That takes me back to the days when AUE was infested with the "please do
my homework" crowd.
That, in turn, has brought to mind what was possibly my best
contribution to this newsgroup. Anyone not interested in going back in
time can stop reading here.
========== reproduction of old posting ============
Subject: (alt.usage.english) Re: The Iliad - Help!
Albert Chang (ac...@ix.netcom.com
>I am currently studying Homer's The Iliad, and I find it somewhat hard
>to understand. Could someone please give me some ideas on the
>The belief in Arete is the driving force of Achilles. How does Homer
>present this belief in the character of Achilles? What is Homer's
>attitude toward arete in Book XXIV and how is it shown?
>Please email the response to ac...@ix.netcom.com
. Thank you.
The key to understanding this question is, of course, an
appreciation of the full meaning of "arete". This is not
completely obvious, but if you check some dictionaries
you'll find that "arete" is a French word meaning "fish bone".
(The ancient Greeks were great travellers, so it's not
surprising to discover that Homer was fluent in French.)
In one of the early books, the three witches - who represent
Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience - place a curse on
Achilles. Some commentators have mistakenly surmised
that this was a podiatric curse, but a deeper reading shows
that the curse is the ultimate cause of the fish bone
stuck in Achilles' throat. In the longer term this "arete"
has a major influence on all of Achilles' actions.
An apparently unrelated incident is, at least for me, the
key to understanding the underlying tensions in this story.
What is the significance of the little dog who wanders in
while Poirot is cleaning the Augean stables? The dog is
innocent of any wrong-doing, and certainly does not deserve
the rebuke "Out, out, damned Spot". What this incident
portrays is the strength of the frustration of someone
forced to work at the south end of a horse, and this is
directly parallel to the frustration felt by someone forced
to wander the world with a fish bone stuck in his
throat. Both of these are intended to symbolise the
frustration felt by people who are asked to do someone
else's work for them.
If you use any of this material, by the way, it would
be appropriate to include a citation of the source.
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW