Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Book 1 (Questions)

What struck me most about Book 1 was that Achilles would have killed Agamemnon had Athena not intervened (1.195-205), and later Nestor telling Achilles not to defy the king as he was his superior and that Zeus had granted his kingship. (1.276-281)

Was Nestor’s view of kingship granted by Zeus the prevailing one?
How rigid was the social order?

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2 thoughts on “Book 1 (Questions)

  1. I forget the details (it’s late over here…) but there are similes from the ‘Odyssey’ and details from Hesiod’s poems that make it clear that there was very much an assumption of a ‘divine right of kings’ kind of things: kings were understood to be supported and approved and protected by Zeus. The reason for Agamemnon’s control of the whole army isn’t made explicit and isn’t entirely clear (as I understand it), but the mythology asserts that his line had been personally selected by Zeus as worthy of kingship.

    In my opinion, one of the functions of the Thersites episode that comes in book 2 is to illustrate the rigidity of the hierarchy: T. has basically the same complaints as Achilles, but he doesn’t have the status to pull them off, so is reviled and beaten.

    I’m really enjoying your reflections on the Mitchell in particular and the poem in general :)

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  2. Great answers – just what I wanted to know.

    Interesting what you say about Thersites. (I’ve finished Book 2 and 3.) He brought to mind Falstaff. I imagine Achilles’ status was primarily derived from the fact his mother was a goddess.

    I’m settling into a nice pattern of reading for enjoyment, and slowly dwelling on things that come to mind. A pleasurable learning experience.

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