Fabularum Bibliotheca Third Iliad Chat
Chat Transcript

133 lines of discussion for Sep. 20, 1998

Also available: First Iliad Chat transcript    Second Iliad Chat Transcript
Greek terminology in the Iliad        Greek language links

13:46 Torrey Philemon enters...
14:03 Aurora Inca enters...
14:03 Shaquilat Sergius enters...
14:05 Torrey Philemon: Hello all. I was asked to moderate since Ricardex can't be here.
14:05 Aurora Inca: Hello.
14:05 Shaquilat Sergius: Hello, Torrey, Aurora
14:06 Torrey Philemon: Do you want to introduce yourselves and share what comments or questions you'd like to discuss...
14:06 Asterix Flavius enters...
14:06 Asterix Flavius: So, Ricardex is laid low from all the partying last night?
14:07 Aurora Inca: I expect I will mainly listen. I have only re-read half of the Iliad at this point.
14:07 Torrey Philemon: I imagine...I didn't hear from him directly...Aurora, do feel free to participate even if you've only read half.
14:08 Asterix Flavius: Interesting that no comments have been made yet on Book 18, the shield of Achilles.  To me, it has the feel of a later, more consciously literary, emendation.  What do the rest think?
14:09 Torrey Philemon: What do you mean by emendation, Asterix?
14:09 Shaquilat Sergius: Would like to know more about meaning of symbolism on shield
14:10 flavius Horatius enters...
14:10 Asterix Flavius: Possibly not part of original, maybe not even by original author, although it seems similar in tone.  Any Greek scholars notice any differences in the language?
14:11 Torrey Philemon: I read in some commentary that the images on the shield are mostly peaceful domestic scenes...which convey a contrast to the life of war...
14:12 Torrey Philemon: Anyone have the passage about the images on the shield handy? I don't remember the details.
14:12 Asterix Flavius: Images are both of peace and of war.  Possibly showing that both are necessary to keep a society in balance?
14:12 Shaquilat Sergius: still unclear why this contrast war-peace was placed on Achilles' shield by Hephestis
14:12 flavius Horatius: Perhaps the perception that the shield of Achilles does appear to be a trifle out of place, as though it were an interpolation from another source, because it was a favored selection which had more care and attention placed on it by Homer.  And also it might also be a case where later imitations and tributes to this passage have colored our interpretation: for example...
14:13 Asterix Flavius exits...
14:13 Torrey Philemon: Can anyone say which book it's in so we can find it?
14:13 flavius Horatius: the armor descriptions by Vergil in the Aeneid.
14:14 Shaquilat Sergius: Book 18, beginning line 565 or thereabouts
14:14 Aurora Inca: Achilles had the choice of dying fighting at Troy or living out a long, peaceful, life at home. Perhaps the symbols of peaceful domesticity on the shield as a symbol of war represent the two contrasting potential fates.
14:15 Torrey Philemon: Good point, Aurora.
14:15 Shaquilat Sergius: Achilles Choice! That sounds plausable, Aurora!
14:16 Torrey Philemon: The Trojans were close to their families...but the Greeks away from their families for years...and perhaps more disconnected from their domestic lives.
14:17 flavius Horatius: The beginning of the shield description is Book XVIII, line 474-616
14:18 Torrey Philemon: Interesting. On the shield  (lombardo) : And a quarrel arising between two men...One claiming the right to make restitution, The other refusing to accept any terms (sounds like Achilles with Agamemnon)
14:19 Aurora Inca: Sure does.
14:19 Shaquilat Sergius: Yes
14:20 Torrey Philemon: Do we know what images were on Achilles' original shield, the one Patroclus wore?
14:20 Aurora Inca: What else is on it?
14:20 flavius Horatius: In many ways, the depictions on the shield are visualizations, parallels as it were, to the various similes that Homer has used throughout the Iliad.
14:22 flavius Horatius: The loss of his original armor does provide a splendid opportunity for embellishment and description.  And I can not help but wonder if rhetors did not instruct their pupils to develop expository prose or even poetry to describe the original shield of Achilles, since they often did mine the works of Homer for such rhetorical conceits.
14:22 Torrey Philemon: Many rural scenes...vineyards, dances (Wonder how it all fit! Sounds like the shield was six feet high <grin>
14:23 Ricardex Cornelius enters...
14:24 Aurora Inca: The reason I ask, is that I wonder if the shield is a condensation of Achilles' choices, conflicts, etc.
