The Iliad Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Richmond Lattimore's translation.
But the horses of Aiakides standing apart from the battle
wept, as they had done since they heard how their charioteer
had fallen in the dust at the hands of murderous Hektor. […]
They were unwilling to go back to the wide passage of Helle
and the ships, or back into the fighting after the Achaians,
but still as stands a grave monument which is set over
the mounded tomb of a dead man or lady, they stood there
holding motionless in its place the fair-wrought chariot,
leaning their heads along the ground, and warm tears were running
earthward from underneath the lids of the mourning horses
who longed for their charioteer, while their bright manes were made dirty
as they streamed down either side of the yoke from under the yoke pad. (17.427-428, 432-440)
This book has everything, doesn't it? So this moment could be interpreted as a bit over-the-top, but we think it's still pretty awesome. What, if anything, does the Iliad's depiction of love gain from this image of the human-animal bond?
So the old man spoke, and in his hands seizing the grey hairs
tore them from his head, but could not move the spirit in Hektor.
And side by side with him his mother in tears was mourning
and laid the fold of her bosom bare and with one hand held out
a breast, and wept her tears for him and called to him in winged words:
"Hektor, my child, look upon these and obey, and take pity
on me, if ever I gave you the breast to quiet your sorrow.
Remember all these things, dear child, and from inside the wall
beat off this grim man. Do not go out as champion against him […]." (22.77-85)
These dramatic gestures of parental love tap into one of the Iliad's most important themes. Remember: the very first scene of the book shows the priest Chryses coming to ask for his daughter back; then, the climax of the main narrative shows Priam receiving back the body of Hektor. One thing that makes this scene different from those two is that here the parents are asking their child to do something. How does this cast the parent-child relationship in a different light?
"Make haste, wicked children, my disgraces. I wish all of you
had been killed beside the running ships in the place of Hektor.
Ah me, for my evil destiny. I have had the noblest
of sons in Troy, but I say not one of them is left to me,
Mestor like a god and Troilos whose delight was in horses,
and Hektor, who was a god among men, for he did not seem like
one who was child of a mortal man, but of a god. All these
Ares has killed, and all that are left me are the disgraces,
the liars and the dancers, champions of the chorus, the plunderers
of their own people in their land of lambs and kids." (24.253-262)
This sounds like an insult toward his other children (okay, so it is), but doesn't it also express the depth of Priam's love for his son, Hektor? This is the only mention of Priam's sons Mestor and Troilos, who apparently died before the book begins. What do you make of this fact?