Iliad

1.The Iliad’s characters’ Achilles and Hector provide a lot of material to compare and contrast in the context of their relationships with their communities of origin. Achilles being made of part supernatural being and part human immediately puts him in a place of reverence for his fellow Achaeans. That reverence isn’t necessarily due to his virtue or values or social worth but much more because of his physical ability and protective capabilities. His nobility stems from something he didn’t create, instead he was created as this great and strong thing which creates respect in terms of his people but the sort of respect that comes from fear rather than love. Hector was also born into his nobility but then also embodies his place among his people in a virtuous way. His love for fellow Trojans and theirs for him by contrast comes more from love than fear. I think this dynamic plays out in the character’s battles and the storyline, especially in regards to Achilles barbaric behavior following Hector’s death being just that, barbaric and without virtue.

2.The excerpt by Tim O’Brien in this week’s reading speaks of a sort of white out of all known truth and reality during wartime, a situation in which battle and bloodshed cease to be seen as atrocious and instead must be seen in this way that lives outside of whatever societal context the warrior is coming from. The reading also speaks of a waking up to these things later, after battle, and remembering incidences as what they might be within one’s societal context after they have occurred. Achilles is begged by the mourning father of Hector to have a chance to do for Hector what the Trojans would rightly do in terms of burial and respect for the dead. This is what allows Achilles to come back into the world, back into reality and back into balance after his episode of blind and barbaric absurdity. This is significant because I think it represents that awakening that O’Brien writes about in the excerpt from The Things They Carried. Since, in battle, there is this disconnection from what is real and true or maybe that truth and reality do not even exist in battle, at some point humanity must be restored. Recovery and civility must return, and I think that’s what this part of the story may represent.

3.I truly think that these two codes are both mutually exclusive and also cannot be. I think that’s why war is a horrible, awful thing. Think of every scene from the last 12 or 13 years of soldiers leaving and of their return, leaving and returning to wives and parents and children and pets. They must go, the warrior code suggests that one must go into battle to defend his or her society’s way of life and right to peruse their own happiness while at the same time risking their own chance of participating in it. Hector knows this and feels that tug and does the only thing that is honorable in terms of where and when he lived. The same is true for countless soldiers we have all known or known of in our time. Going into battle and honoring the warrior code also serves to honor the familial code in terms of being able to provide income and health insurance and housing and in terms of protecting that very family. Honoring the familial code may also mean honoring the warrior code by the same logic in that protecting one’s society and family or country is serving the family. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive, I think they are almost unbearably overlapping which is a really sad thing about Hector’s story.

2 thoughts on “Iliad

  1. gpetrie

    I agree with your thoughts about the warrior and familial codes. I find what you said about Achilles’ barbaric nature and how it plays out through the story, even in the very end. I also agree that Hector’s motives were much more driven by love than Achilles’.

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  2. sehoyos

    I like your perspective on the familial and warrior code. You have to strive to be the best in order to protect your family. Originally when I looked at the warrior code, I perceived it as warriors who went out and fought for glory, going for the victory in battle to be renowned, having their names live forever as legends even if they died in battle. But you’re right in that honor can just mean doing the honorable thing and protecting your family. And in order to be victorious, you need to be the one coming out on top, so you’ll be going back home to your loved ones, which is synonymous with the familial code.

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