Weekly Journal: Week One

Tuesday, August 22nd

Day one of Greek Literature began with the reveal of our readings for the semester: Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”. We then reflected on the medium article we were asked to read prior to our first day, Professor Sandridge’s writings on the five great stories of life. We had a discussion on the question of ‘Is life like a Rubik's cube?’. In my opinion, life and Rubik’s cubes are not similar at all. There is a right way to solve a Rubik's cube that involves a complex algorithm. But, in life there is always more than one approach and the approach taken depends on the individual. Some choose to pursue higher education after high school graduation, others go right into the work force the second they receive their high school diploma. The life approach you choose has no right or wrong answer, and what is right to others might not seem right to everyone. Very much unlike a Rubik’s cube where the wrong solution exists and it is obvious when the cube is not solved correctly, we know it is correct when each side of the cube consists of only one color.

Wednesday, August 23rd

Freshman year of high school in my Literature and Composition class we read Homer’s “The Odyssey”, but we never read the first epic poem, “The Iliad”. When I found out that we were to be reading “The Iliad” in Greek Literature, I was excited because I remembered skipping over it in high school. I was also excited because I have enjoyed reading about Greek mythology since I discovered Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series and the spin off series ‘The Heroes of Olympus’. These series revolve around the lives of demigods, both Greek and Roman, and makes many allusions to classic Greek myths. Our first assignment was to read book one of “The Iliad”. It took me longer than I expected to read through book one due to the use of ancient English and words that I was not familiar with. Overall I can summarize book one as beginning with a priest going to the Greek Warrior, Agamemnon, who took his daughter as a prize, and presenting a ransom to get his daughter back. I was surprised to read that during war times, warriors took women as prizes. It made me wonder if the women went willingly, if it was seen as a compliment to be taken as a prize, or if they were forcibly taken from their homes. When Agamemnon refuses to give the Priest, Chryses, prays the to god Apollo and hearing his prayer, Apollo rains down a series of plagues on the entire Greek army. A meeting is then held within the Greek army to discuss how to deal with the plagues sent by Apollo and how to get them to end. They come to the decision that Agamemnon needs to return his prize, Chrysies, back to her father, Chryses. Upset with this decision Agamemnon decides that he will take the Greek warrior, Achilles’, prize to compensate for the loss of his own. This upsets Achilles and he and Agamemnon get into an argument so intense that Achilles gets ready to strike at Agamemnon but is stopped by the Greek goddess, Athena. He is so upset at the loss of his prize, named Briseis, he decides to not to aid the Greeks in their fight against the Trojans, eve though he is their most powerful warrior. Agamemnon, in all his pride, lets Achilles do as he pleases.

Thursday, August 24th

Today we analyzed the reading we were supposed to do of book one of Homer’s “The Iliad”. The first couple minutes of class were spent with Mr. Sandridge answering questions regarding the syllabus, especially questions regarding our journal entries here, on medium.com. We then talked about the small details of the readings. I found it interesting that Achilles was a demigod, the child of a god and a mortal. He was the son to the goddess Thetis and a mortal man Pelius. It was prophesied that the child of Thetis would be more powerful than his father, that is why Thetis had a child with a mortal, because none of the gods wanted to have a child that would become stronger than them. When we were talking about how the Trojan war began, it sounded to me that it all started with the marriage of Thetis and Pelius. They did not invite the goddess Eris, or discord, to their wedding because they did not want any kind of discord at their wedding. However, she crashes the wedding anyway and throws an apple inscribed with the words ‘to the fairest’ on it. The goddesses Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite all each believe that the apple is meant for them. To settle the dispute, they go to a shepherd named Paris and ask him to settle this disagreement, called ‘The Judgement of Paris’. But, each goddess offers him something in return for his vote, Hera offers royal sovereignty, Athena offers war craft, and Aphrodite offers him a woman named Helen. Helen was the most beautiful woman, and it was prophesized that whoever was married to her could not be hurt by the war. Paris, a Trojan, chooses Athena, and goes to take Helen from her Greek husband, Menelaus, the brother of Agamemnon, thus starting the Trojan war. I kind of think it is crazy to start an entire war over the hand of woman, but who am I to judge? We also learned about some important Greek terms such as ate, menis, and kleos. Ate is essentially folly, it is when a sensible person makes foolish decisions when influenced by the gods. This is what Agamemnon experienced when he let Achilles leave the Greek army, knowing that he was the most powerful warrior they had on their side. Menis is an indiscriminant vengeance. It is when a punishment is issued, not only to person who has done wrong, but to everyone around them. This occurs in book one when Apollo doesn’t just punish Agamemnon for disrespecting Chryses, but he unleashes a series of plagues upon the entire Greek army.

Monday, August 28th

Today I am going to read books 2–4 of Homer’s ‘The Iliad’. I am now finished reading the Iliad and it took me over an hour to finish. Sometimes I find it difficult to comprehend the writing style used by Homer so it takes me awhile to get through the readings. Books two through three had a lot of action and a lot of information that I will feel more confident about speaking about in our class discussion tomorrow. One thing that made me think is Helen and her role in the story and how she is as a person. I’m not sure of her feelings for Menelaus or Paris. Does she love them both or does she not love either of them? I wonder if she ever objects to the way that people see her as only a possession and a beautiful face. While reading the poem it seems like she does whatever people tell her to do because she feels like she is not capable of doing much else.

Tuesday, August 29th

Today in class we analyzed books 2–4 of Homer’s “The Iliad”. We were asked to think about what the desires of Agamemnon and Achilles and how they differ. I think that both Agamemnon and Achilles desire honor but have different ways of attaining it. Agamemnon forces everyone to honor him and will go to any length to be recognized. While Achilles is a naturally honorable person and a natural leader, he deserves honor because he has worked for it fairly. Achilles craves honor and glory because he knows he is deserving of it, while Agamemnon craves honor only because he doesn’t want anyone to have something that he doesn’t. That is why in book one, when Achilles brings forward a solution to getting rid of the plagues of Apollo, Agamemnon does not want to listen because he wants to be seen as the only one in a position of authority.

Wednesday, August 30th

I’ve just finished reading book five which took me almost an hour, this is one of the longest books we’ve had to read so far with over 900 lines. In this book we get more involved in the battle field of the Trojan war. A war which has a lot of godly involvement on both sides. The side of the Greeks have the power of Athena and Hera, both of which are angered over the Judgement of Paris, also Zeus has them in favor. The Trojans have the power of Aphrodite, who has been told to keep her distance from the war by Zeus, and Ares. The question we are asked to reflect on is what is our understanding of a hero? In my opinion a hero is someone who fights for what is right and is a leader to those who are willing to fight for their cause. A hero is someone who will sacrifice their life to further their cause. A hero values what is right and what will create a better living situation and be beneficial to generations that come after theirs. Diomedes in this book, at first seems like he has the intentions of a hero, then later on it seems like he gets consumed by the power gifted to him by Athena. It is especially obvious of his power huger when he goes after the god Apollo after being told be Athena that the only god he was allowed to go after was Aphrodite or she would strip him of her blessing. My version of a hero would not desire to kill people in cold blood, they would only kill people who were deserving of a punishment of death.

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