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Iliad_1-10 (1).docx

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Boston College
Honors Program
HONR 1101

Emily McClure The Iliad Books 1-10 Notes The Trojan War was an extremely large war that involved a multitude of peoples from many far away lands. It involved cities and groups that had nothing to do with the main conflict of the war, which was between Paris of Troy and Menelaus of Sparta. The conflict between Paris and Menelaus is completely justified. It was a great scandal for Paris to steal Menelaus’s wife, Helen. Personally, though, I don’t feel as though it was reasonable to involve so many people with no personal connection to the conflict. Achilles expresses this concern himself: “As for myself, when I came here to fight, / I had no quarrel with Troy or Trojan spearmen… No, no, we joined for you, you insolent boor, / to please you, fighting for you brother’s sake / and yours, to get revenge upon the Trojans” (I, 179, 184-186).Achilles illustrates that he has not come for any reason of his own, but he came to fight for his king,Agamemnon. To help their king and allies does not seem, to me, reason enough to involve so many people in such a serious battle. The Homeric universe is filled with traditions, roles, and customs that belong to a culture much different than ours. Many of the aspects of the society in The Iliad are strange and even alien compared to twenty-first century society, but some parts actually seem similar or even appealing. For example, one similarity is the extremity to which material goods determine one’s honor in society. This is not all that different than our world today. What is strange to me, though, is the custom of giving such valuable gifts to one another. For example, after Hector and GreatAjax battle (to no avail), they end up giving each other presents afterward. When they stop fighting, Hector announces, “Let us make one another memorable gifts, / and afterward they’ll say, amongAchaeans / and Trojans: ‘These two fought and gave no quarter / in close combat, yet they parted friends’” (VII, 356-359). In our society today, it is uncommon for people to give someone immense a wealth as a sign of friendship, but i
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