professor Sandridge introduced the idea of “bibliotheraphy,” which is therapy by reading literature. Your own emotional state, motivation, strengths, weaknesses, cognitive states, and the impact you have on others are all things that are observable while reading literature. For example, by reading The Iliad, you may realize that you are empathetic. It is related to theory of mind, which is your understanding of how others are processing the world.
September 8, 2017: (5pm-6pm) Today i spent an hour reading Book 10 of Homer’s Iliad. In this book, we see that the night after Achilles turns away Agamemnon’s bribe, Agamemnon has trouble sleeping. Nestor suggests that they send a spy to the Trojan camp to see what their next moves will be. Diomedes and Odysseus volunteer as tribute for the mission and they start on their way, praying to Athena for protection. Meanwhile, the Trojans are thinking of something similar. Hector does not want the Achaeans to try to escape so he tells Dolon, one of the fastest men in the Trojan army, to go and scout out the Achaeans. Hector offers Achilles’ chariot and horses as a reward for his bravery. However, when Dolon goes out, he eventually runs into Odysseus and Diomedes. Dolon tries to save his own life by snitching to the two Achaeans about a Trojan ally, the Thracians. He told Diomedes and Odysseus that they were vulnerable to attack. Diomedes kills Dolon and takes his armor. They then head to the Thracian camp where they kill 12 soldiers as well as their king, Rhesus. Diomedes and Odysseus ride Rhesus’ horses back to the Achaean camp.
In this book, I found it interesting how in Book 2, line 23–25, Dream says, “‘Son of wise Atreus breaker of horses, are you sleeping? He should not sleep night long who is a man burdened with counsels and responsibility for a people and cares so numerous.’” Dream was telling Agamemnon that leaders are the people who show epimeleia, which is Greek for vigilance and attentiveness. If Agamemnon wants to be a good leaders, he has to be awake when everyone else is not. He has to be attentive when everyone else is oblivious. Too much goes on at night and he has too much responsibility and too much on the line to be sleeping peacefully at night. Finally, in Book 10, we see Agamemnon being the good leader that he wants to be. Book 10, line 3–4 says “But the son of Atreus, Agamemnon, shepherd of the people, was held by no sweet sleep as he pondered deeply within him.” He was awake when everyone else was sleeping. He was finally showing epimeleia.
September 10, 2017: (10am-12pm) Today I spent two hours reading Book 11 and 12 of the Iliad. In Book 11, Zeus allows a huge amount of Achaeans to die in battle. Fortunately for the Achaeans, they start to make progress by the middle of the day. Agamemnon is able to kill many Trojans and makes it to the city gates. Zeus sends Iris to tell Hector to wait until Agamemnon is injured to attack the Greeks. Coon, Antenor’s son, is the one who wounds Agamemnon and causes him to leave the battlefield. When this happens, Hector is then able to drive the Achaean line back. Odysseus and Diomedes encourage their comrades to keep fighting and hold the line, don’t retreat. Paris woulds Diomedes and causes him to leave the battlefield. Odysseus is then surrounded by Trojans and becomes injured by Socus. Odysseus is able to defend himself until Great Ajax comes and helps him off of the battlefield. When the Greek healer, Machaon, is injured, the Greeks retreat. Achilles sees the injured Machaon and sends his friend, Patroclus, to see what is going on with the Achaeans. Nestor begs Petroclus to convince Achilles to come back to battle, or at least join the battle himself disguised as Achilles to scare the Trojans. Patroclus agrees.
In Book 12, the trenches in front of the Achaean camp are able to keep the Trojans out. However, Hector tells his men to get off their chariots and cross the trenches. At this moment, an eagle drops a serpent in the middle of the soldiers to the left. Polydamas says that this was a sign that their charge will fail but Hector insists they continue on anyways. Hector shatters one of the gates with a boulder. The Trojans enter the forts and the Achaeans retreat to the ships.
Below is a list of the decisions Agamemnon has made thus far in the Iliad, as well as a rank of each decision on a scale of 1–10 (one being the worst decision and ten being the best decision).
- Agamemnon tries to take Briseis from Achilles. This is ranked as the worst decision in my opinion because this decision caused the rage of Achilles. Agamemnon only cared about his status and ranking over Achilles, which is why he felt so comfortable trying to take Briseis from Achilles. However, because of this mindset, Achilles refused to fight for the Achaeans for a very long time in the war, which was when they needed him the most.
- Agamemnon tries to bribe Achilles into coming back into the war and fighting for the Achaean cause. This act was almost just as bad as trying to take Briseis from Achilles. By trying to bribe Achilles, Agamemnon is basically saying, “You know you need these things so come back to the Achaeans, even though i completely disrespected you as a demigod, because I’m giving you this material things and now you owe me.” This is not an apology and it caused even more anger to build up with Achilles.
- In Book 9, Agamemnon was being a bad leader and started calling the war a failure. He wanted to go back to Greece but Diomedes insisted that they stay and fight. This act made Agamemnon look like a terrible leader and might have cost him his troops trust.
- Agamemnon refuses Chryses offer to pay in return for his daughter. Maybe Agamemnon thought he was doing the smart thing at the time, but because he did not accept the offer, Chryses prayed to Apollo, who then sent the plague to the Achaeans. If he had just accepted the payment, the entire Achaean camp would not have suffered.
