Guess I’ll pick up from last week’s Words Crush Wednesday. So last week we had Achilles running like a scared rabbit, and this week we have him whining at the gods. He’s not faring well this month. (Heh.)
Book XXI of the Iliad, W. H. D. Rouse translation.
Then Peleides looked up to the heavens and groaned:
“O Father Zeus! to think not one of the gods has a little pity for me, to save me from this river! After that I don’t care what happens. But I cannot blame any of the host of heaven so much as my own mother, who cajoled me with falsehoods. She said I should die by one of Apollo’s quick shafts under the walls of Troy. I wish Hector had killed me, the best man born and bred in these parts! Then a brave man would have killed, and a brave man would have died. But now my fate is to die an ignominious death, caught in this river, like a boy from the pigsty who tries to cross a torrent in winter and drowns!”
His sheer sense of entitlement is off the scale. It’s hard to get a grasp on it without the part I didn’t quote last week, where he was mouthing off to the river god, of course. Because it’s not like the river just rose up in flood suddenly and without warning. No, he purposefully pissed it off first. So what was he expecting to happen?! And then he seriously expects the gods to come down out of the skies and save him.
It’s just, like, you know, who do you think you are?
The odd thing is that there’s only one other person in the Iliad who would seriously expect any gods to just pop up and save him, but Achilles never faces him in combat…except to die on one of his arrows, after the epic is over, that is. None of the other Greeks would ever dare to expect any of the gods to save them–even Odysseus and Diomedes would never expect Athene to save them, though she frequently does so, especially during the Odyssey–and even Aeneas doesn’t go about demanding that Apollo or even his divine mother save him, despite that he’s frequently rescued by both of them and even once by Poseidon, even though he’s on the other side of the war. But Alexander fully expects Aphrodite to step in and save him when he’s in trouble, just as Achilles here expects to be saved in this one instance of his meeting a foe he can’t slay with his spear.
If I was smarter, I’m sure there would be a thesis for a really good paper in that. (Then again, I’m sure that in 2,000+ years of scholarship, that issue has been covered repeatedly and in great depth. But probably not with my sense of irreverence.)