2 Rough Outline Homer in Ancient Greece Themes and Persons Illiad OdysseyClosing Thoughts
3 Homer in Ancient Greece Earliest Greek LiteratureWritten c. 750 BCE from oral trad. (c BCE)Recited by RhapsodesEpic = dactylic hexameter or long poem on war/mythCultural Importance for GreeksTaken as HistoryHellenic UnityEducational Texts
5 Some Themes Glories of War/Adventure Ideals of Heroism Others Reasons for WarRealistic DescriptionsIdeals of HeroismAreté, timé, and kleosFate & Courage“shame culture”OthersGods & HumansIndividual vs. SocietyWord vs. Deed
6 AretéExcellence, virtue, or what makes and individual the best or among the best; usually some combination of physical prowess & persuasive speech or command.TiméHonor, material symbol of status among others, usually capable of being taken away (prize, booty, trophies).KleosGlory or Fame, understood as public opinion, or what others say or remember.
8 Iliad (Book I) Wrath of Achilles, Part I Consequences In medias res: Trojan War & Plague of ApolloMenis: Quarrel with AgamemnonConsequencesThetis’ Supplication of ZeusGlimpse of OlympusIs Achilles’ anger his own fault?Questions:What prompts the “anger” of Achilles in Book I? Why?What do the various characters think of this quarrel between Achilles and Agammemnon? (e.g., Nestor)How does the weeping Achilles and his request of Thetis compare with Gilgamesh and his request of his mother?How do you understand Zeus’ response to Thetis?What does the glimpse of Olympus tell us about the Gods?What does the story of Book I tell us about the society of Acheans?
9 Thetis supplicant to Zeus What does Thetis expect of Zeus?How does this scene compare with the Epic of Gilgamesh?Thetis supplicant to Zeus
10 Iliad (Book VI) Behind the Walls of Troy Hector as Tragic HeroWomen and Family LifeFateTroy & HectorTrojan WomenIs Hector a sympathetic hero? Why or why not?Questions:In what way are Hector and Achilles alike as heroes?In what way are they different?What does this glimpse into the home of Hector reveal about life in Troy, or life of a besieged city, or women and family?Hector is considered a tragic hero. Why?
11 Iliad (Book IX) Embassy to Achilles Discourse among equals?Odysseus’ pleaPhoenix’s pleaAjax’s parting wordsIs Achilles being unreasonable? Why or why not?Questions:What are the various ways the Embassy tries to persuade Achilles? (Arguments, bribes, etc.)Why does Achilles dismiss each attempt?Is Achilles being unreasonable? Emotional? Or is he properly protecting his honor?
12 Death and HeroismThe prospect of death drives the heroes to pursue timé (honor).The hero is defined by his(her) action in the face of mortality, especially in combat or contests.And resulting kleos (glory) is the hero’s only immortality.
13 Sarpedon declares to Glaukos (Book XII.322-28) “Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle, would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal, so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory. But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us in their thousands, no man can turn aside nor escape them, let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others.”
14 Iliad (Book XXI) Wrath of Achilles, Part II Death of Patrocles and Achilles’ ArmorDeath of Lycaon: a ruthless deathDeath of Hector: revengeIs Achilles’ anger inhuman?
15 Hector at the Gates of Troy …Achilles was coming closer, like Enyalius, the warrior god of battle with the shining helmet. On his right shoulder he waved his dreadful spear made of Pelian ash. The bronze around him glittered like a blazing fire or rising sun. At that moment, as he watched, Hector began to shake in fear. His courage gone, he could no longer stand there. Terrified, he started running, leaving the gate. Peleus' son went after him, sure of his speed on foot. Just as a mountain falcon, the fastest creature of all the ones which fly, swoops down easily on a trembling pigeon as it darts off in fear, the hawk speeding after it with piercing cries, heart driving it to seize the prey in just that way Achilles in his fury raced ahead
16 Hector faces AchillesWhen they'd approached each other, at close quarters, great Hector of the shining helmet spoke out first:"I'll no longer try to run away from you, son of Peleus, as I did before, going three times in flight around Priam's great city. I lacked the courage then to fight with you, as you attacked. But my heart prompts me now to stand against you face to face once more, whether I kill you, or you kill me. So come here. Let's call on gods to witness, for they're the best ones to observe our pact, to supervise what we two agree on. If Zeus grants me the strength to take your life, I'll not abuse your corpse in any way. I'll strip your celebrated armour off, Achilles, then give the body back again to the Achaeans. And you'll do the same."Swift-footed Achilles, with a scowl, replied: "Hector, don't talk to me of our agreements. That's idiotic, like a faithful promise between men and lions. Wolves and lambs don't share a common heart they always sense a mutual hatred for each other. In just that way, it's not possible for us, for you and me, to be friends, or, indeed, for there to be sworn oaths between us, till one or other of us falls, glutting Ares, warrior with the bull's hide shield, on blood. You'd best remember all your fighting skills. Now you must declare yourself a spearman, a fearless warrior. You've got no escape. Soon Pallas Athena will destroy you on my spear. Right now you'll pay me back, the full price of those sorrows I went through when you slaughtered my companions.” With these words, he hefted his long-shadowed spear, then hurled it.
