Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Into the valley of Death - Anna

Both the Illiad and Into the Valley of Death give the reader some insight into wars happening far from the reader.  For us the Illiad takes place in the far distant past, which joined with the fact that the language and style of writing is so different than what we are used to, can allow us to read the text without taking in what is actually happening. If we take the time to really read it, the text tells us, often in R rated detail, about the grusome deaths of men. And not just about their deaths, but we are frequently given their lineage, hometown. etc. While it can be dull as modern readers, the poem makes it clear that these are individuals. We see some of their friendships and camaraderie in groups such as The Ajaxes and Gloucos and Sarpeidon. They are men with homes and families who should not be forgotten because their fight was far from their homes. 
 Into the Valley of Death gives us a chance to look at the lives of some of our own soldiers. The fact that they fight so far from home and we hear little of their day to day lives makes it easier to think about "the war" and "the army" in very general terms. This article gave us an up close view of these men's lives. It gave us their names and their faces. It makes the point that the war in Afghanistan is not a general happening, but that it a daily struggle for individuals who deserve to be known in the same way the soldiers in the Illiad did.
These texts give us not just some broad experiences, which both stories certainly offer, but they personalize the wars. They bring home the idea that these are not just faceless ideas, wars, but they were and are fought by individuals bound into tight knit groups. 

Comment:  Anna makes some excellent points-- the shockingly gruesome nature of the deaths in the Iliad, which it is easy for us to ignore because of the distance created by the print medium and archaic language, and the way the Iliad tries to individualize them and commemorate them so that their lives are honored, not wasted.  The photos in Junger's reporting operate much like the mini-biographies Homer provides for the many fighters who are introduced only at the moment of death.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Into The Valley - Eric

Depiction of the Trojan War
The war against Al-Qaeda is almost identical to the story of the Trojan war and the Iliad.  In the Iliad, Trojans come to the Greek city of Sparta, a major city state, are welcomed and treated with respect but steal Helen and cause a massive disturbance through out the Greek world.  The Greeks then send a huge flow of troops that occupy all but Troy for 10 years in brutal fighting.  The war in the Middle East is nearly identical, America welcomes all races and religions and origins including those who decided not to steal the first lady but rather destroy the World Trade Center.  Just as in the Greek world, America coordinated a massive inflow of troops to the Middle East where fighting has continued over 10 years with not much progression on either side.  Although significant deaths have taken place on both sides, it seems the war will end only with total destruction such as the fate of Troy.  There are also a various other similarities between the wars.  One similarity is the feelings of boredom among troops.  both the Greek and American soldiers have expressed feelings of displeasure for fighting such a long war so far from their homes and families.  Another similarity is the glorification of those in battle both in victory and death.  Although the Greeks made more of a spectacle for death, those who fight and those who fall are still honored with gifts (medals, ceremonies, etc) and respected highly, in the same respect, those who do not fight but rather cower are treated without respect and often dishonored by the troops and their families. 
Comment:  I agree with some of what Eric says, and not with other parts, so this is a good, thought-provoking entry.  The boredom of the troops, the distance from home and families, the glorification of the 'beautiful death' of the fighting men, the concern for the bodies of the dead do seem strikingly parallel.  However, the reasons why the Greeks fight vs. the reasons of al-Qaeda for attacking the US seem remarkably different, as does the mode of warfare.  What do people think?  Would Achilles or Sarpedon carry out a sneak attack on civilians?  

Into the Valley of Death, by Patricia Johnson

The word "war" has had negative connotations for centuries.  In almost every person from every culture, it conjures up images of dead bodies and blood, feelings of fear, anger, and pain.  Junger's article gives readers a personal spin on these universal responses to war.  The soldiers he interviewed and filmed told him their stories, displayed to him their terror and their fatigue, and allowed him to film the chaos of battle.  The details that he documents give readers a tiny window into what it must be like to sweat, cry, and bleed for one's country, without assurance of a homecoming.  Homer, in the Iliad, accomplishes a similar feat.  His intricate descriptions of each warrior's death or victory, along with descriptions of their weapons and armor (this also parallels Junger; starting on the first page, we learn about the soldiers' heavy body armor and machine guns) make the listeners feel as if they are standing next to, or possibly within the warrior as his liver is ripped out by a Trojan's spear, or as he slashes his sword across an Achean's throat.  In both the article and the epic, the extraordinary detail, given without holding back any gory description or uncomfortable reality, illuminate the horrors of war for those who may never have experienced them.

