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The Literature of Antiquity

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1 The Literature of Antiquity
The Greeks and the Iliad

2 Learning Goals: To place the Iliad within context of time period and other Greek literature. To develop an understanding for why this text is important to an AP student. To identify the major literary devices, structure, and techniques used in the work. To identify and discuss major themes of the work. To better understand the Greek warrior mindset in order to better interpret the choices and actions of the characters that might seem confusing. To learn Greek vocabulary essential to a better understanding of the text.

3 The Greek Civilization

4 Timeline of Ancient Greece All Dates B.C.
The Bronze Age – The Trojan War ish The Dark Age – The Archaic Period – Homer? Composes Iliad & Odyssey around The Classical Period – Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex first performed 429 Aristotle writes Poetics - 335 The Hellenistic Period – Rome conquers Greece

5 Ancient Greece’s Most Influential Authors
Homer – Epic Poetry – Iliad and Odyssey Aesop - fables Sophocles – Tragic Drama – Oedipus & Antigone, Euripides – Tragic Drama – Medea, the Bacche Plato – Philosopher/Mathematician – The Republic Demosthenes – orator - Orations Aristotle – Writer/scientist/philosopher - Poetics

6 Homer (Late 7th early 8th century B.C.)
The “Homeric Question” Was he real? No real evidence either way. Could be a group or school of oral poets Most likely did NOT write down his works. Most agree he was blind. Telemachus’ son????

7 Why the Iliad? “In higher education, Homer’s epics are usually the first works anthologized for the general literature courses that, at present, are required of most college students throughout the country” (Myrsiades ix) “Homer allows comparison with almost any literary work because he ‘provides the first concepts of the rational hero, the nature of that rationality in terms of a cultural world view, and its characteristics in terms of the insight into the nature of man, his reason for being, and his response to himself and others’” (Myrsiades 8).

8 The Iliad Recounts a 1 ½ month period near the end of the final year of the Trojan War Iliad = song of Ilium / Ilium = Troy Begins in medias res (in the middle of things), though earlier episodes are alluded to or forced into context. Begins with the Rage/Wrath of Achilles. Multi-thematic TRAGIC work The wrath of Achilles: its cause, its course, and its effect.

9 The Iliad, cont. Originally composed in Dactylic Hexameter
Epic Formulae – epithets, repetition, and formulaic phrasing set up to allow an improvising oral poet easy ways of putting a story together Iliad and Odyssey considered to be part of an epic cycle – where the poet can take up the story at any point.

10 Heroic Code 1) Individual accomplishment valued over group accomplishment Achilles is in it for himself first, country second—hence his and Agamemnon’s emphasis on the spoils of war, not the war itself. Competition more important than cooperation Glaucus to Diomedes: Always be the best, my boy, the bravest, And hold your head up high above the others. Never disgrace the generation of your fathers. ( )

11 Heroic Code “The most striking single feature of the Homeric
ethos is the enormous importance attached to individual prowess, individual pride, individual reputation. Heroes of the other epics prize their individuality also, but in none is the drive for self-assertion so ruthless and pride so paramount as in Homer. In Roman or Christian or Indian epics it is a function of heroism to submit individuality, however grandiose, to a higher sanction: the Homeric hero may not compromise loyalty to his own being with loyalty to any other, human or divine” (Hadas 15).

12 Heroic Code 2) Hero seeks immortality above all
Usually awarded through fame/song/discussion It is what is done in this life that is important. Achilles: My mother tells me, The immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet, That two fates bear me on to the day of death. If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy, My journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, My pride, my glory dies ( )

13 Heroic Code 3) Actions based on gaining honor and avoiding shame.
No choice not to fight Success in battle is the surest way to gain honor and fame Hector: “…I would die of shame to face the men of Troy and the Trojan women … if I would shrink from battle now, a coward. … To stand up bravely, always to fight in the front ranks of Trojan soldiers, winning my father great glory, glory for myself” ( ).

14 Some Greek Vocabulary…
Menis – wrath / anger / rage / fury Hubris – over-reaching pride Atë – foolish action by hero that leads to downfall Aristeia – moment of supreme greatness in battle Areté – reaching one’s highest human potential Oikos – the family unit / noble household Polis – the city-state Timê – respect/sign of honor, compensation Xeinos – guest/host relationship Kleos - glory/fame Nostos - homecoming

15 Themes and Motifs The inescapability of fate (it’s something even the gods won’t mess with) The fatal results when compassion and forgiveness are not practiced Complex attitude towards war as both necessarily for personal glory and bloody and brutal. Personal honor comes before family ties/love Warrior culture of the text vs. agricultural culture of the poet (especially seen in epic similes) Disorder replaced by order – individual, social, cosmic Armor, burial, fate, 9s, prophesies, sacrifices

16 The Geometric and Parallel structure of the Iliad. Note the interlocking pattern – very much like traditional Greek pottery of the time period. An emphasis on order, logic, reason, and connectedness.

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