The Iliad Competition Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Richmond Lattimore's translation.
By skill charioteer outpasses charioteer. He
who has put all his confidence in his horses and chariot
and recklessly makes a turn that is loose one way or another
finds his horses drifting out of the course and does not control them.
But the man, though he drive the slower horses, who takes his advantage,
keeps his eye always on the post and turns tight, ever watchful,
pulled with the ox-hide reins on the course, as in the beginning,
and holds his horses steady in hand, and watches the leader. (23.318-325)
Here Nestor is playing the role of coach to his son, Antilochos. Do you think he is giving good advice? Would his advice hold true for every situation in the Iliad, even outside of athletic competition?
Aias, surpassing in abuse, yet stupid, in all else
you are worst of the Argives with that stubborn mind of yours. Come then,
let us put up a wager of a tripod or cauldron
and make Agamemnon, son of Atreus, witness between us
as to which horses lead. And when you pay, you will find out. (23.483-487)
What is it about sports that can make the spectators as engaged (if not more) than the competitors? Does this challenge to a bet seem similar to or different from other scenes of rivalry in the Iliad?
If both of them had had to run the course any further,
Menelaos would have passed him, and there could have been no argument
But Meriones, strong henchman of Idomeneus, was left
a spearcast's length behind by glorious Menelaos. (23.526-529)
If there's one major difference between warfare and athletics (okay, so there are many differences), it's that in athletics there are rules. Just because you're the fastest doesn't mean you win, so long as you can't do it within the duration of the game.
Can you think of any moments during the Iliad's battle scenes where characters act as if there are rules in war? Here's a hint: sometimes this is clearest when somebody thinks the rules of war have been broken.