Presentation on theme: "The Iliad Books 1-8. Some Features of Homer’s Style Special formulaic language of the aoidos such as fixed and recurring epithets and type scenes Exaggerated,"— Presentation transcript:
Some Features of Homer’s Style Special formulaic language of the aoidos such as fixed and recurring epithets and type scenes Exaggerated, leisurely pace of story-telling Dislike of suspense Fondness for lists (genealogies, catalogues), may derive from an oral way of organizing information Similes - far more common in the Iliad than the Odyssey; a way of stopping the action, commenting on it, enriching or judging it.
Homer and Plot Aristotle analyzed plot as a literary representation of a single action (praxis): its beginning, middle, and end. The action of the Iliad: the anger of Achilles. Modern films have 3 parts separated by a “plot point” (an incident that changes the direction of the story). Primary plot points of a 120 minute film appear at minutes 30 and 90, with a subordinate plot point at minute 60, the midpoint of the film.
Homeric epic’s tripartite structure The Iliad Plot point 1: the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, who takes away his concubine (Books 1-16). Secondary plot point: the embassy to Achilles Plot point 2: the death of Patroklus (Achilles avenges him and abandons his anger).
Time frame of the Iliad The entire span of the epic is 51 days, but almost the entire poem is devoted to 4 days (Books 3-22).
Narrative Units Invocation: “The Anger of Achilles” (1.1-7) Homer places the theme before us, in fact, in the first word. He begins not such much in medias res but at the beginning of his story (the anger).
“Ransom of Chryseis” (1.8-611) Key concepts to know: geras (prize; visible representation of personal honor). time (honor, value, worth) kleos (immortal glory) menis (superhuman rage)
What sets off the quarrel? Book 1.1-300: one of the greatest action sequences in literature. Homer defines the story of the double- bind, or Catch-22: no matter which way a character turns, he is ruined.
Motif: the helpful mother No common goal can overcome individual conflict. To whom does Achilles turn for help?
“The False Dream” (2.1-210) Direction of action changes completely. The sequence that follows Achilles’ withdrawal must show how Zeus brought the Achaians defeat (his promise to Thetis). Homer now gives us the “story of the Trojan War” - the sequence of scenes gives us the sense that time is passing & things are happening as Achilles sits out the fighting.
Agamemnon’s Foolish Plan Why does Agamemnon tell his troops that they will never conquer Troy? What happens then? Anti-war themes in Greek warrior culture Who retrieves the situation? What does the Thersites scene do for the narrative?
“Catalogue of Ships” (2.441-887) To magnify the battle’s greatness, Homer lists the combatants here. One of most famous similes - comparison of troops with birds and flies. First geography of the western world.
Catalogue of Ships The information given here doesn’t always agree with that in the rest of the poem. The catalogue was probably a traditional song from Boiotia. Homer starts his description with the Boiotians, then spirals first counter- clockwise, then clockwise.
The Trojan Catalogue Shorter than the Greek. Organized first from N to S, from Troy to Caria, then follows the southern coast of Asia Minor to Lycia. The sheer mass of names in the catalogues gives us a feeling for the immensity of the war about to unfold.
“Helen on the Wall” (3.121-244) Before the armies clash, we now meet Hektor, the major Trojan hero, who proposes a duel between Menelaos and Paris (belongs to first year of war) Helen goes out to watch from the walls.
The Teikhoskopia Helen joins the gathered Trojan elders on the walls. Kindly Priam reassures her, then asks her to identify the Greek heroes below. This action belongs to the first year of the war, also. Menelaos is beating Paris when Aphrodite spirits him away, forces Helen to go to him.
“Treachery of Pandarus” (4.1-219) & “Marshalling of the Host” (4.220-363) At the end of narrative units, Homer tends to get the action going again via type scenes: divine assemblies, arming, feasting, and sacrifice scenes. How do the gods get the fighting going? Homer delays the outbreak of fighting with a second catalogue of Achaians. What do we learn from this?
“Glory of Diomedes” (4.364-5.909) First major fighting sequence features Diomedes. Homeric fighting - between individual heroes. The hero kills and gets the time. aristeia: a sequence of scenes glorifying a hero (moment of excellence).
Narrative Pattern The story is supposed to be telling us how the Trojans defeated the Achaians by the will of Zeus and request of Achilles, but in fact the Greek heroes are driving back the Trojans. Probably shows influence of rich tradition of tales telling of Achaian victories, and a poor tradition of telling of Trojan.
Dying enemies Homer tells us, as each man dies, enough about him to make us feel the pathos of his death. This engages readers and makes them appreciate the human cost of war.
“Glaucus & Diomedes” (6.1-236) The meeting of Glaucus from Lycia and Diomedes from Argos gives us a respite from the gore of war and a quiet end to Diomedes’ aristeia. Features one of Homer’s great similes (generations of leaves; ephemeral nature of human life) Brings the bond of xenia back to forefront.
“Hektor and Andromache” (6.237-529) Shows us life in the Trojan city Shows us Hektor as brother, son, brother-in- law and husband (not just warrior). Reminds us what is at stake. Gender roles: “I have learned to fight in the forefront of battle” Hektor must fight, no matter the consequences.
Women as Delayers Women seek to delay Hektor Hecuba - wine Helen - seat in women’s quarters Andromache - for my sake, don’t go out and fight again. The scene of Hektor and Andromache at the Skaian Gate is one of most famous in literature.
The family scene of Hektor, Andromache and Astyanax is contrasted with the fruitless union of Paris and Helen - built on lust, it leads nowhere but to death. Their selfishness and enslavement to personal pleasure will bring the doom of city and Trojans.
“The Duel Between Hektor and Ajax” (Book 7) The first day of fighting hasn’t yet finished when Hektor returns to the plain with Paris. At Apollo’s instigation, Hektor suddenly issues a challenge to duel (belongs in first year of war). Ajax wins the lot. Duel is stylized: verbal insults, javelins, stones; duel is stopped before swordfight.
End of the Day Nestor asks for truce for collection of dead; recommends the Achaians built a wall before the ships (1st year of war). Trojan council recommends Paris return Helen and treasure; he refuses to give back Helen (1st year of war).
“Trojans Triumphant” (Book 8) Homer needs to prepare for the midpoint of the plot, the embassy to Achilles, so we need to see the Greeks in deep trouble to motivate it. Zeus sends bolts to frighten Achaians, even so, they rally. Zeus forbids other gods to interfere; makes prophecy which keeps our minds on the master plan.