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Be sure to check out the header at the top of this blog. Lots of people are looking for info about Dante. FREE discussion guides about Dante’s INFERNO, PURGATORY, and PARADISE can be downloaded from the REVISED DISCUSSION GUIDES page. Plus, there is lots of other stuff, some FREE.
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BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC
Music: “Fist Fulla”
EP: LIVE DEMO
Artist: The Pseudos
Artist Location: British Columbia, Canada
Info: “An instrumental Spaghetti-Surf band based out of Haida Gwaii BC.”
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Genre: Surf Instrumentals. Spaghetti Western Instrumentals.
Life’s what you make it
With ingredients you choose
Results will vary
What makes it work are standards
Not expectations you have
©2021 Annette Rochelle Abenhigher ground — Annette Rochelle Aben
• Screenwriter/critic Frank Cottrell Boyce met Nico at Eric’s, a punk nightclub in 1970s Liverpool, but maybe that wasn’t a good thing. He told her that he loved her, and she replied, “Really? Do you have any money? I seem to be a little short.” He had two 50-pence pieces, and he gave her one of them, but he could tell that she wanted the other one, too, so he gave her that one as well. That night, he walked 11 miles home, due to lack of train fare.
• Music critic and scholar Chadwick Jenkins remembers being required to take his choice of music classes when he was in high school. He signed up for chorus, but quickly the teacher wanted him to drop the class — and offered him $50 to do just that. According to Mr. Jenkins, the teacher “said that the sum was a substantial portion of his yearly income but that it was worth it just so he could sleep at night.”
• The Raconteurs have a reputation for producing rock ’n’ roll alchemy. Although they were selling records in 2008, they also made money in other ways than playing music. During their tours, they both played live music and sold their own homemade elixirs. What kind of elixirs? One elixir is intended to put hair on your chest; another elixir is intended to remove the hair on your chest.
• Vince Clarke, a former member of the bands Depeche Mode and Erasure, occasionally gets together with Alison Moyet to tour as the duo Yas, aka Yazoo. He is very popular with gays although he is straight with a wife and a son. In fact, he is so popular with gays that the gay magazine The Advocate asked him whether he had to “frequently come out of the closet as straight.” Mr. Clarke replied, “My Mum was surprised, actually. When I phoned her to tell her I’d just gotten married, she didn’t believe me. It was a good half-hour conversation of ‘No, Mum, I really did just get married.’”
• The New Kids on the Block have their fans. Writer David Wild once stayed in a hotel on the same floor that the boy band was staying on. Each time he turned on his light, teenaged female fans outside the hotel screamed. But what really impressed him about the fame of the New Kids on the Block was that lots of hot mothers offered him sexual favors for his All-Access Backstage Pass. He blogged, “For the record — and for my wife who might be reading this — I adamantly refused these propositions for reasons that are not entirely clear to me today.”
• Sam Endicott, the frontman/bass player of the Bravery, an indie-rock band, learned about ethics from his mother when he was very young. He took a grape out of a grocery store without paying for it and ate it. His mother found out, and, Mr. Endicott remembers, “My mom made me go back and tell the cashier lady what I’d done. It was the most humiliating experience of my life. I’ve never stolen since.”
• When the Replacements performed at their first concert, they were supposed to be known as the Impediments. However, their first concert was in the basement of a Presbyterian church, and the promoter thought that the name the Impediments was not very Presbyterian and that it sounded anti-people with handicaps. Forced to pick a replacement name very quickly, they very quickly named themselves the Replacements. Of course, they had nicknames as well. At times, members of the band were so drunk that they could barely perform. At those times, they called themselves the Placemats, or more simply, the ’Mats. Once, in Portland, the ’Mats wore their own clothing on stage — and over their own clothing, they wore the clothing of the opening act.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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Book 24: Achilles and Priam
Now that the funeral games for Patroclus were over, the Greeks returned to their camps. They thought of the evening meal and sleep.
Achilles still mourned Patroclus. He could not sleep. He lay on his back and then his side and then his stomach. He could not sleep. He got up and walked on the shore. In an attempt to get some relief, he mounted his chariot and dragged the corpse of Hector three times around Patroclus’ funeral mound. Then Achilles tried again to go to sleep.
