Writing Assignment – Week 3

Every lament has a progression that starts from a particular perspective, leading into invocations of the past and the future, and even the present,that are folded in, in specific ways. Within your working group, help craft a fully developed “language and formula of lamentation” for the Iliad, starting here in Book 6 with Andromache (lines 407-432), that you can envision applying to later books of the Iliad. Try to think about lamentation in the poetry as a ritual; what are the poetics of the lament? Be sure to take into consideration the videos from Hour Three (Achilles and the Poetics of Lament) in The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours in your answer.

NB: Initial posts should be 350-400 words; each reply should be around 100 words.

13 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 3”

  1. The speech Andromache makes about her father’s death and burial might happen at the end of the Iliad with another important character. From the introduction, we know it won’t happen to Hektor when Achilleus kills him, but it may happen to Patroklos when he dies. The ritual when Andromache’s father, Eetion, died showed that not only people but gods cared about him when they “planted elm trees about it” (6.420) and “burned the body in all its elaborate war gear” (6.418). This theme may happen again with Patroklos when he is killed by Hektor. We know Achilleus mourns and avenges his friends death, but maybe he also honors his friends life with a shrine just as brilliant.
    I also find Andeomache’s language strange even though she is grieving Hektor’s death before it happens. She keeps repeating people close to her like her father, her honored mother, and her brother, then compares Hektor to those people she loves (6.429-30). Yet she never once calls her son a reason to stay alive. He is only a reason for Hektor to stay alive, but she can “sink into the earth” (6.411) not at all considering she will put her son in the same position that she was: an orphan. All she says is for Hektor to have “pity on (his) little son” (6.408-9) yet it’s like she hasn’t left any for him herself. This is something that I hope will not be repeated throughout this story. If a theme for lament is only caring about the person that is about to die, I don’t feel like that is lament at all. There are other people in the picture that need to be considered. I hope that some pity and grief is saved for them and not all spent on the person that was killed in battle.

    • I agree because since Hector will die I also wonder what kind of mother that will later make Andeomache? The reason why I’m kind of hesitant to judge her is because not only does this story have numerous twists and turns. The fact that she lost those closest to her at the hand of one man must really put a level of fear in her that we can’t quite understand. It’s like knowing the “boogieman” exists from stories, then to have him show up in your room ready to scare you. Simply meaning that when its happening at a distance it hurts, but not like it does when you facing it first hand. Andeomache’s whole family fell to Achillies now the man she loves and the father of her child will soon face him in battle, her child is important but he’s an infant Achillies isn’t interested in him so she probably sees no threat. Where as you and I who are on the outside looking in are quick to sum up what going on without kind of putting ourselves into her shoes.

  2. I agree with how you related the theme of how Andromache’s father dies and how Patroclus dies. You picked the right lines to quote and you had nice flow in your argument. I also agreed with Andromache’s strange language, like she could predict the future and that Hector is powerless to stop it. I also was impressed with how with how you concluded saying how there are other people in the picture that need to be considered and that you hope that some pity and grief is saved for them and not all spent on the person that was killed in battle. I also hope some grief would be save for people not in the picture

  3. In book six, we see that Andromache gives Hector a lament, even though he has not died yet. As Mary said, we understand that later in the Iliad Hector will not receive a proper lament after his death as Achilles will desecrate Hectors body as revenge. In Andromache’s lament, we can use her display of grief to construct a proper form for all laments to come. First she talks of the past as she says “it was great Achilles who slew my father … it was my twelve brothers [who]… Achilles slaughtered”(6.416-.423). Here she recalls on her former family members who have died to demonstrate how important Hector is to her. As Andromache states “Hector thus you are father to me, and my honored mother, you are my brother and you it is who are my young husband” (6.429-.430). After she has established his importance from the past she moves on to how the present and future will be worsened by his passing. She exclaims that her child will become orphaned and that becoming a widow would rather “sink into the earth” (6.411). Through Adromache’s lament, she leaves a blueprint for future lamentations.

    • Clara, I love your examination of the importance she must first put on the past in order to comment on the future. Without recognizing what has been and what could have been, what now will be may not seem as significant. I agree that Andromache here provides a sort of allusion as to what is to come. However, it is important to recognize that this is not a traditional death lamentation as Hektor is not yet dead. Hektor is to be more properly mourned later, but as Mary said, the desecration of his body ruins the sacred and honorable essence of the ritual. What I wanted to note here is that while in book 6 Andromache is pleading with Hektor through her lamentation, in book 22 she is grieving and honoring him (22.477-515). The lamentation is a ritual act that brings kleos to the figure being mourned.

    • Clara, I like your connection with the past and present in Andromache’s lament. I completely agree that Andromache compares Hektor to the people in her past to show that he is literally everything to her, which is clearly seen in the “Hector thus you are father to me, and my honored mother, you are my brother and you it is who are my young husband” quote (6.429-.430). But I would also like to suggest the possibility of the connection between the past and present going beyond that and the idea that Andromache’s lament foreshadow’s Hektor’s death. After all, is it really just a coincidence that Hektor is killed by the same man that kills Andromache’s father and brothers? As we have pretty much established, Andromache’s lament is rather untraditional considering how Hektor isn’t exactly dead yet. So maybe the way Andromache’s past predicts Hektor’s future death at the hands of Achilleus sort of makes up for that fact and allows Andromache to mourn for her husband before he has actually died. I hope that makes sense, the idea sounded really great in my head but I’m not sure if I actually explained it well enough.