It is true that the type of warfare differs between Afghanistan and Troy.  The Trojans and Acheans had to rely on their own personal strength and weapons and face each opponent individually.  This made both their fear and their warrior pride rise and fall in sharp, contrasting dips.  The Americans in Afghanistan, however, have machine guns, mines, planes, and helicopters than can kill many without the operator of the weapon ever having to personally face his victims.  I am not saying that this makes them less of a warrior than the ancients, simply different.  They also must compensate for their advantage over the ancients with their constant fatigue and disillusionment with their commanders' goals (as opposed to each ancient fighting for his own glory) that the ancients do not seem to deal with (as often).  Even through the differences in technology, values, and methods, the details of grief and remembrance over fallen comrades, the self-endangerment for another warrior's body, and the disgust and horror over bloody details rings the same through the ages and through both piece's words.
They are so similar... is difficult to claim progress.

Into the Valley of Death-Scott Weglarski

The Trojan war from the Iliad seems eerily similar to the account to the battles in Afghanistan. To me, the Afghan people seem more like the soldiers from the Iliad, taunting the American soldiers and fighting like everything they have could (and will) be lost. The stone houses they mentioned also stuck out to me as being familiar from the Iliad. The wall around Troy withstands any and all of the Greek's attacks, no matter what they throw at it. Another similarity I found between these two accounts of war are the reasons for the fighting. In the Iliad, it's a "noble rescue of Helen" by Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon. An underlying and more important reason for the cause of the war is simply pure greed. Troy is a rich city; I want it. The same goes for the Americans in Afghanistan. It's a good cause to protect foreign nations from the threat of dictatorship and terrorist organizations, but is it really the whole reason why we're there? And is it really worth starting a full scale war over? Soldiers like the ones mentioned in the article have seen and experienced the horrors of war because of this conflict with Afghanistan. Even if they came back relatively unscathed physically, how could you possibly hope to help the mental trauma caused by the war? Greeks and Trojans alike have watched their friends die around them, horrible, gruesome deaths. They fight over the bodies of the fallen. One part in the article I also found quite like this was the portion where a soldier named Miguel Gutierrez was apparently hit, and the American soldiers went into a frenzy of activity to save him. He ended up just breaking a leg from a fall, but I think it's the thought that counts.

Into the Valley of Death Andrew Schultz

     I am amazed by both Homer's The Iliad and Junger's Into the Valley of Death as descriptions of war in both modern and ancient times.  There are plenty of similarities that can be found in both depictions.  The amount of detail used is one of them.  The imagery that both of these include is nothing short of astounding.  While reading both of them I could easily paint a picture in my mind about what is happening.  Both Homer and Junger use an excellent array of sensory diction to show how gruesome war is through descriptions of fighting and death.  In both works the authors show how soldiers take care of each other and the wounded.  Soldiers take a huge interest in protecting their men and the bodies of the dead.  Junger and Homer also were great at displaying the fear of the soldiers in both situations.  The Americans were afraid of being attacked daily in one of the most dangerous places on Earth.  Homer shows how both the Greeks and Trojans were fearful that they would be slain by the other side.  Both authors truly depict an extremely frightening scene in both works.
     I feel that these articles are also very different in how they are written.  Although both illustrate a disgusting and scary war, it is hard to tell if one is more frightening than the other.  Homer is able to portray the deaths of others with extreme detail in how soldiers were mutilated with arrows, spears, and swords.  Junger shows the huge numbers of soldiers that get mowed down with machine guns in his article.  It is frightening in both cases but it is interesting how each author makes the point.  This is a very morbid point I am about to make in my opinion but it is the only way I can think of to say it.  Homer shows death through quality while Junger shows the huge quantity of deaths that machine guns cause.  Both are extremely hair raising in how they show the deaths of soldiers but in my opinion Junger does a better job establishing the fear of the soldiers.  I feel afraid just reading the article.  This might have to do with the fact that I am an American but either way Junger did a great job enforcing the idea that war is a truly terrible scene.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Restrepo- Max Simon

Woah. After finishing the movie, "Restrepo," one can only imagine the turmoil those soldiers went through. Having to go through at least 15 months of constantly combatting for your life, and those of your peers. Although the movie is blatantly different than the Iliad in its sole representation of one side- versus showing the Taliban fighters viewpoints as well- it also differs in the soldier's reasons for fighting. While Greek soldiers fight for kleos and arete, the American troops fight more for freedom of the people against those that wish to conquer them.
Junger's portrayal of the war over the Korengal Valley mimics Homer's beginning of the Iliad by starting in media res. Although the film does document the beginning of the troop's deployment, it, like the Iliad, misses the start of the war and most of the fighting as the filming was in 2007. The soldiers join knowing that "death is a possibility" and to live through it, in their minds, is enough kleos for them. Obviously being able to defeat the enemy helps bring oneself kleos, but when you're using guns and bombs which can kill you at any minute, versus swords and spears which most of the time you can see before it kills you, surviving is kleos and time in itself.
After naming the new outpost after Restrepo, the infantry gave him permanent kleos and fought for his OP which I believe can represent his body and armor. Just as the Trojans and Greeks fight to protect their own's armor and body, which many other deaths have resulted from.

Into the Valley of Death - Frank Genovese

The hands-on approach to mass murder.
It is incredible to see the contrast between the ways of modern war and the battles of ancient Greece. Both visually paint a brutal picture of a battleground filled with combatants ready to strike; however, the pictures painted could not be more different. Nowadays, advanced weaponry allows us to take down entire battalions of people with ease, and the only reason we don't do it on a widespread scale is because we don't want to kill civilians. We've made killing so incredibly easy, which is a gruesome thought. However, it is hard to say which is more gruesome: the ease of mass murder in modern times, or the effort that one would go through to  kill even a single person in ancient times? There were no drone strikes; there were no Apache helicopters. Nothing but horses, swords, spears, arrows, shields, and determined souls dominated the battlefield. To kill your enemy, you would often have to go and gut them yourself. It wasn't as easy as a simple gunshot.

Imagine what something like this could do to a large crowd.
All without ever having to look a single person in the eye.
However, there is something ancient warfare had that we Americans simply don't anymore: the drive to actually continue fighting. Junger's article paints a picture of battalions of Americans that are simply tired of war. Squads filled with people simply fighting because they felt they had to in order right the wrongs dealt to their country, because they were pressured into service by their families, or even just because they were bored. In ancient Greece, everyone sought honor and recognition. They were often bloodthirsty animals on the hunt for specific people just so they could have the glory and fame of killing them. Although civilians wanted the war to finally end, the warriors' minds were focused on victory and victory alone, no matter the cost. In Junger's article, everyone on our side is fighting to stay alive. The occasional "act of bravery" in modern war would be a casual leap into battle for an Achaean or Trojan warrior, and those that did not risk their lives in the field of battle would be seen as a coward. This type of combat might seem extremely brutal and almost barbaric in nature, but really, isn't the only difference today that killing is simply less hands-on? It's certainly as abundant, if not more. We may treat civilians with respect, but when it comes to warriors on the opposing side, we're fully ready to kill them in droves.

Valley of the Shadow of Death by Elise Roy

Homer's Iliad and Junger's Valley of the Shadow of Death are both poignant accounts of war. One thing that struck me about both stories was the description of the psychological impact of battle. There are descriptions of gruesome deaths and injuries, more in the Iliad than the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Like the constant descriptions of blood pooling and dogs eating dead bodies. But war wound descriptions are still present in both.  There is the same concern and horror with the soldiers for the wounded in the Iliad as there is with the American troops. It shows the fear for the other soldiers; in the Iliad with Patroclus fighting in order to save the men's lives and in Junger's work with Guttie's fall and the fear that he would die. Another thing that is showcased very clearly in both texts is the fear environment that is all around them. The American soldiers are attacked every day, and there is always the fear that they will be breached and anhilated. The same is in the Iliad; the Greek soldiers are terrified that the Trojans will eventually breach their camps and they will all be destroyed.

In my opinion, however, I think Junger's work shows more terror and far less glorification of war than the Iliad. The American soldiers don't look for glory when they decide to join the army like many of the Greeks do. There are no trophies of war, or ceremonial celebrations of victory in Afghanistan. however, the Iliad is not completely pro war. Though there is certainly a hunt for glory that is no longer current in today's world, Homer makes sure to show us the glory and the horror of war in his various praising epithets and his depressing descriptions of death. 

Into the Valley of Death- Alex Fultz

Sebastian Junger’s article Into the Valley of Death draws some parallels between conflict in Afghanistan and conflict during the Trojan War. The times may have been different, although the battlefield is, and always has been, a place where unique emotions are evoked and companionship is more important than ever.
 In the way they describe the conflicts, however, Junger and Homer differ greatly. This largely reflects cultural differences in values. Junger describes the battlefield in an extremely eerie manor. The way he portrays the events in Afghanistan shows that, even though they continued to crack jokes and attempted to maintain a positive environment, the United States soldiers were only there for the sake of their country. They by no means wanted to be there, and they were not doing it for their own person glory or kleos. If a soldier dies, they are honored, however death on the battlefield is not glorified the way it was in ancient Greek culture.
The way Homer presents the Trojan War in the Iliad differs from this. Dying a glorious death on the battlefield was almost considered the norm. The ultimatum that Achilles is given regarding his life is a perfect example of this. He has the choice of either staying out of the Trojan War completely and living a long, normal,” gloryless” life, or he could participate in the Trojan War and receive his glorious kleos  and end up dying. The way that Junger describes the events in Afghanistan, it is fairly obvious that if those troops did not have such a strong will to fight for their country and they were given the same choice, they would choose to live a long life with their families. They would not really have to ponder it at great lengths as Achilles did. My point is not that the Greeks were selfish or that they were a barbaric people obsessed with war, but rather that the value systems of the two cultures, when it comes to war, differ in several respects. This is evident through the overall tones of both Homer’s Iliad and Junger’s Into a Valley of Death.

Into the Valley of Death - Rich Brooks

Junger's article Into the Valley of Death and Homer's Illiad are both very vivid and realistic depictions of war. One thing that is clear in both the accounts is the very young age of the combatants. Junger mentions one soldier being killed at the age of 19 and that a man of 27 years is considered "old" in the army. While Hector never gives us explicit ages for the characters in the Illiad, it is reasonable to assume that they were also very young. Achilles and Patroclus were described as children playing in Peleus' halls when the war started. Achilles was even still growing a sacred lock of hair that is supposed to be cut off once on reaches manhood. Also, it is probably safe to assume that Hector is not much older than Achilles if older at all. In ancient Greece people married and had children much earlier in life than we do today, and Hector's child was just an infant during the story. Also displayed in both accounts is the camaraderie between soldiers. Countless times during the Illiad one soldier fought over the body of a fallen ally. Likewise, in Junger's tale, one man gave his life preventing the Taliban from dragging off the one of his wounded comrade's body. The constant stream of battle was also depicted in both cases. The Americans stationed at Restrepo encountered firefights several times a day. Whenever they weren't under fire they were doing some sort of manual labor. Similarly, In the Illiad there were several attacks and counterattacks all day every day. Fighting was nearly constant throughout the book. Like the American soldiers, the Greeks and Trojans typical day consisted of fighting, eating, and sleeping. Once during the book we even saw manual labor thrown into the mix, when the Greeks had to build fortifications to protect their ships after a day's worth of battle.

Into the Valley of Death Assignment, by Nick Cellino

In his article, Into the Valley of Death, Sebastian Junger attempts to put into words the experience of war that he had when he spent several weeks with Battle Company in the Korengal Valley. His account of the experience, in many ways, mirrors the account of events of the Trojan War in the Iliad. In particular, the way in which Junger attempts to maintain the humanity of the soldiers by giving snippets of their life stories mirrors the way that Homer often tells the story of a soldier and his family before he is struck down. For example, Junger writes about soldiers who turned down college scholarships to join the army and some who simply needed to make a change in their lives because they were heading down a bad path. In this way, when one of these soldiers are wounded or killed, they are not merely considered to be numbers or casualties, but rather humans and fallen comrades. Homer uses the same technique in the Iliad when he goes through and describes a soldier's entire lineage and why he came to be in the war, before he is killed by another soldier. By reminding the audience that every soldier has a story and has friends and a family, the authors make each soldier's death a very significant event, as it should be when a human dies. Without remembering that everyone has a story and friends and a family, it is easy to dismiss the deaths of people you don't know as insignificant.
One way in which the portrayals of war differ heavily is in the way that the soldiers themselves are effected by the war. In Into the Valley of Death, Junger describes how many of the soldiers are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how one of the soldiers frequently wakes up on his hands and knees, searching for a grenade. This is the more realistic, depressing side of war that we often think about today, but apparently was not really considered during the time period of the Iliad. This is because in the Iliad, soldiers brag about the number of men they have killed and the number of cities they have plundered, and there is seldom mention of any type of remorse on the soldiers' part for the men they have killed. This seems to reflect vast differences in the perception and value placed on human life between our culture today and the culture of Ancient Greece. 

5 Minute Summary Chapter 23 - Rich Brooks

Book 23 of the Illiad is primarily concerned with the lavish funeral games that Achilles holds in Patroclus' honor. It begins however, with the aftermath in the Greek camp after Achilles slays Hector. Before allowing his Myrmidons to undress and eat after a long day of battle, Achilles makes sure that they all mourn for Patroclus. Standing over his friend's body, Achilles reminds Patroclus that he has fulfilled his promise and brought Hector's dead body along with twelve Trojan princes to be retribution for Patroclus' death. Achilles and his Myrmidons proceed to slaughter an exorbitant number of animals for the funeral feast. When Achilles reluctantly follows several Greek leaders to Agamemnon's tent, he continues to break social norms in lieu of his unbearable grief. Agamemnon and the others implore Achilles to wash the blood and gore of battle off, but Achilles insists that he will not wash himself until Patroclus is burned. Everyone then agrees that Patroclus' body should be burned first thing next morning.

That night Achilles tries to mourn Patroclus straight through the night, but eventually sleep overcomes him. Patroclus' spirit visits Achilles in his dreams and begs Achiles to burn his body quickly so he can finally enter Hades. Patroclus also foreshadows Achilles' death and insists that he and Achilles be buried together in a golden coffer that Thetis gave Achilles. When Achilles wakes up and tries to embrace Patroclus' ghost, Patroclus vanishes like smoke.

