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The Iliad Warfare Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Richmond Lattimore's translation.

Quote #7

He who among you
finds by spear thrown or spear thrust his death and destiny,
let him die. He has no dishonour when he dies defending
his country, for then his wife shall be saved and his children afterwards,
and his house and property shall not be damaged, if the Achaians
must go away with their ships to the beloved land of their fathers. (15.486-488, 494-499)

In these words, Hektor reminds the Trojans of everything at stake in their battle against the Achaians. From what we know of the fall of Troy from other literary works, such as the Odyssey and the Aeneid – not to mention the predictions of Andromache, quoted at the end of this section – Hektor's fears sound more than justified.

Quote #8

Friends and fighting men of the Danaans, henchmen of Ares,
be men now, dear friends, remember your furious valour.
Do we think there are others who stand behind us to help us?
Have we some stronger wall that can rescue men from perdition?
We have no city built strong with towers lying near us, within which
we could defend ourselves and hold off this host that matches us.
We hold position in this plain of the close-armoured Trojans,
bent back against the sea, and far from the land of our fathers.
Salvation's light is in our hands' work, not the mercy of battle. (15.733-741)

Aias's words show a terrifying moment: the moment when you realize there is no way out except the way you make yourself. Have you ever been in such a situation? (It could be studying for a test, training for a sporting event, acting in a play, etc.)

Did the knowledge that you had no choice make it easier or harder for you to act? Can you connect this experience with other moments in the Iliad when characters act under the influence of necessity (for example, under the influence of fate)?

Quote #9

On it he wrought in all their beauty two cities of mortal
men. And there were marriages in one, and festivals. […]
But around the other city were lying two forces of armed men
shining in their war gear. (18.490-491, 509-510)

The designs Hephaistos puts on Achilleus's shield have been interpreted as a complete picture of the natural and human worlds as Homer's society understood them. Why do you think the god would include these two cities in that picture? Do you think the Iliad views war as an inevitable part of human life, or can it be avoided?

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