Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published March 18, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Here’s hoping I can type this.  I cut the tip of my finger on a sliver of glass (I shoulda known that shadow box was on clearance for a reason!) and it hurts like heck, especially whenever I apply pressure…and it’s hard not to do that when you’re typing, y’know?  (At least it seems to be done bleeding!  I was afraid I was going to get light-headed, it bled so much.)

Okay, so, it’s Words Crush Wednesday again, and we’re finally starting the duel between Menelaos and Alexander!  Even if I hadn’t hurt my finger, I don’t think I could have finished the duel this week, though.  ‘Tis a lengthy fight, mainly because Menelaos can’t do anything without giving a speech first.  (Neither can most of the other Greeks.)  Anyway, we’re still in Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation.  In the stuff I skipped over, it was agreed that they’d draw lots to see who would throw his spear first, and the first throw went to Paris.

Now the two strode out into the middle, with grim looks that struck awe into all beholders.  They came to a stand in the measured space, shaking their spears at each other in defiance.  Alexandros first cast his spear; Menelaos caught it neatly upon the shield.  The spear did not break through the metal, but the point was bent.

And that’s just the beginning.  Really, despite what I said above, I ought to give the whole fight now–it’s only about a page long, and has no good stopping points–but my finger won’t let me.  I’ll do the rest of the fight next week.  I promise.

Oh, but just as a point of interest, the bit about the tip of Alexander’s spear?  In most of these duels in the Iliad, the tip of the spear penetrates the shield–Hector penetrated seven of the eight layers of the massive tower shield carried by Aias!–meaning that only by skill can the defender escape injury.  The fact that Menelaos’ shield was stronger than Alexander’s throw proves what a weakling he is compared to, well, pretty much every other warrior in the entire epic.


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