The next morning, wood is gathered for the funeral pyre, and the Myrmidons, fully armed, make a grand entrance past Patroclus' corpse to mourn him one more time. Achilles stops over his friend's body and cuts a long lock of hair that he had been growing since childhood and had intended to offer to the river Spercheius when he returned for the war and throws it on Patroclus' pyre. He then enfolds Patroclus' entire body with fat, and surrounds the pyre with animal carcasses and the twelve Trojans he captured. Hector he does not throw on the pyre, however. Achilles insists that he wants the dogs to eat him, but Aphrodite and Apollo take measures to prevent the dogs from eating the corpse or the sun from rotting it. The ceremony is initially stalled due to a lack of wind, so Achilles says a prayer to the winds, and the winds respond by igniting the pyre.

The next morning Achilles has Patroclus' bones retrieved from the fire, and a small burial mound built for him.
The rest of the chapter consists of the funeral games which Achilles offers grand prizes for. The details of these games are probably not very important, so I will try to keep it to the basics. The most important event, the chariot race, was won by Diomedes with help from Athena. Antilochus stole second from Menelaus with dirty driving tactics rather than speed, and Eumelus, sabotaged by Athena, came in last. I think that what is important to note is Achilles' people skills throughout the chapter and his ability to diffuse many tense situations. He wants to give Eumelus a prize due to his bad fortune in the race, but rather than strip Antilochus' prize from him and hand it to Eumelus, Achilles gives Eumelus an entirely different reward. Achilles also played a part in breaking up an argument between Oilean Ajax and Idomeneus, and out of respect for Nestor, awarded him a fifth place in the chariot race even though he didn't compete. The rest of the day consisted of boxing, wrestling, melees, hurling weights, and archery. The final event was javelin, where Achilles made a very strategic decision, stating:

"Son of Atreus (Agamemnon), we recognize your power
And know you are the best at throwing spears.
Take the prize and return to your hollow ships." (466: 916-918)

By automatically awarding first place to Agamemnon, Achilles made it appear to be a harmless gesture to further bury the hatchet between the two but in fact extended his own dominance over Agamemnon through the gift dueling in the process.

  A depiction of the chariot race held in Patroclus'  honor

Into the Valley of Death-Nick Blake

                In his film Restrepo, Jungers does an outstanding job of accurately depicting the real environment that surrounds war and its soldiers. The American troops stationed up in the Korengal Valley undergo constant fighting and oftentimes horrible living conditions. At one point, they are ordered to go up to enemy hot spot in the middle of the night to begin building an outpost. The next day they alternate fighting and building all day long until OP Restrepo (named after a fallen soldier) is completed. The constant struggles of fighting all day as well as bolstering up defenses is likewise portrayed in the Iliad as the Achaean troops spend whole days fighting the Trojans at battle and eventually are ordered to build a ditch and a wall to protect their tents and ships. As shown by the deaths of Doc Restrepo in the movie and Patroclus, the men at war share close bonds which makes the loss of one another similar to losing a family member. At war they realize that to succeed they must not stay put and simply mourn for their fallen comrades, so they press on by establishing OP Restrepo and executing operation rock avalanche in the movie and by pushing back the Trojans and killing Hector in the Iliad. Although the film does not describe the detailed accounts of how every man is killed in action like the Iliad does, it still communicates the violent dangers present at war and the ways in which some of the men were killed or injured. Both the Iliad and the film Restrepo provide insight to the relationships between soldiers and the violently dangerous environment of war.
Building OP Restrepo

Into the Valley of Death Blog Assignment

Jungers account of what happened in Afghanistan and the film Restrepo  both paint a very vivid picture of war. The film Restrepo also gives attention individual soldiers and there relationship with other soldiers and there view on the war. Homer also does a similar thing with the Illiad because it has a detailed and vivid description of the Trojan war. Homer pays close attention to  the heroes and warriors on both sides of the Trojan war. Restrepo also does with the American soldiers and the Afghani population. This is were Restrepo differs from the Iliad because it doesn't give a detailed description of the Taliban fighters, instead it is more one sided and biased toward the American soldiers. The main similarity between Restrepo and the Illiad is that they both give more accurate descriptions of war in that they both show the death and violence that takes place in war. Some movies and video games tend to idolize war and display only one sided beating the other. Homer on the other hand makes sure the audience has all of the details good and bad, Junger does the same thing. The Illiad and Restrepo give a much more accurate account of the horrors of war.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"It's about the men next to you, and that's it. That's all it is."

Into the Valley of Death Blog Assignment


    "When I go home people'll ask me, "Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?" You know what I'll say? I won't say a goddamn word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand that it's about the men next to you, and that's it. That's all it is." Hoot, Black Hawk Down 

    Sebastian Junger's report from the Korengal Valley features descriptions of military ranks, weapons, vehicles, clothing, and equipment that Homer's original audience wouldn't understand; however, they'd immediately identify with the leader who forsakes the safety of shelter to halt an enemy advance, or the soldier who rushes to his injured comrade to soothe his wounds. Citizens of ancient Greece would laugh when they heard how soldiers told jokes while hopelessly immobilized by enemy fire, and they'd recognize the pain soldiers felt when their friends died in their arms. 

