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.

18 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 3

  1. Emily Berg

    The lament in lines 407-432 by Andromache demonstrates discontinuity between Hector’s desire to be glorified through battle and Andromache’s feelings of family and unity. Andromache conveys her disregard for battle when she says, “Hektor, thus you are father to me, and my honored mother, you are my brother, and you it is who are my young husband. Please take pity upon me then, stay here on the rampart…” (6.429-431). In these lines, Andromache counteracts the importance of glorification Hector seems to feel by stressing the significance of family. By doing this, Andromache also gives herself further characterization. The audience is now able to see a difference in the perspectives of battle between woman and man. Hector answers Andromache by saying, “All these things are in my mind also, lady: yet I would feel deep shame before the Trojans, and the Trojan women with trailing garments, if like a coward I were to shrink aside from the fighting…” (6.440-444). It is clear from these lines that being cowardice is something in which the men of the Iliad want to avoid at all costs. There is a traditional emphasis of strength, glory, and determination put on ancient Greek heroes throughout works such as The Iliad. However, Andromache’s lament towards Hector demonstrates a questioning of previous traditions. Rather than serving the role as the passive wife who has no voice, Andromache presents a set of arguments that causes the audience to have a differing view on the novel’s portrayal of heroism. As the novel continues, it is easy to envision similar lament’s occurring, especially by women, so as to expose contrasting views on traditional Greek values.

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    1. Neko Ramos

      I do agree that with this specific lament, Homer was able to show a clear distinction of the traditional sense of perspectives between men and women. Adromache was a women who worn, tired, and full of grief all of her life, considering all of the experiences she has had with it in her family. She has seen her family at the hand of war and she knows what it is like to live a life without parents to guide you, so she is trying to also protect her infant child from living that same life of a “fatherless child”. She states , “Nay-Hector, you who to me are father, mother, brother, and dear husband–have mercy upon me, stay here upon this wall, make not your child fatherless, and your wife a widow.(6.429-432)
      I am convinced that Andromache is a women who holds much bitterness and grief inside of her, but yet also is a very wise and strong women. She was not afraid to speak against her husbands decision to got to battle and was not afraid to give him her emotional wisdom that spoke clearly to the audience. Normally , the audience would root for the warrior to fight for the glory, but in this case i believe that Andromache has won over the audience and has made them consider the fact that rooting for the man to go into battle, also means rooting for the man to risk his life and to leave his family alone.
      The definition of lamentation is, a passionate expression or grief and sorrow. So using this definition i would say that Homer brought this on by the deep descriptions of her family background and her memory of death at the hands of the Acheans. I would say that this could help to foreshadow how women could have a more prominent role in the other books to come, as well how they can use their lamentations to work for them as their strengths.

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      1. Emily Berg

        Neko,

        I agree with your points. I predict that Homer will employ familial elements to demonstrate the difference in outlooks between man and woman. This is especially smart because family is something everyone can relate to, which further enables the audience to understand the differing outlooks among characters within the novel.

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      2. Camille Leeds

        Neko,

        I also thought that that quote was particularly striking: “Hector, thus you are father to me, and my honored mother, you are my brother, and you it is who are my young husband.” I thought Andromache was using this part to basically sum up everything she had lost, and she was doing her best to convince Hector not to go. With this sentence, she was saying, Look at everyone I have lost, and it will be just as bad when I lose you. She seemed also to be emphasizing his age, trying to convince him that it was not his time to die, so therefore, in order to live the length of time he should, he should remain with her. In that way, she is somehow invoking the fates and the gods, I think.

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        1. Katharyn Hill

          Camille,
          I also found that quote very important and after witnessing the Achaeans beating the Trojans, Andromache does have every right to make the assumption that Hector will die in battle, especially after having nearly her whole family killed. I think that it was important for Andromache to go into her past and emphasize how Hector really is her only family member left which is significant for the future of Andromache in The Iliad. The ‘formula of the lamentation’ provides readers insight into the characters past which will oftentimes influence the characters future and mold them into who they are in present times. In Andromache’s case, the past has made her bitter about her future and the future of her son.

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    2. Camille Leeds

      Emily,

      I think you did a good job analyzing Andromache’s speech. However, I took the question to mean what elements/structure do we think will be repeated in future lamentations. I think the first part of Andromache’s lamentation, would be categorized as grieving for a person – “…your own great strength will be your death…[I] soon must be your widow..” (6.407-9). The second part could be where she says what would be preferable to what she is experiencing – “… for me it would be far better to sink into the earth when I have lost you…” (6.410-11). Thirdly, there is where she lists the other trials she’s gone through (losing her entire family to Achilles) on 6.413-428. And finally, I think, is the asking for pity – “Please take pity on me then…” (6.431) – and I think these four elements will be repeated in the other lamentations, possibly in this same order.

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    3. Chris

      It seems that Andromache’s lament and Hektor’s answer to her pleas reflect a severe paradox existent within Greek culture and tradition. As you’ve said, Emily, there is a discontinuity between what each character values, in life but most especially in this particular moment. It is not to say that Hektor does not value his beloved wife and son, but due to tradition and the expectations of courage and valor he must prioritize the respect of his men and people as a whole over the possibility of losing his life and making Andromache and Skamandrios husband-less and fatherless, respectively. This lament and Hektor’s response seem to comment on even just a slice of the nature of being a hero, that we must risk losing everything dear to us, even ourselves, to be written of and famed for all time as heroes. From Andromache’s lament, to reflect on this week’s prompt itself, it seems like the “formula of lamentation” can be characterized by a prediction of future events, followed by a call to times past, and finally moving to a plea or request by the speaker to the loved one to do something in the here and now.

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      1. Brittany Matthews

        Chris,
        I agree with you about characters having lament for different things based on their personal values but I disagree with you about what Hector values. I believe Andromache and Hector both have lament for their family. Andromache asked Hector not to fight because he is her husband and she did not want to have lament for him like she had for her deceased family members. Hector wanted to defend Troy because he feared for the future of Andromache more than anything. “But it is not so much the pain to come of the Trojans that troubles me, not even of Priam the king nor Hekabe, not the thought of my brothers who in their numbers and valour shall drop in the dust under the hands of men who hate them, as troubles me the thought of you, when some bronze-armoured Achaian leads you off, taking away your day of liberty, in tears” (6.450-456). I believe the formula for lament is simply the understanding of the loss of loved ones and the objective to prevent future losses.

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    4. Chris

      You’ve made a great point in your interpretation that, “ . . . Andromache presents a set of arguments that causes the audience to have a differing view on the novel’s portrayal of heroism.” It begs the question: Could it be possibly more heroic to be there for your wife and children, living a full life and growing old with them and never cowering, for decades upon decades, under the jeers of your companions, or is it truly an organic precedent for being called a coward to do so and forever avoid war? It seems in the Greek tradition of the Homeric Epic, at least, Hektor feels a cultural pressure that supports the latter. But we should ask ourselves this question I think, and remember the words of Andromache as she pleads to her husband to do, from her perspective, what is truly heroic: “Please take pity upon me then, stay here on the rampart, that you may not leave your child an orphan, your wife a widow, but draw your people up by the fig tree, there where the city is openest to attack, and where the wall may be mounted.” (6.431-34)

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    5. Nakia Browner

      I agree that Andromache lament gave her more characteristics and expanded her role in the Iliad. Her cry for her husband ,Hector, to stay home and not to war for their family sake is a cry that many women of Troy and Greece felt when the men of the villages left to fight. Although she realizes that glory is what Hector seeks for more than staying home to please her, she stills beg him. Hector sees the frustration and sadness in Andromache eyes but he knows that this war is bigger than just their family and the fate is on the entire Troy.

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  2. Brittany Matthews

    Many of the characters had lament for the loved ones that they had lost. Andromache had lament for the death of her father, mother, and brothers. That lament was caused by events in Andromache’s past which influenced her to attempt to avoid having lament for her husband (Hector) by asking him not to continue to fight in the Trojan War (6.431). She knew that if Hector continued to fight during that present time then she would have lament for him in the near future. In lines 6.406-408, Andromache actually anticipates Hector’s death by claiming that she will soon be a widow.

