Writing Assignment – Week 10

In Scrolls XIX-XX, we see two assemblies take place (XIX.54-237; XX.1-32). Much like in Scroll I (I.53-303; I.531-611), one of these consists of the leaders of the Achaians, and the other of the immortals. In what ways do the speeches and discussions between Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus, and others (XI.40-144) rehearse and resolve arguments from earlier in the epic? Who and/or what has changed, and why (or why not)? Be sure to support your claims with specific citations from the text.

NB: Initial posts should be 350-400 words; each reply should be around 100 words.

16 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 10

  1. Natalie Smith

    Hey guys! Sorry this is a little late.

    The arguments that come up in Scroll I are an argument between Zeus and Hera, and the issue of the gods getting directly involved with the fighting. Zeus and Hera fight about Hera getting to know everything that Zeus was thinking. He tells her that “no one neither man nor any mortal shall hear” his thoughts before her. But that “anything that apart from the rest of the gods” Zeus plans, to not “always question each detail nor probe him (I.548-I.550). This gets resolved—along with the issue of the gods getting too involved— in Scroll XX when Zeus calls the gods into assembly. He speaks his thoughts out loud to all the immortals and his wife in lines XX.20-.30. He basically gives them permission to enter the fighting as they please when he states that they can “go down, wherever you may go among the Achaians and Trojans”(XX.24) because he is worried about how strong Achilleus is. Zeus is worried that “against destiny [Achilleus] may storm their fortress”(XX.30). He wants the other gods in the fight so that Achilleus cannot break the destined path.
    Achilleus realizes that the quarrel over Briseis was unnecessary in the start of scroll nineteen. He states that he wishes that “Artemis had killed her beside the ships with an arrow on that day when [he] destroyed Lyrnessos and took her”(XIX.59-XIX.60). Through the death of Patroklos he realized that they “need to let this be a thing of the past” and that he is “making an end to [his] anger”(XIX.65-XIX.68). Achilleus realizes that his anger is unbecoming and that they will only win the fight by driving the Achaians into it so that he can fight the Trojans (XIX.69-XIX.70). In response to this Agamemnon refuses to take accountability for his actions, stating that “[he is] not responsible but Zeus is, and Destiny, and Erinys the mist-walking who in assembly caught my heart in the savage delusion on that day I myself stripped him from the prize of Achilleus”(XIX.87-XIX.89). However, he does offer Achilleus all the goods and prizes that he was offered in the beginning of the story, telling Achilleus and the men watching them talk that he is “willing to make all good and give back gifts in abundance”(XIX.138). However, Achilleus politely declines the gifts by stating that “the gifts are yours to give if you wish, and as it is proper, or to keep with yourself”, but wants Agamemnon to remember their “joy in warcraft” (XIX.147-XIX.148). This resolves their conflict in Scroll I because they are both overcoming their immaturity and they are both willing to make compromise to win the war.

    Reply
    1. Camille Leeds

      I think it’s definitely worth talking about Zeus suddenly deciding to let the other gods get involved in the fighting again. What’s interesting is that he took them out of the war because he didn’t want them changing his idea for fate, and right now he does want in fighting in order to keep Achilleus from sacking Troy, despite fate. Not only does this show that fate is not set in stone, that it needs to be policed in order to turn out the way it’s supposed to, but it shows the strange place that Achilleus is in. He’s the son of a goddess and a mortal, he has immortal horses, he has armor made by the gods, and he’s a better fighter than everyone else, and he is capable of defying fate. But, as shown later, in Book 21, he isn’t able to fight a god and win.

      Reply
    2. Celina Gauthier

      Hi Natalie:
      I do not believe that Achilleus really cares about the war between the Trojans and the Achaians. In Book 18, verses 333-338, Achilleus says, “But seeing that it is I, Patroklos, who follow you underground, I will not bury you till I bring to this place the armour and the head of Hektor, since he was your great-hearted murderer. Before your burning pyre, I shall behead twelve glorious children of the Trojans, for my anger over your slaying.” Achilleus will not rest until he avenges Patroklos’s murder. He has a deep hatred for Hektor now and knows that his death will come soon after. Achilleus is morose over Patroklos’s death and has come to terms with Zeus’ prophecy. He mourns in Book 19 and discusses his death openly with Agammemnon, Menealos, Odysseus, Nestor, Idomeneus, and Phoinix. He is a man that has nothing else to live for now that Patroklos’s is dead.
      Celina

      Reply
      1. Katharyn Hill

        It’s interesting to see how Achilleus has accepted his fate at the end of Book 19, “I myself know well it is destined for me to die here far from my beloved father and mother. But for all that I will not stop till the Trojans have had enough of my fighting” (19.421-19.423) which is very different than his outlook on whether to stay and fight or leave in Book 9 “[Achilleus] will drag down his strong-benched, oarswept ships to the water. He said it would be his counsel to others also, to sail back home again…” (9.682-9.683). The anger that Achilleus once had towards Agamemnon has now shifted to Hektor which has become his driving motivation. His final goal in life is to seek revenge for Patroklos’s death and after that, he is willing to accept his fate and die.