Apollo pitied Hector and kept his body from rotting. Apollo wrapped an invisible shield around Hector so that Hector’s skin would not tear as Achilles dragged him around Patroclus’ funeral mound.
Achilles continued to abuse the corpse of Hector, and the gods pitied Hector. Most of the gods wanted Hermes to steal Hector’s body, but not Hera, Poseidon, and Athena. They still hated Troy, Priam, and Priam’s sons. They were still as angry as they were when the war had started ten years previously. Hera and Athena were still angry because they had lost a beauty contest. Paris had accepted the bribe of Aphrodite and had spurned the bribes of Hera and Athena. Paris had accepted Aphrodite’s bribe of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world.
Apollo, god of plague and of medicine, disliked the abuse of Hector’s corpse. Unburied corpses bring plague to living men.
On the morning of the twelfth day since Hector had been killed, Apollo said to the other gods, “Gods can be hard-hearted. Hector always treated us well. He always made sacrifices of oxen and goats to us. Now the gods will not allow Hector’s wife, father, and mother and the other Trojans to see his corpse and to grieve over it. Hector’s family longs to give his corpse a proper funeral.
“But many of you gods support Achilles, a man without mercy or pity. He is like a lion that pitilessly kills lambs to satisfy his hunger. Achilles has no decency and shame.
“Other men have suffered a worse loss than his. He has lost a friend, but others have lost a brother or a son. These others mourn, they grieve, they cry, and then they continue to live their lives. That is what mortals are supposed to do. The Fates have given mortals hearts that can endure such heavy grief.
“But Achilles refuses to accept the human condition. He slaughtered Hector, he mutilated Hector’s ankles, and now he drags him behind his chariot — he lets Hector’s head drag in the dust. This does Achilles no good. He will never see Patroclus alive again. Achilles needs to learn to accept the human condition. He needs to actually live what little is left of his life, not waste it with excessive grieving!”
Hera was angry and lashed out at Apollo: “Hector and Achilles are not equals. Hector’s parents are mortal. He was formed from the seed of his father, and he nursed at the breasts of his mother. But Achilles’ mother is immortal. His mother is Thetis, a goddess I myself reared and then gave to Peleus, a mortal man. All of you gods attended the wedding, including you, Apollo. You played your lyre. Because Hector and Achilles are not equals, we should not treat them as equals. If Achilles has anger like the anger of the gods, he is worthy of it. You, Apollo, regard Hector with too much respect.”
Zeus cautioned his wife, Hera, “Don’t be angry at another god. These mortals are not worth it. Neither Achilles nor Hector will attain the rank of an immortal god. Both of them are and will remain mortal. Still, many of us gods respect Hector — I certainly do. He always kept me well supplied with sacrifices of animals and wine.
“But we won’t steal the corpse of Hector to give it back to his parents. Thetis is almost always near Achilles. She would see what we were doing.
“One of you gods must go to Thetis and call her to me. I have made up my mind: Achilles must allow King Priam to ransom the corpse of his son — Hector must receive a proper funeral!”
Iris carried Zeus’ message to Thetis. She went down to the sea and plunged into the water and dove like a weighted hook carrying death to fish. She found Thetis in a cave with other sea-nymphs; all of them were mourning the fate of Achilles. They knew that he would die before the Scaean Gates of Troy.
Iris told Thetis, “Zeus calls for you to appear before him immediately.”
Thetis replied, “Why? What does Zeus want with me? I don’t want to see any of the Olympians now. But I will go. I must obey the command of Zeus.”
Thetis put on a dark veil, and she and Iris left the cave. Iris led the way, and once they reached the shore they flew to Mount Olympus.
Thetis sat down beside Zeus, taking the seat that Athena vacated for her, and Hera handed Thetis a golden cup of nectar and said a few words to welcome her. The Olympians were showing Thetis good xenia.
Thetis sipped some nectar, and then she gave the cup back to Hera.
Zeus said to Thetis, “Thank you for coming to Olympus despite all the grief that you are feeling. I myself recently suffered the death of my mortal son Sarpedon.
“For nine days, we gods have been arguing about the way that Achilles has been treating the corpse of Hector. Many gods want Hermes to steal Hector’s body and give it back to his parents. But I have a better way. I do not want to go behind your back. I want to give Achilles kleos, and I want you to continue to respect me.
