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. Sheree Goffe

    In book 6 the war has already started and is in full effect, in battle Hecktor sees how Troy’s chances of winning are starting to deplete. Helenos, one of Hector’s brothers, convinces Hector to head back to Troy to have the elders and women offer sacrifices and prayers to Athena.Hecktor does this and as he is leaving the city gates to head back to battle, his wife Andromache runs to meet him with his son, Astyanax beside her in his attendant’s arms.
    This is the basis of the lament, where it really begins, because his wife, in fear of Hecktor losing his life in battle, brings his son to see him before he leaves to see if she can try to convince him to stay and not fight. She starts the lament by grasping his hand and calls him by his name. She pleads to him saying (IL.6.407-9) “’Dearest, your own great strength will be your death, and you have no pity on your little son, nor on me, ill-starred, who soon must be your widow.” Knowing that he feels a strong connection to the war and that he most likely will not leave his men to fight without him. She goes on with the lament and starts to escalate it with her past experience with loss and grief, to tell him that she if he goes and dies she will go back to being and orphan and her son will have a similar experience as she had. She talks of the past how Achilles slaughtered her family, and her mother was taken prisoner but released but was killed by Artemis. She reaches her peak by then letting Hector know that he is everything to her (IL6.429-31) “Hektor, thus you are father to me, and my honoured mother,you are my brother, and you it is who are my young husband. please take pity upon me then,”.
    She ends it by begging Hecktor to think of their son’s future and what it might do to him, he will be orphaned like she was and she will become a widow.

  2. Teresa Plummer

    Hi Sheree,

    Great job at summarizing Andromache’s lament. I like the way that you said she “starts to escalate it,” because you can almost picture her getting more and more desperate as she goes on. You can see that same escalation in the draft “lamentation formula” that I put together below. With each new piece of information that she brings in, she escalates it.

    Lamentation Formula (paraphrased)

    1) Particular perspective: You are going away (death) and have no pity for me or your son. It would be better if I died because there is nothing left for me once you are gone. I have nothing but grief. (406-413)
    2) Past: Everyone I ever loved has been taken from me. (414-428)
    3) Present: You are all I have left. (429-430)
    4) Future: Your child will be an orphan and I will be a widow. (432)

    I wonder if future laments will follow this same kind of formula.


    1. Kendal Longmore

      Dear Terri, I really like your application of the lamentation formula. The way your break down each part or the key points of Andromache’s speak makes a lot of sense. I think that you basically nailed the break down. In regards to future lamentation of this story I think a big one will be when Hector’s father tries to get Hector’s body back from Achilles. He will definitely uses past and present ideas to appeal to Achilles and hopefully get his sons body back. Hector’s father will most likely try to have Achilles see it form his side as Andromache does with Hector and using the baby to play on his emotions.

    2. Alicia Wooten

      I completely agree with your formula, but I wonder if the section about the past will always be an elaborate story. Andromache’s story about her past served several purposes. Firstly, it showed how big of an impact Hektor’s death would have on Andromache. She will be completely alone in the world to raise their son after Hektor is killed. Secondly, the story shows the might of Achilleus. Achilleus is responsible for killing everyone in Andromache’s family except for her mother. The fact that Achilleus accepted the ransom for Andromache’s mother shows how his character contrasts with Agamemnon’s. Achilleus will also give into Priam’s demands for Hektor’s body later in the Iliad. Finally, the story suggests that Achilleus will be the one to kill Hektor since Achilleus had a hand in the deaths of everyone else in Andromache’s family.

      1. Paulina Horton

        I completely agree with that formula as well. It makes sense that anyone doing a lament would go through these stages because they are natural sages of grief. You look at where you are now without you loved ones, you recall past events with them and how they passed, you think about how they were in the present day, and lastly you contemplate what your life will be like without them. Spot on analysis. I think all laments after this will be even more dramatic, especially when it comes to Priam’s appeal to Achilles. At that part of the story I feel like Priam will recount the events of the entire war. We can only imagine how much of his family was killed by Achilles. Not to mention the fact that his entire city was destroyed because of his wrath. Achilles destroys Priam’s entire family and I think Andromache’s lament is a prelude to all of the damage Achilles does to that family. These laments are meant to show just how devastating Achilles’s wrath was to the people around him. They are the testimonies of his victims.