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    1. Katharyn Hill

      I agree with you Brittany and also believe that Hector deeply cares about the well being of Andromache. He does point out the potential shame of leaving the battle before it was over, but he really emphasizes what truly troubles him which is the thought of his wife without him. “…as troubles me the thought of you, when some bronze-armored Achaian leads you off, taking away your day of liberty, in tears; and in Argos you must work at the loom of another” (6.454-6.456). With The Iliad full of war and death, this passage is particularly important and moving because it demonstrates the loving and human side of these fierce warriors and that many, such as Hector, have a wife and child to think about.

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  3. Aliyah Barbee

    There are so many things I found wrong with Andromache’s lament, that I cannot even consider it a lament. I guess I did not really feel the sorrow she has for the potential of her losing her husband because she spends her whole speech admiring Achilles. I can’t be the only one to find that a little weird. She mention about how he slaughtered her whole family but then calls him Brilliant (6.414) and swift-footed (6.423). I don’t know about you guys but I would not be complementing the person who killed my entire family. It just completely through me off and that’s why I have trouble labeling it a ‘lament’.

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    1. Natalie Smith

      Aliyah,

      You bring up some good points. I agree that it doesn’t make sense for her to be admiring the man who is planning on killing her husband. However, maybe she feels like it would be an honor for her husband to die at the hand of someone so renowned. Maybe she feels like if her husband dies at the hands of Achilleus then he has also accomplished something because it was an honor to die in battle back then.

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  4. Celina Gauthier

    I think Chris hit the nail on the head when he states, “the nature of being a hero, that we must risk losing everything dear to us, even ourselves, to be written of and famed for all time as heroes.” If Hektor dies in the battle, Andromache will mourn and grieve Hektor. The Trojans will mourn and grieve Hektor. Nevertheless, their grief and their mourning is a tribute to Hektor. The burgeoning memorial to his memory is the pain that others will feel when and if he is slain on the battlefield. The formula for lament is ironic and bittersweet.

    “And some day seeing you shedding tears a man will say of you:
    ‘This is the wife of Hektor, who was ever the bravest fighter
    Of the Trojans, breakers of horses, in the days when they fought about Ilion.’
    So will one speak of you; and for you it will be yet a fresh grief,
    To be widowed of such a man who could fight off the day of your slavery.”
    (Book 6, 459-463).

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  5. Aliyah Barbee

    Some other things that bothered me with Andromache’s ‘lament’ is how she basically threw her son under the bus. She says that Hector is her everything, her mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, basically her whole world is hector. She says she will have no one after Hector dies. “And for me it would be far better to sink into the earth when I have lost you, for there is no other consolation for me after you have gone to your destiny.” (6.410-6.412) So is she just ignoring the fact that she has Skamandrios? Also another thing that irked me is how it seems Hector and Andromache does not really listen or respect each other’s wishes. Andromache knows Hector has to fight in this war; he’s the prince after all and the Trojan’s best soldier. It’s pretty selfish of her to tell Hector not to fight because Troy would certainty lose without him. On the other hand, Hector seems to completely dismiss his wife and her wishes. He’s like: “Yeah I hear you but I don’t care what would happen to my family if I died. I must protect my pride!” That’s some complete selfish bullshit if you ask me.

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    1. Nakia Browner

      I can see how Andromache could seem selfish about telling her husband not to leave and also putting him on a pedestal. She tells him that he is her whole entire world and she wouldn’t be anything without him, but I don’t think she is disregarding her son, she just rather have her other half to complete her family. Andromache worries deeply about her husband’s fate and knows if she knows that is he goes to war won’t return.

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  6. Celina Gauthier

    Neko raises an interesting point about Andromache. Andromache is a woman who has lost so much. Her entire family is gone. The only one she has is Hektor and until he comes to find her, she has no idea if he is alive or dead. This woman knows much about grief. For her, Hektor has been the one person that has remained a constant. He is her rock. Now, she has to recognize that he may or may not be around after this battle. I would lament too. I also agree that lamentation is a source of strength. Coping with the death of loved ones is difficult. The inner strength it takes to overcome the loss of a loved one is unparalleled.

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