“Go to Achilles and tell him that the gods are angry at the way he has been treating the corpse of Hector. Tell him that I myself am angry at him because he mistreats Hector’s body and will not allow Hector’s father to ransom the corpse. Perhaps Achilles will respect my wishes and give Hector’s body to Priam.
“At the same time that I am sending you to Achilles, I will send Iris to Priam to command him to bring treasure to Achilles and ransom the corpse of Hector.”
Thetis immediately agreed to do the will of Zeus. She flew from Mount Olympus to Achilles’ camp. He was still mourning the death of Patroclus. He was grieving and shedding tears. The Myrmidons around him were doing the work of living men: slaughtering a sheep and preparing food for the morning meal.
Thetis sat beside her son, stroked his face, and talked to him gently, “Achilles, how much longer will you grieve for your friend? Don’t you ever think of food or sleep? Having sex with a woman is a good thing. Don’t you ever think of that? Remember that you do not have much longer to live. Your fate is coming and bringing death to you.
“Listen to me. Zeus has a message for you. The gods are angry at you because of the way that you have been treating the corpse of Hector. Zeus himself is angry at you. He wants you to allow Priam to ransom with treasure his son’s body.”
Achilles replied, “If that is what Zeus wants to do, I’ll do it. If Priam brings me a ransom, I will accept it.”
Mother and son continued to talk.
Zeus sent Iris speeding down to Troy. He told her, “Be quick! Tell Priam to go to Achilles’ camp and take treasure. He must go with only a herald, an aged man, to accompany him. He will need someone to drive the mules that pull his wagon. Achilles will accept the ransom, and Priam will then bring the corpse of Hector back to Troy.
“We will send Priam a guide. Hermes, the Guide of the Dead, will escort Priam to the camp of Achilles. Hermes is the escort of the dead, taking psyches across the ford of the river and opening for them the gates leading to the Land of the Dead.
“Priam need not be afraid — Achilles will respect him and his supplication. Achilles will also not allow anyone else to kill Priam. Achilles’ anger and grief have been excessive, but he is not a madman or a fool. He will not rebel against my will. Achilles will respect whoever supplicates him for the corpse of Hector.”
Iris raced with Zeus’ message to Troy, where she found Priam and his sons, all of them grieving for Hector. Priam had smeared manure on his head and neck — he mourned his dead son. Throughout his palace, the women mourned for Hector, crying aloud with their grief. Widows remembered the many Trojan warriors whom Achilles had killed.
Iris spoke gently to Priam, but recognizing that she was a goddess, he trembled. She said to him, “Have courage! I am here with good news. Zeus pities you, and he will help you to recover the corpse of your son Hector. Take treasure to Achilles to ransom your son. Be accompanied by only an old herald to drive the mules that pull your wagon. Do not be afraid that Achilles will kill you. He will respect you, accept the ransom, and let you take Hector’s body back to Troy. Zeus is even sending you a guide: Hermes will take you to Achilles’ camp. Achilles will not hurt you, and he will keep the other Greeks from hurting you. Achilles will now respect suppliants.”
Iris sped away.
Priam ordered his sons to hitch a team of mules to a wagon. He went to his treasure chamber, and he sent for his wife, Hecuba, and said to her, “A goddess came to me from Zeus and ordered me to ransom the corpse of our son. What do you think? I think that I need to go to Achilles’ camp.”
Hecuba was afraid and cried, “Don’t go! You used to have sense! If you go to Achilles’ camp, he will kill you just like he has killed so many of our sons! All we can do now is to mourn for Hector. Achilles is feeding his corpse to the dogs and birds. I wish I could eat Achilles’ heart and liver — raw. Only that would avenge what he has done to our son Hector, who fought Achilles and never thought of fleeing!”
Zeus, who was listening on Mount Olympus, thought, How like a mortal mother! Hecuba has chosen not to remember that Hector fled from Achilles three times around the walls of Troy.
Priam replied, “I have decided to go to Achilles. The message came to me from Zeus, who sent a goddess to deliver it to me. If a mortal prophet had advised me to go to Achilles, I would not. I would think that the prophet was wrong. But not Zeus! And not his goddess messenger! I looked her in the eyes — we were face-to-face. I am going to Achilles, and if I am fated to die in his camp, so be it. At least I can hold Hector in my arms and mourn him before I die!”
