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.

3 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 7

  1. Hanna Gilley

    The boasts of Scroll 13 as mentioned above do have similar features. Typically, these boasts occur after the boaster has slain or struck a warrior of the opposing side, as if to say, “Aha! I’ve killed you because I’m better and now I’m going to rub it in your face!” They don’t seem to have an honor boasting code either. These heroes are merciless! Take for instance the boast of Idomeneus when he says to Othryoneus, “I congratulate you beyond all others if it is here that you will come to pass what you promised…Come with me then so we can meet by our seafaring vessels about a marriage”(13.374-381). Othryoneus is already dead! This boast is insulting, disrespectful and also, slightly humorous in a very dark humor kind of way. Oh, Homer!

    Additionally, these boasts seem to be very intimidating (although the warrior being intimidated is already dead) like when Idomeneus says, “Do you rather come yourself and stand up against me so you can see what I am like, Zeus’ seed, come here to face you”(13.448-449). The language Homer uses shows superiority of the boaster which ties into their heroic identity. Phrases like, “…vaunted terribly over him, calling in a great voice” (13.413, 13.445) and “spoke exulting over him” (13.619) boost the ego of the boasting war hero and displays confidence and arrogance and a self-congratulatory message for everyone to hear. This can also be seen in the boast of Menelaus. After he killed Peisandros, stripped off his armor and put his foot on his chest says to the dying man, “So, I think…you haughty Trojans never to be glutted with the grim war noises, nor go short of all that other shame and defilement wherewith you defiled me, wretched dogs…”(13.620-623). It is clear that Menelaus wants them to know that he was disrespected (in the most insulting way) and that not only will he kill them because of it he will remind them that their beloved city is fated to fall.

    These boasts differ from lamentation because they aren’t meant as a grievance to the past and of fallen men but as an immediate “Don’t mess with me, I’m the boss” kind of tone.

  2. Joseph Reid

    Great post Hanna! I love the comments you made about boasting including the one where you said these boasts seem to be very intimidating. I also believe that it is clear that Menelaus wants them to know that he was disrespected (in the most insulting way) and that not only will he kill them because of it he will remind them that their beloved city is fated to fall. I love your introduction because you used quotes that pertained to the story which helped the readers know what you are talking about. You also concluded very well saying that these boasts differ from lamentation, and you said a great quote to support your conclusion.

  3. Dannielle Forrest

    The boasts displayed in Scroll 13 of the Iliad all share one major theme – that theme being centralized around the presumptuous nature of these warriors. Using Menelaos as a prime example, we can see that after he has disfigured his opponent in the most gruesome fashion – it is almost as if he receives a rush after the kill:

    13.618 “He fell, curling, and Menelaos, setting his heel on his chest, stripped off his armor and spoke EXULTING over him:”

    I place emphasis on the word exulting, because that is exactly the purpose of their boasts – to highlight their achievement and to validate their status as a superior. When comparing Menelaos’ boast to the others, the universal features that can be identified are the final utterance of statements that could have otherwise been premature: 13.622 “And your hearts knew no fear at all of the hard anger of Zeus loud-thundering, the guest’s god who some day will utterly sack your steep city.”

    And though this example may be a bit of a bolder stretch, this particular element of various boasts can be generalized to the victor just running their mouth. This can be seen again with Deiphobos’ short yet direct boast as well: 13.413 “Aisos lies not now all unavenged. I think rather as he goes down to Hades of the Gates, the strong one, he will be cheerful at heart, since I have sent him an escort.”

    These proclamations are in their entirety – self-serving, and do nothing more than boost the ego/confidence of those who choose to make their instance of success known


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