Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Book 7 (Question)

“And soon, Menelaus, your life would have come to an end”

Am I supposed to read this as the poet speaking?

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3 thoughts on “Book 7 (Question)

  1. There is an article on the Web by Emily Allen-Hornblower (Harvard, Center for Hellenic Studies) about the apostrophes in the Iliad.

    From the pages:
    “Apostrophes in Homeric poetry—those instances where the poet addresses a character directly in the vocative—are “embarrassing” for the reader and critic. [1] The apostrophe disrupts the flow of the third-person narrative by bringing the poet, performer, and audience in direct contact with one of the characters. To what end? [2] In the Iliad, the overwhelming majority of apostrophes are addressed to Patroclus (8 times, all of them in book 16 [3] ) and Menelaus (7 times). [4] Much like a historical present, they take the listener into the here-and-now of the scene, [5] creating a sense of greater proximity with the character being thus addressed. Scholars since Antiquity have interpreted these apostrophes as expressions of particular concern on the part of the poet for the characters in question. [6] The fact that the majority of apostrophes are principally directed at Patroclus and Menelaus is seen as a reflection of the fact that these are the two heroes that the poem represents as “unusually sensitive and worthy of the audience’s sympathy.” [7] ”

    The notes 43 and 44 in the paper directly concern your text, Il. 7.104-108.
    From the pages:
    “That the apostrophe, by expressing the narrator’s sympathy, marks a potential watershed moment in the narrative is never so clear as when Menelaus volunteers to fight Hector one-on-one. In the same line, the poet calls out Menelaus’ name directly in the vocative and states that such a confrontation would mean certain death for him. Both the apostrophe and the accompanying statement contribute to foreground the threat at hand (7.104–105): [43]

    ἔνθά κέ τοι Μενέλαε φάνη βιότοιο τελευτὴ
    Ἕκτορος ἐν παλάμῃσιν, ἐπεὶ πολὺ φέρτερος ἦεν…

    It remains, however, merely a hypothetical threat: the whole address to Menelaus is part of a “pivotal contrafactual:” “then death would have appeared to you, Menelaus…” [44] This “would… have” apodosis stresses the dire nature of the possible outcome of the duel (Menelaus’ death) by preceding the “if…not” protasis that follows, in which the ruinous outcome is prevented by Menelaus’ brother, Agamemnon (7.106–108), whose role is thus magnified:

    εἰ μὴ ἀναΐξαντες ἕλον βασιλῆες Ἀχαιῶν,
    αὐτός τ’ Ἀτρεΐδης εὐρὺ κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων
    δεξιτερῆς ἕλε χειρὸς ἔπος τ’ ἔφατ’ ἔκ τ’ ὀνόμαζεν·

    As in the previous cases we have observed, the dramatic potential of the threat is pointed up by the apostrophe (and, in this instance, the accompanying contrafactual it is a part of), before a protective figure steps in to protect his philos. [45] Here, the intervention is a verbal, not a physical one (7.106–119): Agamemnon issues a sharp warning to his brother, in which he marvels at his aphrosunê for thinking he might be a match for one whom even Achilles shudders to face (7.113–114). [46]

    Enjoy ;)

    Source: “Revisiting the Apostrophes to Patroclus in Iliad 16”


  2. I’m so the wrong person to pose this question too, but looks like you got a good answer above.


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