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.

15 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 10

  1. Natasha Moore

    The assemblies that we see in scrolls nineteen and twenty seem very similar to those which took place previously in the epic. With the death of Patroklus, Achilles forgives Agamemnon but doesn’t completely let go of his anger. Instead, his rage is redirected towards Hector and the Trojans. When Odysseus suggest letting the warriors eat Achilles says that “when there is some stopping point in the fighting, at some time when there is not so much fury inside of my heart” (XIX 201-202) he will take time to eat. Achilles is still angry only this time instead of not acting, he wishes to run into battle. The Achilles shown in scroll one and scroll nineteen are the same, the only difference is the target of his wrath.

    I also feel as if the assembly between the gods in book twenty mirrors the previously assemblies. Although Zeus takes back his order not to enter the battle, the reason he does so is the same. Once again Zeus’ commands the gods in an attempt to control the fate of mortal men. Before, the gods were told not to interfere in order to ensure Zeus’ plan that Patroklus would reenter battle and die, compelling Achilles to reenter as well and recieve his kleos. Now, the gods are told to join the battle to ensure that Troy does not fall before its time. Zeus tell them that “if we leave Achilleus alone to fight with the Trojans they will not even for a little hold off swift-footed Peleion” (XX 26-27). He fears “against destiny he may storm their fortress” (XX 30) and wishes for that not to happen yet. In addition to this showing that Zeus’ intentions drive his orders, this also acts to once again show that Achilles hasn’t really changed and is still driven by his fury.

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  2. Teresa Plummer

    I agree that “Achilles is still angry.” However, I think there is a lot that has changed for him since the first scroll. In the first scroll, Achilleus was angry because Agamemnon dishonored him and took Briseis away (1.355-356). However, in scroll nine, Achilleus sets aside his anger at Agamemnon (19.67) and seems not to care about Briseis (19.59) or gifts (19.147). He also refers to Agamemnon as “Son of Atreus, most lordly and king of men” (19.199) which indicates a change of heart from scroll one when he refers to him as “You wine sack, with a dog’s eyes” (1.225). This, to me, is a very different Achilleus from scroll one. He is still angry, but with a different motivation and different focus. Honor and prizes are not motivating him any longer. Instead, he is motivated by love for Patroklos, “neither drink nor food shall go down my very throat, since my companion has perished” (19.209-210) and his anger, as you mentioned in your post, has turned towards the Trojans and Hektor, “Raging at the Trojans (19.367).

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    1. Kendal Longmore

      Although these things that you have listed above have changed for Achilles I feel as though he has not changed. When Briseis was taking away I think that Achilles was upset because he also loved, not just because she was his prize and rightfully deserved. I think he just used this excuse. Achilles reacted the way he did to Patroklos because that was his closest comrade and something he could not find again. I do agree with that the motivation of his anger has definitely changed but the principle was the same. Something has been taking from him, once again, but this he cannot get it back and it cannot be replaced.

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    2. Alicia Wooten

      I think Achilleus has changed a lot. In my class at Sweet Briar, we talked about how it seems like Achilleus is already dead and I think in many ways he is. The argument between Achilleus and Agamemnon is solved because Achilleus no longer cares about worldly possessions and all he wants to do is avenge Patroklos’s death. He doesn’t even want to eat, so Athene fills him with ambrosia in a very similar way to how Thetis filled the body of Patroklos with ambrosia to keep it from rotting. Athene is trying to preserve a body that is already dead inside.

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      1. Pascha Seda

        Wow, Alicia you have raised a very interesting comparison. I never connected the use of ambrosia on Achilles and Patroklos in that way. We did address this matter in class as well at Howard but it was mores focused on Achilles’ being as close to a godlike state as possible before his great demise. I agree with you completely, Achilles does already seem to be dead in a way that his life no longer has meaning. His only drive and passion at this point is to of course avenge the death of Patroklos but also fulfill the prophecy of his death. He is living for his death which simply can’t be living at all.

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  3. Teresa Plummer

    I thought your comment, “Once again Zeus commands the gods in an attempt to control the fate of mortal men” was exactly right. Everything that Zeus allows or doesn’t allow all fall in line with his will. Achilleus will have his glory as Zeus promised to Thetis, Achilleus will kill Hektor, Paris will kill Achilleus, and Troy will fall to the Achaians, but all in good time. Do you think that Zeus was really afraid that Achilleus would escape his destiny or was that just a figure of speech “I fear against destiny he may storm their fortress” (20.30)? Can anyone really go against their destiny? Or, was Zeus just saying that to stir up the other gods to intervene? Perhaps if Achilleus had stormed the Trojan fortress too early, he might not have gotten all the glory he deserved, or he might have been so bloodthirsty that he would have killed not only Hektor, but Paris and Priam as well. I can see how this might have put a kink in “the will of Zeus” and perhaps that is what made him fearful.

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    1. Paulina Horton

      I think it was both a figure of speech and a possible prophecy. I agree that it’s hard to go against one’s destiny, but I also think even Zeus fears the wrath of Achilles. Even though Zeus isn’t human and doesn’t necessarily understand what Achilles is feeling, he does know that he is a great warrior, and that by killing Patroklos he has awakened an anger that rivals the gods. Even though Achilles is mortal he is still extremely powerful, and could quite possibly storm Troy in a single day. As we can see in Books 19 and 20 Achilles is fixated on avenging Patroklos’ death. I feel that if he was left to his own devices he wouldn’t stop fighting until he was dead or all of the Trojans were. The way he slaughters Trojans in Book 20 is evidence of this. But I also think that no one could actually go against the will of Zeus. Ultimately everything that Zeus prophesized will come to pass no matter what. I don’t think that Achilles storming Troy before its time would give him less glory, I actually think that he’d get more. He’d be known as the man who stormed Troy in one day. I am wondering why Achilles was able to completely switch from defiant to respectful in just one meeting? I can understand that he redirected his anger, but how was he able to just completely forgive Agamemnon and not even comment on his lack of an actual apology? Wouldn’t he still have at least some resentment for him?

