Warfare Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
Meriones in turn killed Phereklos, son of Harmonides,
the smith, who understood how to make with his hand all intricate
things, since above all others Pallas Athene had loved him.
He it was who had built for Alexandros the balanced
ships, the beginning of the evil, fatal to the other
Trojans, and to him, since he knew nothing of the gods' plans. (5.59-64)
Tall Hektor of the glancing helm answered him: 'Aias,
son of Telamon, seed of Zeus, o lord of the people,
do not be testing me as if I were some ineffectual
boy, or a woman, who knows nothing of the works of warfare.
I know well myself how to fight and kill men in battle;
I know how to turn to the right, how to turn to the left the ox-hide
tanned into a shield which is my protection in battle;
I know how to storm my way into the struggle of flying horses;
I know how to tread my measures on the grim floor of the war god.' (7.233-241)
In Ancient Greek, the same word, ergon, is used to refer to "work" done in an everyday context and "deeds" done on the battlefield. Hektor's speech to Aias emphasizes this connection, treating warfare as a skill much like any other.
Now the sun of a new day struck on the ploughlands, rising
out of the quiet water and the deep stream of the ocean
to climb the sky. The Trojans assembled together. They found
it hard to recognize each individual dead man;
but with water they washed away the blood that was on them
and as they wept warm tears they lifted them on to the wagons.
But great Priam would not let them cry out; and in silence
they piled the bodies upon the pyre, with their hearts in sorrow,
and burned them upon the fire, and went back to sacred Ilion.
In the same way on the other side the strong-greaved Achaians
piled their own slain upon the pyre, with their hearts in sorrow,
and burned them upon the fire, and went-back to their hollow vessels. (7.421-432)
In this scene, the poet shows us the essential similarity between the Achaians and the Trojans, even though they are on opposing sides of a long war. Can you think of other moments in the Iliad that place such emphasis on shared humanity?