Ajax Defends Patroclus' Corpse
    Our war machines are more advanced, and our tactics have become very complicated; but the feelings a soldier has for his comrades never changed. The love and desire to protect and honor the man next to you will always supersede any political motivation that placed you on the battlefield in the first place.


Friday, September 21, 2012

5 minute Summary-Book 22-Nick Blake

Book 22 begins with the Trojans fleeing into the city walls as the Achaeans push closer to the gates, but Hector decides to stay outside and fight by the Schaian gates. At this point, Apollo asks Achilles why he has been chasing him thus revealing that Achilles had been tricked again. Achilles is angered but knows he cannot kill an immortal god, so he sets off at a fast pace back to the Trojan gates. Priam is the first to see Achilles heading for them and compares him to Orion’s Dog star which is the brightest of starts but also brings evil and hardship to the people. Priam then tries to convince Hector to save himself and avoid conflict with Achilles who had already killed many of Priam’s sons. He describes how without Hector many will die and that Priam himself would be killed and fed to his own dogs, a pitiable death. Hector’s mother Hecuba also joins Priam in trying to convince Hector to enter the city, but Hector remains.
Hector is described as a snake under the rocks, waiting with poison as Achilles draws near. Hector begins thinking alone and regrets not taking Poulydamas’ advice to return to the city instead of attacking the ships, thus taking the blame for the impending fall of Troy. For a moment, Hector considers offering a peace treaty that would turn over half of the city’s possession to the Achaeans, but he quickly realizes the impossibility of it and decides to fight instead.

Once Achilles closes in on Hector, Hector loses his courage and tries to run away from Achilles. During the chase, the two are described as follows:

“As a hawk in the mountains, quickest of all flying things,
Swoops after a trembling dove with ease: she flies in terror
Before him, but he keeps close behind her, screaming loud,
And lunging for her time after time as his heart urges him to kill.
So Achilles flew for Hector in full fury”  Iliad 22.139-143 (Hammond)

The chase is also compared to a dog chasing a fawn, funeral game competitions with Hector’s life being the prize, and a nightmare where one person cannot escape and the other cannot catch him. Hector and Achilles circle the walls three times, passing by the two rivers where Trojan women used to wash their clothes. Zeus briefly contemplates saving Hector’s life, but Athene convinces him otherwise. Apollo then puts strength into Hector’s legs to run faster. Athene then goes down to Achilles and tells him that she will help him kill Hector. She then disguises herself as Hector’s beloved brother Deiphobos and catches up to Hector. In disguise she convinces Hector that the two of them can take on Achilles, and Hector, grateful for his brother’s help, agrees.

Achilles kills Hector
After Hector reaches Achilles, he asks for an agreement that whoever is killed will have his body returned to his people. Achilles scowls, turning down the offer, and launches his spear. Hector avoids the spear and throws his own at Achilles, but it doesn’t penetrate his shield. Turning to get another spear from his brother, Hector realizes that he has been tricked by Athene and charges at Achilles with his sword. Achilles spots a weakness in Hector’s armor and stabs him in the neck. As Hector is dying, he asks again for Achilles to return his body, but Achilles responds saying that he will feed Hector’s body to the dogs and birds and would rather eat him himself than return his body. Achilles then takes Hector’s armor and contemplates further pressing the Trojans or returning to the hips and Patroclus. Deciding to return to the ships, he straps Hector’s body to his chariot by his feet and drags him back to the ships.
Achilles drags Hector

Priam and Hecuba see this and begin groaning and mourning at the sight of their son. Priam rolls around in dung and wishes to go out to the ships to get Hector’s body back. Meanwhile, Andromache draws a hot bath for Hector, unaware of his death, and begins to hear the wailing throughout Troy. When she reaches the wall and sees Hector’s body being dragged to the ships, she blacks out in a similar fashion as warriors on the battlefield die. After waking, she begins wailing and describes how their son Astyanax will live the life of an outcast orphan and suffer many hardships.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

5 minute summary - Book 19 - Anna Glenn

Achilles Lamenting the Death of Patroclus - Nikolai Ge
Book 19 opens at Dawn with Thetis bringing Achilles his newly made armor from Hephaestus. She finds him weeping over Patroklos’ body and she tells him that he needs to stop grieving. Thetis puts the armor down of the ground with a crash and all the Myrmidons are terrified to even look at it. It clearly has some terrible power beyond it's protective abilities. Achilles is pleased and viewing the armor makes him even angrier over Patroklos’ death. It seems that the armor affects him as well, just differently than the other soldiers.

