Writing Assignment – Week 6

Much of Scroll Eleven is Agamemnon’s “aristeia” (= greatest epic moments). At one point, in the slaying of Isos and Antiphos, he is brought into direct comparison with Achilles (11.101-121). But what exactly is the nature and purpose of this comparison? How does this comparison relate to Agamemnon’s role elsewhere in a poem that claims to be about the “wrath of Achilles”? Is Agamemnon the “villain” of the story, a “foil,” a “father-figure” to Achilles? Or something else? Please be very careful to cite your evidence from the text.

*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.

2 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 6

  1. Hanna Gilley

    Is the nature of this comparison to remind us that Agamemnon must also be feared, just as Achilles should be feared? Agamemnon slays many men in battle. Maybe Homer is trying to show us that Agamemnon is finally in battle and taking care of business (killing men) so when Achilles comes back to battle, he will take care of (epic) business and fight and fulfill his fate in the war.
    Furthermore, I think this specific passage is comparing Agamemnon to Achilles to show us that he steals Achilles’ spoils of war, another sign of Agamemnon’s disrespect towards him. Agamemnon recognizes two men that Achilles had previously captured and let go on ransom: “and in eager haste he stripped off from these their glorious armor which he knew; he had seen these two before by the fast ships when Achilles of the swift feet had brought them in from Ida”(lines 110-112). Agamemnon knew he was taking something that Achilles had and in this way, he feels like a villain. Are we supposed to feel this way? Does Homer want us to think this of Agamemnon?
    In this passage, Agamemnon can be interpreted as the lion; pompous, larger than the others and a natural leader. Achilles is swift footed like a deer, fast and agile. “And as the lion seizes the innocent young of the running deer” (line 113)…”when he has invaded their lair” (line 115); these lines can be seen as Agamemnon using his strength and taking something “innocent” (the armor) from the running deer, or Achilles. Or I’m stretching this metaphor way too thin.

    Additionally, I think the following line is either what Homer wants us to feel about Agamemnon or what Agamemnon feels about himself, I’m thinking the latter.
    “and suddenly she dashes away through the glades and the timber sweating in her speed away from the pounce of the strong beast”(118-119). The “she” is of course referring to the deer who just had her “innocents” taken from her because of this “strong beast” but I think Agamemnon wants the men to run and hide and submit to him.

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  2. Dannielle Forrest

    Hanna – I’ve summarized your main idea to be within the last line of your response: – being: “Agamemnon wants the men to run and hide and submit to him.” In response to this I would say that Agamemnon is not necessarily seeking absolute superiority, but rather trying to atone for the loss of Achilles. We initially know that in the beginning, the wrath of Achilles was justified to a certain extent, especially with Agamemnon’s portrayal as a gluttonous leader – but now there really is no excuse for Achilles present refusal to rejoin his men in battle.

    With this being said, I feel as if Agamemnon must now step up to the plate not only as a soldier – but as a reborn leader. And within scroll 11 – the aristeia of Agamemnon is shown throughout when ironically, we expect Achilles to essentially be the hero of the day: “Some were still flying in fear over the plain, like cattle some lion has routed at dead of night, when sudden death comes to a heifer whose neck it breaks with its powerful jaws, devouring the blood and entrails. So Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, chased the Trojans, killing the stragglers, as they fled in rout. And at his hands many a charioteer fell from his chariot, prone or on his back, as Atreides ranged round him with his spear.” (199-205)

    So in summary – I believe the purpose of this comparison makes apparent the decline of Achilles, and also brings to the forefront – the irrelevance of his wrath. Lastly, I perceive Agamemnon to be a foil to Achilles. Not only is Agamemnon amoral and at times pompous – but he also self-serving, with this trait alone separating both men.

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