Quotation For The Week

The Iliad is a great book written by the Greek poet, Homer, about 3000 years ago. This book is about the ancient city called Ilium. Troy is the English name for that city. I once thought that the Iliad was about the face that launched a thousand ships: Helen. It is not. It is about the rage of Achilles.

Achilles was a Greek king who brought his troops to fight Troy, along with a consortium of other Greek Kings. He had captured a slave girl in the early fighting but that girl was taken away by the Greek leader, Agamemnon. Agamemnon felt that such a trophy should be reserved for the honor of the top general.

Achilles was outraged and now refused to fight in the 10th year of the Trojan War. He sat in his tent and pouted until in one battle his “dear” friend, Petroclus, volunteered to wear Achilles’ armor and make it look like Achilles was fighting. Petroclus was killed in the battle by Hector.

Now we see the violent and unholy rage of Achilles. He went bezerk on the battle field to avenge the death of Petroclus. Had “war criminal” been a term in those days, that would be Achilles. He did some nasty things like round up tens of prisoners at one time, hog tie them, slit their throat, and throw them into a hole to make a burial shrine for Petroclus. That is murder. It is the same as a policeman shooting an unarmed suspect that has surrendered.

Finally, Hector and Achilles fight one on one. When the brave and noble Hector sees that diabolical rage, he cracks and runs. Achilles hunts Hector down from behind and kills him. Achilles then ties the body of Hector to his chariot and drags it around the walls of Troy several times and saves it as a trophy.

All this hate is for the loss of a good friend. Historians and commentators have called this very questionable behavior. Getting that angry just for the death of a “good friend”? No, it is clear that something evil is going on. I think Homer was sending us a message. It is simply not moral nor healthy to get that angry about anything in this world. It is just weird and bad.

An angry man – there is my story: the bitter rancor of Achilles, prince of the House of Peleus, which brought a thousand troubles upon the Achaean (Greek) host. – The Iliad, Homer

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