Homer's Iliad: Book One
Front and center: we're no longer in Mesopotamia, but now in Greece
Background: The Story of the Trojan War
Some basics: Greek gods and heroes (who's who)
Marriage of Peleus and Thetis
Strife (Eris) and the apple: "to the fairest"
Judgement of Paris
Abduction of Helen
Assembly of the Greek army at Aulis
Sacrifice of Iphigeneia
The siege: 9 years plus 1
Fall of Troy: the Trojan horse
Gods in Homer
Heroes in Homer: Some principal Heroes
Important only in Book one
Structure of the army
Primus inter pares: "first among equals": kings vs the "king of kings"
Culture of raiding parties: thus the "prizes" Chryseis and Briseis: distribution of the prizes
The Story of the Iliad
The Iliad as poetry
Note: does not match the story of Troy!
the Iliad covers only 52 days, concentrating on about 5 days, starting in the ninth year of the ten year war (though along the way many aspects of the war outside of these 52 days are introduced)
The Iliad from the view of a(n only moderately informed) modern audience
The opening scene: proem, the priest's appeal and the plague: startlingly modern narrative technique (the poet jumps in medias res)
What do we learn in the opening scene? About Agamemnon? About men and their relations to the gods? What is the tone and the character of the setting?
The argument between Agamemnon and Achilles:
Why is Agamemnon so stubborn? Why in particular is he so quick to "go ballistic" in response to (a) Calchas? (b) Achilles?
Why in turn in Achilles so resentful, bitter, frustrated? Why does he decide to give in to Agamemnon?
In what sense is Agamemnon "stronger" than Achilles? In what sense is Achilles "stronger" than Agamemnon?
What about the interference of Athena? What about the detail of the sword? What about the detail of the staff? (T.S. Eliot: "objective correlative")
The closing scene:
Relationship between Hera and Zeus: what gives here? does the humor and humanness surprise you? why?
The intervention of Hephaestus: why does Hera smile? why do the gods laugh?
In what ways do the actions of the gods in book one mirror those of the men? In what ways is the world of the gods distinct? What does that tell us of what is essential about the moral condition? Contrast between Apollo in the opening scene ("Apollo, the archer god") and Apollo in the closing scene (nec semper arcum tendit Apollo, Apollo does not always use his bow")
Continue to Iliad, Books 2-3
Images relating to Homer's Iliad and the story of Troy
Ajax and Achilles playing a game of dice, with Athena standing in between. Black figure vase of ca. 520-515 B.C.
Judgement of Paris. Red figure vase of ca. 485 B.C.
Alexander (Paris) abducting Helen, with Eros in between. Red figure vase of the early fifth century B.C.
Agamemnon takes away Briseis, the woman of Achilles. Red figure vase of ca. 480 B.C.
Departure of Hektor for the battle, with Priam and Hecube to the side. Red figure vase of ca. 450 B.C.
Funeral Games for Patroclus. Black figure vase of ca. 565 B.C.
Achilles and Hektor fight over the body of Troilos. Black figure vase of ca. 550 B.C.
Priam begs for the body of Hektor from Achilles. Red figure vase of ca. 510 B.C.
The Trojan Horse. Relief-decorated Amphora from Mykonos of ca. 670 B.C.