        Reply
    3. Celina Gauthier

      Hi Natalie:
      I agree with your statement that Agammemnon does not take accountability for his actions. As soon as I started reading his speech, I was thinking, a sincere apology would be appropriate right about now. Also, wound or not, he does not stand up to address the assembled men before he gives the story as to why he acted the way he did. I think of Agammemnon as one of those people who believes that if you admit you are wrong, people will think you are weak. Then, out of guilt probably, he still wants to give Achilleus gifts that by no means swayed Achilleus back in Book 9 when they were offered.
      Celina

      Reply
      1. Tiffany Afolabi-Brown

        Hi Celina,
        I disagree with your statement. I think the first time Agamemnon does not take accountability for his actions but the second time he does. Agamemnon is a king and while we (common people) feel like his complete surrender is necessary for him to be sincere. Someone who grows up privileged, as a prince, it was more than likely that they never really had to apologize to too many people because i was beneath him. I believe Agamemnon got what he wanted when all his chips were down and that was as sincere as he could possibly be.I do agree that going out of his way to apologize would be seen as a sign of weakness but he made an effort to show his sincerity by offering Achilles gifts. Giving the gifts back to Achilles seemed to me like an act of good faith to show that he is a king who can move forward,

        Reply
      2. Katharyn Hill

        I agree with you Celina that Agamemnon doesn’t really take accountability for his actions and his speech in general, from what he said to how he presented it, was not that of a leader. As we have seen throughout The Iliad, pride is very important to warriors and Agamemnon clearly wants to protect his pride. We do see some character growth from Achilleus for deciding to move on from his anger towards Agamemnon and say, “Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us, and beat down by constraint the anger that rises inside us. Now I am making an end of my anger. It does not become me unrelentingly to rage on” (19.65-19.68). I think that Achilleus just wants to move on and focus his energy on seeking revenge for Patroklos’s death.

        Reply
    4. Christopher Boivin

      Hi, Natalie.
      We see enormous contrast between Scrolls XIX-XX and Scroll I in things as simple as the way Achilleus addresses Agamemnon, and in parallel, the dissolution of resentment and creation of it, respectively. In Scroll XIX, Achilleus refers to Agamemnon as “ . . . most lordly and king of men” (XIX.199). Quite dissimilarly, Achilleus’ choice of words contrast sharply in Scroll I, As Achilleus’ bitter resentment proclaims, “Son of Atreus, most lordly, greediest for gain of all men. . . ” (I.122). This change in resentment and respect between beginning and end illustrate character evolution deeply impacted, and affected, by the flow of events within the epic.

      Reply
  2. Neko Ramos

    i understand your perspective on how Achilles and Agamemnon are both overcoming their immaturity, and i totally agree with you. I believe that Achilles is at his last moments of his life and he is very well aware of that, so he just wants to make things right, while going out on a positive note. Achilles states that, “Still we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us, and beat down with constraint, the anger that rises against us”(XIX.65-66), which is actually the complete opposite of where his heart was in scrool 1, mainly because he had never had this much grief in him. I believe that the grief mixed with the anger, which caused Achilles to make a decision that shifted the Achians and the Iliad as a whole. He never wanted to join the fight, he never wanted to help Agamemnon, and he never even wanted to get close to Agamemnon, but the fact that he realized that he was much better off fighting the trojans with Agamemnon, made sense to him.

    It was really Achilles who made the big change and then everyone just followed along with his perspective. Even Agamemnon started to back down from his arrogant ways, and instead of owning up to taking Briseis, he blamed it on Fate and Zeus; “This is the word the Achaians have spoken often against me and found fault with me in it, yet i am not responsible, but Zeus is, and Destiny, and Erinys the mist-walking”(XIX.85-87). He went as far as to blame his own actions on the gods, speaking as if he pressured into behaving a certain way. Even though it may be hard to believe or understand him, the fact is that it was a change of heart between the two. The main thing that made a difference was the grief that struck Achilles heart, which gave him compassion.

    Reply
    1. Brittany Matthews

      Neko Ramos,

      Bringing up the fact that Agamemnon blamed Zeus and Destiny for his actions introduces an interesting topic. Whether Agamemnon was acting on his own will or the gods’ will is pretty uncertain. The gods have influenced and caused many important events in the Iliad so far. I would not be surprised if it was a god who influenced Agamemnon to take Briseis from Achilleus. Despite the fact that Agamemnon blamed immortals, I believe that he was sincerely sorry for his wrongdoing. He could have given a simple apology to Achilleus and left it at that, but instead he offered numerous gifts twice (9.115-161 and 19.140-144). Even after Achilleus let Agamemnon know that he was indifferent about whether or not Agamemnon gives him gifts (19.146-148), Agamemnon still gave them to him. If Agamemnon did not feel guilty for what he did, he probably would not have given gifts to someone who did not care for compensation.

