Writing Assignment – Week 7

Thus far in our reading of the Iliad we have looked closely at rhetorical displays (e.g. lamentation, the embassy). In many ways it is possible to see heroic boasts as yet another type of rhetorical display. In Scroll 13 there are, at least, the two boasts of Idomeneus (13.374-383, 13. 446-45), with a boast of Deiphobos in between (13.413-416), and Menelaos’ boast later on (13.620-639). Using one (or more) of these as a starting point and finding at least one earlier example from the Iliad, craft a well-supported and articulate post of 350-400 words that addresses the following questions: What are the typical features of this kind of rhetorical display? How does boasting play an important role in crafting one’s heroic identity? And finally, in what ways is boasting explicitly connected to other rhetorical displays?
*Please* be sure to respond to and engage with at least one other post (unless you are initial).

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

4 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 7”

  1. In the first boast of Idomeneus, (13.374-383) Idomeneus portrays omniscience, demeaning fallen Othryoneus of Kabesos and his motives for joining the war. My first thought is how does Idomeneus know of Othryoneus and how he entered the war? That aside the rhetoric that is evidently employed is one of satire, Othryoneus is dead. Yet Idomeneus not only does he “congratuate” the fallen warrior for bringing to pass his promises to Priam, but also boasts that the Greeks are better matchmakers than the Trojans, stating, “See now, we also would make you a promise, and we would fulfill it; we would give you the loveliest of Atreides’ daughters, and bring her here from Argos to be your wife, if you joined us and helped us storm the strong-founded city of Ilion.” (13.377-380)

    The heroic boast of Deiphobos (13.413-416) is also in line with the previous boast of Idomeneus (13.374-383) Deiphobus also employs satire, after he fells Hypsenor. In an almost therapeutic manner, after witnessing the death of Asios, comes to terms and reassures himself that at least Asios will be pleased he will accompanied by an escort.

    Idomeneus second boast (13.446-454) Taunts Deiphobos, demeaning all the while declaring that 3 kills are better than the 1 of Deiphobos, in an attempt to discourage him and convey that his fighting is futile. Then he goes on to glorify himself as the seed of Zeus! Who is here to be an evil for Deiphobos.

    The last boast of Menelaos (13.620-639) after slaying Peisandros, dehumanizes the Trojans by calling them wretched dogs. Menelaos’s boast also offers an ill omen for the city of Troy, exclaiming that righteous Zeus is on their side and will some day sack their city.

    The rhetoric employed in the boasts of the aforementioned heroes above share striking similarities in crafting their heroic identity. All boasts are exultations made over corpses of their felled enemies. In many of the encounters the heroes themselves came close to death, but ultimately came out as victors. There is a sense of self glorification evident in all the boasts, statements of their valor and their greatness. Furthermore, there is also a sense of vulnerability, in the boasts made by the Greeks. Idomeneus and Menelaos in their victories, acknowledge their fallen enemies and their motivations that signifies the dire straits the Greeks find themselves in, however in their victories it helps to recognize their achievements in battle. What does everyone else think?

  2. I think that it is interesting to note that the boasts are all made after defeating the enemy. While one could say that they have earned the right to boast in their victory, it reminds me of a child. Children often boast in victory because they believe that they are the best to have defeated their challenger, whether they are aware if they actually won through skill, luck, or the challenger throwing the match. In this case, these warriors are barely making it through alive, and while their victory is a testament to their skill, they still have many close calls. Despite the near loss they suffered, they still act as though they are the greatest warriors around. Perhaps everyone will not necessarily agree, as some of the warriors also acknowledge their foe as a good opponent, but nonetheless it still gives me this feeling.

    • Brandon, I understand your assessment here and it does seem quite childish of these men to bask in their own glory so much after a victory. However, I would argue that it is not necessarily that significant/unusual that a man should boast over a man he has just defeated. Would it not be even more unmerited if he did so before he had defeated the man? I also wonder what significance this would have had for the ancient audience. As we have seen thus far in the Iliad, the issue of winning glory is vital to the heroes and their sense of immortality is manifested in this song. As such, could it be possible that this is a way in which these men are telling their story and strengthening their legend? For example, in Idomeneus’ second boast, we see him providing some of his own background that builds up to the point that “Deukalion sired [him] to be lord over many people” (13.452). As a modern audience, I see all of these boasts as uncomfortable and unnecessary shows of man pride and it may have always been seen as such but this is war and it seems these men only fight here for pride.

    • Brandon, I also see your point in viewing the boasts of these men as childish, but I also see the point Megan is making. The warriors in the story are fighting not only for their city, but ultimately to make a name for themselves. For these characters, asserting their superiority and claiming their victories further cements the fact that they are great and can be recognized by those who died at their hands. It seems childish, but for the times, that was what fighting was all about; to be able to boast about your victories. Also, even though these victories were close calls, I do think that the men should take their victories in as much
      (if not more) stride then if they were clearly the stronger competitor. In the end, they are the ones who walk away saying I won to a great warrior as opposed to the fallen warrior who might only be known as “the guy who died at the hands of a better warrior.”

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