      2. Kendal Longmore

        I think the past component of the Lamentations are the most important. Here the person lamenting will show the background or not so obvious feelings towards a person or a certain thing. Andromache her is showing how her past loses have affected her and how losing Hektor now will affect not only here but their child as well. Leaving them both I’m the world completely alone. With this being said, I believe the past will always be elaborate and complex and essential to understanding the characters lamentation and feelings.

    3. Natasha Moore

      Your formula is exactly like that which I was thinking. I feel as if the lamentations are present not only in the Iliad and Greek literature, but all great literature and story telling in general. The lamentation formula allows the audience to further understand the situation and the characters motivations. It is especially pertinent here because of how the Iliad draws on other occurrences that are not included within this specific work.

  3. Teresa Plummer

    I agree with all of you, Alicia, the “story about her past served several purposes,” Paulina, “Andromache’s lament is a prelude,” and Kendal, that the past is “essential to understanding the characters lamentation and feelings.” These are all really good points. In the videos, Professor Nagy says that Andromache’s first lament in Book 6 is a dress rehearsal for her future laments in Book 22 (when Hektor is killed) and Book 24 (at his funeral) and that a lament builds on itself by talking about one sorrow, then the next sorrow, and on and on, just escalating the point of the lament. In order for the lament to be powerful, these sorrows have to build on each other (i.e., my family is gone, all I have is you, everything will be even worse when you are gone). And, I couldn’t help myself, but I read Andromache’s laments in Book 22 and 24 just to see if they were different, and in those laments it seems as if she is placing more emphasis on her future rather than her past, probably because the past is no longer as important now that Hektor is dead and unable to help her. Her future becomes the focus on her lamentation once her past can’t help her.

    1. Alicia Wooten

      I think you bring up an interesting point, Terri. I definitely agree with the idea that future laments likely are different because they occur after Hektor’s actual death. These laments likely serve a different purpose than Andromache’s original lament. In the lament in Book 6, Andromache attempts to persuade Hektor not to rejoin the battle in order to prevent his death, but once Hektor is dead, the laments are probably more about grieving. In our class at Sweet Briar, we talked about how the variances of each lament from the general formula may signal something important about each individual lament. In this case, the focus on the past may signal Andromache’s goal to keep Hektor alive.

      1. Paulina Horton

        If each variant of the lament represents something important about that one specifically, what does it mean? What I mean is why would the grieving person focus on either the past present or future? I know in Book 6 Andromache’s focus on the past was meant to try and persuade Hektor to stay with her, but could it be used in some other way? Would you focus on the past in order to pay respect to an ancestor? Would there be any significance in focusing on the present or future? How can focusing your lament on either of these sections intensify or lessen its impact on others? Could this also have different affects on the people that hear it?

        1. Natasha Moore

          We didn’t talk much on the representation of each lament in our class so Paulina brings up many of the same questions that I would have. I did not think of how the time period that the lament focuses connects to what the character is trying to achieve. In the future lamentation after Hector’s death, focusing on the past can be a way to honor the fallen but what about looking at the lack of him in the future? Would this emphasize possible anger felt by being forced to live without the dead? Would it conjour up sadness of what will never be? By focusing on the lack of a future instead of the fullness of the past, the lamentation can completly change sentiments.

          1. Alicia Wooten

            Paulina and Natasha,

            You bring up very interesting questions. Having not read the other laments, I can only speculate on their purposes, but it will be interesting to see how they differ from Terri’s formula and if my theories have any merit. I also hope they can help answer some of your fantastic questions. I definitely agree with Natasha that “by focusing on the lack of a future instead of the fullness of the past, the lamentation can completely change sentiments.” Hopefully, future laments will give us something to compare this first one to and we can test our theories!

  4. Sheree Goffe

    Great input guys! The lament is obviosly a way to build up a situation. I feel that in the future the lament will be used in such a similar way as Adromache so eloquently did. It could be used in the loss of war, like the loss of a brother,or father. It could also be used in reference to the gods,the grief of losing each other in trying to destroy the trojans or the Achains. I also think the formula Teresa created was Awesome. It definitely broke down and simplified the lament in chapter 6. I also agree with Alicia. Each part of the lament had a purpose but they all had one common goal and it was to keep Hecktor out of battle and out of harms way so her family could remain intact.


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