      Reply
    2. Camille Leeds

      Neko,

      I don’t think it’s so much that Achilleus is overcoming his anger toward Agamemnon, it’s more like it’s redirected at Hektor now. Because while he’s “making an end of [his] anger” (19.67) at Agamemnon, he’s still angry (…the anger came harder upon him- 19.16).
      One change that we were discussing in class is that Achilleus now seems to harbor some anger at Briseis, as well, because he wishes that she had been killed back in the sacking of her city (19.59-60). He seems to be attaching some blame to her because if he and Agamemnon had not argued over her, Patroklos would not have been killed.
      One thing that I’ve been thinking is that maybe Agamemnon blaming Zeus isn’t such a ridiculous thing after all. Zeus does have a hand in controlling fate, so if Zeus had wanted to prevent the argument, then he very probably could have. For all we know, maybe he did want there to be an argument between Agamemnon and Achilleus.

      Reply
      1. Brittany Matthews

        Camille Leeds,

        I also view Achilleus’s feeling of anger as more of a redirection than a resolution. He decided to fight in the war because he wanted to kill Hektor to avenge Patroklos, not because he forgave Agamemnon. Avenging his closest friend was more important to him than holding a grudge with Agamemnon.

        I do not see how Achilleus was harboring anger toward Briseis. It was not her fault that she was taken away from him. When Achilleus said that he wished that Artemis would have killed Briseis (19.59-60), I do not believe it was because he resented her. I believe he meant that he wished he never had the opportunity to take her. If Achilleus had not taken Briseis, Agamemnon could not have taken her from him, the two would not have had a quarrel over her, and Achilleus would not have refused to fight in the war because of the quarrel. He regrets not fighting because he felt that if he had been fighting, “not all these too many Achaians would have bitten the dust, by enemy hands, when I was away in my anger” (19.61-62).

        Reply
        1. Christopher Boivin

          Hi, Brittany.
          Achilleus’ anger toward Agamemnon has not fleeted but, as you’ve said, been directed toward Hector in vengeance. We see from the hero’s own lips resentment cast aside to bring death upon Ilion’s most feared aggressor, as Achilleus states, “. . . we will let all this be a thing of the past . . .and beat down by constraint the anger that rises inside us” (19.65-66). As Achilleus’ pacifism in Scroll 1 led to the death of many, now similarly, so too will his eagerness to fight save many moving forward. And this occurs, quite powerfully, as the result of a personal connection to one single Argive warrior.

          Reply
  3. Tiffany Afolabi-Brown

    I have definitely been able to see the similarities in scroll 1 with scrolls 19-20. Both assemblies have similar end goals. The Achaeian are trying to secure a battle plan that will result in the fall of Troy when the question of fairness is brought along. I have to disagree with Natalie that Achilles saw the fight for Bresius as unessary because it was not really about one woman. I believe that his problem with AGamemnon was always respect because Achilles has always known that by going to fight in the war he would not return home for his kleos was on the battlefield. The material possessions would not have made a difference to him but respect means much more.

    In the end Achilles does say “Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us” scroll XIX 65-66. For the gods this idea of understanding the things that one can not change is also a prevalent themes that appears in both assemblies. By explaining to the other gods that things were fated and to have them understand his position I believe not only gave Zeus props as a leader but made his troops turn their anger to their respective enemies and away from him while still getting what he wants. Zeus is pretty crafty.

    Reply
  4. Neko Ramos

    Brittany and Camille, i definitely understand both opinions concerning Achilles anger, but i my question would simply just be don’t you believe that redirecting the anger was a resolution for the Acheans? His decision to shift from being angry at Agamemnon to being angry at Hektor, has helped to forward the story and has helped to bring about another theme in representing the importance of unity in times of crisis. I want to know your thoughts on that specifically because i believe that it was important to have started with Achilles anger, and then end with his anger being a driving force.

    Reply
  5. Emily Berg

    Camille,

    I think your comment that “fate is not set in stone” is interesting because it brings attention to what we define fate as. Websters defines fate as being “something that unavoidably befalls a person” or “that which is inevitably predetermined”. So, your statement that fate is not set in stone is interesting because I agree with you, yet the definition of fate contrasts your statement. I think that this causes us to have to define fate ourselves. Additionally, how are fate and destiny different from one another, or are they not different at all? This is something that I have struggled to answer for majority of the novel as a whole. Like I said, I agree with you that it seems fate is not set in stone, therefore I feel like that makes Zeus less legitimate since he is supposed to be in charge of the mortals fates.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *