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.

10 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 10

  1. Bailey Allen

    This section of the Iliad, the assembly in book 19 with Achilleus, Agamemnon, and Odysseus is a reflection of the confrontation in the first book, and serves to solve the problems that arose there. This section begins with Thetis bringing divine armor to Achilleus, now that his grief over Patroklos is urging him to fight again. After putting on the armor, Achilleus goes to talk to Agamemnon and apologizes for his behavior. He says he wishes Briseis had died “for thus not all these too many Achaians would have bitten the dust, by enemy hands, while I was away in my anger,” (19.61). He apologizes very gracefully for someone whos best friend just died. Agamemnon responds with his own apology, but it seems less gracious as he blames the gods for his mistake in taking Briseis. “I am not responsible, but Zeus is, and destiny” (19.86). This reflects the earlier scene where Achilleus looks for a solution to Apollo’s wrath, and ends up angering Agamemnon, who angers Achilleus in turn. Again, Achilleus finds a solution and apologizes, but Agamemnon returns the gesture bynsaying that it wasnt really his fault. However, this might not have the same signifigance it has today, and perhaps this is simply the will of Zeus. If that is the case, why would Zeus want Achilleus to have honor, if he had previously taken it away through Agamemnon? This particular passage brings the complicated relationship between free will, Zeus’s will, and fate back into the situation. Or, again, it could simply be Agamemnon placing the blame on someone other than himself. Achilleus, in his fury, keeps urging the people to fight, while Odysseus checks him by saying that the men need to eat and rest. This reflects back to the very first passage of book 1 where it describes the devastation of Achilleus’ wrath. That passage describes how his wrath kills the Greeks because he refuses to fight. Here, Odysseus says that he will kill them by trying to fight before they’re rested. After more negotiations between Achilleus and Agamemnon, with Odysseus acting as a sort of meditator, Achilleus regains Briseus and other gifts as well. This allows him to fight under Agamemnon, as earlier he stated that Agamemnon did not respect his efforts. However, I feel that though the returning of Briseus was helpful, Achilleus was angry enough to fight without the further incentive, as his best friend had just died. Achilleus is still angry, but now at the Trojans instead of Agamemnon.

    Reply
    1. Joseph Reid

      Great post Bailey, even thought i think Agamemnon’s apology was indeed gracious, I do see where you’re coming from by saying he just pushes blame on the Gods for taking Briseis. I agree with your statement when you said this particular passage brings the complicated relationship between free will, Zeus’s will, and fate back into the situation. I think Agamemnon’s decision was definetly more of his own’s rather than Zeus’s. You did a great job in conlcuding saying that Achilleus is still angry, but now at the Trojans instead of Agamemnon. Ever since the death of his dear friend Patroclus, he only has eyes set on one target, Hector(Trojans).

      Reply
    2. Chris Grass

      Nice post Bailey. I agree with your statement that Agamemnon offers only a half-hearted apology while placing the majority of the blame for his actions on the gods. This lack of humility seems to be a characteristic that Agamemnon displays frequently within the Iliad. Specific examples that I would point to would be when he denied Chryses’ ransom, how he reacted when he realized he would need to return Chryses and this instance of the apologies between Achilles and Agamemnon. Your post also made me think about what place free will has in the Iliad and if anyone should really be to blame for their actions since the God’s are constantly meddling in the lives of mortals. It also made me contemplate the rationality of the gods as they frequently are upset by the actions of the mortal’s yet they are frequently responsible for these exact actions.

      Reply
      1. Jerome Lawrence

        Well well my good sirs. How can I add to these comments? I find that Agamemnon is both very disrespectful to Achilles while at the same time very much honoring him. Line 1.9 illustrates the scenario where Chryses offers Agamemnon gifts which consists of gold yet Agamemnon refused to return Chryseis (line 1.29)to her father. Now at the assembly in book 19 he proposes a similar offer, the same he had recently offered Achilles to join the battle when he sent Phoinix, Oddyseus and Aias. He expects Achilles to accept his offer yet he turned down Chryses’ offer? The only honoring thing in Agamemnon offer is that he offers Briseis as well, to settle all matters that involves Achilles. He remembers that he had kept a girl while refusing gold but here in book 19 we witness him offering gold, but on top of that offer Briseis, Achilles’ war prize and other women as well.

