Friday, August 19, 2011

Iliad, end of book 22

Hector's duel with Achilles happens at the end of Book 22.  Hector's sudden realization that he's alone outside the walls is particularly dramatic, I thought.  Priam's mourning speech is also very dramatic.  Part of that is the flexibility of the Greek sentence; Homer has enjambed many of the lines in Priam's speech, putting words like Hector and Peleus in the front of the line.

It's notable that when Andromache, Hector's wife, sees his dead body, night covers her eyes -- this is the same wording as when warriors die in battle.  The parallel is further driven home by her soul leaving her body.  Of course, this is poetic language to say that she fainted, but I think it also marks a link between herself and Hector.  Her lament at the very end of the book is very moving.  People often talk about how brutal the Iliad is, but passages like this show its more tender side, and show Homer to be an incredibly versatile poet.

On to book 23...

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