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Quotes

Quote #7

(Achilleus:)
'No more entreating of me, you dog, by knees or parents.
I wish only that my spirit and fury would drive me
to hack your meat away and eat it raw for the things that
you have done to me. So there is no one who can hold the dogs off
from your head, not if they bring here and set before me ten times
and twenty times the ransom, and promise more in addition,
not if Priam son of Dardanos should offer to weigh out
your bulk in gold; not even so shall the lady your mother
who herself bore you lay you on the death-bed and mourn you:
no, but the dogs and the birds will have you all for their feasting.' (22.345-354)

This is probably the most extreme expression of hatred in the entire Iliad. (The only other lines that come close – and possibly equal these, are those of Hektor's mother, in Book 24, lines 212-214.) How do these lines contribute to our understanding of Achilleus's character?

Quote #8

And the other sons of the Achaians came running about him,
and gazed upon the stature and on the imposing beauty
of Hektor; and none stood beside him who did not stab him;
and thus they would speak one to another, each looking at his neighbour:
'See now, Hektor is much softer to handle than he was
when he set the ships ablaze with the burning firebrand.'
So as they stood beside him they would speak, and stab him. (22.369-375)

This outrage committed by the Achaians begs comparison with the actions of Achilleus that follow, when he disgraces Hektor's body in various gruesome ways. Do you think that the fact that the Achaians do this makes it OK (because it suddenly seems normal) for Achilleus to do what he did? Or do you think that Homer means us to blame Achilleus and the Achaians?

Quote #9

(Hekabe:)
'I wish I could set teeth
in the middle of his liver and eat it. That would be vengeance
for what he did to my son.' (24.212-214)

This quotation, which we also talk about under the theme of "Compassion and Forgiveness," is an expression of a mother's hatred for the man who killed her son. Of course, it most immediately recalls Achilleus's similar lines from Book 22 (see above). Do you think one character's reaction is more understandable than the other, or are they both equally horrifying?

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