[size=14] Back when we started self-quarantining, someone shared an awesome Yeats YouTube vid which I then shared. That post was received so well, I decided to video daily poetry or prose readings. This was also received well, so I began uploading them to YT myself. Yesterday, I shared a reading from The Iliad, under the thesis that this is one hell of an anti-war story. I explain this in the vid, but it’s centered around Hector, and how he is the only character in the story with whom we are meant to identify. And this passage is the most striking, for me, in the story.
Such a compassionate, evocative reading, Michael – one made more so by the context you provide (which also conveys a glimpse of just how fortunate your students must have been). This has always struck me as the most human moment in the Iliad, which is actually full of human moments, good and ill – but your rendering is particularly moving.
That’s the power of literature, and the power of myth …
Thank you, Stephen! You can’t overlook the significance of Hector being the only character that moves the audience toward compassion, and that it’s his death, and this moment in the story, that completes the arc of Achilles’ character development. In the beginning he’s sulking like a school boy. He’s brought out of that by the death of Patroclus and driven to revenge, an act of the ego made worse by the desecration of Hector’s body which, back then, was a big deal.
The selfless courage and honesty of Priam pierced his heart and for the first time he finds compassion.
Who else in the story earns your respect, other than Hector? Even the gods act like children. And the endless lists of the slain are mind numbing, dehumanizing.
In the end, the best are taken rendering war foolish and futile.