I.3. Erotic Images of War

Erotic images of war in the Iliad could, by themselves, justify a study of considerable proportion. It is a vast question, this relationship between eroticism and war … I will attempt in this chapter simply to underline a series of associations found in the vocabularies of both war and love. Examining the main scenes linking eroticism and combat, I will seek to specify the categories of masculine and feminine in the epic.
While the limits of this examination may be arbitrary, I will focus on three aspects of the question: war as an erotic activity, erotic metaphors of combat, and finally the eroticization of death.

Erotic Representation of Combat

There is no need to emphasize the parallel that exists between a duel of two heroes and “erotic combat”: both cases deal with an encounter of two bodies. Pierre Guiraud has studied this analogy in depth in works from the medieval and modern eras. [1] “The military metaphor,” he writes, “is so coherent, so relevant, that all the modes, means, and phases of combat and all the phrases describing them contain a powerful sexual image.” [2] This is also the case in the Homeric epic.
As we have seen, [3] the warrior who charges against the enemy undergoes a physical transformation at the moment of confrontation. He is driven entirely by the desire to meet his opponent, to enter into contact with him. He attacks armed with a spear that he intends to plunge into the flesh of his enemy. His goal is undoubtedly to accomplish the feat that will assure his fame, but, on a more immediate level, it is also to assuage his desire to possess the adversary. For in combat the urge that drives the warrior is similar to the urge of love: Nestor evokes “the desire for war” (Iliad 9.64), and Achilles incites the bravery of the Myrmidons by reminding them of their taste for the melee: “The hour is now come for those high feats of arms that you have so long been pining for” (16.207–208). And with Hector absent from the battle, his troops miss him: “the Trojans, who miss [him] greatly [pothēn] when [he is] not among them” (6.362). [4] It is as if, during times of war, the only possible interventions by the powers of love are restricted uniquely to the sphere of men.
In fact, the battlefield encounter, in certain regards, resembles a lovers’ rendezvous. Emily Vermeule has shown this clearly in her work; [5] here, I will be following her and building on a number of her observations.
During hand-to-hand fighting, certain physical characteristics of femininity are attributed to the warrior. His skin (chrōs) is beautiful (kalos, Iliad 5.858; 22.321), tender (terēn, Iliad 4.237; 13.553; 14.406) like that of a young girl (parthenikēs … terena chora; Hesiod Works and Days 519 and 522) or the Heliconian muses (Hesiod Theogony 5), or like the flowers in a meadow (teren’ anthea poiēs, Odyssey 9.449). It is fair and white like a lily (leirioeis, Iliad 13.830), luminous like the voices of the Muses (Hesiod Theogony 41) or the cicada (Iliad 3.152).
The neck is fragile, delicate (hapalos, Iliad 3.371; 17.49; 23.327; Odyssey 22.16) like the cheeks of Achilles’ female captives (23.123) or the fair skin of a “virgin” (parthenos, Hesiod Works and Days 519).
There are many epithets—kalos, hapalos, terēn, leirioeis—that, in underlining the fragility and delicacy of his skin, potentially transform the warrior into a romantic partner. Whiteness of complexion and body is, in fact, a trait typical of women who live inside. [6] For Hector, evoking Ajax’s pale skin is, in a certain way, calling him a woman; Hector belittles Ajax’s courage by implying he has no more strength than an unarmed woman. [7]
There are other signs in the Iliad that indicate that combat-to-death ironically resembles a lovers’ rendezvous between a man and a woman. To arouse erotic desire in Zeus, Hera wraps her bosom in the girdle containing all of Aphrodite’s charms: into the girdle “had been wrought—love, desire, and … sweet flattery” (Iliad 14.216). In the universe of war—necessarily an exclusively masculine universe—it is “pressing forward to a place in the front ranks” or “charg[ing] at the foe” (promachōn oaristun), [8] labeled with the same word (oaristus), that drives warriors into confrontation.
In combat, bodies blend and mix together (“Our only thought and plan is to fight them [body to body, locking arms in our fury],” Iliad 15.509–510; see also 5.143; 13.286; 21.469) as in love (Iliad 2.232; 3.445; 6.161; Theogony 375, 994). In the two forms of bodily contact, the verb meignumi expresses this union. Another similarity should be pointed out: in both cases, one of the partners is dominated by the violence of the other. [9] The woman, in the case of love, is tamed by the man: Thetis, in sharing a bed with Peleus, is made subject to him (damassen, Iliad 18.432; see also 3.301 and Odyssey 3.269); the unfortunate warrior, subjugated by the force of his adversary, is also tamed (Iliad 3.436; 5.646, 653; 8.244, 290; 11.309). [10]
The enemy, like the erotic partner, is a possessed object, reduced to the mercy of another. The analogy between the two themes is clear in the Iliad: erotic activity serves as a model for war and lends to it a part of its language. [11]
The discourse of war appears in a series of associations where a sexual connotation is evident: the dance of young people contrasted with the dance of Ares, veils of a woman and walls of a city, and marriage both between men and women and in combat.

