Homer and the Greek Epics:
1) Read Murnaghan's introduction for general background:
What were the contributions of
Schliemann†††††† †† ††††††††††† ...††††††††††† Parry†††† ....†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Munro.
We approach this material from the peculiar parallel of the Gilgamesh epic:
the Greek tradition of the Trojan War and its aftermath took shape, like the older story,
through an oral tradition spanning some 500 years after the events; and the conception
of the epic cycle seems connected with the downfall of the culture that inspired the story.†
They are both traditions preoccupied with loss and 'undying fame'.
Bearing in mind that perspective, be alert to
(a) signs of the transition from oral to literate formulation;
(b) focus on the elements of the story that relate to the loss of the beloved companion
or the end of a way of life.
2) Iliad 16: We join the story near the end (but still a year before the Fall of Troy).
Achilles has withdrawn from the fighting to protest the arrogant behavior of Agamemnon,
especially the appropriation of his 'war-bride' Briseis. Without his help, the Greeks are driven back
to their ships and Ajax struggles to hold back Hector from setting fire to the fleet.†
Many comrades have died at Hector's hand.
And now Patroclus, the beloved companion, has come to plead with Achilles:
What is Patroclus' request? What is Achilles' reply?†
And what is Achilles' Prayer? How is it answered?
3) Iliad 18:† What is Achilles' request of his goddess mother Thetis?
Interpret the images represented on 'Achilles' Shield.'
Iliad 19: How is Achilles 'reconciled' with Agamemnon?
From the excerpt omitted, Agamemnonís disclaimer (Samuel Butlerís transl.):
ďI was blind, and Jove robbed me of my reason; I will now make atonement, and will add much treasure by way of amends.
Go, therefore, into battle, you and your people with you. I will give you all that Ulysses offered you yesterday in your tents:
or if it so please you, wait, though you would fain fight at once, and my squires shall bring the gifts from my ship,
that you may see whether what I give you is enough."
And Achilles answered, "Son of Atreus, king of men Agamemnon, you can give such gifts as you think proper,
Iliad 20: What role will the gods play in the final struggle (who on which side)?
4) Iliad† 22: Follow the struggle of Hector.
Note the roles of Priam (his father) and Andromache (his wife)
Iliad 23: Funeral for Patroclus. Note key elements of ritual and belief in the afterlife.
Iliad 24: How does Priam reclaim the body of Hector?