To all my friends, followers and those who just happen to stumble across my blog, I’m so sorry that I’ve been absent and have fallen behind in The Iliad Read-Along. My mother has been in the hospital for the last month+, which has taken up most of my time for reading and blogging. She lives some distance from me, about 1 1/2 – 3 hours round-trip, depending on traffic, and with the visits and talks with doctors, etc. I’ve had little time to do much else. Right now, she’s not eating much and at times refusing food, so it doesn’t look good. She’s had a long life and she says that she’s ready to go, so I believe it’s just a matter of when. It’s sad but then again, it’s part of life and we must accept what it brings. Hopefully Jesus has made a special place for her with the angels. 😇
We have more battling between the two sides, with more conniving and dishonestly displayed by the gods, and Agamemnon continues to display a concerning lack of leadership.
In these sections the epic lives up to its reputation of being a “poem of death,” but in spite of this title, you can still see very human exchanges between characters. I’m going to try to pick out some of these more human elements.
In Book XI there are a number of similes (a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid) so be on the lookout!
La Maison du Chat-Qui-Pelote: “Half-way down the Rue Saint-Denis, almost at the corner of the Rue du Petit-Lion, there stood formerly one of those delightful houses which enable historians to reconstruct old Paris by analogy.”
I quite love French literature and wish I had time to read more of it. I’ve begun reading La Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola which consists of 20 novels of which I’ve read four. Honoré Balzac has surpassed Zola’s series in great magnitude with his La Comédie Humaine (originally called Etudes des Mœurs or The Study of Manners) which is comprised of 91 finished works and 46 unfinished works. The sheer volume of reading is daunting but if one never begins, one never conquers, right? So I’ve started with one book in a sub-series called Scènes de la vie privée or Scenes from a Private Life, La Maison du Chat-Qui-Pelote. Originally titled, Glory and Misfortune, elements of it echo in Balzac’s private life: his fabric merchant uncles, the impassive and unresponsive behaviour of his family, etc. It’s a wonderful start to his magnum opus as he begins his examination of the motivations, mistakes, pleasures, modes and experiences of human life!
As we read along, we are experiencing different characters’ aresteias, the peculiar and capricious behavior of the gods, bravery and cowardice and now, in these upcoming chapters we’ll see the art of persuasive reasoning. The Iliad truly has many things to offer!
How is everyone doing? Is the going getting easier? Are the characters beginning to stick in your mind? Now we move to more battle scenes with interesting exchanges and the gods are plotting against each other.
I’ve been having some computer problems but am still almost on track as the read continues. I hope that you’re all enjoying it. Once you become familiar with the characters, the interplay between and around them is fascinating. In these next books, we learn more about Diomedes, are introduced to Hektor’s family and learn more about the ancient Greek worldview. And, of course, the gods work towards fate often in confusing ways, as the story unfolds.
The Achaians advance across the plain and the Trojans move to meet them. Alexandros (Paris) struts out to challenge any of the Argive leaders, yet when Menelaus, the husband of Helen, steps forward, in cowardice Alexandros/Paris shrinks back to disappear among the fighters. Hektor, shamed by his brother’s behaviour, rebukes him firmly:
My goodness, I was starting to get nervous. I’d participated in this challenge since the beginning of my blog, which means approximately 6 years. I was worried that it wasn’t happening this year but Karen posted the sign-up post yesterday and I’m thrilled. It’s one of my favourite challenges, even though I haven’t done splendidly with it the last couple of years. However, this year is a new year and I will try again!
Normally with my read-alongs, I post my summaries and comments at the end of the week of the scheduled read to allow people to absorb the work before they read what I have to say. But this poem can be a little overwhelming on a first read with all its different names and unfamiliar customs, so I’m going to TRY and post as the beginning or middle of the scheduled section. Hopefully my posts can help you navigate through it and perhaps add some understanding to assist you on your way.