Tuesday, September 30, 2008

War and Greece

Note: Here is a paragraph I wrote recently for my Great Books tutorial. It isn't my personal favorite, but it will do because it's not too specific...

     In the Iliad, while Homer only offers us exiguous physical descriptions of the characters, he generously furnishes us with a rather detailed report of every death that happens on the battlefield. In book five, the gods scurry back and forth, choosing sides in the war, fighting mortals, and generally adding to the confusion. The mortals themselves- god favored or otherwise- are mercilessly hacking down their enemies, a process only hindered by divine intervention for the sake of a favored warrior. Pandemonium ensues, as would be expected in war involving the chaotic paring of men and suspiciously human-like deities.

     The most mentioned character in book five is Diomedes, son of Tyndeus. After being wounded by a Trojan, he prays to Athene who gives him the strength to continue fighting. Like a bloodthirsty Lion, Diomedes charges into the fighting, throwing rocks and spears at the Trojans. He whacks down eight men in the next three paragraphs, with the indispensable assistance of “grey-eyed” Athene.

     The entirety of book five is an engrossing depiction of the battle, broken up only by some amusing family scenes on mount Olympus. After Ares, the belligerently savage war-god fighting for the Trojans, is wounded in part by his sister Athene, helper of the Greeks, he goes to his father Zeus and complains of this “Maniac daughter,” a veritable “Child of perdition,” in Ares’ eyes. Zeus, apparently not charmed by his son’s livid speech, commands him “Not to sit beside me and whine, you double faced liar.”

     Meanwhile the war continues, and would seem to inspire a rather dirgeful mood in the reader, when all the horrific deaths are remembered- were it not for the bloody turmoil and utter sense of mayhem that is taking place on Trojan ground. This is not the next morning, with an ethereal mist floating over the dead bodies and the faint sound of sad but victorious music playing- this is the middle of a battle where a profusion of actions happen at once.
     It is sometimes difficult to remember how violent archaic battles were, but Homer helps the problem by painting his story in strokes of reality- though that reality is muddied by the saga of the false gods, and their supposed intervention with human affairs.


Follower of Aslan said...

Am I the first commenter?

Well, at least you didn't leave blogspot! I'm glad of that. This new blog looks very nice! :o) I'll continue to visit & comment.


Natalie said...

Thank you Kylie! I'd much appreciate it:)