recognize the importance of The Iliadending as it does
Interpreting Book 24: What does Homer’s description of Achilles as he mourns Patroclus reveal about Achilles?
When Priam ransoms Hector’s body form Achilles, Achilles describe the two urns that stand on Zeus’s doorsill. What do the contents of these two urns indicate about human life?
Look at the ending of Book 24. How does the ending show the workings of divine pity? How does it also show the workings of human pity?
Applying Book 24 Concepts to a New Situation:
The Ritual of burial helps the Trojans endure the unendurable. What rituals does society have today that help us bear human tragedy?
Analyzing Literature—Recognizing and Interpreting Epic Similes The elaborate comparisons prevalent in Book 24 of The Iliad are epic similes. Homer compares certain characters and situations to objects or occurrences that his audience is familiar with, thus drawing them into the experience of the poem. Homeric similes enable both ancient and modern audiences to identify with the action taking place in the poem.
From your perspective, find the one most significant epic simile in Book 24. Explain the comparisons and tell, from your viewpoint, how this simile invites you to identify with the story.
Critical Thinking and Reading—Understanding Ancient Code of Ethics In The Iliad, funeral rites are elaborate. They provide a way of celebrating the life and acknowledging the worth of the dead person. They also help the living come to terms with grief and loss so that they can separate themselves from the dead and go on living. First the corpse must be prepared for burial. Then the close to the deceased must give voice to their mourning in ritual laments that follow a comfortingly familiar pattern, but that also allow for personal detail. Following the ritual laments, the corpse is burned on a funeral pyre, and the ashes are later buried.
Another sacred code of behavior had to do with hospitality, xenia. It was customary to offer a stranger food, drink, and shelter before asking his or her name or business. Neither the host nor the guest was to violate the bond of hospitality; wronging a host or a guest was a crime punishable by Zeus. Ties of xenia could bind persons unrelated by blood, and their descendants, in a strong alliance.
What does Achilles hope to accomplish by defiling Hector’s corpse?
How do the gods respond to Achilles’ treatment of Hector’s body?
Why does Achilles arrange a truce so that Hector can be buried?
What role do rituals play in binding private and public worlds in The Iliad?
Achilles insists on sharing food with Priam although Achilles has just finished eating. What is the role of shared food in the context of hospitality? What is the role of shared food in the context of grief and accepting loss?
How does the meeting of Priam and Achilles in Achilles’ tent stretch the limits of the guest-host relationship?
Thinking and Writing—Writing About Shared Humanity Priam’s tears of loss over Hector’s death move Achilles to realize that his own father would have been similarly devastated by the thought of Achilles dead on the battlefield. That realization breaks down the strict heroic code Achilles lives by, and the two men shed tears of sadness in recognition of their common human condition. Analyze the scene between Achilles and Priam and discuss ways in which it illustrates their shared humanity. Be certain you have supported your discussion with examples from the text.
Please note: I have had to vary the translations that I use for the Iliad, the page numbers may be an estimate and not an exact reference.