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Eric Tessicini B Block 5/15/11

While Reading Greek mythology from a 30 year old book in my bed at midnight at the age of 8, I felt myself being whisked away into the ancient Bronze Age. I always put myself into the myth as the great Hercules, Bellphron or any other great character of the story. Id imagine myself in their position and analyze their situation and then decide what I would do if I was them. But Id always picture myself as the hero, the one everyone wanted to be like. I dont know why but it might have been because I was bullied when I was younger, but I think it was caused by the way the author retold the myths. He retold them in such a way that made me feel like I was in ancient Greece and the 12 Olympians were real. I just couldnt stop reading. That feeling is a feeling of appreciation. I got that same feeling, but larger and more powerful while reading Homers Iliad. I believe that an intelligent 8th grade student would most definitely appreciate Homer. The most remembered Macedonian King, Alexander the Great, slept with a dagger and the Iliad under his pillow at night, the mystery of Homers existence, what we know about him is shrouded in mist, and his personality can only be found by reading his first masterpiece, the Iliad. If you havent read this college level gem of literature at its finest, I highly suggest you do. Homer was the first author of western civilization. In almost every century after the year 600 B.C., Homer is referenced. From Virgil, to Dante, to Shakespeare all these writers mention and refer to the Iliad and Odyssey, the epics of Homer, just as most authors referred to the Bible

in the past centuries. Homer is the author of several epic poems, the most famous being the Iliad and the Odyssey. But is this all true? Almost no proof of his existence can be found anywhere. What scholars and historians do know is that a child, named Homer, was born to Epikaste and Telemachus in the 8th century, according to the Odyssey. It seems that every Greek city state claims to have been the birthplace of Homer, but his dialect directs us to Ionia. Homer couldnt have been blind at a young age, for the descriptions of the landscape are much too detailed for someone who is blind to accurately depict.1 Those who say Homer existed, still question whether he wrote both epic poems or just one. Those who believe he is the author of just one of the epics argue that in the Iliad, the author admires the beauty and power of the war horses, while dismisses dogs as mere scavengers but the author of the Odyssey pays no attention to horses and feels sorrow for Odysseus old faithful dog, Argos.3 Another popular argument that is made, states that there must have been two different authors of the epics because of their styles of literature. The Iliad is a dramatic book, like a play. A play where the whole middle act is on the battle field and in between, there are duels between the famous warriors on both sides. The Odyssey is more of a modern day novel with a flowing plot and more everyday speech.3 One of the strongest arguments made is that of the time and dating. In the Iliad, the Phoenicians are praised as highly skilled craftsmen but in the Odyssey they are still regarded as great craftsmen but are not looked upon with much favor because during the time their goods had flooded the Greek market. They are called tricksters in the Odyssey because of their invasion

of the Greek market. This leads scholars to believe that the Odyssey was written around 40 or 50 years after the Iliad.3 The last reason that those supporting the side of the two authors really come together on is the meaning of Homer. As one ancient source says, the Ancient Greek word homros was a word/title for a blind man. So there could have been hundreds of Homers roaming around telling stories about the fall of Troy.3 Despite all these arguments, I and many others believe that Homer was real, and he wrote both of these epics. I agree with a Greek critic named Longinus, who stated that he simply believed that the Iliad and the Odyssey were written at different points in Homers life. Longinus believes that the Iliad was the work of a young Homer, probably in his twenties, who was excited and admired war, so in that way he would be very appreciative of the beauty and power of the Grecian war horses. Longinus believed that the Odyssey was written by a Homer who was about 40 or 50, who might have been blind at this time, with a nature more philosophical than he was before. Homer was more matured and might have had a dog leading him from place to place as people do now.2 This simple but possible perception accounts for the differences in the moral and religious tones between the two works. The Iliad is about Achilles, and how he is the perfect hero, mighty and proud, invincible and arrogant, but how he also suffers from human problems, such as of pride, stubbornness and anger. The Grecian army is divided into fractions, everyone taking a side, or for that matter, trying to mediate the quarrel, many admirable men are killed and their bodies treated horribly, and even the gods are arguing and fighting one another. The Odyssey, in comparison, contains comic episodes2 and the hero, Odysseus, conquers many

