Priamos vor verschlossenen Türen (Il. 24, 443–458). Ein typical motif und das Ende der Ilias

On the way to his famous encounter with Achilles in the last book of the Iliad, Priam is confronted with a series of obstacles. The final and biggest is the huge bolt on the door of Achilles’ dwelling, a unique object that is described elaborately by the poet of the Iliad. Three men are needed to open this bolt, only Achilles is able to unbolt the door alone. (Il. 24, 453–458). By using in an innovative way a typical motif of the oral epic tradition with several parallels in the epic (Il. 5, 302–306; 12, 445–450; 16, 140–144), the poet has given this bolt a singular symbolic meaning. It symbolizes Achilles’ isolation and unapproachability after the death of Patroclus. Priam, the old king of Troy, would never be able to approach Achilles in this situation without divine help. Hermes, his godly guide, opens the bolt for Priam and clears the way to Achilles, as he helped him before. Without divine intervention, there would be no encounter, no communication, no pity (eleos) in Achilles’ room. The reconciliation can only come to pass by divine motivation and guidance. Without the gods, Achilles’ bolt would remain closed and Priam would be forced to stand in front of locked doors.

 Oliver Hellmann. Priamos vor verschlossenen Türen (Il. 24, 443–458). Ein typical motif und das Ende der Ilias