Re: RARA-AVIS: heroes/Achilles

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 25 Jul 2002

> Miker wrote:
> >A couple of examples from THE
> >ILIAD: Achilles - the greatest warrior of his time, was a practising
> >homosexual - he shares a tent with Patrocolus & goes into a killing
> >when his lover is killed in battle by Hector, the Trojan champion.
> Quite apart from the question of why any of this would make Achilles
> "flawed," this simply isn't true. There's no reference in the Iliad
> Achilles and Patroclus being lovers, that's a post-Homeric gloss put
on the
> story by later Greeks and Romans.

Don't blame miker, that was me. It's not my opinion that being homosexual is a flaw, the Classical Greeks looked down on homosexuality
(or whatever you want to call two men having sexual congress - Mario tells us that homosexuality is a modern concept). I know that the nature of Achilles' & Patrocolus' relationship is not spelled out but I believe the implication is in the text - A & P share a tent in a time when the great heroes had their own tents. Also, the savagery of Achilles' response to the death of Pat although not conclusive evidence surely implies a relationship that went deeper than just being buddies.In short, I think Homer was dropping hints about the character of Achilles, mainly because his audience probably already knew, or thought they did, about Achilles. (It reminds me a little of the incident that Truman Capote based IN COLD BLOOD on. One of the two home invaders involved was about to rape the house owner's daughter when his partner went ballistic & murdered the whole household. Sexual jealousy is the only plausible explanation in that instance. And before I have to defend myself, no, I don't think murders inspired by sexual jealousy are a particularly gay thing. They are a human thing.) On the topic of changing notions of heroism, it's interesting to note that the Achilles/Patroclus (with the homo-spin, also not spelled out but pretty obvious to a contemporary audience all the same) story was recycled in MAD MAX II (aka THE ROAD WARRIOR), Max standing in for Hector, the mohawk sporting Wes as Achilles & a pretty blonde boy
("spunky surfer bi-guy seeks same"*) as Patroclus. Of course in this version, the Trojans win & Achilles (& the rest of the Greeks) are the baddies.In today's world being a brave & mighty warrior does not guarantee hero status. Anyone have any problem with me describing Odysseus as a draft dodger?
(Personally, I tend towards pacifism myself, so I wasn't implying that Ody was flawed because he'd rather stay home with the wife & kids rather than go raping & pillaging with the rest of the boys. The Greeks wouldn't have shared my opinion.)
(*Sorry about that. Tired & emotional).

Rene, who isn't gay (not that there's anything wrong etc) & is not a gay basher (& there is something wrong with that)

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