Populism is today seen both as a pejorative and positive noun. In fact, in the present age, there are two sorts of populism. Both strains originated in classical times and persisted in the West until today.
If you take a pretty girl who is the daughter of a priest of Apollo as war booty and refuse to have her ransomed, Apollo will rain plague on your troops. If an arrow or a spear were thrown at you in battle, more often than not, it would land on your nipple or thereabout. Or alternatively, it would pierce your helmet and splatter your brain.
Real men eat red meat, specifically: The most valuable booty are in no particular order: Lesbians are particularly prized.
There is nothing more glorious for a warrior than to sack enemy cities, plunder their wealth, kill all their men, bed their pretty women and enslave their children. The only men who matter are warriors, but if you are a woman, the range of roles that you could play is rather more diverse.
All the major conflicts in the story are triggered by women, or specifically by their sexuality: Zeus is not above being manipulated by Hera, and Ares the God of War actually got whacked on the head by Athena. What I find most surprising about the Iliad is the amount of graphic, X-rated violence that it contains.
The violence is not the biblical slaying and smiting, but something much more voyeuristically gory: But the big spear's point still stuck in the eye socket The Iliad is assumed to be the written version of a much older oral poem, and such characters might represent collective memories of real Bronze Age warriors, but by Zeus, hundreds of pages of them being hacked, cleaved and skewered to death almost did me in.
Now, what is the purpose of such meticulously catalogued carnage? Was Homer trying to present War with all its attendant horrors to shock his audience into pacifism?
Or was the old guy just trying to write an 8th century BCE equivalent of a blockbuster action-adventure movie with enough gore to satisfy his young male demographic? The Iliad both celebrates and laments the warrior spirit: The Greek gods are blissfully free of any human notion of morality which makes the problem of theodicy much more simpler to solve than in the Judeo-Christian model.
The Olympian gods do not move in mysterious ways: Well, it happened that just before the battle was about to begin, Hera seduced him and subsequently put him to sleep with the help of Hypnos, whom she bribed with one of the Graces. A perfectly logical and very human explanation.
The story gets much more interesting in the last five books. This was a time when war was as elemental as they come:Elizabethan Revenge in Hamlet, Free Study Guides and book notes including comprehensive chapter analysis, complete summary analysis, author biography information, character profiles, theme analysis, metaphor analysis, and top ten quotes on classic literature.
Peter Leithart holds degrees in English, history, religion, and theology, including a doctorate in theology from Cambridge University. He is a Senior Fellow at New Saint Andrews College and is the pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho.
Achilles As Hero Despite the grand scope of Homer’s epics--which present warfare, heroism, adventure and divinity as forces that shape human destiny—The Iliad may be seen as an account of the circumstances that irrevocably alter the life of one man: Achilles, greatest of warriors.
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