Classics 130 - The Trojan War: The Iliad - Books 19-24

Reading and Discussion Questions:

Please consider the follow questions while you read the Iliad. These are topics that we will very likely discuss together in class, so use these to collect thoughts and take notes if it helps.

To judge from Achilles' first speech in assembly, how important is Briseis to him? How do both generals find a "face-saving" explanation for their earlier pig-headedness?

Why does Zeus now encourage the gods to enter the battle, each supporting his or her favored side?

Is the battle action still believable or has Homer taken us to another realm of reality? Does the scene of the gods' strife serve as "comic relief" to the war of men or does it inspire deeper meditations on war and violence? Can it do both?

How does Homer reveal to us Hector's thoughts? How is his piety shown even when the gods desert and trick him? Do we sympathize with Andromache or are we on the side of the Greeks?

What are the functions of the funeral games: for the Achaeans at this point in the war, and for Homer at this point in the poem, given that he lavishes such extensive coverage on them?

What considerations, extraneous to our view, can and do enter into the awarding of prizes? What contrast does this permit us to draw between Homeric Society and our own? In what way is the awarding of the prize for javelin throwing a fitting conclusion to the games, and to the strife with which The Iliad began?

Though Zeus could have taken Hector's body at any time - what is the value of his having Achilles and Priam play out their parts in the transfer? What is the significance of the meal they take together? How do you feel about the epic's final scenes?

In what ways does the episode of Priam's visit to Achilles and the ransoming of Hektor's corpse serve as a satisfying capstone to The Iliad? How do you feel about the epic's final scenes?