formidable adversaries through his unmatchable intelligence and wit, not just strength. The Iliad shows a world that is marred and deformed by moral disorder, but on the flip side, the Odyssey portrays gods punishing men for his wrongdoings and giving an honorable man what he deserves.2 No matter who wrote these epics, the question remains of how was all this memorized? In a couple of twentieth century studies have shown that it is possible to memorize lengthy works by poets whose recitations belong to a long tradition of the art of storytelling. The poet constructs the works by using repetition. The poet would have certain phrases, or epithets, that they would repeat over and over again to reintroduce a character from before or to describe how a warrior would don his armor (for in the Iliad, all the great heroes and warriors put on their pieces of armor in the same order). Examples of epithets in the Iliad are: Fleet-footed Achilles, Wise Odysseus, Grey-eyed Athena, and Earth-shaking Poseidon.2, 4 The Achaeans (Greeks) are on their 9th year of the siege of Troy. This conflict was started with the abduction of Helen. Even after all these years of fighting, Troy remains perfectly fine, but the Achaean army isnt. A deadly plague is sweeping through the army, killing many of the soldiers. Finally, the great warrior Achilles calls a meeting to determine the cause of the plague. A soothsayer tells the assembly that their commander Agamemnon is the reason. He had refused to give back a young maiden he has stolen for her fathers arms as a war prize. When he hears this he decides, reluctantly, to give the girl back to her father, but states that since he cant have the best girl he will have the second best, which is Achilles girl. Achilles then goes into a fit of rage and states that neither he nor his men will fight and he will leave the plains of Troy as soon as he possibly could. Then he asks his godly mother, Thetis, if she will plead to Zeus to let the Trojans beat back the Achaeans which he agrees to. Then in the next big battle, an Achaean by

the name of Diomedes dominates the fighting. But as the battle rages on, the Achaeans seem to falter. Falters so badly that Athena fears that the entire Achaean army will be annihilated. So Athena and Apollo come to an agreement, Hector will fight an Achaean champion to determine the outcome of the war. Telamonian Ajax steps up and goes to fight Hector. He fights so valiantly that the duel ends in a draw and a truce is made temporarily, so each side could bury their dead with appropriate funeral rites. The fighting resumes in time and the Achaeans are beaten back so badly that Agamemnon offers many varied and wealthy gifts to Achilles in exchange for forgiveness and his return to battle. Achilles refuses. Meanwhile, Hector is leading an army to the ships and a huge battle takes place directly in front of the ships. The fighting is so fierce and rumors are reaching Achilles about who is wounded, so great are the number and status of the people wounded that Achilles sends his best friend, Patroclus, into the fight dressed in his armor to bring spirit to the weary troops and to discover who is wounded. The Achaean army sees Patroclus is Achilless armor and they find new spirit and the Trojans are swept back to their beloved Troys wall. Patroclus' valor seems superhuman. He killed nine Trojans in a single charge when Apollo strikes him with such fury that Hector is able to catch him off-guard and thrust a spear through his body. Then some of the most intense fighting of the war follows in a battle to claim Patroclus body. Finally, the Achaeans rescue Patroclus' corpse, and Hector captures Achilles' armor. Achilles is filled with grief and rage when he learns that his companion, Patroclus, has been slaughtered by the Trojan general Hector. His mother, Thetis, comes to him and advises him that he will die if he tries to revenge Patroclus' death. But she says that if Achilles decides to revenge Patroclus' death, she will outfit him in a suit of new armor, made by one of the gods. Achilles chooses to attack the Trojans in an attempt to punish them for what they did to Patroclus. Thus, he returns to battle in his new armor and is so successful that he

and the Achaeans rout the Trojans. He savagely kills Hector. Then, still in a rage, he ties Hectors corpse to his chariot and circles Patroclus' burial mound every day for nine days. Hectors parents are grieved at the treatment given to their son's corpse, so Priam, Hectors father, goes to Achilles and begs for his son's body. Achilles is moved by Priam's pleas and by the memory of his own father. He then agrees to clean and return Hectors body. The book ends with Hector being put into a golden casket. A main part of the poem is known as The Quarrel. This part is the part of the poem when Achilles calls the assembly and finds out Agamemnon is the cause of the plague. Then because the girl he choose for his war prize was causing the plague, Agamemnon takes Achilles girl for his own. This insult to Achilles causes this outburst and argument, or quarrel. He is fighting this war of his own free will because he was not one of the suitors of Helen who vowed to protect her marriage in case something like this happened. So thats why he says that he came to gratify Agamemnon. This is when Achilles wont fight the war anymore. Then swift Achilles, scowling at him, replied: You greedyminded shamelessness Incarnate! How can any decent Achaean want to take orders from you, to go where you tell him to go or battle his best with hostile men? I didnt come here to fight because of the Trojan spearmen. Theyve never done me any harm, never rustled my cattle or horses, or plundered in fertile Phthia a harvest of mine, for between here and there lie a great many things- Shadowy mountains and crashing sea. But we came here with you, the incredibly shameless, in an effort to gratify you! To get satisfaction for Menelaus and you! Covetous cur that you are. All this you turn your back on and choose to forget, and now you threaten to take my prize of prestige, the gift I got from the sons of Achaeans and for which I labored so much. Whenever we warriors sack a populous Trojan city, my share of the booty is never equal to yours. True, I get more, much more, than my share of chaotic battle, but when it comes to dividing the loot, your portion is always far larger than mine. Worn out with fighting, I go back to my ships and with me take some pitiful little prize allotted to me- little, but mine. Now, though, Ill go back to Phthia, for I would much rather take all my beaked ships and go home than stay on here in disgrace to heap up wealth for you!