- Agamemnon sending Odysseus and Diomedes as spies in Book 10 was very smart to me because they were able to find out who was the Trojan ally and kill a lot of them. That was they could use the size of the army as an advantage.
- In Book 2, Agamemnon tests his troops’ courage by saying that he has given up on the war and will return to Greece. When he says that, the soldiers all run to the ships afraid. By doing this, Agamemnon was able to see who was brave and who was a coward.
- In Book 2, Agamemnon arranges his troops by friends and kin. This was smart in my opinion because his troops probably fought better when they were surrounded by people that they loved, which gave them motivation to fight hard and protect the people around them.
- In Book 8, Agamemnon decides to gather his troops and stir their pride when Zeus turns the war in the Trojan’s favor. Agamemnon’s encouragement to his troops gives them the courage to fight back, even though it would be hard to gain the upper hand again.
- Agamemnon tells Menelaus to kill Adrestus, the Trojan that they captured in Book 6. This was smart because they needed to kill as many Trojans as possible while the gods were absent in the war. They needed to kill as many opponents while they had the upperhand so that if they ever started to lose, they could possibly use their strength in numbers to overcome the Trojan army.
- Agamemnon convinces Menelaus not to fight Hector in Book 7. This is smart because Menelaus would not be a match for Hector. He would die by Hector’s sword, making the Achaeans lose the battle and making Agamemnon losing a little brother.
In my opinion, Agamemnon does not seem to be more heroic than Diomedes in Book 5. In Book 5, it seems as if Diomedes was able to do more damage to the Trojans than Agamemnon did. Even when he was afraid to fight when Ares came into the battle, Diomedes still did not back down and eventually injured Ares. I think it would have been more heroic of Agamemnon if he did not get wounded by Coon and leave the battle.
September 12, 2017: (11am-12:30pm) During today’s hour and a half class period, we talked about prosopopoeia. Prosopopoeia is a poetic device in which you speak in another persona for credibility. As a speaker, Odysseus tries to speak in Achilles’ persona. It’s kind of like saying, “If Achilles was here, he would say…” In class we discussed the similarities and differences between Achilles’ experience and Agamemnon’s experience. We said that both Agamemnon and Achilles lose their spear wives. However, Agamemnon loses his spear wife when he sends her back to Chryses and takes Achilles’ spear wife. As a result, Achilles’ menis comes. We also said that both Achilles and Agamemnon almost lose someone close to them. When Patroclus dies, Achilles’ menis comes back raging. They both also have an aristea. Agamemnon’s aristea is in Book 11. They both receive an appeal for ransom. Agamemnon’s appeal for ransom is when Chryseus asks for his daughter back and Achilles’ appeal for ransom is from the king of Troy. Professor Sandridge also said that we should give props to Agamemnon as a leader of the Achaean army because it is not an easy job, and nobody, not even Achilles, would be able to handle it all. Agamemnon is doing his best. I also learned what a gorgan is. It is a symbol in which a woman with a snake’s body or snakes in her hair is supposed to intimidate someone. It is an apotropaic symbol.
September 13, 2017: (6pm-7pm) Today, I spent an hour reading Book 13 of The Iliad. In this book, Zeus finally leaves the battlefield. Poseidon sees that Zeus is gone and now visits Little Ajax and Great Ajax in the form of Calchas to give them confidence to resist the Trojans. Little Ajax and Great Ajax are able to hold Hector back. Hector throws his lance at Teucer but misses, hits, and kills Poseidon’s grandson, Amphimachus, instead. Poseidon then gives Idomeneus raging power. Idomeneus and Meriones lead a charge against the Trojans on the left. Idomeneus really wants to find and kill Deiphobus especially. Many Trojans have begun to lose their vigor because they have been hurt by the Achaeans. Hector has to regroup his forces and finds out that many of this soldiers on the left have been killed.
Below is a list of gods who has participated in the Trojan war so far.
- Apollo: Apollo, in Book 1, causes a plague on the Achaeans because they took Chryseis from Chryses. He is on the Trojan side of the war.
- Athena: Athena is definitely on the side of the Achaeans. We see this when she talks to Achilles in Book 1 to try to calm him down after Agamemnon tries to take Briseis. We also see how, in Book 2, she inspires Odysseus to call the men back and strengthen their bravery instead of running from the war.
- Thetis: Thetis is Achilles’ mother, so she is on whichever side Achilles is on. When Achilles’ is beefing with Agamemnon, she asks Zeus to punish the Achaeans because of how Agamemnon disrespected her son.
- Hera: Hera is on the Achaeans side of the war and we see this when she gets mad at Zeus for helping the Trojan war efforts. Hera wants nothing less than the destruction of Troy so she asks Zeus to rekindle the fighting after Paris and Menelaus’ duel.
- Zeus: At first, it was unclear to me which side Zeus was fighting for until I realized that Zeus is on the Achaean side because he has a duty to revenge Menelaus and make Troy fall because Paris committed xenia, which is when you come into someone’s house and take their wife.
- Aphrodite: Aphrodite protects Paris when he duels with Menelaus. She is a Trojan ally and whisks Paris away to his room right before Menelaus kills him.
- Ares: Ares fights on the Trojan side because Apollo asks him to. They are able to turn the war around in the Trojan’s favor until Ares is wounded by Diomedes.
- Poseidon: Poseidon is on the Achaean side of the war and is eager to help them. He gives them confidence to fight back when they are losing. He also is the one that gives Idomeneus power to fight all of the Trojans that he did.