Once the duel between Menelaus and Paris ends indecisively to close book three of The Iliad, it seems that a truce might emerge so that fighting would cease. There is a moment of calm for the armies as the Zeus deliberates among the other Immortals. Zeus asks, “Do we rouse the pain and grisly fighting once again or hand down pacts of peace between both armies?” (Fagles, 146) “The Achaeans and Trojans “wondered what was coming.” (Fagles, 148) Once Zeus agrees to allow Hera to continue her rage against the Trojans, as listeners, we wait for the moment when the fighting men will learn that the most terrible battles are yet to be fought. We watch as Athena seeks Pandarus, the famous archer, to break the truce, to aim and shoot at Menelaus, and thus to plunge both armies back into battle.
In the wake of Patroclus’ funeral games, lines 1-21 of book 24 turn to the continued grief of Achilles. In literal language, this passage describes his thoughts and actions during that restless night and the following day: mourning, tossing and turning, and (in the end) dragging the dead body of Hector behind a chariot to disfigure it. Yet the rawness of the language does not detract from the effect of the narration: rather, it contributes to a sense of repetition bordering on obsession.
This passage occurs very at the end of the poem, once Hector’s body has been returned to Troy and contains the last major speech of the work as Helen takes her turn in lamenting Hector. She is the last to do so, after Andromache and Hecuba, and her lament builds on and contrasts with the previous two. The passage is notable for its examples of unusual syntax and meter, and difficult to resolve chronology. The content is both a touching reflection on Hector’s kindness and a reinforcement of Helen’s main character trait, of self-centeredness.
In this passage, Phoenix, a father-figure to Achilles, tries to convince him to re-enter the war by drawing on old childhood memories. The passage is roughly divided into two parts: first (lines 485-494), Phoenix recounts his memories, and second (494-501), he entreats Achilles to give up his anger.
Commentary on I.485-501
Have great summers, everyone! It was a pleasure to read Greek with all of you.
This passage is notable for several reasons: its use of apostrophe, its two extended similes, and the instance of divine intervention. Each of these features have attracted much scholarly comment and debate, as outlined below. Moreover, these 21 lines reflect a crucial turning point in the storyline: the abortive end to an attempt to end the war, via Menelaus’ and Paris’ duel, and the definitive resolution of battle after the confused stasis following Aphrodite’s rescue of Paris. The conflict resumes as a direct result of the events narrated here, continuing unabated through the rest of the epic and straight until Troy’s destruction.
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The theme of family runs throughout this passage as Homer explores the bounds of public and private life for the royal family of Troy. This passage breaks down into three main portions: Andromache intercepting her husband Hector, Hector sharing a tender moment with his family, and the first portion of Andromache’s plea to her husband to deter him from battle.
Aubree Penney Commentary Project
Happy reading! Remember: χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά (though this commentary will hopefully make the beautiful things a little less difficult)!