Achilles thanks his mother, but says he is worried about Patroklos’ body not lasting until he could be given a funeral. Thetis says not to worry, she has just the stuff. She uses ambrosia and nectar, the magical food and drink of the gods, to keep the body in stasis until the funeral.
Thetis gives Achilles new armor
Then she instills great courage into Achilles and he goes along the shoreline making his unique cry which causes an assembly to form. Everyone comes to this assembly: those who had not been fighting, the workmen, and the wounded, of whom Diomedes, Odysseus, and Agamemnon are mentioned specifically. This council, unlike the one that opened the poem, seems set up from the start to draw the Greek forces back together.

Achilles addresses Agamemnon saying that he wished he had never taken Briseis from her hometown. Even though he is still angry with Agamemnon, his newer and more terrible anger towards Hector makes him want to put it aside and go back to fighting the Trojans.
Agamemnon insists that everyone be very quite and listen carefully to him. He tells them how he was caught by Destiny and Deception, and that this whole episode was the will of Zeus. He then relates how even Zeus had been caught by Deception in the past, when Hera tricked him into causing Herakles to be subject to Eurystheus. This allows him to both relate himself to the highest god while also diverting any blame away from himself. He wraps up by telling Achilles that the previously offered gifts would be brought to him just as the delegation had said.Achilles is clear that gifts or no, he wants to leave immediately to fight the Trojans and urges everyone to follow. 

Briseis Returned to Achilles - Rubens
Odysseus asks Achilles to wait while the men eat and drink so that they will be able to endure a long day's battle. He requests that Achilles have the gifts brought out in front of the assembly so everyone can see them. He says that at the same time Agamemnon should swear that he never slept with Briseis.By allowing this, the social hierarchy should begin to be set right and the soldiers could re-unify.
Achilles agrees to delay the fighting and orders a sacrifice readied, but insists that he will not eat or drink until he has had revenge.

The prizes are brought out and Agamemnon swears his oath, just as Odysseus suggested. When he swears he slits the throat of a pig in sacrifice, but the animal is tossed into the sea by Talthybios rather than eaten as usual. It is also odd because throughout the poem sacrifices have typically been cows or bulls, not pigs. Achilles responds that this was all the will of Zeus and sends everyone off to their meals. The crowd disperses and the Myrmidons take the prizes to Achilles ship for him, he pays no attention to them.

Statue of Achilles - Achilleion Palace - Corfu
Briseis grieves for Patroklos, whom she had not know to be dead. She relates her brief history and sorrows but remembers that Patroklos was so kind to her, wanting to help her become Achilles legal wife. Then Achilles, after refusing food again, is reminded of when Patroklos would wait on him and bring him food. He says that he had hoped Patroklos would make it home to Phthia, though he knew that he himself would not.

Zeus takes pity and sends Athena, who really wanted to help, down to Achilles. She gives him nectar and ambrosia in order to sustain his body through the fighting. Everyone bustles about preparing for battle, which introduces a simile:
As when in their thickness the snowflakes of Zeus come fluttering
cold beneath the blast of the north wind born in the bright sky
so now in their thickness the pride of the helms bright shining
were carried out of the ships, and shields massive in the middle
and the corselets strongly hollowed and the ash spears were worn forth. (Lattimore),
which gives a sense of the terrifying chaos and massive numbers of soldiers arming themselves. Achilles is leading the preparations and he puts on his magnificent armor in a terrible rage and when he picks up his shield there is another simile:
And as when from across water a light shines to mariners,
from a blazing fire, when the fire is burning high in the mountains,
in a desolate steading, as the mariners are carried unwilling
by strom winds over the fish-swimming sea, far away from their loved ones:
so the light form the fair elaborate shield of Achilleus
Shot into the high air. (Lattimore)  
then in the next line "The helmet crested with horse-hair shone like a star, the golden fringes were shaken about it" and after another few lines "the armor became as wings and upheld the shepherd of the people".
 This seems to be the arming portion of Achilles aristeia, and the descriptions of his armor is letting us know that. Also, they reinforce our understanding of the magical properties of the armor and how increasingly fearsome Achilles was becoming, perhaps in part because of the armor. His anger is increased every time her interacts with the armor, it seems.

Chariot with Charioteer
Then Achilles speaks with his horses, goading them about having left Patroklos' body behind in battle. Xanthos, one of the horses, bows his head so that the mane brushes the ground; a gesture related to funerals. The horse tells Achilles that Patroklos death was fated by the gods, and that their speed was not lacking and should not be questioned. He then says that they will bring Achilles home this day, but that his death was rapidly approaching. Then the Furies stop him from speaking. Achilles is understandably freaked out and tells his horses that he knows he will dies soon, but not before he takes his revenge. He finishes speaking and lets out a terrible shout, and holds tight onto his horses.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Simile by Elise Roy

Tense and coiled
As a man approaches
Its lair in the mountains,
Venom in its fangs
And poison in its heart,
Glittering eyes
Glaring from the rocks: (Illiad Book 22, 104-110).