      • I think all this consideration of Andromache’s lament being prophetic of Hektor’s death is really important to look closely at. There’s a sense of dual prophecy in her words, which has been mentioned: on the one hand, she’s lamenting his death before he’s dead. On the other, her words compare Hektor’s death to the death of her father, both at Achilleus’ hands. I think that prophecy is integral to this story (let’s remember Kalchas’ prediction in book one). So, while Andromache’s lament is odd considering its prophetic elements, it alludes to a larger theme of foreshadowing of important events.

      • Breanna, I think I understand your argument in reference to you saying that Andromache;s lament goes beyond foreshadowing the death of her husband. It not only is used for the literary element of foreshadowing but it also serves a purpose to Andromache. It helps demonstrate how the Trojan war has made a real impact on Trojan society. Here Andromache tells of how every one of her family members have been killed by the Greeks, in particular Achilles. Not only has this war effected those fighting, but those who are left behind such as Andromache. It is then very important that Andromache partakes in these laments, especially for her husband, as it expresses her extreme grief. These laments that will take part in later books are important for they help demonstrate another aspect of the Trojan war.

  4. With regard to the poetic use of the lament, what always strikes me is the way in which these monologues really pull away from the external action of the plot and provide a more internal insight into characters. Mourners both speak for themselves and for those being lamented in a way that may not be otherwise shared with the audience. For example, in Andromache’s lament in book 6 she explains what an “ill-starred” state she and her child will be in if Hektor dies. She speaks of her own adversities and alludes to her child’s. Later, in book 22, she once again speaks of the unfortunate circumstances to come as her son will face hardships without a father (22.485-507). These mourners are not only plot developers but they are used rhetorically by Homer as storytellers. They, themselves, are the poets. They tell the audience both of the glory of those in the past and of the woes of some for the future.

    • Megan, I really liked the idea you had about how the laments pull the readers away from all of the action and fighting and instead focuses on the characters. Andromache’s lament not only provides us with an insight of her own character, but also the kind of character that Hektor is. At this point in the poem, we know that Hektor is a Trojan prince, probably one of the best (if not the best) fighters for the Trojans, and, like everyone else, is reluctantly dragged into the war because of Alexandros. However, those are merely facts and we don’t know about Hektor as a person. In the lament, Andromache is obvious about how much she adores Hektor and how she believes him to be her everything. And it’s the strong and passionate love that the couple has for each other that suggests what kind of man Hektor is. He is clearly a great prince who would do anything for his kingdom, such as leaving his adoring family behind and fighting towards a looming death. Though Andromache begs and tells him “please take pity on me then, stay here on the rampart,” and suggests how he can move the army “up by the fig tree, there where the city is openest to attack,” if he choose to stay with her, Hektor stills goes back to battle (6.431-434). Andromache’s lament shows us how strong Hektor is and how much of a good person he truly is because of the way he can turn away from Andromache’s love to fight for the good of Troy.

  5. Breanna, I think I understand your argument in reference to you saying that Andromache;s lament goes beyond foreshadowing the death of her husband. It not only is used for the literary element of foreshadowing but it also serves a purpose to Andromache. It helps demonstrate how the Trojan war has made a real impact on Trojan society. Here Andromache tells of how every one of her family members have been killed by the Greeks, in particular Achilles. Not only has this war effected those fighting, but those who are left behind such as Andromache. It is then very important that Andromache partakes in these laments, especially for her husband, as it expresses her extreme grief. These laments that will take part in later books are important for they help demonstrate another aspect of the Trojan war.

  6. I completely agree with Mary’s statement at the beginning. Andromache is a very particular character. I remember when Hector comes in to check on her and their son after he leads the noble women to pray. She begs for him no to go back, but he explains to her that he has to go. After that she begins to go ahead and mourn his death. Because of her doing that it just telling me that she is already assuming everyone’s death. I know that she basically said her family has been killed by Greeks, so it’s only right for Hector to be killed by one also. I feel as her laments are extremely important in this book as others,because it is expressing extreme grief. I hope that it does not continue in other books because it just showing how badly the Trojan society is becoming. But while Andromache is expressing grieve, she forgets about her son. She should be considering how her son would feel if she just “sunk into the earth”. He would then be left like her, and orphan. She shouldn’t want her son to feel any of the feelings she has felt, if she can help it.

  7. Megan, I really liked the idea you had about how the laments pull the readers away from all of the action and fighting and instead focuses on the characters. Andromache’s lament not only provides us with an insight of her own character, but also the kind of character that Hektor is. At this point in the poem, we know that Hektor is a Trojan prince, probably one of the best (if not the best) fighters for the Trojans, and, like everyone else, is reluctantly dragged into the war because of Alexandros. However, those are merely facts and we don’t know about Hektor as a person. In the lament, Andromache is obvious about how much she adores Hektor and how she believes him to be her everything. And it’s the strong and passionate love that the couple has for each other that suggests what kind of man Hektor is. He is clearly a great prince who would do anything for his kingdom, such as leaving his adoring family behind and fighting towards a looming death. Though Andromache begs and tells him “please take pity on me then, stay here on the rampart,” and suggests how he can move the army “up by the fig tree, there where the city is openest to attack,” if he choose to stay with her, Hektor stills goes back to battle (6.431-434). Andromache’s lament shows us how strong Hektor is and how much of a good person he truly is because of the way he can turn away from Andromache’s love to fight for the good of Troy.

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