Priam lifted the lid of a chest and took out twelve robes, twelve cloaks, twelve blankets, twelve capes, and twelve shirts. He also picked out ten bars of gold, two tripods, four cauldrons, and a magnificent cup: a gift from the Thracians. Priam wanted the corpse of his son so much that he was willing to sacrifice even this magnificent work of art.
Many Trojans surrounded Priam in his palace. Priam was nervous and afraid to meet Achilles, and so he took out his emotions on his citizens: “Get out! Don’t you have somewhere else to be! I am in pain! Achilles has killed my son Hector! You should grieve for him, too — without Hector to protect you, you will be the victims of the Greeks! I hope that I die before I see my city fall!”
Priam shook his staff at them, and they quickly left.
Nine of Priam’s sons remained, and he criticized them: Helenus, Paris, Agathon, Pammom, Antiphonus, Polites, Deiphobus, Hippothous, and Dius. None of these sons was Hector, and Priam wanted Hector to be alive. He shouted at them, “Get to work! I wish that all of you had been killed instead of Hector! Of all my sons who were heroes, not one of them is still alive! Mestor, Troilus, and Hector are all dead! Ares, the god of war, killed them all! All I have left are you, and you are better dancers than warriors! You eat well, but you don’t fight well. You are robbing the Trojans of the best food. Get my wagon ready! Now!”
Hector’s nine sons prepared the wagon and hitched up the mules to it. They put the ransom for Hector’s body in the back of the wagon.
Priam and his aged herald Idaeus were ready to go, but Hecuba carried a cup of honeyed wine to her husband and requested, “Pour out a libation to Zeus and pray for a safe and successful return. Ask also for a sign — now! — that your prayer will be answered. Ask for a bird flying to the right — the lucky side! If you see the sign, then go, although you go against my will. If you do not see the sign, then stay here and be safe!”
Priam replied, “It is the right thing to do.”
He poured water over his hands, and he poured out the libation of honeyed wine to Zeus. He prayed, “Zeus, let Achilles receive me and be kind and merciful. Send us a bird-sign that you will grant my prayer. Allow me to see that bird-sign so that I know that it is safe for me to see Achilles and ransom my son.”
Zeus sent a huge eagle that flew to Priam’s right — the lucky side! Priam, Hecuba, the aged herald, and Priam’s sons looked at the eagle and knew that it was a favorable omen.
Priam and his herald drove out of Troy. His wife and sons followed him to the gates and then returned to their homes. They were crying as if Priam were soon to die.
Zeus saw the two men going across the plain toward the ships, and he summoned Hermes to be their guide: “Hermes, you are the guide of many men. Go to Priam, and guide him to the camp of Achilles. Make sure that no one sees him and recognizes him.”
Hermes put on his sandals that make him swift, and he grabbed his wand that enchants men or puts them to sleep as Hermes wishes.
Looking like a young man, newly able to grow a beard, he flew near to Priam’s wagon. Darkness now covered the region.
Priam and his herald had driven to the river but had not crossed it. They watered their mules at the river. The herald saw Hermes and said to Priam, “Danger! I see someone! We may be killed! We should either flee or beg for mercy!”
Priam was frightened, and he stared at the oncoming man. Hermes walked up to Priam and said, “Greetings, old man! Where are you going? Aren’t you afraid of the Greeks? How would you feel if they were to see you — especially with so much treasure in your wagon? You are old, and your wagon-driver is too old to fight off anyone. But don’t worry about me. I would never hurt you. You remind me of my own father.”
Priam replied, “I am facing hard times, but even now Zeus is looking after me. He has sent you to me. You are a lucky omen! Your parents are blessed to have a son like you.”
Hermes said, “My parents are proud of me, just like you said. But tell me what you are doing with this treasure. Are you sending it away so that it may be kept safe for you? Are you fleeing from Troy, certain that the city will fall now that its finest warrior has fallen — Hector, your own son, who fought well and bravely?”
Priam replied, “Who are you? Who are your parents? How do you know about my son?”
Hermes said, “I have often seen Hector fight in battle. I saw him when he pushed the Greeks against their ships and nearly set their entire fleet on fire! That day he killed and killed again! I am a Myrmidon; I am the aide of Achilles. Achilles kept us out of the fighting for a while. I am the son of an aged father named Polyctor. He had seven sons who shook lots to see who would go to Troy — my lot fell out. I have come to scout the terrain because tomorrow the Greeks are planning to fight again.”
