Fragen an Homers Achilleus

To counter the predominance of narratology and other self-serving approaches to the Ilias of Homer which have swarmed the recent criticism, the author of this article poses a number of simple questions to Achilles himself eliciting answers through the clues the text of the Ilias alone can offer. “What is your role in the Ilias?” “Pivotal”. “What caused your wrath and withdrawal from battle?” “Self-respect and abhorrence of the ostentatiously lavish gifts meant to insult”. “Why then did you return to battle in the end?” “The death of Patrocles has dealt such a blow that there is no longer any heeding of trifles, the wrath giving way to vengeance which exhausts itself, but only by way of compassion.” “Is there anything you value most?” “It is but life itself, the loss of which is irrecoverable, and not, as one could over-hastily conclude, undying glory.” With the help of these questions, the author hopes to tap into the very heart of this epic poem and its main hero, Achilles, making it evident each time that Homer masterfully goes beyond the boundaries of what is traditionally believed to be the heroic code of conduct thus making it richer and less clear-cut. The voice of Achilles reaching to us through millennia is a living voice.

 Joachim Latacz. Fragen an Homers Achilleus