Erotic Metaphors

The dance of Ares

To incite the ardor of his companions, Ajax reminds them that Hector is “telling [his men] to remember that they are not at a dance but in battle” (Iliad 15.508). The reference to the choros ‘chorus’ here serves to ward off any temptation toward sluggishness: war is not entertainment, and the only agile movement allowed is that involved in the blows of battle. To confuse the battlefield with a choros is to forget to be a man, to fall into the sphere of Aphrodite’s “delightful matrimonial duties” (5.429). In contrast with the world of war, the choros in the epic is, in fact, associated with luxury, pleasure, and peace. [12]
On the shield of Achilles, Hephaestus depicts several dance scenes, one of which shows a chorus of young people dancing (Iliad 18.590–605). The gentleness of the scene, the beauty of the young girls, and the harmony of the movements at this charming “place of dancing” (18.603; Odyssey 18.194) are emphasized; everything indicates that the young men and women in the chorus are under the protection of the presiding goddess, Aphrodite. [13]
By evoking the ballet that two warriors execute, the bodily contact between two partners becomes metaphoric for an unfolding dance “to the death”; the battlefield is the place of uniquely masculine activity, and as a result the only dance possible, a virile dance, is that of Ares. Hector confirms the metaphor to Ajax before attacking him: “in hand to hand fighting I can dance the dance of cruel Ares” (Iliad 7.241). [14] The force of the inversion becomes even clearer when we note that it is the scavenging dogs who lead the dance and celebration around the corpses (13.233; 17.255; 18.179), this kind of pleasure being their exclusive privilege. [15]
In the threats and curses that the Trojans and Greeks fling at each other, ironic allusions to the “dance of Ares” and to the “feast of the dogs” figure prominently as forms of encouragement; reciprocally, simply calling one’s adversary a dancer carries the weight of an insult (Iliad 16.617–618). When Priam laments the loss of Hector, his first words are reproaches aimed at his remaining sons. Those who died with Hector were brave (aristoi, 24.255); those who are still alive are “liars, and light of foot, heroes of the dance” (24.261). [16] Among these sons is Paris: siding once again with effeminate men, Paris, after his duel with Menelaus is broken up by Aphrodite, looks more like he is returning from a ball than from the battlefield (3.393–394).