Priam requested, “If you really are the aide of Achilles, please tell me about my son’s body. Is it still intact, or has Achilles chopped it into pieces and fed them to the dogs?”
Hermes reassured him: “Hector’s body is still intact. It lies by Achilles’ ships. Although Hector has been dead for twelve days, his corpse has not decayed — no worms eat his flesh. Achilles daily drags the corpse around the funeral mound of Patroclus, but the corpse’s skin does not break. Many Greeks stabbed the corpse, but those wounds have been sealed. The gods themselves are taking care of the corpse of your son. He is dead, but the gods respect him.”
Priam was happy, and he said, “Making sacrifices to the gods is the right thing to do. Hector always made fitting sacrifices in honor of the gods. He remembered them, and now they remember him — now that he is dead. Please take this cup as a gift. Please safely escort me to the camp of Achilles.”
Hermes said, “I will not take the cup. That soon will belong to Achilles, and I will not rob him of what will soon be his. But I will gladly and safely escort you to his camp. I will take you further when needed. I will take you across the ford of a river and open the gates.”
Hermes climbed on the wagon, took the reins in his hands, and drove across a ford of the river. He drove the wagon to the trench and some gates of the Greek wall. In the darkness the sentries were beginning to eat their evening meal — Hermes made them sleep. He opened the gates and drove the wagon through. A second set of gates led to Achilles’ camp. A heavy pine beam was used to bar the gates. Three ordinary men were needed to lift the beam; Achilles was the only mortal man who could bar and unbar the gates by himself. But now Hermes easily unbarred the gates and drove the wagon into Achilles’ camp.
Hermes said to Priam, “Old man, I am the god Hermes. Zeus sent me to be your escort. I will not stay by you now. I should not meet Achilles face-to-face — yet. Go in and clasp Achilles’ knees and beg him to let you ransom your son. Beg him by his father. Beg him by his mother. Beg him by his own son. Move his heart!”
Hermes returned to Olympus.
Priam got off the wagon and left his aged herald behind. Courageously, he went to Achilles’ dwelling. Achilles was sitting. With him were his aides Automedon and Alcimus. Achilles had just finished eating, and the table was still before him.
Priam walked up to Achilles, knelt, clasped his knees with one hand, and with the other brought Achilles’ hands to his lips and kissed them — Priam kissed the hands that had killed so many of his sons in battle.
Achilles recognized Priam and marveled. He marveled at Priam the way people marvel at a man who has murdered a man and fled for his life and then suddenly appears. Automedon and Alcimus stared at Priam.
Priam begged, “Remember your own aged father, Achilles. He is as old as I am. The people in the territories around him must be threatening him now, old as he is, and he does not have you to defend him. But at least he has the joy of hearing that you are still alive, and he hopes to see the day that you leave Troy and return home.
“Now consider me. Some of my sons were heroes, but none of my hero sons is now alive. When the war started, I had fifty sons. Nineteen sons were born to me by one mother, and all of the others were born to me by various women in my palace. Many of my sons died in battle.
“But I had one hero son left: Hector. You killed him! I have come with treasure to ransom his body. Respect the gods! Pity me! Remember your aged father! I deserve pity. I have endured what no man has ever endured before — I have kissed the hands of the man who killed my son!”
Achilles remembered his aged father, and he grieved. Both men grieved together. Priam wept for Hector. Achilles wept sometimes for his aged father, sometimes for Patroclus.
Achilles took Priam’s hand and gently raised him up. This gesture meant that he would respect the suppliant — he would allow Priam to ransom Hector’s body.
Achilles said, “You, old man, have suffered so much — I have caused you so much suffering! You have shown great courage in coming here to my camp without warriors to protect you. You have shown great courage in facing the man who has killed so many of your sons — sons you love. Sit down on this chair. We must get over our grief. We have mourned so long. What good does it do us?
“The gods are the only beings who do not suffer the grief that you and I and other mortals feel. Zeus has two jars in his palace. In one jar are miseries; in the other jar are blessings. From these jars Zeus gives gifts to mortal men. Many men receive gifts from both jars; sometimes they enjoy good things, and sometimes they suffer miseries. But to some men Zeus gives gifts only from the jar of miseries; these men are always unhappy — they wander the earth in misery and hunger. No mortal man receives gifts only from the jar of blessings.
