Week Four: One Month into The Iliad
September 15th 2:10 pm
A fortiori argument. This is the type of argument Ajax used to try and convince Achilles in returning to battle. It literally means “from the stronger”
“If you’d kill your own father, you’re more than likely to kill me, a stranger.”
In class we discussed in further depth where Ajax used an a fortiori argument. Hypothetically speaking, he told Achilles about a slayer, a man, and his brother. The slayer killed the man’s brother which lead him into a menis quite like Achilles’ however, the slayer is still alive and in the country. You won’t find the man holding his grudge as long as Achilles because the slayer offered a blood price for the man’s dead brother and the man accepted. This blood price being a large amount of gifts and money, a ransom like Agamemnon has tried to offer Achilles. Ajax insists that Achilles accepts Agamemnon’s ransom or find a blood price for Briseis, although, in the back of his mind he doesn’t think Achilles should be mad at all because he hasn’t lost a child or brother in the case of the man and the slayer.
Achilles’ refusal to Agamemnon’s ransom implies that he sees himself greater than a mortal. He has the “without me, you are nothing” mindset.
Zeus leaves the scene with the impression that no other gods will intervene in the war. However, Poseidon takes the form of the Achean seer Kalchas and encourages both Aiases to defend specific positions where the battle is at its weakest. The two rush into battle and Poseidon incites other Achean warriors and calls them cowards. He tells them to stop bellyaching because Agamemnon turned Achilles against them.
Meanwhile Hector leads charge against the two Aiases and various warriors get killed. Poseidon then takes the form of another Achean, Thoas. He gets into a conversation with Idomeneus about how they have to keep fighting and he agrees. Still disguised as a mortal so Zeus does not see what he is doing, Poseidon begins to fight hard for the Acheans.
Idomeneus kills Aisos, the Trojan who drove his chariot into the Achean gates, and this make Deiphobus angry. He throws his spear at Idomeneus and misses, killing and Achean named Hypseron. Seeing this, Idomeneus challenges Deiphobus and the two both call their buddies over to help, ending in a huge battle over the dead body of Askalophus, the son of Ares. (The Trojans want proper burial of him while the Acheans want to strip him of his armor and keep his body as a prize possession). During the fight, Achean warrior Meriones stabs Deiphobus in the hand and he is taken back to Troy by his brother Polites.
Meanwhile the Trojan Helenos kills the Achean Deipyros and Menelaus goes in for revenge. He throws his spear at Helenos destroying his hand and continues to kill more Trojans. Hector sees this and continues to press on his assault, but Poulydamas encourages Hector to concentrate his strategies at a safe location so they can decide their next move; they are starting to get pushed back. Hector goes to gather his chieftains and realizes they are all wounded or dead. He then finds Paris and accuses him of being a wimp consistently insulting him. Paris defends himself and says “That’s not fair I’m trying my best.” The two then run out into the thick of the war.
September 16th 4:00 pm
THE GODS AND GODDESSES
APHRODITE fights for the Trojans because Paris, Prince of Troy, chose her as the fairest goddess and she promised him Helen. Now that the Acheans are trying to take her back, she is entitled to defend the Trojans.
APOLLO fights alongside the Trojans. I am not sure why but further research outside of the book says that he has a Trojan son and he was mad at Achilles, this could possibly be the reason.
ZEUS tries to stay neutral during the entire battle. He has a promise he has to keep to Thetis which requires him to help the Trojans, but ultimately Zeus is in favor of the Acheans because he is a firm believer in oaths, he is the god of xenia. Paris violated the terms of xenia when he stole Helen away from Menelaus, therefore, Zeus also helps the Acheans in such a way that they will defeat Troy in the end.
HERA & ATHENA are both fighting alongside the Acheans because Paris did not choose them as the fairest goddesses.
ARES is fighting with the Trojans. Once again I am not sure why, but my guess would be it’s because Diomedes, an Achean warrior, injured him in Book Five.
HATE doesn’t really help fight on one particular side because of her own personal motives, however she is sent from Zeus to rally up the Acheans and prepare them for battle in Book Eleven. This leads to the mass killing of Trojan soldiers by Agamemnon, so I would say she is on the side of the Acheans by default.
POSEIDON decided he wanted to join the action and fought on the side of the Acheans for reasons that I do not know of.
SLEEP helps Hera distract Zeus from seeing Poseidon meddling in the war specifically helping the Acheans. Hera and Poseidon both want the Acheans to win, and since Sleep is helping Hera, he is linked to helping the Acheans without ever physically fighting in the war. He also warns Poseidon himself that he has knocked Zeus unconscious and that he needs to hurry up and lead the Acheans in battle. Ultimately, Sleep “fights” for the Acheans so he can get one of the Graces.
September 17th 2:10 pm
In class on Thursday we took quiz number three and discussed aristeia. This is a narrative device where the poet focuses on the actions of one hero. We seen Homer do this in Book Five with Diomedes and in Book Eleven with Agamemnon. Aristeia literally means “the bestive” derived from aristos meaning “the best”. From this we defined other words and their relations to aristos, like aristocracy meaning “rule by the best” and kratos which means dominance.
Nestor steps out of his tent after helping Machaon and sees the Acheans losing. He decides to go to Agamemnon with the bad news and finds him, Diomedes, and Odysseus all injured. Agamemnon thinks it is time that they go home but Odysseus says “No way. As soon as the men see that we’re starting to sail off, they won’t keep fighting. There will be total disorder and the Trojans will kill us all.” Diomedes suggests the three of them go back to battle. Agamemnon and the others thinks this is a good idea and the head out. Even if they are still sore to fight, they can cheer on the other men for encouragement. On the way back, they run into Poseidon in disguise and he tells Agamemnon that the gods are not entirely against them. “The day will come when the Trojans will turn tail and run.” he says. Poseidon then runs off with a scream as loud as ten men instilling courage into the Acheans.
Hera sees what Poseidon is doing and is afraid that Zeus might see him. Though she herself is happy at what he is doing, she decides to distract Zeus with the power of a woman’s touch. She gets dressed up and calls in Aphrodite for loveliness and desirability. Aphrodite agrees and likes the idea after Hera told her her false plan;
Start chemistry between Okeanos, god of the ocean and the sea goddess, Tethys whose relationship is on the rocks.
On the way to Zeus, Hera stops to see Sleep, brother of Death and asks him to knock Zeus unconscious after she is done with him. Sleep hesitates because the last time he helped Hera knock Zeus unconscious he was thumped in the head when he woke up. Hera tells Sleep not to worry, she will give him one of the younger Graces he’s had a crush on for a while, Pasithea. Sleep agrees and takes the form of a bird and the two of them run off o find Zeus.
As soon as Zeus sees Hera, he is overpowered with lust and asks Hera where she is going. She tells him the story she told Aphrodite and he tells her that can wait, and he wants her now.
Once the two are finished Sleep knocks Zeus unconscious and speeds off to find Poseidon and tell him to hurry up and help the Acheans while Zeus is still asleep. Poseidon then leads the Acheans on the attack. Hector throws a spear at Ajax and in response, Ajax throws a huge rock at his chest knocking him out. The Trojans take Hector away toward Troy to heal and the Acheans are encouraged by his absence.
September 18th 1:00 pm
With the battle continuing, the Acheans drive the Trojans out of their encampment making a comeback in the battle. Zeus wakes up and is outraged at what he sees and is even more mad that Hera tricked him. In her defense she tells Zeus that she never told Poseidon to join the war or fight on the Achean side. He believes her but orders that she goes to Olympus and get Iris and Apollo. He also announces the fate of the war:
The Trojans will keep pressing on as far as Achilles ships, Patroclus will join the war killing Sarpedon, Zeus’ son, Hector will kill Patroclus, and Achilles will kill Hector.
Hera obediently flies to Olympus and tells the gods how irrational Zeus is acting. She says its not even worth fighting over and Ares will have to deal with the fact that Askalophus is dead. This enrages Ares and he storms out on his way to the battlefield. Luckily, Athena goes after him and stops him.
Meanwhile Hera sends Iris and Apollo to Zeus. Zeus sends Apollo to revive Hector but when he gets there, he finds him awake but in a daze. Apollo reveals himself to the Trojans and tells them to return to battle, he will clear a path for Hector.
Hector, now filled with courage drives on against the Acheans. Thoas, an Achean warrior sees Hector and encourages the greatest Achean warriors to put on a front to stand up in resistance. The warriors do a great job until Apollo decides to put fear into them causing them all to run away. Trojans begin to kill numerous Acheans stripping them of their gear. Hector sees through this and continues to push forward to the Achean ships. Apollo helps by tearing down the Achean wall and filling the ditch surrounding it with the debris from the wall. The Acheans are no pushed all the way back to the point where they are fighting on the decks of their ships. Seeing this, Patroclus leaves the injured Eurypylos and runs to find Achilles.