17 Achilles abuses Hector’s body Then on noble Hector's corpse he carried out a monstrous act. He cut through the tendons behind both feet, from heel to ankle, threaded them with ox-hide thongs, and then tied these onto his chariot, leaving the head to drag behind. He climbed up in his chariot, brought on the splendid armour, then lashed his horses. They sped off eagerly, dragging Hector. A dust cloud rose above him, his dark hair spread out round him, and Hector's head, once so handsome, was covered by the dust, for Zeus had given him to his enemies to dishonour in his own native land. So all his head grew dirty.From Book XXII, translated by Ian Johnston:
19 Iliad (Book XXIV) Priam’s Plea Achilles’ grief What moved Achilles’ to release Hector’s body?Has Achilles finally come to his senses?
20 Questions about the Iliad What are the chief motivations for war or conflict in the Iliad?Compare/Contrast Achilles and Hector as representing heroic ideals.Does the character of Achilles develop over the course of the Iliad?If the Iliad is about the wrath of Achilles, what is the lesson to be learned, if any?What relevance, if any, does the Iliad have for us now?
22 The Odyssey Journeys Disguise, Deception & Craftiness Fantastic VoyagesWomen in the OdysseyHomecoming: Loyalty & OrderConcluding Remarks
23 Two Journeys in One Story Odysseus and TelemachusFantastic and WorldlyNarrative Thread: Time and MemoryTheme: Heroic StrugglesGods/immortality (Bk. V)MonstersFinding homeTheme: Xeniagenerosity and courtesy towards strangers
24 1. Mt. Olympus2. Troy3. Cicones4. Lotus Eaters5. Cyclops6. Aeolia’s Island7. Laestrygonians8. Circe’s Kingdom9. Land of the Dead10. Sirens11. Scylla & Charybdis12. Calypso13. Ithaca
25 Disguise, Deception and Craftiness Odysseus is polutropan= of many twists (Bk. I, Proem)Odysseus’ areteCf. Achilles & HectorExamples:Nausicaa (Bk. VI)Polyphemus (Bk. IX)Circe (Bk. X)Homecoming (Bk. XXIII)
26 Fantastic Voyages Horrible and Seductive Cyclops (Bk. IX) Circe’s Island (Bk. X)Land of the Dead (Bk. XI)Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis (Bk. XII)
27 Women in the Odyssey Seduction and Symbol The Women Cf. Women in the IliadThe WomenCalypsoNausicaa (& mother)CircePenelope
28 Land of the Dead (Bk. XI) Rites of the Dead Vision of the Underworld The Message
29 Homecoming (Bk. XXIII) Disguises at Ithaka Killing the Suitors Now AthenaKilling the SuitorsXenia?Penelope & Telemachus:Loyalty and Order
30 Concluding Remarks: Iliad & Odyssey Heroic Ideals: arete, time, kleosGods and Humans: mortality or fateMoral and Social Order: xenia, arete, womenPlace of Homer in Greece
31 Some Paper Topics (See also slide 20) Compare the areté of Odysseus with Achilles (or hector, Gilgamesh, Moses, etc.). How does the quest for honor and glory account for their actions? How important is the recognition of mortality?Compare the women characters from the Iliad and Odyssey. Clearly the women characters are more prominent in the Odyssey, but in what way are they similar or different? What role do women play in each epic work?What is the role of women in Homer? Clearly they represent domestic ideals, but they also represent other important values and features in the narrative. Explicate what you think of Homer’s us of women characters in the Iliad and Odyssey. Are there any interesting modern parallels?The Odyssey is best known for the fantastic series of adventures the Odysseus undergoes. Pick one or two episodes and draw modern parallel. What is the significance of this episode? Does it teach us a lesson or reveal something important about the human condition (or just archaic Greek values)?Odysseus is constantly trying to get home to Ithaka. He forsakes a goddess (Calypso) and other alluring women (e.g., Circe), so why does he seek out home and a reunion with Peneolpe? What does this tell us about the virtues of Odysseus?
32 How does Homer portray the relationship between gods and humans in the Iliad and Odyssey? What roles do the gods play in human life? How does this make a difference in the storylines?In what way does Odysseus’ character develop during the course of the narrative? Does he develop at all? Compare other characters (e.g., Achilles, Gilgamesh, etc.).An important cultural concept in the Odyssey is xenia – generosity and courtesy to strangers, especially travelers form afar. What role does it play in the narrative? How is it established as a key value? Why might hospitality have held more significance in Homer’s time than it does today?Draw a comparison between the themes presented in any two of the works we have read thus far (Epic of Gilgamesh, Genesis, Exodus, Job, Iliad, Odyssey). Pick a theme that spans both works and discuss how it is similar and/or different, but also tell us why this is interesting or revealing. Use specific examples to illustrate the theme(s) and your main point about its treatment in the stories.In the Odyssey and the story of Gilgamesh have given us two visions of the underworld. What is the picture of the underworld we are given in these works? Does it resonate with modern versions of the underworld? Why is water so important? Blood?