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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Nothing Ever Changes

I have to read The Iliad by Homer this semester for one of my classes. The whole thing. Quite a daunting task. The first eight chapters are due by next week. So since I have turned over a new leaf and decided that I will actually apply myself and study this time around with school, I sat down last night and started reading. I read part of The Odyssey while I was in high school (which was a LONG time ago now), but never The Iliad. And the truth is, whatever parts of The Odyssey I did read, I have managed to forget pretty much everything about it (to be perfectly honest, I probably didn't read much of what was assigned way back when). So, I was properly intimidated about trying to read The Iliad, not helped much by the fact that the book could in no way be considered short. But I was determined, and I picked it up and started reading. Surprisingly, the language was not so hard to understand, and after a few pages, I managed to get into the rhythm of it, and was able to pick up most of what was going on. The hardest part, I found, was keeping everyone's name straight (though I often have the same problem when I am reading my girly fiction books, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise). So, I'm reading along about these great, powerful kings after a big battle, along with these Greek gods who come down to earth and interact with everyone, and I am struck by how petty all these supposedly mighty warriors are. They fight over two girls, can't get along, and then, when they finally part ways, the king runs home crying to mommy. Runs home crying to mommy? This king, after the war is over, and he has to give up two girls that he believes he has won in battle (and don't even get me started on women being the spoils of war), goes home, starts crying like a baby, and asks mommy to go fix everything for him. He asks her to intervene with the gods on his behalf to help him get back his girl. And of course, she does whatever she can for her baby son. I was quite surprised by this. I am not sure what Homer is saying here. Is he saying that behind the scenes, it is the women who run things? Is he saying that no matter how powerful and strong a man might be, his instinct is to go home and cry on mommy's shoulder and ask her to fix things and make them all better? I thought that these big, mighty men would never have anything to do with women, would see them as the weaker sex, as objects to be saved, but here, in this epic poem that is allegedly over 3,000 years old, men are shown as needing their mothers to right the "injustices" done to them? Reading that one chapter went a long way into explaining some of the guys I have dated. All I have to say is, Oh Boy.

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