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.

7 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 3

  1. Joseph Reid

    ANdromache’s lines in Book 6 of the iliad predicts Hector’s death by the hands of Achilles. While Andromache finds Hector near the Scaean Gate and while a maid is holding Astayanax, she cries, and begs Hector to stay inside the city. She remind him how much he means to her as all her family are dead (father and seven brothers all killed by Achilles). She says in line 432, “Don’t make your son an orphan and your wife a widow!” Hector says he must return to the battle: but he knows Troy is doomed to fall. He anticipates his wife’s future as a miserable slave in Argos. He doesn’t want the Greeks to win and take her in as a war prize, like Briseis. That is why he has to fight. She knows that Achilles is by far the greatest warrior involved in the Trojan War. She also knows that on the battlefield, he is unstoppable, able to defeat whole armies single-handedly. Hector then cuddles his son and prays he’ll grow up a warrior, and be a famous king of Troy. He then hands him back to Andromache, and takes his leave of them both. He tells his wife to go home and attend to her weaving: war is men’s business. However, she knows she will never see him again. ANdromache’s speech is very heart-rending, as she mourns her dead loved ones and worries about the fate of Astyanax.

    1. Chris Grass

      Joseph I agree with your interpretation of this section. I think it’s interesting to read this section and compare this to Chapter 4 when Helen confront Paris after he is whisked away by Aphrodite. This is essentially a reflection of that scene, where instead of the wife pleading with the husband to go back to the battle and and the husband cowering the opposite happens. It seems to me that Hector as more to lose than Paris yet still bravely goes to battle. We’ve seen so far that many people are suffering because Helen was brought to Troy, this however is different, because you get to see a much more detailed scene of how this war is affecting a family.

      1. Alyssa Sohns

        I definitely agree with you Chris! This speech from Andromache to Hector shows a completely different relationship than that of Paris and Helen. Andromache’s speech is that of a loving wife to a husband, who doesn’t want him to leave her but accepts the fact that it is going to happen. This shows their mature relationship that is based on love and mutual respect, where Paris and Helen’s relationship seems based on lust, and with such a shaky foundation its easy to see how their relationship sort of fell apart, shown by Helen’s speech to Paris.

        1. Bailey Allen

          While I agree that the relationship between Paris and Helen is very different from that between Andromache and Hektor, I disagree about the loving aspect. The lament is Andromache being upset that she is going to be widowed, not that her husband is dying. The fact that she says she has no one if Hektor dies makes the gender line obvious, as its his job as her husband to take of her. His response, almost scolding her for wanting him to not go die and be a coward, puts her in place. Traditionally in ancient Greece, the women were the ones who mourned, and Andromache mourning before her husband has even died contrasted with Hektor’s valiant speech, portrays their roles strikingly. In that sense, their marriage is not equal.

          1. Jerome Lawrence

            I must first say that three weeks have passed in these co-operative discussions and I truly respect how in depth my groupmates analyze each prompt. I will try not to say what anyone of you have already pointed out but add my understanding of the points you made and introduce my own points. Now for my response:
            Dr. Nagy pointed out that laments can cover the past, present and future. Andromache’s lament (actually it is Andromache and her household’s lament) first showed her sorrow of the future to come. She lamented in lines 6.406-6.413 that Hektor’s strength will be his death, that she will be a widow and that the army of Achaians will attack him and kill him. What Bailey stated above seems accurate about her scolding Hektor. She said in lines6.407-6.408 that he has no pity on her or his son, but at the same time she does indeed seem to love her husband as the tears were flowing. While this could in fact be self pity of her current situation and future loss, I believe her lament showed her love for her husband.

  2. Jerome Lawrence

    Continuing the point that I was making above (I choose to continue on a different post since I just covered the future predictions aspect of Andromache’s lament)laments cover pasrt, present and future. The driving point I wanted to make above is that she is mourning the loss of her husband even before he has left.
    She lamented about the past when she mentioned starting in line 6.414 about Achilles slaughter of her father and her siblings and the present when she mentioned that she had no honoured mother.
    This lament as mentioned above was predicting what the future had for Hektor and Anbdromache. This is reminiscent of the earlier mourning of Agamemnon towards Menelaos, who had not died yet. He had already thought of what the people would say if he got his brother killed. Andromache’s lament is also similar to the earlier mourning of the loss of Briseis by Achilles to his mother of a past occurence (Agamemnon taking her in exchange for Criseis).

  3. Cordelia Davies

    I totally agree Jerome. Her lamentation of the past present and future are all connected. Because of her experiences in the past she laments for the present and the future. She laments over Hektor leaving her and their child in the present to go into a battle that she knows will be lost because of her past experiences and all of those whom she lost at the hands of Achilles. She laments the future because her past has already taken from her the rest of her family in a similar situation. I think it’s interesting though that she does not acknowledge the child’s survival as something to go on living for. Starting in line 410 she says, “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–only grief.” I’m not sure what would happen to the child if the Greeks won and forced Andromache into slavery, but she doesn’t mention it and neither does Hektor. They both seem to be worried more about themselves and each other. I have become used to the child being the most prized life in more modern western literature which is why it strikes me that the fate of the child isn’t discussed in detail or really lamented over.


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