In this scene Hector is outside the safety of the walls of Troy waiting to fight Achilles. He refuses the pleas of his mother and father to come inside. He believes since his fate is almost up he must finish his life with an honorable stand. However, Hector is like the snake in the sense that he is a protector. The snake protects its lair even though the man who approaches is more powerful than itself. Likewise Hector knows Achilles is more powerful and he will likely lose his life to him, but he still guards his home from the intruder. Hector knows Achilles is coming to kill him, and he is tense and anxious. Like the snake in the simile Hector is extremely focused on the impending danger. The snake watches with his glittering eyes as does Hector.

The snake in the simile is said to have poison in his fangs and venom in his heart. Hector doesn't have venom, but he is prepared to fight to defend his land. The comparison between the man and snake to Achilles and Hector may point towards the unfairness of the situation. Men are stronger than snakes and so is Achilles stronger than Hector. However, Hector is not prepared to give up. He is strong and the note that the snake has a weapon to fight the enemy could indicate that Hector is not down for the count just yet. Though Zeus and the gods assume Achilles will kill Hector, Zeus brings out his scales to judge both men's lives. The gods have some doubts about the time of the end of Hector's life.    

Iliad 18, by Nick Cellino

At the beginning of Book 18, Antilochus is running to inform Achilles of Patroclus' death. Achilles, still sitting next to his ships, already has a bad feeling and knows what Antilochus is going to tell him. When he finally does tell him, "The sound of Achilles' grief stung the air" (Iliad 18.37). Achilles scoops  up ashes and pours them all over himself as part of his grieving process. Soon, his mother Thetis hears him weeping, and she, along with the sea-water nymphs go to him to see what is wrong. Achilles tells his mother that he feels guilty for Patroclus' death, and that he no longer has the will to live. The only thing that he wishes to do with his life from that point on is kill Hector. His mother responds by reminding him of the prophecy, telling him "Hector's death means yours" (Iliad 18.101). Achilles is fully aware of this, and he accepts this as his fate. He will conquer his pride and put aside his quarrel with Agamemnon in order to avenge his fallen companion. Thetis tells him to at least wait until the next day, as Hector still has Achilles' armor that Patroclus was wearing when he was killed, and she will bring him armor crafted by Hephaestus.

Meanwhile, the tug of war over Patroclus' dead body is still going on. The two Ajaxes are leading the Greek effort while Hector is at the front of the Trojan offensive. In order to help the Greeks, Hera decides to send a message to Achilles through the messenger Iris. Her message, that she kept a secret from Zeus, was to tell Achilles that he was to go outside, show himself to the Trojans, and give a war cry, so as to scare them off. Before he does this, Athena gives him her aegis and puts a cloud of fire over his head. When he gives his yell, Athena amplifies it, and it actually turns into three yells. This was enough to send many Trojans staggering away in fear, and it was also enough for the Greeks to bring Patroclus body back to camp in order to have a proper ceremony and burial.

On the Trojan side of things, the skilled orator Polydamas, one of Hector's comrades, urges the Trojans to retreat to back within their city walls, so as not to be caught on the open plain during Achilles' return to battle. Hector calls Polydamas a fool and states his intention to keep the army just as it is and continue his attack. This is the more popular plan among the Trojans, but the poet remarks that "their wits [were] dulled by Pallas Athena," foreshadowing their defeat (Iliad 18.331).

Achilles continues to grieve over his dear friend Patroclus. He was: a bearded lion
Whose cubs some deer hunter has smuggled out
Of the dense woods. When the lion returns,
It tracks the human from valley to valley
Growling low the whole time. Sometimes it finds him. (Iliad 18.339-43)

This foreshadows Achilles pursuit of Hector and paints the picture of a lion who is chasing after the hunter who has killed her cub. This, again, gives Achilles the role of a "protector," similar to other similes that have been used prior to this.

Thetis goes up to Olympus to the home of Hephaestus where she is greeted by his wife, Charis. Charis calls Hephaestus, and he tells the audience the story of why he is indebted to Thetis. As it turns out, after Hephaestus was thrown off Olympus by Hera, Thetis was one of the only people who nursed him back to health and took care of him. After Thetis tells Hephaestus the story of what has happened to Achilles, he immediately gets to work on his armor. The rest of the chapter goes into a vivid description of the shield that Hephaestus crafts for Achilles. It involves multiple scenes, including a view of the night sky with the stars and moon, a city in which a wedding is taking place, a city at war, and many other rural scenes involving farming. It is meant to show the full breadth of human experience in that he captures the different extremes of human experience, such as war and peace, rural and city life, etc. Hephaestus gives the shield and the rest of the armor to Thetis and she takes off immediately, "like a hawk" and without even saying "thank you" (Iliad 18.660).

The shield of Achilles, as interpreted by Angelo Monticelli