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.

One thought on “Writing Assignment – Week 7

  1. Teresa Plummer

    Hi Avery,

    I believe that I was supposed to be the initial poster for this week. Since I took the morning off from work in order to create my post, I wanted to be sure to post it prior to 12:00 p.m. today:

    The heroic boast seems to take place after the hero has killed someone and includes some sort of taunting or humiliation of the enemy with sarcasm or irony (i.e., “I congratulate you” (13.374); “a worthy bargain” (13.446); “I have sent him an escort” (13.416)). Sometimes the boast is spoken to the dead enemy and sometimes over his dead body. I think it plays an important role in crafting one’s heroic identity because it reinforces the hero’s superiority and prowess over his enemy, as in “I killed you and now I get to make fun of you or talk about how much better I am than you (and you can’t argue with me)!”

    The heroic boast is connected to other rhetorical displays because it is spoken by a character in the poem just as the lament and embassy. The boast, like the lament and embassy, seems to provide some summary of the past or prediction of the future, but those are usually wildly exaggerated or impossible. For example, Idomeneus promises the dead Othryoneus that he would give him “the loveliest of Atreides’ daughters, and bring her here from Argos to be your wife” (13.378-179) if he joins the Achaians in the fight. Since he is already dead, this will never happen. He even goes so far as to start dragging Othryoneus dead body back to the Achaian ships so he can collect his bride. I’m sure his purpose in pointing this out is that Othryoneus will not be able to collect on Priam’s promise of a bride either since he died in battle before the promise could be fulfilled.

    The difference between boasts, laments and embassies seem to be the motivation behind these rhetorical devices. Where the lament and the embassy are pleas to motivate the hearer to change course or behave in a certain way, the boast is made simply to humiliate or taunt the enemy.
    Another example of a boast is in Book 11 (11.450-455), after Odysseus kills Sokos, he boasts “Sokos, […] Wretch, since now your father and your honored mother will not be able to close your eyes in death, but the tearing birds will get you, with their wings close-beating about you. If I die, the brilliant Achaians will bury me in honor.” In this boast, he is speaking to the dead man, pointing out the difference between their deaths, (as if any of that is going to matter to Sokos at this point). This boast is made mostly to taunt the enemy and point out Odysseus’ superiority over Sokos.

    Did anyone else find any other boasts? And, did anyone think some of these boasts were actually quite comical and/or entertaining?

    Reply

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