Achilles and Hector: The Homeric Hero

Achilles and Hector: The Homeric Hero

Seth Benardete Ronna Burger Michael Davis / Jan 17, 2020

Achilles and Hector The Homeric Hero Seth Benardete s study of the Iliad which initiated his scholarly career bears the hallmarks of the unique turn of mind that characterized all his later work In a brief Note written thirty years lat

  • Title: Achilles and Hector: The Homeric Hero
  • Author: Seth Benardete Ronna Burger Michael Davis
  • ISBN: 9781587310010
  • Page: 457
  • Format: Paperback
  • Seth Benardete s study of the Iliad, which initiated his scholarly career, bears the hallmarks of the unique turn of mind that characterized all his later work In a brief Note written thirty years later, included in this volume, he looks back on what he sees as the limits of his original reading of the Iliad Yet he seems to have been aware of the fundamental problems froSeth Benardete s study of the Iliad, which initiated his scholarly career, bears the hallmarks of the unique turn of mind that characterized all his later work In a brief Note written thirty years later, included in this volume, he looks back on what he sees as the limits of his original reading of the Iliad Yet he seems to have been aware of the fundamental problems from early on that he wrestled with explicitly when he returned to Homer some forty years later the question of the relations among gods, fate, and human choice, which lies at the core of his late Platonic reading of the Odyssey, is already guiding his understanding of the Iliad And he saw, in working out that understanding, how those relations take on a very distinct form for the tragic hero in contrast with the comic hero Achilles in contrast with Odysseus.Achilles and Hector The Homeric Hero is divided into two parts, Style and Plot In the first, Benardete examines the formulae Homer inherited from the poetic tradition, but only to demonstrate how Homer put them to work for deliberate purposes in his search for those purposes, Benardete leads us to see how the supposedly conventional epithets and similes in fact open up key themes of the Iliad, including the crucial differences between men and heroes, Achaeans and Trojans, lineage and individual virtue If the epithets were properly understood, Benardete suggests, however hesitantly, the plot of the Iliad would necessarily follow.Turning to the plot, Benardete brings to light a pattern marked by three stages, in the course of which the motives of the Trojan War are transformed While the war begins as a struggle for justice and vengeance, provoked by Helen, she unleashes something that goes beyond her the love of fame or glory, in which heroic ambition finds its natural expression A third stage is ushered in with Achilles choice to return to the war in order to avenge the death of Patroclus this final development brings the motive of the action back to the personal, albeit on a different plane, which in some sense comprehends the first two stages Benardete s penetrating analysis uncovers, in the figure of Achilles, the paradigmatic Homeric hero, an increasingly complex character, who is haunted, in his grief at the loss of Patroclus, by his suspicion of the guilt he must assume for his death, which he tries to overcome in so many ineffective ways It is only with his choice in the end to give back to Priam the corpse of Hector that the hero rejoins the family of men In tracing this trajectory, Benardete discloses us what it means for the plot of the Iliad to be the tragedy of Achilles.

    • Achilles and Hector: The Homeric Hero BY Seth Benardete Ronna Burger Michael Davis
      457 Seth Benardete Ronna Burger Michael Davis
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      • Seth Benardete Ronna Burger Michael Davis

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    431 Comments

    1. Benardete gives us a close reading, grounded in the Greek itself, to the point that he draws conclusions from counts of specific words in various contexts. He also has much of The Odyssey, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, etc. at hand when the occasion calls for it.In the introduction, Benardete discusses the general role of Homer's epithets, which I always thought of as formulaic metric and/or mnemonic fillers. He says that these epithets contribute essential meaning and theme to the epic. Then [...]


    2. War fought for personal revenge by Menelaus, then for fame by all heroes, then for personal revenge by Achilles, who rejoins the world of heroes in visit of Priam. The first part discusses how similes and formula fit into the themes and patterns. If we understand the epithets then we understand the plot.



    3. The deep admiration and love I hold towards this work is scarcely describable. It will forever remain my favourite work of Classical scholarship ever written.


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