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      1. Natasha Moore

        It’s interesting that you say that everything that Zeus prophesizes will come true. Do you think that Zeus controls fate or that fate controls Zeus’ actions. It is obvious that the two go hand and hand but would certain events come to pass eventually without Zeus’ plans? I suppose its similar to the question of whether the chicken or egg came first.

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    2. Pascha Seda

      I do believe that (at least in this epic) it is possible to escape your destiny. If it wasn’t possible I don’t think that the gods would work so hard to interfere with the actions and consequences of the mortals. But this could also be a reference to the power and wrath of Achilles. It is destiny that Troy will be sacked by the Achaians but only after the death of Achilles, but with enough anger he has the power to change that with one slip of his wrist, literally, chopping down hundreds of men and ending the war instantly.

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  4. Kendal Longmore

    I think we can all agree that Achilles hasn’t changed. From the beginning his wrath is what drives him to the war and what drives him to reenter. The only that changed for him was the cause of that wrath. I think Achilles cannot changed though because imagine who odd that would be if this once wrathful person now becomes peaceful. It wouldn’t make sense.

    Based on the speeches in (XI.40-144) show how Agamemnon has changed. In the beginning he portrays himself as this no mercy person. He doesn’t care about the feelings of others, tells his warriors to pardon no one. But we see his change as the books go on and he realizes that he cannot go on like this. He apologizes to Achilles and basically says that he acted out of anger and not out of logic and that is was unfair of him. He is probably the only character that we will see change.

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    1. Alicia Wooten

      I think it is interesting to compare the councils of the mortals and the gods. In the assembly of the gods, Zeus essentially calls everyone together and commands them to do whatever he wants, but the assemblies of the mortals are a lot more complicated. Zeus can do whatever he wants because he is undisputedly the most powerful, but there are several mortals who seem to think this about themselves. I think that Agamemnon and Achilleus fight because they both think they are the best of the Achaians. I definitely think that Agamemnon has changed because has realized that he really does need Achilleus.

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    2. Sheree Goffe

      I can agree with the fact that Achilleus is driven by his wrath, he doesn’t use logic when angry as seen in scroll 20 that he was slaughtering people with no Mercy. For example when he killed Tros Il20.463-472, After troy tried to supplicate Achilleus, and Achilleus without a second thought, because he was so wrapped up in his wrath, slaughtered Tros. That was unlike in the earlier books they looked at Achilleus as having a kinder heart. For example, In Andromache’s lament to hecktor IL6.416- IL.6.428. when in battle Acilleus killed her family but let her mother go and gave her family a proper burial. I feel that Achillues personality may not be too far different but now I see him as feeling he has nothing else to live for and is not scared to die, if anything he might even be looking forward to it.

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  5. Paulina Horton

    I think in the case of Greek heroes there is no room for a grey area. In my mythology class I’ve learned that heroes are torn between their duty to society and their uncontrollable animal instincts. Because of this Achilles isn’t actually able to change. Unlike ‘normal’ humans Achilles is unable find a balance between his different emotions, which is why he can’t feel anything half way. It explains why his wrath at Agamemnon is so unyielding. It explains why after Patroklos’ death affects him in such an extreme way. He is incapable of feeling things in moderation. I think this explains why he is unable to change.

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  6. Sheree Goffe

    I feel as though his anger is different in book 12 than in book 1. Yes he was upset at the loss of Briseis, which resulted in him removing himself from battle, but remember that his relationship with Briseis and Patroklus are totally different. The person he was closest to and loved more than anything was Patroklus. He even stated that no other loss could amount to the loss of Patroklus. IL19.322-327 “There is nothing worse than this I could suffer, not even if I were to hear of the death of my father who now, I think, in Phthia somewhere lets fall a soft tear for bereavement of such a son, for me, who now in a strange land make war upon the Trojans for the sake of accursed Helen; or the death of my dear son, who is raised for my sake in Skyros now, if godlike Neoptolemos is still one of the living.” That shows how much Patroklus means to him, that the loss of his son would not be as painful as the loss of his friend which is a very powerful statement because usually people morn the loss of their children way more harder then that of a friend, being that your child is apart of you.

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    1. Sheree Goffe

      I can agree with the fact that Achilleus is driven by his wrath, he doesn’t use logic when angry as seen in scroll 20 that he was slaughtering people with no Mercy. For example when he killed Tros Il20.463-472, After troy tried to supplicate Achilleus, and Achilleus without a second thought, because he was so wrapped up in his wrath, slaughtered Tros. That was unlike in the earlier books they looked at Achilleus as having a kinder heart. For example, In Andromache’s lament to hecktor IL6.416- IL.6.428. when in battle Acilleus killed her family but let her mother go and gave her family a proper burial. I feel that Achillues personality may not be too far different but now I see him as feeling he has nothing else to live for and is not scared to die, if anything he might even be looking forward to it.

      Reply

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