I.2. Physical Evidence of the Hero

To specify certain masculine values, I will endeavor in this chapter to provide an account of the bodily information that the poet provides about his heroes. This examination will not be a question of prescribing “Homeric medicine,” but of the image of the warrior’s body as it is represented in the Iliad. This approach is somewhat complex; in fact, to speak of the warrior’s body—and herein lies the problem—is above all to consider the aesthetic criteria of Homeric thought. By staying close to the text, we will perhaps prevent the temptation to interpret Homeric aesthetics and poetry in an arbitrary fashion.
Without adding to the already lengthy list of works focused on “Homeric psychology,” an extremely complex scholarly question, [1] I will simply remark upon the predominance of concrete images in the epic whenever translation of what we call emotions is required. Through a tight interweaving of physical and moral phenomena, with Homeric vocabulary generally tending toward the concrete rather than the abstract, physical and psychological experiences are often merged together. The absence of any rigid compartmentalization of physical and mental activities is a typical characteristic of the epic: the words thumos, ētor, kēr, kradiē—and, to a lesser degree, phrēn, which often refers to intellectual life—at times mean the organ, and at times the function of that organ. [2]
Fear, warlike rage, suffering, joy, erotic desire, and so many emotions in Homer are inseparable from their physical manifestation—are, one might say, constituted by those physical manifestations. With this phenomenon as the point of departure, we will consider the question of heroism from the perspective of the warrior’s “body language,” and in so doing will make an attempt to extract from this corporeal screen an understanding of epic values.
In the Homeric world, all qualities are thought of in concrete terms; for reasons inextricably tied to the epic genre and the archaic phase of thought from which it grew, Homeric poetry brings to life the strength and deeds of its heroes through the use of images. The concrete reality of the warriors who confront each other outside of Troy is evoked at length throughout the poem. Attempting to read the “physical text” is a means of exploring the question of masculinity in the epic, as the hero’s body is without a doubt “the place” where the primary signifiers of epic thought are condensed.

Beauty and the Skills of the Warrior

Achilles, the most prestigious of the heroes in the Iliad, is described over and over as the most beautiful. [3] From this common point—strength is beautiful in the Iliad, and the warrior’s valor shines in his countenance—the hero can be recognized as much by the flash of his beauty as by the feats he accomplishes. [4] The two aspects are inseparable from each other. Thus, if Thersites is the epitome of the anti-hero, [5] which has long been recognized, this is related as much to his cowardice as to his ugliness. The aristocratic ideology of the Iliad short-circuits the question of social hierarchy by removing the people’s spokesman among the soldiers, Thersites, from the discussion; in order to exist, heroic virtues must be attested and confirmed by the physical beauty of those who practice them. The inadequacy of a character like Thersites in the world of heroes is represented in and by his ugliness. [6] His physical defects lead to his cowardice: practically handicapped, slouching, nearly bald (Iliad 2.217–220); compared to the Homeric canons of virile beauty, he is the exact opposite of the accomplished warrior. The ugliest (aischistos, 2.216) and, at the same time, the weakest (chereioteron, 2.248) of the Greeks, he is in every respect the opposite, as well as the caricature, of Achilles.
It is evident that the arms, legs, and chest define the warrior in the Iliad. Height and shoulder width are also signs of merit. [7] When, on the ramparts, Priam asks Helen for details about the Achaean commanders, the imposing and brilliant presence of Agamemnon, the breadth of Odysseus’ chest and shoulders, and the great height of Ajax all catch his attention (Iliad 3.166–227). [8]
More than expertise in combat, what counts is the power of the limbs, and most of all the power in the arms. The telos ‘end, goal’ of battle is in the arms of the warrior. Patroclus states this clearly to Meriones: “the outcome [telos] of battle is in the force of hands” (Iliad 16.630). [9] The important thing for the hero is to be “confident in his hands” (chersi pepoithōs, 16.624), to have hands that are formidable because of the likelihood they will enter into a fury (cheires aaptoi/mainonth’, 16.244–245).
It is not surprising then that, from the beginning of the poem, the preeminence of Achilles is asserted in this manner: “it is my hands that do the better part of the fighting” (Iliad 1.165–166).
Complementing the arms, where offensive power resides, are the legs that run charging into battle and then hold firm before the enemy. There are many different ways in Homer to describe strength and efficiency: walking with long strides, [10] running quickly, [11] remaining solidly on one’s feet as opposed to the coward who “keeps shifting his weight first on one knee and then on the other,” [12] planting on one’s legs to confront the enemy. [13] Flexibility and resistance equally define the legs of the warrior. [14] Without engaging here in a developed discussion on the symbolism of the knee in Homer, [15] the importance of this key part of the hero’s body is nevertheless evident. As the site of vital power and the joint that expresses bravery, the knee, depending on whether it is stiff or supple, robust or weak, determines the success of ventures on the battlefield. The career of the hero depends foremost, then, on the proper functioning and quality of the muscles and joints in his limbs. [16] The heroic ideal of beauty and youth finds confirmation in stature, agility, stride, posture, and strength, which are linked solidly together in this characterization of the body.
The state of the body bears a double significance as both a sign of life and of individual bravery. In Homer, being alive is synonymous with having functioning knees; [17] the vital breath goes conjointly with the movement of the legs, as Achilles states to Phoenix: “while I have breath in my body, and my limbs are strong” (Iliad 9. 609–610). Conversely, the man about to die feels his life, his force, leaving his limbs, and killing an enemy is described with the phrase gounata luein ‘loosen his knees’. [18]
The same relation of opposites characterizes physical states like vigor and fatigue: flexibility and lightness on one side, stiffness and heaviness on the other. Once again, the power of concrete images in the epic can be seen: fatigue and exhaustion strike down on the warrior and his limbs “weary” (Iliad 4.230). Fatigue acts through “repeated assaults” (5.811) and drives [19] into the body—hands, arms, shoulders, knees [20] —which it wears out and weighs down. [21]
It is youth then, with its strength still intact, that is the primary ally of the warrior; and it is his youthful beauty that will, in feats and in glorious death, permanently establish him in the heroic sphere. [22] This explains, even outside of poetic conventions, the surprising “maximization” in the Iliad of the warrior’s body, a body that is both medium and mirror of the merits of masculine aretē ‘value, virtue’.
At first glance, the warrior can gauge his opponent; he can estimate the value of his brilliance, his size, or the shape of his physical appearance, even before seeing him in action. This is because, at the moment of confrontation, the warrior’s body radiates power, as if having undergone a metamorphosis.

The Body Transformed by Courage

Before any collective confrontation or, a fortiori, any single combat, Homer presents the warriors in the grips of a peculiar physical condition: courage, which fervor imprints on the hero’s body. The biology of the representation of courage occurs in three major phases: penetration of strength into the hero, respiratory and muscular changes, and finally the outward expression of this energy by the arms and legs. Menos, this primary energy, both mental and physical, moves the hero. [23] This energy is most often communicated or reactivated by a divinity; a certain god will “set” menos in the “heart” (Iliad 5.125; 16.529) of a protégé, or “breathe” it into him (10.482; 15.60; 19.159, etc.). Driven by menos, warriors pant, they advance “exhaling their menos” (2.536; 3.8). Strength literally takes possession of the body: “He rages like a madman” (9.239), Odysseus says when referencing Hector’s prowess. Later, when Hector is putting on Patroclus’ armor, his fervor is presented in the following terms: “he was entered by Ares the terrifying, the Enyalios. And his limbs were all filled inside with force and strength.” [24]
The mind and body of the warrior are modified by this warlike fervor, which penetrates him in a literal sense. In Book 13, the Achaeans are rescued from a bad position by Poseidon, and the god revives the courage of the two Ajaxes: “[he] filled their hearts with daring. He made their legs light and active, as also their hands and their feet” (Iliad 13.60–61). The effects are seen right away, and the two warriors discuss their impressions of the physical sensations they are now feeling (13.73–80):
“Moreover I feel the lust of battle burn more fiercely within me, while my hands and my feet under me are more eager for the fray.”
And Ajax son of Telamon answered,
“I too feel my hands grasp my spear more firmly; my strength is greater, and my feet more nimble; I long, moreover, to meet furious Hector son of Priam, even in single combat.”
Under the sway of his fervor, the warrior is struck by a general trembling of the muscles. His strength increases, and his heart swells with lust for battle (13.74); [25] Menos makes him more agile (78). His limbs twitch; flooded by the desire to fight (75, 78), [26] his feet carry him forward (79). Sometimes, at the height of his rage, his teeth gnash, [27] and he foams at the mouth. [28] In all cases, the overflow of strength is clearly inscribed on the body and the face of the hero who is under its influence.
And finally, the ultimate and decisive specification of the text, the hero, at the height of his fervor, shines with the fire of his bravery. Menacing warriors are literally “clothed in valor as with a garment.” [29] They shine and flash; from their eyes [30] and from their armor especially [31] a terrible glow escapes that lights up the distance. [32]

The Body Transformed by Fear

Just as strength alternates back and forth between the two camps, terror regularly changes sides. “There is no hero who will not tremble one day,” [33] Nicole Loraux has written in a recent study that shows how fear in the Iliad is the logical counterpart of courage. Knowing fear is effectively the other obligatory moment in the activity of war. It is “the power of death that emanates from the body of the combatant covered by his arms and ready to display the extraordinary vigor of combat, the strength (alkē) that inhabits him.” [34] This power makes the hero, like Gorgo whom he resembles, absolutely terrifying. None of the warriors escape it, and each is alternately terrifying and terrified. In the expression of terror, then, the same physical transformations that operate in moments of bravery can be found, but in negative, inverted forms.
The expressive capacity of the warrior’s body allows for the observation of a certain number of clinical signs in the register of fear, similar to those in the register of courage. Terror, often expressed in Homer by an immediate trembling, [35] enters into the warrior and takes over his limbs (Iliad 3.34; 8.452; 14.506, etc.; 7.215; 20.44). A god can raise it inside the body: “Then father Zeus from his high throne struck fear into the heart of Ajax,” [36] and gods can also remove it from the body: “Athena … took away all fear from her.” [37]
Similar to the spasm of courage, a contraction or brutal palpitation characterizes the heart of the terrified hero. [38] A generalized trembling seizes his body: his knees falter, his legs are paralyzed and no longer stand firm (Iliad 10.374; 11.547; 13.281). His complexion turns pale and green (Iliad 3.35; 10.376: 13.279, etc.); the hairs on his skin stand up (Iliad 24.359); his teeth gnash (Iliad 10.375; 13.283); [39] his eyes cast a panicked gaze (Iliad 11.546). In short, the mechanism of fear inhibits, term for term, the qualities that were optimized by courage.

Armor: An Extension of the Body

For a more precise investigation of the hero’s body, it will be helpful to make a detour by way of his armor. If the presence of arms is, in effect, obvious in the Iliad, spending some time on the symbolic power that arms possess in the epic will not be insignificant. [40] Armor is at the same time a protection, an intermediary, a complement, and, for our purposes especially, an extension of the body. For the activities of war, the body and the armor share a series of identical properties.
To describe warriors who are putting on their armor, Homer uses, among others, [41] the verbs ennumi ‘to put on’ and duō ‘to get into, enter’; [42] Greeks and Trojans leave for combat “their bodies dressed in rigid bronze” (Iliad 19.233), they conceal themselves, “dress themselves” with their large shields (14.371–372). Like a second skin, armor is adapted, adjusted, and fitted as precisely as possible onto the parts of the body it protects. On the skin, [43] “close fitting” cuirasses, belts, greaves, and ankle plates join together and cover the forms of the hero. [44] After having put on his new armor, Achilles verifies that it fits him properly: “Then radiant Achilles made trial of himself in his armor to see whether it fitted him, so that his limbs could play freely under it” (19.385).
This tight correspondence—body of the warrior/armor—besides being the primary condition for effective combat, further emphasizes the physical qualities attributed to the warrior. Well-fitted, radiant like the fire of his eyes, imposing like his strength, armor is the double of the hero. It is not irrelevant to point out that when Patroclus puts on Achilles’ armor, it fits him “naturally”: “he donned the cuirass of the swift-footed descendant of Aeacus, richly inlaid and studded … He grasped two redoubtable spears that suited his hands.” [45] On the other hand, however, when Hector, after having killed Patroclus, wants to put on the armor, the intervention of Zeus who “fitted the armor to Hector’s skin,” [46] is required. Homer is not responding to a need for realistic detail when he introduces this nuance; the morphology of Patroclus, like that of Hector, is not in question here. Rather, it is the symbolic identity of Achilles and Patroclus that is underlined. As Cedric Whitman has pointed out, if Achilles’ armor is ill-suited for Hector, it is because “Hector cannot play the role of Achilles, whereas Patroclus could.” [47]
In a certain way, the armor is effectively the hero himself. Depending on which man is carrying them, weapons are formidable and feared to a greater or lesser degree; to be afraid of a confrontation is to fear the man as much as the spear associated with him. In this way, Diomedes is amazed by the audacity of Glaucus:
Who, my good sir … are you among men? I have never seen you in battle until now, but you are daring beyond all others if you abide my onset.
Iliad 6.123–126 [48]
On the battlefield, weapons are like living beings; they are granted specifically human qualities. The warrior’s desire for destruction passes into his weapons and occupies them, as indicated by a developed series of metaphors: weapons gleam maliciously, [49] are “courageous,” [50] furiously desire to strike their enemy. [51] Their conduct—if this term can be used—is identical to the warrior’s: tired after a long struggle, they sweat, [52] they warm up when plunged into blood (Iliad 20.476). They even have cannibalistic impulses, eager as they are to bite into and devour the flesh of the enemy. [53]
The boundary between the qualities belonging to the individual hero and those belonging to his weapons is not clear. Their relationship is complementary: through a sort of back and forth, the ardent warrior transfers his fearlessness to his weapons; reciprocally, his weapons engorge his bravery. [54] Furthermore, there is an interplay in the circulation of force operating in his weapons identical to that in the warrior himself. They are driven, from the interior, by a destructive instinct and, through their splendor, project their power externally.
The magical power of weapons is to increase tenfold the strength of the person who wields them and to terrify the person who sees them being wielded. In a certain way, the weapon, like the hero, carries upon it the recognizable signs of its own power. For Achilles, the exceptional hero, exceptional weapons terrify even his companions the Myrmidons (Iliad 19.74–75); the reaction of the Trojans is then expected (20.44–46):
There was not a Trojan but his limbs failed him for fear as he beheld the fleet son of Peleus all glorious in his armor, and looking like Ares himself.
Beyond even their extraordinary value (which can be religious or derived from their constituent precious metals), weapons embody above all the quality of the hero who carries them: they are “active” like the hero in battle, and the hero’s antagonist has to confront them as well to make it through the fight. For a hero, to kill an enemy and seize his weapons is a permanent mark of superiority. When one displays the weapons of the fallen, the latter is physically brought back to life—in his beauty, his size, his strength—demonstrating how the victor has triumphed over him: “And the one indisputable measure of success is a trophy.” [55]
If “for Homer, the human body is a marvelous network of connecting parts he can pierce or sever or use for pictorial and emotional effects,” [56] it is because, in a broader perspective, this body speaks each phase of the demands of heroism. Determination, strength, and courage are painted in the Iliad on the surface of the text, on the surface of the warrior’s body.
The body of the hero is both record and reflection of heroic values. If, in the effort of the struggle, a man’s body is constantly placed at the forefront, if anatomic details of a surprising precision abound, [57] it is because, in the epic system, the physical representation of the hero completes and authenticates his heroic character. It is because, as Jean-Pierre Vernant has written, “size, beauty, youth, unique form, splendor, and head of hair are aspects of the body where we find incarnated at once the aesthetic, religious, social, and personal values that define the status of a specific individual in the eyes of the group).” [58]
And this body is also, inherently, a desirable body.


[ back ] 1. From the immense bibliography on the question, I have consulted: Magnien 1927, Böhme 1929, Larock 1930, Snell 1948 (English translation 1953), Onians 1954, Dodds 1965 (especially Chap. 1), Russo and Simon 1968 (reprinted in Wright 1978). More recent studies include Ireland and Steel 1975 and Redfield 1975:171–182.
[ back ] 2. Russo and Simon 1978:42
[ back ] 3. Explicitly at Iliad 2.673–674 (kallistos), 21.108, 24.629–630.
[ back ] 4. We saw above how Paris subverted the norm, pp. 8–10.
[ back ] 5. Iliad 2.212–277; cf. von der Mühll 1952:42, and see also Finley 1983:136–139; Chantraine 1963:passim; Dumézil 1982:197–200, and especially Nagy 1979:259–264 (“The Worst of the Achaeans”).
[ back ] 6. Chantraine 1963:21–22 shows that Homer is playing on the name Thersites—‘the audacious, the brave’—to define his character negatively in relation to Achilles and Odysseus: “Thersite l’intrépide: oui, mais en paroles seulement” (“Thersites the intrepid: yes, but only in words”).
[ back ] 7. On height, cf. for example: Achilles (Iliad 21.108; 24.629–630), Ajax (3.226–227; 9.169), Hector (6.263, 440; 7.233, 287). On width of shoulders: Patroclus (16.791), Hector (16.360).
[ back ] 8. In the Odyssey also, the width of Odysseus’ shoulders is explicitly evoked, notably at the moment of his combat with Irus: throwing of his rags, he uncovers the beauty and power of his thighs, the width of his torso, and the muscles in his upper arms, Odyssey 18.67–69.
[ back ] 9. The poet also evokes the palm of the right hand that grips the sword, the “strong” hand, and the “brawny” hand: Iliad 3.376; 7.264, etc.
[ back ] 10. For example, Ajax: Iliad 7.212–213; Hector: 15.306–307.
[ back ] 11. Proverbial speed of Achilles—for example, Iliad 13.325—whom we see “speeding right onwards,” at 21.302.
[ back ] 12. Iliad 13.281.
[ back ] 13. “Hector, standing firm with his legs apart,” Iliad 12.458.
[ back ] 14. Flexibility and speed: see, for example, Hector who skillfully moves his feet and knees: “Hector rapidly moving his feet and calves,” Iliad 15.269, or Odysseus who wins the foot-race, after having his hands and feet made light by Athena (23.772); see Snell 1948:6–9; Vivante 1955:40–41; Daraki 1980:15–16.
[ back ] 15. Knee and vital fluid, creation: see Deonna 1939:228–231 and Onians 1954:174–186.
[ back ] 16. See Snell 1948:6–9. To the extent that we are trying here to read the body of the warrior (“lire le corps du guerrier”), by proposing as a postulate that the poet projects a certain number of the values of the heroic universe in him and on him, we can not adopt Snell’s overly reductive point of view that basically sees nothing more in the Homeric hero than a sort of puppet manipulated by the gods and characterized by the plurality of his articulated limbs.
[ back ] 17. For example, Odyssey 18.133: “As long as the gods grant him excellence and his knees are steady” (= he is still alive).
[ back ] 18. Equivalence: having your limbs and knees split (e.g., Iliad 4.469; 7.12, 16; 11.579; 21.114, etc.) or your menos broken (5.296; 6.27; 8.123, etc.).
[ back ] 19. Iliad 5.811. Pain (achos, Odyssey 18.348), anger (cholos, Iliad 9.553), and rage (lussa) sink into and penetrate the warrior in like fashion (the verb is duō). The same idea is present when Odysseus tells of how Circe literally took “the tiredness and stiffness out of my limbs” (Odyssey 10.363).
[ back ] 20. See, in particular, Iliad 2.839; 4.230; 5.797; 7.6; 13.711; 16.106; 19.166; 21.32, 270.
[ back ] 21. Literal meaning of the verb teirō; see Iliad 5.796–797; 17.745; 19.51–52. In these three examples dealing with three of the greatest heroes—Diomedes, Ajax, Achilles—sweat and fatigue are paired together to exhaust the warrior; see Onians 1954:191–193. On the heaviness brought on by fatigue, cf. 19.165–166: “… and his limbs will grow heavy under him.”
[ back ] 22. For all things related to the esthetic conception of heroism, I refer here to the courses (Collège de France 1976–1977) and writings of Jean-Pierre Vernant, which have provided so much inspiration for my work: Vernant 1979b, 1980 (reprinted in Gnoli and Vernant 1982), and 1981b.
[ back ] 23. On menos as a vital impulse, warlike ardor, and spiritual energy, see Böhme 1929:22, as well as Dodds 1965:20–22; Redfield 1975:171–174; Daraki 1980; and especially Dumézil 1983:184–190.
[ back ] 24. Iliad 17.210–212. I would point out the force of this image. The warlike spirit sinks deep into the warrior, just as lussa, another synonym for Ares, does. This spirit fills his limbs from the inside.
[ back ] 25. See also Iliad 21.571–572, for Agenor whose heart races and bounds at the thought of fighting Achilles; at 23.370–371, during the chariot race, the drivers’ hearts pound.
[ back ] 26. Occurrences of maimaō ‘spring with desire’ are frequent: Iliad 15.604, 742; 20.284, 468; 22.243, etc.; see Onians 1954:21–22.
[ back ] 27. Achilles who “gnashed his teeth,” Iliad 19.365; see on this point Vernant 1981a:142–144.
[ back ] 28. Hector furious: “he foamed at the mouth,” Iliad 15. 607.
[ back ] 29. Iliad 7.164; 8.262. Valor is like an article of clothing that covers the body of the warrior (epiennumi); a metaphor that, by itself, could support my argument. A similar image at 20.381, where Achilles “clothed in valor as with a garment,” springs upon the Trojans, and at 9.231 during the embassy scene, Odysseus, using the verb duō, asks Achilles to “clothe himself in bravery.” Inversely, Agamemnon, in certain passages, wears his insolence on his face: Iliad 1.149; 9.372.
[ back ] 30. Fire in Hector’s eyes: Iliad 12.466; in Achilles eyes 19.16–17, 365–366, etc. On eyes containing and projecting fire, see Mugler 1960:60–62; and, in general, on the light associated with force, see Vernant and Gnoli 1982:59–60 and Vernant 1981a:142–143 (on the demonic power of the warrior’s gaze).
[ back ] 31. For example, Hector: Iliad 12.463–464; Achilles: 19.379–381; 20.46, etc.
[ back ] 32. Hector entering the house of Paris is preceded by the glow of his spear: Iliad 6.319–320; the glow of Achilles’ shield rising into the sky: 19.375–376.
[ back ] 33. Loraux 1982a:119: “Il n’est pas de héros qui un jour ne frissonne”; see also, from a more philological perspective, Harkemanne 1967.
[ back ] 34. Vernant 1981a:143: “la puissance de mort qui irradie de la personne du combattant recouvert de ses armes et prêt à manifester l’extraordinaire vigueur au combat, la fortitude (alk ē), dont il est habité.”
[ back ] 35. On the names of fear in the Iliad, deos ‘logical fear’ and phobos ‘sudden terror, panic’—see Loraux 1982a:passim. Tromos, generic expression of fear: Iliad 3.34; 7.215; 8.452; 10.90, etc.
[ back ] 36. Iliad 11.544. Note the use of the verb ornumi that also characterizes menos.
[ back ] 37. Odyssey 6.140 (Nausicaa, frightened by the sight Odysseus); see p. 18, n. 19 above.
[ back ] 38. The heart “beat quickly”: Iliad 7.216; 13.282; it is as if courage is “sucked out” of the warrior by the effect of fear: the Greeks, facing Hector, were frightened and “their hearts fell down into their feet,” 15.280.
[ back ] 39. See Harkemanne 1967:77.
[ back ] 40. Cf. Vernant 1974, particularly 25–26.
[ back ] 41. Principal verbs used for the preparation of arms, in the general sense, according to Trümpy 1950:74–89: thōrēssō (Iliad 8.530; 19.352: 22.369), hoplizō (8.55), korussō (2.273; 4.274; 7.206; 19.397), etc.
[ back ] 42. Iliad 14. 383; 19.233; 6.340; 11.16; 16.64.
[ back ] 43. Iliad 12.464; 13.241; 17.210; 22.322; see Trümpy 1950:77–78, who emphasizes the meaning of the word chrōs ‘skin’. In the same vein, I’d point out the image of “cheek-pierced” (chalkoparēios) helmets: 12.183; 17.294; 20.397.
[ back ] 44. Arariskō: Iliad 4.134; 11.18; 13.188; 18.611; 19.370; harmozō: 3.333; 17.210.
[ back ] 45. Iliad 16.132 and 139. I would point out, by contrast, that in the duel in Book 3, Paris had borrowed his cuirass from Lykaon and had to adjust it to fit his chest (332–333).
[ back ] 46. Iliad 17.210. Note the equivalent image in Hesiod, which is used to describe Pandora’s jewels. “Pallas Athena placed on her skin every manner of ornament” (Works and Days 76; trans. Nagy).
[ back ] 47. Whitman 1958:201. In his chapter dedicated to Achilles (181–220), Whitman shows in detail how Achilles and Patroclus form a homologous pair, and more generally, how the hero and his armor do the same. When Patroclus’ helmet is knocked off of his head by Apollo and its plumes are covered with blood and dust (16.793–796), it is clear what is to come; the mortal wound will not be long behind. Patroclus, like his helmet, will fall, and the poet, at this same moment, has also foreshadowed the death of Achilles.
[ back ] 48. See also 5.790 (spear of Achilles).
[ back ] 49. See the remarks in Stanford 1936:138–139; Marg 1942:168–169; and Griffin 1980:34–36.
[ back ] 50. See, for example, the valorous shield: Iliad 11.32.
[ back ] 51. Iliad 5.661: the “spear … tore furiously through the flesh”; 4.126; 8.111; 16.74–75; 20.339, etc.
[ back ] 52. “The bands that bear your shields sweat upon your shoulders,” 2.388.
[ back ] 53. Iliad 11.573–574; 13.830–831; 15.316–317; 21.70, 168; cf. Marg 1942:169
[ back ] 54. As soon as he puts on his armor, Hector is transformed: “he was entered by Ares the terrifying” (Iliad 17.210–213). The reactions of Achilles are even more violent: fits of rage, flaming eyes, gnashing teeth, etc. (Iliad 19.16–19, 365–391); cf. Griffin 1980:36–37.
[ back ] 55. Finley 1983:147.
[ back ] 56. Vermeule 1979:97; see also 98–101 and 234n13.
[ back ] 57. For example: Iliad 14.465–468, 496–499; 16.345–350; 17.617–618; 20.478–483.
[ back ] 58. Vernant and Gnoli 1982:66: “taille, beauté, jeunesse, forme singulière, éclat, chevelure sont des aspects du corps dans lesquels s’incarnent les valeurs à la fois esthétiques, religieuses, sociales, personnelles, qui définissent, aux yeux du groupe, le statut d’un individu singulier.”