Reading Questions: Iliad 9, 16, 18 NB: Peleion, Peleiades = Son of Peleus, ie Achilles. Aiakides also refers to Achilles (the descendant of Aiakos) Argeiphontes = epithet of Hermes, whose meaning is unclear. Either “Slayer of Argos”, or “quickly-appearing”. [Book 9] 1. What does Agamemnon decide to offer Achilles to try to get him back on the battlefield? What is Achilles doing when the embassy comes to him? What does Odysseus add in his speech after he has catalogued (practically verbatim) Agamemnon’s proffered “deal”? Do you find Achilles’ melancholic and fatalistic response surprising? Is he right? 2. Achilles insists that his “prize” was more than just that, even as he emphasizes the grave dishonor involved in Agamemnon taking her from him. It seems clear that he sees Briseis as both “prize of honor” and something like a wife. Are these concepts contradictory for him? Which concept ultimately seems to win out, and why? 3. What grand dilemma does Achilles explain to the embassy right before Phoenix’s speech, and how does this color your idea of him? What approach does Phoenix take in his speech, and how is it more effective than that of Odysseus? How does the story of Melagros (often called Meleager in later literature) affect Achilles and his plans? Is Phenix right that Achilles honor will not be as great (6.605) if he does not accept Agamemnon’s offer? What approach does Aias take in his (typically) terse speech? What does it add to the others’ speeches? [Book 16] 4. What warning does Achilles give Patroklos before sending him out to battle? How does the poet express the deep friendship between these two men? Is Achilles “cheating” himself by allowing his Myrmidons, and even Patroklos wearing his armor, to fight? 5. What do you think the function is of the long and at times gruesome depictions of hand-to-hand combat? Are the descriptions true-to-life? Does it seem to you that the bard himself (herself, themselves?) must have been a warrior, to be able to compose such detailed descriptions? 6. Why does Zeus ultimately refrain from saving his son Sarpedon from death? What does the god’s dilemma, and the way it is framed, tell us about the poet’s own ideas about fate, free will, and the will of the gods? Does knowing of Sarpedon’s death before it happens ruin the dramatic tension? What does Zeus’ intervention after Sarpedon’s death tell us about the importance of funeral rites and burial for the Greeks at this time? 7. Does Patroklos’ death seem anticlimactic to you? Is he right in calling Hektor his “third slayer”? Why has the poet done this? [Book 18] 8. How do Achilles and his companions mourn for Patroklos? How does Thetis try to comfort her son? Is it really true that Achilles is in some way responsible for Patroklos’ death (18.74-75)? Is his promise over Patroklos’ corpse to slay Hektor justified? What value does Achilles’ offer of human sacrifice have? 9. Pay close attention to the description of the shield made by Hephaistos for Achilles. What is depicted there, and what purpose does this seem to have at this point in the poem? Do you think Achilles would agree with, in particular, the actions of those in the arbitration scene (18.490-508)? What do you think the poet thinks?