In his poem, Works and Days, Hesiod writes a letter addressed to his brother, Perses, encouraging him to embrace the practical attitude and let Discord spur him to plow his fields and yield abundant crops. His purpose is to encourage strong values in Perses, ones that combat the impetus for laziness. However, he tells Perses … Continue reading Two Myths in Hesiod’s Works and Days
In both the Iliad and the Odyssey we encounter vengeance exacted by the protagonists. In the Iliad, a poem explicitly about the "rage" or "wrath" of Achilles, we discover the rage that follows from the sorrow for the death of a loved one. In Books XV and XVI, the beloved companion, Patroclus, is killed by Hector … Continue reading The Idea of Revenge in the Iliad and the Odyssey
In Book XVIII of the Iliad, Achilles is distraught. Patroclus has been killed by Hector, and the armor of Achilles has been stripped and stolen by Hector. Thetis, Achilles's goddess mother, travels to the house of Hephaestus to convince him to build a new shield for Achilles so he can return to the battle and … Continue reading Book XVIII of the Iliad: Examining the Shield of Achilles
In Homer's Odyssey, we encounter two different examples of poets, one hailing from the halls of Ithaca, and the other from the land of the Phaeacians. We hear neither one speak -Phemius is silent until the closing books of the text when he pleads for his life. As with all things inherited from the ancients, we … Continue reading Phemius and Demodocus: Two Bards Considered
It has been argued that Homer represents a significant turning point for philosophy, especially toward politics and nature. Odysseus, the man most closely resembling the Socrates of ancient Achaea, is identified as a well traveled man knowing many cities and many men's minds. He is fascinated by these minds of the men that he encounters. … Continue reading Nature and Order in Homer
In the Telemachia, the first four books of the Odyssey, we encounter a strange kinship between the speeches and actions of Telemachus and the warrior Achilles. Both are passionate and wrathful, for different reasons, yet as the character of Telemachus begins to emerge in this prelude to the story of Odysseus's homecoming, so does his … Continue reading Notes on the Odyssey Books I-IV: The Telemachia
The rage, or menin sometimes translated as "wrath", of Achilles is the opening word of the Iliad and bears crucial significance with respect to the remaining content of the epic. This opening word stands in contrast to the first line of the Odyssey, a text about a man, whose opening word is andra, meaning "man." If we take … Continue reading What is the Rage of Achilles?
The rising tide of scientific investigation, everywhere pervading our age, begs us to, once more, pose the question of the authenticity of Homer. This question comes about as a need to discover the sole source for the production of the Homeric works, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Could they have been the creation of one man? Or are … Continue reading On the Homeric Question
Book Two of the Iliad is the most politically revealing passage found in Homeric literature. Recall our heroes, the disparate Achaean princes feuding with one another. Despite being united under the arrogant leadership of Agamemnon, who is regularly deemed "the shepherd of the people," the Achaeans are squabbling over property. The Achaeans have banded together to … Continue reading Political Philosophy in the Iliad
In the most pivotal moment of the Torah, Moses is called "up" the mountain of Sinai to retrieve the law for the Israelites (Exodus 19-20). The Mosaic law is too important for the Lord to come "down" the mountain, and communicate it to the people. Instead, the Lord ensures that there is a shroud of secrecy … Continue reading What Is Mosaic Law?