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English Arabic. Important Links. Why does he have the first day of fighting? The answer is twofold. He is in no hurry. He is composing this huge epic. He intuitively sees it as artistically desirable to establish Greek superiority before describing their defeat. This is bound to increase the impact of book 8.
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If we moved straight from 1 to 8, there would simply be gloom. Zeus would manipulate the battle. The Greeks would be seen as ineffective, unable to cope without Achilleus. By showing us the bright figure of Diomedes dominating the battlefield in 5, Homer makes it all more lively and positive, more enjoyable for his hearers, more dramatic.
What about 2 to 4? Just as in the Diomedes aristeia, we are assessing the past, the balance of forces before Achilleus got angry, so in 2 to 4 we are receiving impressions that go back in time, even further back, to the beginning of the war, and even its preceding cause, by the inclusion of lists and set descriptions which reflect those earlier days.
This is well known, The Importance of Iliad 8 59 and I think generally accepted.
These backwardreflecting incidents precede the aristeia of Diomedes, which, as I said, establishes the balance between the two armies before Zeus shows his hand. So 2 to 4 and 5 to 7 are both preliminary. And note that there is a pause at that point, after this very significant action on the first day after book 1, a truce which has the effect of separating that day from what is to come. Thus, after the setting of the background in those early books, with the truce acting as a dividing line, we come to the eighth book, and finally Zeus takes action to fulfil the promise he made in 1.
It is truly indispensable. We could not have him nodding his head and shaking Olympos, and then apparently letting matters take their own course.
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It is worth pointing out in passing, before turning to book 8, that the expansion in the time-scale in those early books, so that we have the feeling of the background, is balanced by the advance echoes and forebodings of the future that pile up in the final books of the epic. So the past is recalled and the future foreshadowed; the Iliad is truly an Iliad. But we recall that scholars have been 60 Malcolm M.
The weaknesses complained of include a that the actions described are inconsequential— people try something, but give it up, both on the human level Diomedes, Teukros and on the divine Hera, Athene ; b that a greater than usual number of lines in this book are found also elsewhere in the Iliad; c that there is an unusual number of plus-verses in this book in the pre-Aristarchan papyri.
One explanation of a certain muddiness, as it might appear, in book 8 reflects the mind of the poet. Homer has an engaging reluctance to describe Trojans defeating Greeks. In his heroic epic, the heroes are the Greeks; so even when the Trojans have to be shown as winning, because of the plot, it is unwelcome to the poet.
Nevertheless Hektor is on top at the end. But more important, in relation to the criticisms, is the answer derived from oral poetry theory.
We have learned that the essential feature of such poetry is repetition: lines recur, formulaic phrases recur. So to point out that a large number of the lines in this book recur does not imply that the book is late and secondary. Recurrences are not to be discussed under the assumption that one example has been copied from another, so that you can argue which is the original and which the copy.
Rather the repeated phrases are separate occurrences of the same phrase. Thus we should not be too concerned by the criticism about lines and formulaic phrases occurring both here and in other books, especially book 5. The situations in 5 and 8 are similar. Diomedes is opposing Hektor; the pro-Greek gods Hera and Athene are trying to interfere. The conditions of oral poetry lead in a similar context to the appearance of similar material.
And, as to the plus-verses in preAristarchan papyri, they are less surprising if stock material is being used. Kirk himself quotes Dr Stephanie West, the expert on the early papyri, as playing down the significance of these plus-verses here; she accepts that they probably arise from the same cause as the repeated lines—the use of stock material.go site
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Again one should not speculate about originals and copies. Part of that famous simile at the end, The Importance of Iliad 8 61 describing the Trojan watch-fires on the plain, comes again in book 16 at f. But that does not mean that the passage in our book 16 was the model for that in 8.
And this applies also to the most striking repetition in 8, from 5, of Athene and Hera setting off in a chariot to help the Greeks.
The situations are very similar; but we should not be speaking of an original and a copy. However, in repeated incidents such as I have been describing, the repetition is often not null, but has a cumulative effect. This has been pointed out in relation to certain demonstrably recurring sequences, such as the four soliloquies in the Iliad and the four warnings of Polydamas to Hektor. Hektor loses his charioteer Eniopeus to Diomedes at , and later, in virtually the same sequence, his replacement charioteer Archeptolemos to Teukros at ; then he asks his own brother Kebriones to take the reins.
The long-term effect of cumulation operates in this case across a gap of eight books. Book 8 opens with the memorable, even bizarre, scene of Zeus forbidding all the gods and goddesses to interfere in the battle. The reason for this becomes totally clear when we accept the structural fact, that he is now going to take personal action to fulfil his promise, to help the Trojans. The general ban 5—12 is directly preparing the personal intervention 75— The rest of the book concentrates on the reluctance, even the opposition, of the pro-Greek goddesses and of certain Greeks, in a repetitive i.
But Zeus is, as he asserts 18—27 , stronger than all of them together. His will prevails. It is heroic in the extreme, one might almost say foolhardy, of Diomedes to oppose the pressure from Zeus; and he does it three times. First he moves forward, in the face of the thunder and the thunderbolt, to rescue Nestor; secondly, having rescued him, he attacks the Trojans and Hektor, until Zeus thunders again and throws a thunderbolt again, at And thirdly, as he then retreats, and Hektor shouts abuse, he thinks three times of turning his chariot and fighting Hektor again; and three times Zeus 62 Malcolm M.
Willcock thunders from Ida. One is reminded of the extreme statement of Apollo to Aineias at The clash of wills between the supreme god and the supreme hero typifies the stress of the day. Zeus is helping the Trojans to drive the Greeks back; but the Greeks are not weakly conceding. As I said earlier, Leaf lived before our wide discussion of the techniques of oral composition. So did Wilamowitz; while Schadewaldt, Reinhardt, and even Bannert try to describe the phenomena without calling oral theory to their aid.
The threefold resistance of Diomedes is not all. The same tension, the same opposition to the will of Zeus, is seen among the gods also.
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And there too the resistance is shown three times. First Athene objects when Zeus makes his outright veto against any god interfering in lines 28—40, which were athetised by Aristarchus ; the purpose is to show that the pro-Greek gods are no more willing to concede than the Greek hero on earth. Later, Hera tries to persuade the pro-Greek Poseidon to intervene, though without success; and on a third occasion she does persuade Athene to join her in active opposition.
It is all to show, by cumulation, the reluctance of the pro-Greek goddesses to accept the arbitrary as they see it action of Zeus in positively assisting the Trojans. And eventually Zeus threatens the same action against Hera and Athene a thunderbolt as he employed against Diomedes and the men on the ground — Would the critics have preferred the Greeks and their divine supporters to give way the moment Zeus showed his hand?
Would that be heroic in the men, or worthy of belief in the gods? The Importance of Iliad 8 63 Homer gets powerful results by very simple means. In this case, the threefold repetition of opposition, both on earth and in heaven, making six times in all, shows the strength of the opposition, but also the in practice irresistible superiority of Zeus, who as he says at the beginning is so powerful that he could take on the lot of them in a tug of war, if he wished, and still win easily. NOTES 1. Danek, Studien zur Dolonie Vienna The figure of Diomedes is of course very interesting, as he seems to be a substitute Achilleus, hardly to be conceived as in action when Achilleus was there as well.
Andersen, Die Diomedesgestalt in der Ilias Oslo See, among others, J. See M.