The Iliad Hate Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Richmond Lattimore's translation.
Zeus sent down
in speed to the fast ships of the Achaians the wearisome goddess
of Hate, holding in her hands the portent of battle.
She took her place on the huge-hollowed black ship of Odysseus
which lay in the middle, so that she could cry out to both flanks […].
There the goddess took her place, and cried out a great cry
and terrible and loud, and put strength in all the Achaians'
hearts, to go on tirelessly with their fighting of battles.
And now battle became sweeter to them than to go back
in their hollow ships to the beloved land of their fathers. (11.2-6, 10-14)
For starters, you might be interested to know that this goddess of Hate—her name in Greek is Eris—is the same goddess who crashed the marriage of Peleus and Thetis in the Backstory's Backstory. (If you don't know what we're talking about, check out our discussion of the deep, deep causes of the Trojan War in the summary of Book 2.)
Even more shocking than the appearance of Hate, however, is her effect, which can be seen in the last two lines of this passage. Compare these lines with Achilleus's words from Book 18 (quoted below) which also suggest that "hate" can be sweet to those in its grip.
Now, since I am not going back to the beloved land of my fathers,
since I was no light of safety to Patroklos, nor to my other
companions, who in their numbers went down before glorious Hektor,
but sit here beside my ships, a useless weight on the good land, […]
why, I wish that strife would vanish away from among gods and mortals,
and gall, which makes a man grow angry for all his great mind,
that gall of anger that swarms like smoke inside of a man's heart
and becomes a thing sweeter to him by far than the dripping of honey. (18.101-104, 107-110)
Like so many passages in the Iliad, this one looks simple on the surface, but can provide more than enough food for thought. First of all, we think it is worth considering that part of Achilleus's hate is directed towards himself, as these lines show. (Also remember that, earlier in this book, at lines 33-34, Antilochos had to hold Achilleus's hands to make sure he didn't kill himself.)
Second, what do you think about his closing words, which suggest that there is something about anger or hate that makes it taste sweet to those who experience it?
Poor fool, no longer speak to me of ransom, nor argue it.
In the time before Patroklos came to the day of his destiny
then it was the way of my heart's choice to be sparing
of the Trojans, and many I took alive and disposed of them.
Now there is not one who can escape death, if the gods send
him against my hands in front of Ilion, not one
of all the Trojans and beyond others the children of Priam. (21.99-105)
For a fuller version of this quote, look at our discussion of it under the theme of "Compassion and Forgiveness." Right now, though, it stands as a pretty clear statement of how Achilleus has a turned a page. Instead of hating his friends and praying for the Trojans to beat them, now he is completely consumed with hatred for the Trojans.