I want to thank Book Huntress World for tagging me to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Tag. I’m supposed to post three quotes on three separate days, but I already did this tag a few months ago, so I thought I’d do something different. This month Pages Unbound is hosting a Classics Event, and I wrote a guest post called What We Can Learn About Modern Warfare From The Iliad. Stop by Pages Unbound on Wednesday to see how I tackled the physical, mental, and political aspects of war and the comparisons I make to The Iliad and the Iraq war. It’s a really good piece and unlike anything I’ve ever written for my blog, so I recommend you take a look on Wednesday to see what you think.
Because I’m so excited about my first guest post, I thought I’d share 3 of the best lines from The Iliad. A loose interpretation of the story was adapted to film back in 2004 and Brad Pitt played Achilles. Since I loved his depiction of Achilles, as well as the other actors characterization of some of my favorite Greek legends, I thought I’d share some pictures from the movie to go along with the quotes.
The major themes of The Iliad are glory and fame, the wrath of Achilles, and the idea of homecoming after war, something we see with Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey.
Quote #1 In this quote, Achilles’ mother has told him that if he stays in Troy he will die. In the end, Achilles chooses glory over homecoming.
“Mother tells me,
the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet,
that two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies…
True, but the life that’s left me will be long…”
Honor is the most important thing to Achilles. He believes that an honorable man would stay in Troy and fight. He wants glory and fame and he has accepted his fate.
Quote #2 and #3 When Hector kills Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend, he falls to his knees, crying over the death of his friend. Patroclus’ death is the real turning point for the story because this fuels Achilles’ need for revenge. It turns him into a heartless killer who will do anything to avenge Patroclus’ death.
When Achilles learns of Patroclus’ death, his mother, Thetis, tells him that if he goes after Hector for killing Patrolcus that his death will follow and he says, “Then let me die at once.”
Knowing the death of Patroclus means his death, Hector has dinner with his men and tells them, “The god of war is impartial: he hands out death to the man who hands out death.”
The Greeks mourn the loss of Patroclus all night, a loss that is far too great for Achilles to deal with. The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is integral to The Iliad and is what moves the story forward. It will rip your heart out and crush into a thousand pieces when you read Achilles’ grief over his friend. Patroclus was sent to live with Achilles and his father, and he made promises to keep him safe. He has broken the promise he made and is ashamed and heartbroken over his death. He doesn’t think he deserves to live and so he fights Hector, knowing he will die.
That act was so moving, at least for me, that I instantly felt connected to Achilles on an emotional level. I’ve mentioned several times that The Iliad is my favorite book. It’s so raw and real you can feel the characters unlike any book I’ve ever read. For those who are familiar with Greek mythology, you will appreciate The Iliad. I’m reading The Song of Achilles, told from Patroclus’ point of view, and I’m so hooked I have no doubt I’ll have finished it by this weekend.
If you’re interested in reading The Iliad, I recommend the Robert Fagles translation that you can buy by clicking on the book cover that’s linked to Amazon. It’s available on Kindle for $0.99 and in paperback for $13.01 in the US.
Make sure you stop by Pages Unbound on Wednesday to see how I compared The Iliad to modern warfare. Have you read The Iliad? What are your thoughts on classic literature?
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