        Reply
        1. Jerome Lawrence

          Grammar corrections: Agamemnon’s offer, gifts which consist of gold, a;; matters that involve Achilles, on top of that he offers Briseis

          Reply
    3. Anisa Bailey

      I agree with you saying that Agamemnon’s apology was less gracious and he pushed off his decisions on the gods. I think that was just his way of trying to make light out the situation, but at the end of the day he and Achilles both shared heated words in Scroll 1 so there was no need for the excuses. I also like how you made a parallel between Achilles choice to leave the war in the first place lead to the death of many Achaians just like him wanting them to fight without food would. I never considered that he really doesn’t consider the best interest of the Achaians; he tends to make decisions based on what he wants. This makes me think that even though he expresses remorse over his absence leading to the death of many Achaians, does he actually care?

      Reply
  2. Joseph Reid

    In Scroll 19, there is a Greek assembly and public reunion between Achilles and Agamemnon. It took a lot of guts for Achilles to tell Agamemnon that the feud is over and to wish Briseis had been dead with the rest of her family that day he sacked the city of Lyrnessus. He knows the only winner from their feud has been Hector. Now all he wants to do is lead the Achaeans into battle. His exact words were, “‘Son of Atreus, most lordly and king of men, Agamemnon, the gifts are yours to give if you wish, and as it is proper, or to keep with yourself.” This speech displays the maturity Achilles shows over the Iliad and how he’s not going to sulk in his corner anymore, but instead do what he is destined to do which his gain kleos. Achilles speech results in an excited uproar from the Greeks. Odysseus also has a speech in Scroll 19, saying, “No, but we must harden our hearts and bury the man who dies, when we have wept over him on the day, and all those who are left about from the hateful work of war must remember food and drink”. Odysseus basically says in his speech that the men can’t feasibly fight on empty stomachs, while deprived of their breakfast. He recommends the army eats, while the gifts are gathered, along with Briseis, and returned to Achilles. He tells Agamemnon he must swear publicly that he has not slept with her. Agamemnon agrees, and tells Odysseus to supervise the handover. I think Odysseus hasn’t changed much since early on in the iliad because he still has the same plan in mind, which was to end the feud and go on with the war. Agamemnon’s speech is next saying, “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 who in assembly caught my heart in the savage delusion on that day I myself stripped from him the prize of Achilleus”. Agamememnon basically says in his speech that he refuses to accept accountability for the quarrel. Even though he took Briseis, and was wrong for it, he puts blame on his judgment being blinded by Zeus and his eldest daughter Ate. Not even the almighty god of gods, Zeus, is protected from her power. He tells a story about how he was deceived by Hera once when Ate took away his good sense. It was on the day a son of his, Heracles, was destined to be born. Agamemnon goes on to say that “Zeus told the gods Heracles would be born today, who would rule Argos. Hera persuaded him to promise this was true, then quickly arranged for Eurystheus to be born ahead of Heracles. Therefore Eurystheus became king, and Heracles was his slave. Zeus took Ate by the hair and threw her out of heaven.” It was the same with Agamemnon, he claims he was blinded by Ate and stripped of his wits. I think Agamemnon has changed over the course of Iliad because at first he was furious at Achilles, but then he’s willing to let bygones be bygones, by being honest about his decisions and making up with the cold-hearted Achilles in order to move on with the war.

    Reply
    1. Chris Grass

      Good post Joseph. I do agree with you that although Agamemnon does not take full responsibility for his previous actions he does show some growth. Agamemnon show’s more humility than he typically is known for by returning Briseis along with some war spoils, this is in stark contrast to how he behaves in book one. This to me shows what truly is valuable to Agamemnon, which is pride. When Agamemnon initially took Briseis and caused the rift with Achilles it was because his pride was hurt (due to the fact that he had lost Chriseis) and it appears that it is much easier for him to return Briseis with some war spoils than to accept full accountability. This is not to say that Achilles is also not very full of pride, as his hurt ego was the main motivation for sulking throughout the first eighteen books of the iliad.

      Reply
      1. Jerome Lawrence

        As I commented above you three gentlemen leave little to be added. Good work team. In book 1, Agamemnon caused the Achaians much suffering by the hands of Apollo who attacked some of the Achaians on behalf of Chryses’ beseeching (line 1.35). Since then Achilles caused many of the Achaians to die without his help on the battlefield by refusing to return to said war zone where the Trojan and Danaan armies were doing battle, even after Agamemnon said that he would return an untouch Briseis back to him. They are both stubborn, but as you both said, Achilles apologizes for his anger and stubborn behavior while prideful Agamemnon blames his stubborn actions on Zeus and some other immortals in book 19.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

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