Iliad and Odyssey

Iliad, Blog 3, Visiting the Enemy Camp, Greeks vs Indians

So, the Iliad begins with an enemy camp meeting that went badly, but ends with an enemy camp meeting that went well, reconciling Achilles both to Priam and the death of his best friend Patroclus.  But in the middle there is an aborted enemy camp meeting that should have taken place but never did, sealing forever the fate of doomed Troy.

These warrior stories are captivating because they are stories about breaking conventions, when conventions are broken to increase virtue, fate unfolds favorably, but then conventions are broken and virtue decreases, fate takes a tragic turn.

Even in our modern culture we never totally escape the warrior ethos.  That is why the Iliad is timeless.  Men are not allowed to have problems, especially at work.  When men look weak, they are toast.  None of us want to walk and talk like Bernard Goetz on a New York subway; we don’t want to walk like a wimp, we don’t want to be thug bait, we strive to never show fear, and if we succeed we can conclude that the big city is really a safe place as we arrive home safe once more.  We would rather be dirty Harry; me, Smith, and Wesson. […]

Iliad and Odyssey

Iliad Blog 2, Captured Concubines in the Iliad and the Torah

Before attacking Troy, the Greeks first attacked and sacked the cities of their allies surrounding Troy, and carried off many of their young maidens as newfound concubines, King Agamemnon won the young girl Chryseis, while King Achilles won the beauty Briseis. This sound to our ears so brutal, that these men would without a twinge of conscience kidnap young girls in the heat of battle, but yet when we let the poetry of the Iliad sink in we realize that Achilles does truly love Briseis, and when she is taken away he loses his heart for battle. Likewise, Agamemnon professes fondness for Chryseis, with as much fondness as the Iliad permits him, more fondness then for his wife, especially since his wife is home in Greece many fathoms and many years away. […]

Iliad and Odyssey

Iliad, Blog 1, Why Should a Christian Read the Iliad?

Why should a Christian ponder the Iliad by Homer, the ancient saga of the Trojan War where Grecian and Trojan warriors fight with swords and arrows and shields, where the pagan gods of Mount Olympus support and fight with one side in the war, then the other? For three reasons, the first reason is the Iliad is a truly remarkable poem to experience. The second reason is the ancient world is not our modern world, the ancient world was a far more brutal world, the ancient world described in the Iliad is the same world described in the Old Testament, and to a certain extent the New Testament also. The third reason is every ancient state was a warrior state, and the Greek city-states were the most successful warrior states of their era. […]