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2010 VCE Lecture Iliad 6 Chris Mackie: La Trobe University Iliad Book 6: Main points in the lecture The context of Book 6 within the poem Structure of.

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Presentation on theme: "2010 VCE Lecture Iliad 6 Chris Mackie: La Trobe University Iliad Book 6: Main points in the lecture The context of Book 6 within the poem Structure of."— Presentation transcript:


2 2010 VCE Lecture Iliad 6 Chris Mackie: La Trobe University Iliad Book 6: Main points in the lecture The context of Book 6 within the poem Structure of Book 6 Some of the principal themes and ideas that are at play in Book 6

3 Book 5 Context In Book 5 we have witnessed the ‘aristeia’ (‘battle triumph’) of Diomedes He has defeated Aeneas and stolen his renowned horses He has helped in the wounding of Aphrodite and Ares He has established himself as a kind of substitute Achilles (bearing in mind that A is sulking in his tent)

4 The structure of Book 6 Three distinct sections: 1.Fighting (1-118). Helenus* rouses Aeneas and Hector to make a stand; and advises Hector to go to the city to get the women to make offerings and sacrifices 2.Diomedes and Glaucus; the story of Bellerophon (119-236) 3.Hector inside Troy (237-end of book) with Hecuba, Paris and Helen, Andromache and Astyanax

5 Some major themes in Book 6 1.The doom of the city and the genocide of its people 2.Brothers: Paris and Hector, their weaponry and their heroism 3.The quest (Bellerophon) 4.Athena 5.Andromache: the walls and how to survive

6 1. Doom and genocide The myth of Troy is a genocide narrative The Iliad is just a part of this and foreshadows the doom of the city and its inhabitants Note Agamemnon to Menelaus on what to do with Adrestus, who begs for his life at the beginning of the book This kind of statement would have meaning for the Greeks because they know the whole story of Troy Agamemnon as leader of the genocide

7 2: Siblings and weaponry Book 6 and Book 11 should be read together. Book 6 is (partly) about two brothers who have an entirely different value system. The difference between them is revealed through their different weaponry within the house. Book 11 reveals how this manifests itself on the field of battle.

8 2: Siblings and weaponry 116-18. Hector turns and the outer rim of his shield hits his neck and his ankles (cf. the shields of Ajax and Hector) When he gets into the city he wants to chivvy Paris back on to the field of battle. He goes up to his house where Paris is sitting with Helen handling his bow (317-324). Hector enters with his eleven cubit (16 feet!) spear. Notice the emphasis on weaponry as Hector leaves the battle (the shield) and when he arrives at Paris’s house (the spear of Hector/ and the bow of Paris)

9 2: Siblings - Paris Quintessential Trojan Archer (cf. Apollo and Artemis) Show pony, lover boy, cause of the war Beautiful, feminized It has been argued (quite feasibly in my view) that Paris was the ‘original’ Trojan champion and that Hector may be a ‘Homeric’ invention.

10 2. Siblings: Hector Greek name (echein= ‘hold’ ‘prop up’ ‘support’) Spearman with a huge shield and a long spear ‘promachos’ (ie he fights at the front) He is associated with Athena through the spear, through his courage and integrity, and through his defence of the city (Athena Polias) Yet Athena rejects the prayers of the Trojans in Book 6 and she helps to destroy him in Iliad 22. In Homer and Greek myth gods sometimes destroy the humans who most resemble them

11 Trojan (full born) brothers Hector Spearman (ie brave) Self-obsessed (kleos) Happy marriage Child Doomed by his destiny Fights on ‘Greek’ terms (spear) Paris Archer (cowardly) Couldn’t care less Sexual relationship No children Fated to kill Achilles Remains true to ‘Trojan’ weaponry