The veils of a city

In an extraordinary image, Homer draws a parallel between the veils of a chaste woman and the unbreached walls of a city. Advising Patroclus to return to camp after the Trojans have been driven back from the ships, Achilles dreams aloud of taking Troy with only his friend: “ … and that not a single man of all the Trojans might be left alive, nor yet of the Argives, but that we two might be alone left to tear aside the sacred veil from the brow of Troy” (Iliad 16.99–100). In evoking the sacred veil of Ilion, “Achilles compares Troy, the city unviolated up to this day, to a female captive whose veil he, as the victor, will tear away by force.” [17]
In an in-depth study of the use of the word krēdemnon ‘veil’ in Homer, Michael Nagler explicates this analogy and shows how the chastity of women can be likened, symbolically, to the safety of a city. [18] The intact “veil” (either a piece of fabric or a rampart) attests to both female chastity and the safety of a city, and in both cases male warriors act as protectors as well as assailants. [19] Here again, masculine action and power is conveyed in a sexual image: in the poetic context of the Iliad, taking a city and destroying its ramparts is like possessing a woman by force and tearing away her garments.
The same image appears in the Odyssey, where it recalls the Greek victory over the Trojans. Odysseus remembers the sack of Troy as “the day when we loosed Troy’s fair diadem from her brow” (Odyssey 13.388). The metaphor that equates the city with a woman is doubly significant if we remember that, in the world of the Iliad, pillaging goods and the abduction of women go hand in hand. “Many a bloody battle have I waged by day,” says Achilles, “against those who were fighting for their women” (Iliad 9.327).
This correspondence is even found on the level of plot: at the fateful moment for Troy, the moment when Hector dies, the two most important women of Troy remove their veils. Hecuba lamented and “flung her veil from her” (Iliad 22.406–407) and Andromache
threw far from her head the splendid adornments that bound her hair, her frontlet, her snood, her plaited headband and, to top it all, the headdress that had been given to her by golden Aphrodite on that day when Hector, the one with the waving plume on his helmet, took her by the hand and led her out from the palace of Eëtion, and he gave countless courtship presents.
Iliad 22.468–472
The removal of these two veils prefigures and, at the same time, attests to the fall of Troy; the gesture serves as an illustration of the metaphor.
The allusion to Andromache’s wedding further accentuates the dramatic and symbolic nature of the episode. Contrast creates a striking effect: a black cloud of sorrow engulfs her (Iliad 22.466), replacing the brilliant veil, a gift from Aphrodite, which slips to the ground. The veil that she throws off had been the visible sign of her status as a virtuous woman and wife. From this moment forward, deprived of Hector, she is at the mercy of the attacking Greeks. [20] Her fallen krēdemnon corresponds in the feminine sphere to the dishonor of Hector dragged through the dust. [21] The system of values operating in the metaphor of the city-woman is thus also expressed in the actions of “reality.”

Marriage in battle

On the battlefield, marriage is mentioned explicitly several times. In each instance, marriage marks a separation between what is playing out in battle and what happens between men and women in times of peace. At the precise moment when warriors are slain, Homer evokes the recent or coming marriage of two Trojans, thus highlighting the relentless threat that hovers over the warriors in hand-to-hand fighting.
Iphidamas, expiring from the blows of Agamemnon, is presented as a young groom. The theme of marriage frames his appearance in the poem: he leaves the bridal chamber (Iliad 11.227) for the plains of Troy, where we find him “sleeping a sleep as it were of bronze, killed in the defense of his comrades, far from his wedded wife, of whom he had had no joy” (11.241–243). The connection between the themes of marriage and war is clearly established here, and the differences are made all the more significant.
Similarly, Othryoneus is killed by Idomeneus as a result of pursuing a marriage with one of Priam’s daughters. In place of the hedna ‘gifts offered by a suitor to the parents of a young woman’ that he could not offer for the daughter’s hand, he promises great feats that will drive away the Greeks. Idomeneus defeats him and proposes his own version of a marriage without the customary gifts (Iliad 13.381–382):
So come along with me, that we may make a covenant at the ships about the marriage, and we will not be hard upon you about gifts of wooing.
Transforming the battlefield and the enemy into a scene of marriage negotiations is again a paradoxical way for the poet to refocus the audience’s attention on the relevant space of combat. On the plain of Troy where they confront each other, warriors can obtain glory or death, but not a bride. Homer plays with the mix of two different spheres—combat and marriage—to further emphasize the only type of “exchange” possible during times of war.
A final intersection that I will consider is the inversion on the battlefield that allows women to exchange roles with vultures. Twice, in fact, the poet establishes a parallel between the birds and women:
[The Trojans] who were lying on the plain, more useful now to vultures than to their wives.
Iliad 11.161–162
[T]here will he rot, reddening the earth with his blood, and vultures, not women, will gather round him.
Iliad 11.394–395
In these two passages, Homer manages a remarkable telescoping of two different symbolic planes, which permits us to tease out multiple levels of feminine signifiers. First of all, the reference to erotic exchange with women is clear. Second, women’s social role in the rituals of mourning is mentioned. [22] Finally, women’s powers of mortification emerge from this overlapping of images. [23] With the putrefying corpses and the patiently waiting vultures, it is difficult not to draw a link to the Sirens who relentlessly await their masculine prey. Reminiscent as well are the similar powers of the Harpies, the Keres, and the female Sphinx. Commenting on this passage—literally “they will be much dearer to the vultures (that is more loved) than to their wives”—Emily Vermeule sees a harbinger of the fate awaiting the women and children of a fallen city. [24] But the multiple layers of meaning in the text are still denser, because, between vultures and women, between men as “prey” and men as “lovers,” there are a number of analogies. [25]
Women and vultures operate in opposite poles, corresponding exactly to the opposition between the feminine world and the world of war. Women care for the bodies of dead warriors, washing them, anointing them, applying perfumes, and dressing them, [26] whereas vultures tear these bodies apart and feed on the decomposing flesh. However, looking beyond the surface opposition of the text between women and vultures, certain similarities align women with the scavenging birds. On a deeper level, women and vultures are united by their love of men. And the vulture’s love of feasting on men inevitably evokes a somber aspect of femininity: the woman-devourer, the woman-harpy, or the woman-siren with her fields of rotting corpses.
Examination of this series of images makes clear that the space of battle subverts norms by reversing sexual roles: on the battlefield the only marriage possible is with Thanatos, the personification of death with a female face. [27]

