Re: RARA-AVIS: THE ILIAD - Dirty Tricks Are Good

Date: 29 Nov 2003

Jesse wrote:

To live, to survive to out-trick your
> opponent is the only good for them, thus Odysseus is
> the most "heroic" of all the Greeks of the two epics,
> surviving the long journey home even though he is the
> most underhanded and trickiest sonofabitch of them
> all! I think that's one of the reasons its so good.

Excellent post overall on the ebb and flow of Greek morality, Jesse. Mike: another thing to bear in mind, especially about Odysseus, is that he is the first truly full-bodied character in Western literature. He is by turns brave, cowardly, boastful, modest, wily, unwise, sagacious, and foolhardy. In other words, he seems like a *man*, not like a flat, cardboard cut-out of a character, or worse still, some sort of allegory. It's interesting to note that there is not a character as fully realized as Odysseus in Western literature until Shakespeare's Hamlet ambles along to 'strut and fret his hour upon the stage,' some 2,400 years later.

Lastly, it might be constructive to bear in mind that both the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed in a preliterate society, and passed down by word of mouth for nearly two hundred years from one bard to the next until someone finally wrote them down in 5th or 6th century B.C. No mean feat, when you stop to think about it!

Hope this helps and all the best,


# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 29 Nov 2003 EST