12 3. Diomedes and Glaucus and the story of Bellerophon It is a kind of agon (‘contest’, ‘competition’) in which conversation and exchange of armour replace fighting. They stand there on their chariots and only get down to shake hands and exchange armour Xenia (guest-friendship and reciprocity) is long- standing and important. Diomedes ‘wins’ (in the value of the armour exchanged) but it is a harmless victory when one compares it with the usual single combat in the Iliad. Glaucus manages to survive against a far greater warrior, so this is a kind of triumph

13 3. Bellerophon narrative The only detailed quest narrative in the Iliad in which there is any real detail. Note the way that other quests (and monsters) in the past are referred fairly elliptically in the Iliad This is a special quest and is described in full because it has a fundamental relationship to the ‘quest’ of Hector Bellerophon (trusting in the gods) defeats adversity, especially in the form of the chimaera (goat, snake, lion, and fire) What function does the narrative of Bellerophon actually perform?

14 Does the story of Bellerophon’s quest anticipate Hector’s quest against Achilles? Book 6 as two ‘quests’ - one is in the distant past (Bellerophon against the Chimaera in Lycia), and one is in the near future just outside the walls (Hector- Achilles, The old one was a traditional quest -man against monster. Bellerophon is a good and virtuous man and gods help him to prevail over the monster (6.183; although he clearly does something wrong afterwards, presumably involving riding to Olympus on Pegasus)

15 Hector and Achilles The new one is a ‘new’ kind of quest- a man against a kind of ‘monster’ in human form. Achilles in the Iliad is associated with eating raw flesh, and with animals and fire, just like the chimaera is. Andromache’s role in Book 6 is partly to identify the cloud of death hanging over hector and his family (esp. 406ff.) Like Bellerophon Hector is a good and virtuous man, but his quest to confront Achilles is doomed (and Andromache points out) because the gods turn from him at the crucial moment (ie Athena in Book 22).

16 4. Athena Goddess of the city Strategy Courage Victory (Nike) Heroism She rejects Trojan prayers

17 5. Andromache and the walls The walls of Troy are built by Poseidon and thus are unbreakable to mortals That’s why deceit and cleverness needs to win the day (wooden horse) In any case, Andromache’s advice to Hector to fight from the walls is very sensible But a hero doesn’t get renown and reputaion that way. Hector says ‘what will the Trojans and trojan women think of me… Hector is fatally trapped in a heroic value system against superior warriors

18 Final tips Read Iliad Book 5 Read Iliad Books 22 and 24 where the anxieties of Andromache are played out The Greek audience knows the whole saga of Troy. For instance, they know what happens to the boy Astyanax after we see him here In that sense Homeric epic is a bit like Athenian drama


20 The three quests of the Iliad It has long been pointed out that Books 6, 22 and 24 have a significant cognate unity There are really three core ‘quests’ described in the Iliad: Bellerophon against the chimaera (in Book 6) Hector against Achilles (Books 6 and 22) Priam against Achilles (Book 24) All these are conducted by good and brave men ‘heroes’ against frightening opponents The critical thing is the role of the gods who support Bellerophon and Priam, and doom Hector.

21 The defeat of the Chimaera

22 Conclusions Book 6 has a very unusual structure But the Bellerophon narrative (Diomedes and Glaucus) does have a fundamental connection to Hector’s encounters with his family, not least because the grief and suffering of the family is foreshadowed with full emphasis (Andromache/Astyanax) Chimaera/Achilles Hector is not just a good family man, but a spearman whose doom is associated in no small way by the fact that (unlike Paris) he fights on Greek terms and with a weapon in which the Greeks are supreme The role of the gods

23 Structure Unusual structure. Part 1 could have been followed by Part 3. That is, Homer might have followed Hector back to the city and in Troy, then had the Bellerophon narrative. Instead, the meeting of Diomedes and Glaucus, and their long conversation sits in between Hector’s mission when it might have followed it. Why is this? Can we identify a rationale for it? Hector doesn’t really need to go into the city to pass on a message at all. That could be done by anyone. The scene is being set for a poignant encounter between Hector and his family

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