“My own father received gifts from both jars. When he was born, he was blessed. He was wealthy and respected. The gods gave him an immortal goddess to marry. But now his gifts come from the jar of miseries. He had a son — only one son: me. And now his son will soon die. His son will not return to Greece to take care of him. No. I will die here at Troy, where I have brought so much misery to your children and to you.
“And you, Priam, have received gifts from both jars. You used to be prosperous. You used to rule a large and wealthy realm. You had many sons and much wealth. But now Troy is at war. Your warriors suffer in battle. So many of your sons and citizens have died.
“But you must continue to live your life. Excessive grieving is not good. Hector will never come to life again. All too quickly, your own life will end.”
Priam said, “Don’t make me sit here in your shelter, Achilles. Give me my son back, and let me leave immediately! Take the ransom, and let me care for my son’s body.”
Achilles replied, “Don’t make me angry, old man. As I have said, I will give you back your son. A goddess — my mother — brought me a message from Zeus telling me to do that. Also, I know that your guide must have been a god. How else is it possible for you to come into my camp? How else could you get past the sentries? Who else could unbar my gates? Don’t make me angry! I don’t want to kill you and violate the rules of xenia!”
Achilles knew himself, and he knew other people. He knew that he and Priam were still enemies. Hector had killed Patroclus, and Achilles had killed Hector. Tension still existed between Priam and Achilles. Achilles knew that if Priam were to see the uncared-for corpse of Hector, still filthy from being dragged on the ground, Priam could grow angry. Achilles knew that if Priam were to grow angry, then in turn he could grow angry and kill Priam. Achilles knew that he could not give Hector’s body to Priam in its present state.
Priam was afraid, and he sat down on a chair.
Achilles left his shelter with his aides. They unhitched the mules and led Priam’s aged herald into the shelter so he could sit near Priam. They unloaded much of the ransom, but left two capes and a shirt to clothe the corpse of Hector. Achilles ordered some slave women to wash Hector’s body and rub it with olive oil and then to dress the corpse in the fine clothing. After this had been done, he put Hector’s body on a bier and lifted it onto the back of the wagon.
Achilles prayed to the psyche of Patroclus, “Do not be angry at me, Patroclus, if in the Land of the Dead you hear what I have done — I have let Priam have his son. He gave me treasure, and I shall give you your share. I will burn some clothing for you.”
Achilles went back into his shelter and said to Priam, “Your son lies in your wagon, as I promised, and in the morning you will see him and take him to Troy. Now let us eat. As much as we have grieved, we still must eat. Even Niobe, who suffered the deaths of all twelve of her children in one day, remembered to eat. Niobe was proud. She had given birth to six sons and six daughters, and she boasted aloud, ‘I am more worthy of respect than the goddess Leto, who has given birth to only two children: the twins Apollo and Artemis.’ Leto’s children were angry at the disrespect shown to their mother, and with the anger of the gods, they killed all of Niobe’s children, shooting them with arrows. Niobe’s children lay for nine days in their own blood, unburied. On the tenth day, the gods buried her children, and then Niobe, who had grieved for so long, ate.
“We too must eat. Later, you can grieve again for your son, after you have taken him to Troy.”
Achilles slaughtered a sheep, and his aide skinned and cooked it, and then everyone, including Priam and Achilles, ate.
Achilles and Priam looked at each other, marveling. Then Priam said, “Let me go to bed now, Achilles. I have not slept for a long time — not since you killed my son. Instead of sleeping, I lay awake, moaning with grief. I smeared manure on my head and neck. Finally, I have eaten food and drank wine again. Before this meal, I had eaten and drunk nothing.”
Achilles ordered his aides and slaves to make beds for Priam and his aged herald and for himself. But Achilles, a man who thought ahead, said to Priam, “You and your herald should sleep outside my shelter. The Greek commanders often come to my shelter to consult with me, and if one of them were to see and recognize you, he may tell Agamemnon. Then things could go badly for you and your son.
“But tell me one more thing: How much time do you need to mourn and bury Hector? I will keep the Greeks from fighting for that much time. Agamemnon respects me now, and he will agree to my request.”
Priam replied, “You will show me great kindness if you give us nine days to mourn Hector, and two days to burn his body, bury him, build his funeral mound, and hold a feast in his honor. On the twelfth day, we will fight — if we have to.”
