Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published February 18, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Internet at large, be grateful:  Words Crush Wednesday has just saved you from listening to (reading about?) me griping about how the extra cold night burst a water main on my street, so I had no water when I woke up, and had to rush out of the house without doing anything water-related, not even going to the bathroom.  Instead, you get the continuation of my extended quotation of the duel between Menelaos and Alexander in Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation.  Where I left off last week, Alexander had just slunk away in terror at the sight of Menelaos…

Then Hector rated him with scorn:

“Damn you, Paris, you handsome woman-hunter, you seducer!  I wish you had never been born, I wish you had died unwedded!  Yes, I wish that! and it would have been much better than to be a public pest, a thing of contempt.  What guffaws there must be over there!  They thought you a prime champion because you are good-looking.  But there’s no pluck in you, no fight!”

This from one of the two nicest men in the entire poem, and Hector’s not done yet, let me tell you!  The crowning jewel of his speech is in the next paragraph; I’ll post it next week. (Oh, and it wasn’t entirely silly for Hector to talk about the enemy thinking that Alexander’s good looks equaled skill in battle:  the word kalos has a great number of meanings, especially “beautiful” but also “good” and “noble.”  Apparently, in ancient Greece, beauty and quality in all things were considered always to go hand-in-hand; hence Helen’s descriptions of the Greek leaders later in Book III calls every single one of them (except Odysseus) handsome, and the only Greek pointedly described as being ugly is Thersites, a mean-spirited fellow who gets his jollies by mocking everyone around him, particularly Achilles, Agamemnon and Odysseus.)


3 comments on “Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

  • I have to tell you your quote brings back memories from my freshmen year in college–1971. I recall studying Agamemnon by Aeschylus…that is a memory long since forgotten. It was only your mention of Agamemnon that brought that to mind.


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