Meanwhile, Hector is leading a group of Trojans to set fire to a ship that is being defended by Ajax and others. Teukros tries to shoot Hector with an arrow but Zeus snaps the bow and deflects the arrow off of its intended path. Hector sees this and is enlightened; he encourages the Trojans to keep pushing forward as they do. Ajax stirs on the Acheans reminding them that this battle is a matter of life or death. Nestor also encourages them telling them not to panic. The book ends with Ajax on the deck of the ship he is defending, fighting off all Trojans attempting to attack.
September 19th 12:00 pm
When Patroclus finds Achilles he is crying to him about what is happening on the ships. Achilles teases Patroclus fro crying and Patroclus defends himself calling Achilles out for being a jerk. He then asks for permission to lead the myrmidons into battle as Nestor suggested earlier. Achilles agrees and lets him do it just as long as he only drive the Trojans off of the ships. “Don’t go any further” he says, “or you’ll make me look stupid.”
In the heat of fighting Ajax begins to lose his energy and backs down from the ship he is defending. The Trojans begin to burn it down. Seeing this, Achilles urges Patroclus to get going. He arms himself in all of Achilles gear except his spear which only Achilles can wield off efficiently. Meanwhile Achilles gathers the myrmidons and gives them a pep talk. He then goes into his hut and prays to Zeus that he gives Partoclus the courage and strength to drive the Trojans off and that he returns home safe and unharmed. Zeus grants the first half of Achilles wishes, but not the second.
Patroclus leads the myrmidons out into battle. Stuck with terror, the Trojans think that this is Achilles and they are driven back by the sight of him. Patroclus starts killing many Trojans, seeing this Sarpedon steps up to him since his fellow Lykians are being cowards.
Patroclus and Sarpedon prepare for battle, meanwhile Zeus is looking down and laments at the fact that he is about to watch his son die. He asks Hera if he can save him by taking him out of the battle and she says no. Her theory is that is he does this, all of the other gods and goddesses will want to take their children out of the battle as well and that will start chaos. Patroclus throws his spear aimed at Sarpedon, but it kills his chariot driver. In return Sarpedon kills Patroclus horse. He throws a second spear and it misses. Patroclus responds with his next spear that hits Sarpedon directly in the heart. In his last breath, Sarpedon calls out to his cousin Glaukos asking him to rally the Lykians and protect his body. Glaukos does as he commands and prays to Apollo to fix his wound in his arm received from Teukros. Apollo grants his request and now that he is feeling better, he organizes the Lykians to surround and protect Sarpedons body. He then goes to the Trojans and reminds them that they owe debt to Sarpedon’s bravery and courage.
Zeus darkens the sky and looks for ways to kill Patroclus. He decided to let him have bit more glory before killing him off. Meanwhile, a huge battle erupts over over the body of Sarpedon. Zeus puts fear into the heart of Hector and sends Apollo down to get Sarpedon’s body away from the battlefield, clean him up, and send him back to Lykia for a proper burial.
Patroclus presses on to Troy and might have broken into the city if Apollo hadn’t pushed him back. Patroclus keeps trying, and on his fourth attempt, the gods warn him that he is acting against the decrees of fate, even Achilles wouldn’t go so far as to brake into the city of Troy. With that being said, Patroclus backs off. Apollo takes the form of a Trojan warrior and encourages Hector to keep fighting on the plain as he was thinking about giving up. Hector then jumps from his chariot and a free for all fight breaks loose over the body of Kebriones. Apollo eventually stops him and Hector strikes Patroclus with his spear between his shoulders, shattering his spear, and ripping Patroclus breast plate off of his chest. Defenseless, Patroclus gets speared in the back by Euphobus, a Trojan warrior. Hector then stabs Patroclus in the stomach and insults him. Patroclus says that he can already see your death coming as his final words.
September 20th 6:00 pm
Hera and Zeus
The effect of Hera’s seduction on Zeus got her what she wanted, the approach was humorous to me because Zeus was so easily seduced and he wanted her as soon as he saw her. However, the aftermath was not humorous it was rather outlandish because Zeus woke up so angry, the Acheans were pushed back even further than they were before as a result of his rage and his decision making process was not rational as he was deciding the fate of the was while he was still upset.
Patroclus is probably 2% responsible for his own fate because he was so eager to play the role of Achilles, even though it was for a good cause, I think Achilles taunting Patroclus fro crying encouraged Patroclus to go out and prove himself independent of Achilles.
Achilles, Zeus, and Hera can also be accounted for the death of Patroclus.
- Achilles 10% for allowing him to go into battle and teasing him when he was crying
- Hera 40% for making Zeus angry which cause him to think irrationally and allowed for the Acheans to be pushed back to their beached ships
- Zeus 90% for planning out the fate of the war, Hector, Patroclus, and his own son, Sarpedon all while he was in an unstable mindset.