The fighting was necessary. Trojans and Greeks were still at war.
Achilles said, “I will give you the time you ask for, Priam. We will not fight until after you have mourned Hector and given him a proper funeral.”
He touched Priam’s wrist, and then Priam and his herald went to their beds outside Achilles’ shelter.
Achilles went to sleep in his own shelter. Briseis slept by his side.
Zeus, who was watching from Mount Olympus, thought, Achilles no longer has the anger of the gods. Achilles has stopped his excessive anger. Achilles has stopped his excessive grief. Achilles has accepted the human condition. Now that Achilles has accepted the human condition, he is ready to die.
Most of the gods and mortal men slept now, but not Hermes. He kept thinking about what he should do. It was important for him to get Priam safely back to Troy, unseen by the Greek guards.
Hermes appeared before the sleeping Priam and said, “You are in the midst of your enemies. Yes, Achilles spared your life, but many Greeks here would like to kill you. You have ransomed your son with a treasure, but if you are captured, it will take three times that amount of treasure to ransom you. Think what will happen if Agamemnon were to learn that you are here.”
Priam woke up, and he woke up his herald. Hermes harnessed the mules and got the wagon ready, and he drove all of them out of the Greek camps. No guards saw them.
When they reached the ford of the river Xanthus, Hermes left them, and Priam and his herald went to Troy alone. Priam’s daughter Cassandra was the first to see them bearing the corpse of Hector back to Troy. She cried, “Look, Trojan men and Trojan women! Hector is coming home! He was our greatest warrior and our greatest hope!”
The Trojans arose and grieved. They left Troy to go out to the wagon and meet Priam. Hector’s wife and mother flung themselves on the wagon taking his corpse home. They tore their hair, and they held Hector’s head.
Priam ordered his citizens, “Let the wagon through! When we are inside the gates of Troy, then you can have your fill of mourning!” The Trojans moved away from the wagon, and the herald drove inside the walls of Troy. They took Hector’s body into Priam’s palace and placed it on a bed, and women sang laments.
Andromache cradled her husband’s head in her arms and grieved, “My husband, you died so young! You have left me a widow with a baby boy! I do not think that he will live to become an adult. Troy will soon be conquered now that you are no longer alive to defend it and keep its citizens safe and free. Now the women and children will become the slaves of the Greeks. At best, our son will be the slave of a harsh master. Worse, a Greek will take him to the high walls of Troy and throw him to the ground because you killed the Greek’s brother, father, or son — you killed so many Greek warriors! Now all of Troy grieves for you, Hector. You have brought grief to your parents, but most of all to me, your widow. You did not die near me and say some last words to me that I could remember as I weep for you!”
Andromache cried, and the women of the palace cried.
Hecuba grieved, “Hector, you were the son I loved most. The gods respected you while you were alive, and they still respect you now that you are dead. Achilles captured many of my sons and sold them far away as slaves. But he killed you with his spear, and he dragged your corpse around the funeral mound of Patroclus, Achilles’ friend whom you killed. Now you are with me, and I can mourn you.”
The women of the palace shouted cries of mourning.
Helen grieved, “Hector, you were the kindest to me of all of Paris’ brothers. Paris brought me to Troy — I wish I had died before that happened! This is the twentieth year since I have arrived here, and in all of those twenty years, never did you taunt or insult me. If anyone were ever cruel to me, you would talk to them and make them stop their cruelty, no matter who it was: one of your brothers or sisters or sisters-in-law or even your own mother. Your father has always been as kind to me as you were. I mourn for you, and I mourn for myself. I have no friends left in Troy — the Trojans regard me with loathing!”
Helen cried, and the Trojans cried, and Priam ordered, “Cut timber and bring it into Troy. The Greeks will not attack you. Achilles has promised to give us eleven days in which to mourn Hector and give him a proper funeral.”
Trojan men cut and hauled timber into the city for nine days. On the tenth day, they placed Hector’s body on the pier and burned it. In the morning, they poured wine over the fire and collected his white bones. His brothers and brothers-in-law mourned as they gathered the bones, covered them with fine cloth, and placed them in a golden chest that they lowered into a grave over which they placed huge stones. They built a mound over the grave with lookouts alert in case of a Greek attack, and they ate a feast in honor of Hector.
