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.

8 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 7

  1. Joseph Reid

    Boasting plays an important role in crafting one’s identity because it appears to possess a sense of confidence, and lots of hope that leads to achievement. Idomeneus, leader of Cretans and descendant of Zeus through Minos, had a boast in scroll 13 saying “Othryoneus, I congratulate you beyond all others if it is here that you will bring to pass what you promised to Dardanian Priam, who in turn promised you his daughter.” This boast was apart of Idomeneus’s aristeia because he causes a massive trail of devastation among the Trojans. He gave his deputy Meriones a new spear from his collection of 20 taken from Trojans he has killed, and looking like Ares and his son, he went to beef up the left wing. During this time, the ajaxes were still holding out on the right. Finally, Idomeneus challenged the leader of one of the five Trojan companies, Deiphobus, who had a boast of his own. He said, “Asios 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”. His boast unfortunately did little, because Idomeneus attacked him, which caused his appeal for help. This results in aeneas and paris to back him up and close in on Idomeneus. But Deiphobus got injured, and had to be taken back to Troy. Menelaus then had a boast in which he said “Father Zeus, they say your wisdom passes all others’, of men and gods, and yet from you all this is accomplished the way you give these outrageous people your grace, these Trojans whose fighting strength is a thing of blind fury, nor can they ever be glutted full of the close encounters of deadly warfare”. However his boast did little as well because while Menelaus came in to help on the left wing, he was immediately shot a third time, showing how careless he could be. Helenus shot him but the arrow bounces off, and he wounds Helenus in the arm, before getting trapped in to some serious killing. He tells the Trojans that Zeus is punishing them, because Paris broke the sacred law of xenia. Boasting is different form other rhetorical displays such as lamentation, discussed in a previous writing assignment, because it displays grief while boasts displays enthusiasm. Idomeneus’s boast showed that he was a respected commander. Menelaus’s boast showed that even though he had a brave heart, he was not among the mightiest Achaean warriors.

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    1. Cordelia Davies

      It is interesting what you say about boasting being different from other rhetorical displays such as lamentation because it displays enthusiasm rather than grief, which is definitely true. They are under the influence of pride for themselves and their countrymen, but, the way I see it, although boasting is not necessarily a display of grief, it is a reaction to it: those vaunting are usually under the influence of grief. It is a domino effect: the killing of either a Trojan or Argive and the subsequent boasting by the killer invokes sorrow from the opposing side, but it “stirs anger” in one man in particular and he, in every case, goes after the one who boasted, but misses and hits another and then proceeds to vaunt over him. It really seems pointless to me and I don’t understand its value to the story. They all just seem like a bunch of hypocrites getting so angry and then doing exactly what angered them. But it is a reality beyond Homer’s poem. Vengeance is inherent in most people and especially warriors. The rule of blood for blood has been around throughout the history of man and lives on today.

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      1. Alyssa Sohns

        Your comment about boasting being a reaction to grief is an interesting point. I had never really considered boasting being about grief, but it doesn’t really make sense to me. If you killed someone, then boast about killing them, the people who loved the person you killed would have a face to the killer, which I would think would make grieving easier. The loved ones of the deceased would be able to take their revenge on that killer, which kind of puts an end to their boasting.

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        1. Cordelia Davies

          I’m just saying that a craving for vengeance can be a symptom of one’s grief if the person they are grieving for was murdered or wronged and the subsequent vaunting is a way to really drive that revenge home.

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    2. Cordelia Davies

      Your comment about grief vs. enthusiasm also got me thinking about the theme of grief that seems to run through these three examples of rhetorical displays. The lamentation of Andromache is her acting out her grief for herself and for Hektor. It is the physical and emotional manifestation of grief. The embassy to Achilles was a preventative measure against grief thought to be near certain in the future if Achilles were to stay put. And the boasting, along with killing is one reaction to grief.

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  2. Bailey Allen

    I agree with your statement that boasts are different from laments because they express enthusiasm rather than grief. The boast seem to be a kind of opposite lament. Rather than expressing sorrow at someone’s death, the heroes are celebrating the death they brought about. In book 13 all the boasts occur directly after the death of someone in battle. However, at several points in my notes I have the words “Nestor bragging” and “Nestor bragging again”. One of these speeches occurs in book 7, where Nestor describes how he killed Ereuthalion (7.150f). Nestor’s speech does not follow the same formula as the boasts in book 13, which were directed at the dead body. Nestor’s boasts, as in that speech, are directed at his follow soldiers and used as a sort of pep talk. I am curious if his speeches, though they do not follow the same problem, count as a formal boast.

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  3. Bailey Allen

    I am perplexed as to the narrative purpose of including these boasts. It seems unlikely that Menelaos would stop after killing someone and recite a speech at the dead body right in the middle of a battle. I can see, at the very most, him saying something along the lines of “take that, you scoundrel!” except more obscene, but a whole 20 line speech just wouldn’t happen. Therefore, the poet decided yo include these speeches for some reason. Personally, I find them a nice mental health break from all the people getting hacked to bits that is such a common occurrence, but I do not think that is their actual purpose. Perhaps the purpose is to get the reader/listener more emotionally involved with both the hero and the dead person. On the hero’s side of things, we get a quick glimpse of some of his thoughts as he is in battle, and a snapshot of his emotional state. On the dead guy’s side, we get a back story and I feel a little bad for him. We only fighting so he could get married, and now he’s dead. It is a little tragic.

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    1. Cordelia Davies

      I totally agree that it is completely unrealistic. These boasts, for me, kind of move me away from favoritism. At any point in time in the poem I could be a Trojan fan or an Achaian fan and these boasts kind of even the playing field for me because both sides act so immature and, frankly, like roided up jerks.

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