14:24 Torrey Philemon: For me, it sort of raises the question that Achilles asked, what is the purpose of this war anyway? Are the Greeks really fighting for their personal lives, as the Trojans are?
14:25 Torrey Philemon: Welcome Ricardex. I sort of took on the moderator role. Do you want to take over if needed?
14:25 flavius Horatius: The shield's artwork is particularly apropos for its bearer: the antithesis or juxtaposition of the contrasting elements: war versus peace, urban versus rural, nature versus man.
14:26 Ricardex Cornelius: No, I just dropped in to  see if you were all wel. With the folks  here, I am sure discussion will be very well handled without me.
14:27 Torrey Philemon: Ricardex, hope you're not having too bad a hangover <grin>
14:27 flavius Horatius: Torrey, I doubt that Achilles ever really asked whether the Greeks were fighting for their personal lives: for them it was more a question of acquiring a sense of honor (or time) as opposed to regaining the abducted Helen.  Their fealty to Menelaus had been extracted from them, some thought by trickery and they were duty bound and honor bound to fulfil their pledge.  What bothers Achilles is which pledge should take precedence.  Should he honor that he made with his mother, his concubine or his king?
14:28 Ricardex Cornelius: Well, I will leave you all to a great discussin of a grand work.  Duty calls in the real world. I will see transcipts.
14:29 Ricardex Cornelius exits...
14:30 Torrey Philemon: I like the way you phrased the question, Flavius...BTW, I think sometimes we misunderstand each other when we make our comments from different contexts. Some comments may be in regard to Achilles' point of view. Other comments are our own viewpoint, as observer, interpreting the situation as outsiders....
14:32 Petronilla Livius enters...
14:32 Torrey Philemon: I'm reading Schein's book on the Iliad now. He says that the word time which means honor is also translated as value. How do you all understand this Greek conception of honor?
14:34 Shaquilat Sergius: Possibly to win lasting renown through some deed of valor?
14:34 Torrey Philemon: Do feel free to jump into the fray, Petronilla, and introduce yourself...
14:35 Petronilla Livius: Just trying to see where everyone is in the discussion - and Hi to all!
14:36 Torrey Philemon: Is there a difference between personal honor and honor in the community? Achilles was dishonored personally by Agamemnon. But his honor in the community has to do with his deeds as warrior....
14:37 Torrey Philemon: BTW, I really don't want to dominate this discussion. Please feel free to change the subject or raise your own questions and issues....
14:39 Shaquilat Sergius: According to the Iliad it seems that both personal honor and duty to the community were important  to both the Greeks and the Trojans
14:41 flavius Horatius: Can it be a sense or personal honor, or time, when it so apparent that the gods have taken on the side of Achilles after the death of Patroclus.  It almost has to be a sense not of personal honor on the part of Achilles but a vengeful spite at the abuse of Patroclus by the Trojans: and is that not always the way with humans?  to gain their inspiration from the acts of somebody else instead of from within themselves?  and does this not suggest that Achilles had not realized the maturity that is shown by Odysseus?
14:42 Torrey Philemon: I agree, Flavius. It no longer seemed like an issue of personal honor after Achilles refused Agamemnon's offer. And after the death of Patroclus...his rage seemed to blind him to everything else.
14:44 Shaquilat Sergius: Well said you two! But then Achilles changes after he  meets Priam
14:45 flavius Horatius: The question that has always intrigued me is why did not the direct contingent of Achilles revolt from his juvenile attitude.  Why would they acquiesce to his pouting?  What hold did he have over his contingency that made them agree to sit out some critical days of the war?
14:46 Shaquilat Sergius: That has bothered me too.  Seems he's making them dishonorable by non-participation
14:47 flavius Horatius: Yes, Shaquilat, Achilles does finally show some maturity after his meeting with Priam as he may finally have had a glimpse at his own mortality, his own potential fate as well as a rare glimpse of what effect that a father can have on his son when he does care.  For me that is what always makes the story of Neoptolemus in other parts of the epic cycle so sad.
14:47 Torrey Philemon: Flavius, this issue bothered me too. In a previous chat, someone mentioned that the loyalty was to one's leader, not the cause. They're bound to follow him...But I'd imagine that some of the would feel like staging a mutiny!
14:49 Petronilla Livius: Why do any warriors follow a leader?  Especially is he is foolish. History has many examples of men following leaders who do not show wisdom
14:49 flavius Horatius: In other words, the son often does not learn from the example of his own father and the youth are condemned to repeat the errors of their own sires and sometimes even continue to devolve rather than evolve: it makes you wonder about the prevalent pessimism that is seen in both Hesiod and Homer with their wistful glances always to the past Golden Age, the Age of Cronus instead of their own times which they often deride as being inferior to those of the past.
14:51 Torrey Philemon: About Achilles with Priam: The poignancy of their connection was a bit ruined for me when it ended with Achilles expressing anger at Priam: Don't provoke me, old man. It's my own decision to release Hector to you...And I know you, Priam, inside out. You don't fool me one bit....The old man was afraid and did as he was told (Lombardo)
14:52 flavius Horatius: The question of loyalty to a leader is indeed a relevant one and that is what lurks behind the affronts to Achilles' honor when Menelaus (TRANSCRIBER's NOTE: read Agamemnon here)  usurps the chosen concubine of Achilles: it is to demonstrate palpably who the true leader is, not only of the Achilles' contingent, but of all of the Hellenes, whether Danaans, Argives...
14:53 Belay Fabius enters...
14:53 Torrey Philemon: Welcome, Belay. Feel free to join in...
14:54 Belay Fabius: Thanks Torrey, I am just reading the script to see where everyone is ...
14:57 Torrey Philemon: Some leaders seem to be leaders in regard to wisdom, others in regard to war. Odysseus perhaps is both.
15:00 Shaquilat Sergius: Torrey, pondering Achilles belligerant remark to Priam. Perhaps it was his pride. He's  embarrassed at appearing "soft." Sorry for the delay. Somewhat distracted here.
15:02 Torrey Philemon: Doesn't it weaken the effect of Achilles' becoming more human and connected with Priam, that it ends with his anger again? He really can't allow himself to soften....I guess that's not heroic, but then again Hector seems to be able to be both...
15:03 Torrey Philemon: Please everyone, feel free to jump in with your comments, questions, concerns...
15:08 Torrey Philemon: I've written down a few questions to catalyze discussion. Here's one -- As a reader, did you favor the Greeks or Trojans, and why? Did you have more sympathy for one side rather than the other?
15:08 Shaquilat Sergius: Perhaps he is not fully human. He needs to assert his godlike power/anger (whathave you) one more time. Hecter, the family man, defender of his city is in contrast to Achilles
15:09 Petronilla Livius: I'm curious -  can you read the Illiad without being aware of all the other stories associated with it - what happens after, etc.  Knowing that Priam and most of his family dies.  I have trouble reading about Agammemnon and not remembering how he died. 
15:09 Shaquilat Sergius: Sympathy for the Trojans.  To me they stood for civilizaton, reason
15:09 Jaromi Cornelius enters...
15:10 Aurora Inca: Petronilla - I don't think you can and have it make sense. Certainly the original audience knew all the stories.
15:10 Shaquilat Sergius: Yes, Petronella, I had the same feelings.
15:12 Torrey Philemon: Jaromi, feel free to participate and express your questions and opinions about the Iliad...
15:14 Shaquilat Sergius enters...
15:14 Petronilla Livius enters...
15:16 Torrey Philemon: How would you all like to continue? I can keep asking questions and see which ones spark interest, but you are free to initiate your own...
15:18 Petronilla Livius: I am having server problems.  It makes it a bit distracting
15:18 Shaquilat Sergius: Me too!
15:18 Torrey Philemon: It appears that some of you keep losing connections and re-entering...
15:20 Aurora Inca: I enjoy the inter- and intrapersonal things that go on during the Iliad, but I was wondering if anyone else gets bored with the battle stuff?
15:20 Torrey Philemon: Here's another question: Do the concerns and loyalties of the gods seem somewhat foolish and trivial, given that for the Greeks and Trojans, the stakes of the war are higher? 
15:23 Aurora Inca: Well, the gods are on a completely different level than the humans. I think the story shows how different the priorities are between the two groups.
15:23 Shaquilat Sergius: The gods and goddesses had a personal stake in the outcome too. Either revenge or the fact that their children were participating. The gods' participation was trivial from the standpoint that they were not risking death as their human protegés were.
15:24 Torrey Philemon: Aurora, I get bored with the battle stuff too. Keep wondering if men enjoy it and women are impatient with it.
15:25 Shaquilat Sergius: I did not enjoy the graphic descriptions in the battle scenes. However the contrast with these early scenes served to emphasize the poignance of the final book.
15:26 Shaquilat Sergius: As an afterthought, the Iliad almost seemed like an anti-war epic.  At least it did to me.
15:27 Torrey Philemon: Say more about how it seems like an anti-war epic, Shaquilat...
15:28 Shaquilat Sergius: The graphic violence, the fact that a fine civilization  was destroyed, families were broken up, husbands, fathers, sons, brothers killed -- for what?
15:29 Torrey Philemon: So as a result of reading the Iliad, we the readers are compelled to question whether war is worth it....
15:30 Shaquilat Sergius: I think that  futility of was is one of the issues 
15:31 Petronilla Livius: That's a good point Shaquilat - I felt that when I read it, but hadn't put it into words
15:31 Torrey Philemon: I'm reading Schein's The Mortal Hero now. He refers to Simone Weil's essay THE ILIAD OR THE POEM OF FORCE in which Weil views the Iliad as anti-war, and relates it to the behavior of the Nazis...Haven't read Weil's essay though.
15:32 Shaquilat Sergius: Is Weil French? Could "Force" mean "strength, power"?
15:32 Aurora Inca: But, was it written as anti-war, or is it just that we perceive it as that now, being in a different culture?
15:33 Torrey Philemon: I think Simone Weil is French...don't know the original words of the title...
15:33 Shaquilat Sergius: Aurora, It could be that there are cultural differences here between us and Ancient Greeks. Something to consider.
15:34 Torrey Philemon: Good point, Aurora. It's hard to know if Homer was making an indirect commentary on the futility of war, or if that's just our reaction reading it, centuries later.
15:34 Shaquilat Sergius: Torrey, book sounds like one to read. Thanks for letting us know about it.
15:34 Belay Fabius: Torrey I have a read a short extract of weil with the focus on Force as the ultimate goal. 
15:35 Torrey Philemon: But remember also that Achilles, when he refused Agamemnon's offer, questioned the value and purpose of the war...
15:35 Torrey Philemon enters...
15:35 Torrey Philemon: Say more about Weil's interpretation, Belay.
15:35 Belay Fabius: Although her pen is most delicious the application to Iliad is a bit far fetched. Of course weil has gone thru the horrors of the Nazi time
15:35 Shaquilat Sergius: Good point, Torrey!
15:37 Shaquilat Sergius: Belay, so Weil is equating Force with the Nazi Superman concept?
15:37 Torrey Philemon: Just looking up footnote: Simon Weil, The Iliad or the Poem of Force, translated my m McCarthy, Pendle Hill Pamphlets, no. 91, Wallingford, Pa. 1957.
15:40 Torrey Philemon: Correction: Simone Weil. M. McCarthy.
15:45 Aurora Inca: Excuse me, I have to leave now.
15:45 Aurora Inca exits...
15:46 Torrey Philemon: Doesn't it seem to you all that heroes, in being heroes, are wreaking such destruction that they're destroying the very social solidarity that they're supposedly honoring? That in the end, living by Greek heroic values can only mean the death of community....? (referring to the Iliad as an anti-war book) 
15:48 Shaquilat Sergius: Yes, I agree. 
15:48 Torrey Philemon: Homer's interpretation can only be filtered through his own eyes and social context. I wonder what was going on in Greece around the time he wrote it...Anyone know when Homer supposedly lived and if there was some anti-war sentiment then?
15:50 Shaquilat Sergius: I would like to stay and hear the answer to this but must leave. It has been an interesting discussion.
15:50 Shaquilat Sergius exits...
15:51 Torrey Philemon: Thanks for participating. Who else is here, and is there anything you want to bring up in our last 10 minutes?
15:56 Torrey Philemon: Whoever remains...please do make a closing comment (am wondering if I'm alone in the room and am talking to myself <grin>)
15:57 Morgana Flavius enters...
15:58 Belay Fabius: You make the final statement Torrey and close it. Almost everyone is gone
15:58 Morgana Flavius: Salve!
15:58 Morgana Flavius: Oh... I guess I'm late... never mind. I'll read the transcripts! *g*
16:00 Torrey Philemon: Well, thank you all for being here...whether as participators or lurkers....I'll post the transcript later tonight....but you should be able to access it here as well.

Also available: First Iliad Chat transcript    Second Iliad Chat Transcript
Greek terminology in the Iliad        Greek language links
This transcript was reformatted and posted by Torrey Philemon.
Go to Trojan War Transcripts Index