And the king of men Agamemnon answered him thus: Go on and run, if you feel the urge so strongly. I do not beg you to stay on my account. Ive others here who honor and respect me, including the best of all counselors, Zeus himself. Of all the god-nurtured leaders, you are most hateful to me, for strife is always dear to your heart, and battles and fighting. And if youre so full of valor, thats the gift of a god. So take your ships and your men and go lord it over the Myrmidons at home. I have no regard for you, nor do I care how angry you are. But see now how you like this. Since Phoebus Apollo is taking Chryseis from me, Im returning her with a ship and men of mine- but I myself will come to your lodge and take your prize, the lovely Briseis, that once and for all you may know how greatly I exceed you in power and excellence, and another man will think twice before calling himself my equal and right in my presence comparing himself to me! Another major passage in the Iliad is the one where Patroclus (Achilles childhood friend and companion) is killed by Hector. This is a super important part because it ultimately leads to the decline and fall of Troy. The killing of Patroclus brings the wrath of Achilles from Agamemnon to Hector and Achilles is filled with bloodlust and wont stop fighting until he kills Hector and gets revenge for the death of his comrade. And he ends up killing Hector and thus Troy loses its general and prince. And the death of Hector throws Troys king, Priam, into grief and then he starts to lose hope, because many of his 49 sons were killed. Then, his mind dazed and his splendid body unable to move, he stood in a stupor, till a young Dardanian struck him between the shoulders with a short spear-cast from behind, even Panthous son Euphorbus, he who surpassed all fighters his age as a spearman, horseman, and runner, and who had already hurled twenty warriors down from their cars at this his first time with a chariot, fighting in actual combat. He it was, O knightly Patroclus, who first got his bronze in your flesh. But when you remained on your feet, he jerked the ash spear from your body and lost himself in the throng. For Euphorbus had no intention of facing Patroclus in that fiery fight, completely unarmed though he was. Now, Patroclus, stunned and weak from the blow of Apollo and wound of the spear, fell back mid a crowd of his comrades, avoiding sure death. But Hector, aware that great-souled Patroclus was wounded and drawing back, charged down on him through the ranks and drove his bronze-headed spear clean through his lower belly and back, and

Patroclus fell with a dull, disheartening thud, filling the host of Achaeans with horror and grief.

Reading those Greek myths back then really taught me something, that when you find a good book that brings you to a different place and time and you cant put down, thats appreciation. Appreciation like that doesnt happen often but when it does, you know it and you will enjoy the book all the more.

"Homer." http://www.ancientgreece.com. N.p., 2008. Web. 26 May 2011.

<http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/People/Homer/>.
2

"Homer." http://library.thinkquest.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2011.

<http://library.thinkquest.org/17709/people/homer.htm>.
3

"Homer Biography." http://www.notablebiographies.com. Advameg, Inc., 2011. Web. 26 May 2011.

<http://www.notablebiographies.com/He-Ho/Homer.html>.
4

Cummings, Michael J. "Homer ." http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net. N.p., 2003. Web. 26 May

2011. <http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/HomerBio.html#Homer%20Bio>. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId =GVRL&userGroupName=mlin_w_wilbrah&tabID=T003&searchId=R3&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&content Segment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCX3424501380&&docId= GALE|CX3424501380&docType=GALE&role http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId =GVRL&userGroupName=mlin_w_wilbrah&tabID=T003&searchId=R5&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&content Segment=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCX2897200229&&doc Id=GALE|CX2897200229&docType=GALE&role http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId =GVRL&userGroupName=mlin_w_wilbrah&tabID=T003&searchId=R6&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&content Segment=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCX2897200237&&doc Id=GALE|CX2897200237&docType=GALE&role http://find.galegroup.com/gtx/retrieve.do?contentSet=IACDocuments&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28KE%2CNo ne%2C5%29iliad%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28AC%2CNone%2C8%29fulltext%24&sgHitCountType=None&inPS= true&sort=Relevance&searchType=BasicSearchForm&tabID=T002&prodId=EAIM&searchId=R1&currentPosition =6&userGroupName=mlin_w_wilbrah&docId=A18492110&docType=IAC