And so the Trojans buried Hector, the most human of heroes.
Another name for the Greeks.
A warrior’s period of excellence in battle.
Occasionally in the Iliad, a scene will occur at a time when it ought not to logically occur. This is known as displacement. Consider the scene in which King Priam asks Helen to identify some of the Greek heroes. By the end of the ninth year or the beginning of the tenth and last year of the Trojan War, King Priam would know who the leading Greeks are, so this episode logically ought not to occur at this time. Logically, this episode ought to occur early in the war. Homer has displaced this episode. Aesthetically, of course, this episode makes sense. For the audience of the Iliad, it is still early in the Iliad, and so Homer needs to introduce some of the leading Greeks to his audience.
Many actions in the Iliad are motivated both by humans and by gods. For example, at one point in Book 11 of the IliadGreat Ajax is forced back by the Trojans. On the human level, he has been fighting very hard for a long time, and he is tired. No wonder the Trojan warriors force him back! But we also read that Great Ajax is forced back by Zeus. Often, we can explain actions purely on the human level, but Homer tells us that the gods are also involved in the actions.
A particular prize of honor, often a spear-bride.
Humans are mortal; we will die someday.
In Medias Res:
In the middle of the story.
The glories of men.
Glory or fame or reputation.
Kleos is reputation. It is what people say about you after you are dead. Early in the Iliad, Achilles is very interested in his kleos.
Kleos is important because it is the only kind of meaningful immortality that ancient Greek society has. This society believes in a kind of afterlife, but it is insubstantial. Souls go down to the Land of the Dead, but there they have no meaningful kind of afterlife. In some accounts of the afterlife in the Land of the Dead, souls don’t know who they are until they have a drink of blood. At that time, they regain their memory and are able to converse with other souls. Without the drink of blood, they are like gibbering bats.
According to classics scholar Elizabeth Vandiver, kleos can be translated as glory or fame or, sometimes, reputation. What it literally means is what other people say about you, what is spoken aloud about you (The Iliad of Homer 45).
Undying kleos or imperishable glory. Undying glory, reputation, and fame.
1) The veil and headdress of a married woman. 2) The ramparts and battlements of a city.
Anger (used of a god and of Achilles).
Fate. Share or portion or lot of life.
Many actions in the Iliad occur because of the actions both of humans and of the gods. This double motivation is sometimes called by critics over-determination. Over-determination stresses the inevitability of certain actions — they had to occur. In literature, over-determination occurs when an action is explained by more than one cause when only one cause is enough to explain why the action occurred.
The spirit, soul.
Lack of presumption, restraint, recognition of human limits. Diomedes has this quality.
Theos (THAY os):
God (with a small ‘g’).
Timê is gifts of honor. After a city has been captured, what is inside the city is given out as gifts of honor. If a warrior has fought bravely, that warrior will get timê. An important kind of timê is a geras or spear-bride or sex-slave. Timê is the physical expression of honor; timê can take the form of booty, gifts, or a particular prize (geras).
In the Iliad, kleos and timê are related. The more timê a warrior has, the more kleos the warrior has. Achilles is upset when Agamemnon takes away his geras because Agamemnon is taking away his timê and therefore is taking away his kleos. At this time Achilles values kleos more than anything else in the world. Achilles — early in the Iliad — is willing to give up his life in order to have kleos.
The guest-host relationship. Civilized people of the ancient world followed rules of hospitality. Uncivilized people (and other beings) did not. This is an odd phrase, and we don’t have exactly that concept in our culture. In ancient Greece, no inns, motels, or hotels existed. If you traveled, you would stay with a family. You would knock on the door of a house and ask for hospitality. The residents of the house, if they observed xenia, would let you stay with them. They would feed you, give you a place to sleep, and offer you water for bathing or washing. As the guest, you of course would not murder your host or run away with your host’s wife. Instead, you would entertain your hosts by giving them news and telling them of your travels. The Trojan War started because of a breach of xenia. Paris, prince of Troy, stayed with Menelaus, King of Sparta, and ran away with his wife, Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. Xenia was taken seriously in the ancient world. Zeus was Zeus Xenios, Zeus the god of Xenia. He often punished people who did not respect the protocols of xenia.
Plural of xenos.
Guest, host, stranger, friend, foreigner.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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