War at the Heart of the Opposition between Eros and Thanatos

At the moment of their confrontation, Achilles says to Hector, “Therefore there can be no love between you and me” (Iliad 22.265). The power of Eros does, however, intervene at points in this aggressive encounter. Without delving here into an in-depth examination of the relationship between Eros and Thanatos—an examination that would reach well beyond the scope of my work—I will consider only Hector, whose death is the climax of the poem. Hector is, in fact, never so beautiful or so desirable as he is at the moment of his death.
Achilles carefully observes—and perhaps with a certain admiration (eisoroōn, Iliad 22.321) [28] —Hector’s “fair flesh” before driving his spear “through the fleshy part of the neck” (22.321 and 327). [29] After having killed him, he strips off his armor, and it is then that the beauty of Hector’s naked body finds its strongest expression (22.369–371):
The other Achaeans came running up to view his wondrous strength and beauty. [30]
Hector lying in the dust is, in the manner of an erotic partner, “softer to touch” (malakōteros amphaphasthai, 22.373) than ever before. [31] His “dark hair” and his “head once so comely” are the last elements of his beauty that the poet mentions and the place where the poet ends the story of Hector on the battlefield.
Passing from the plain of Troy by way of Achilles’ camp to the funeral bed prepared inside the walls of the city, Hector’s body is subjected to a wide range of punishment, but neither its beauty nor its integrity is damaged. Achilles relentlessly defiles the body, which he drags daily across the ground, but he is unable to deface or mutilate it. A series of interventions by the gods, which play on the overlapping registers of dissimulation and manipulation (anointment with supernatural substances), effectively preserve the corpse (Iliad 23.184–191):
The dogs came not about the body of Hector, for Zeus’ daughter Aphrodite kept them off him night and day, and anointed him with ambrosial oil of roses that his flesh might not be torn when Achilles was dragging him about. Phoebus Apollo moreover sent a dark cloud from heaven to earth, which gave shade to the whole place where Hector lay, that the heat of the sun might not parch his body.
Aphrodite and Apollo combine their efforts to keep Hector’s body supple and intact by removing the risks of dismemberment and decay. [32] This theme of freshness opposed to dryness underpins the entire story of Hector’s body in death. The preserving intervention of Apollo is, in fact, mentioned in two other passages of the poem. The god covers the body with his golden aegis (Iliad 24.20–21) to protect it from corruption. Even in death, Hector retains the brilliance and freshness of youth (24.419–421):
You should come yourself and see how he lies fresh as dew, with the blood all washed away, and his wounds every one of them closed though many pierced him with their spears.
The reference to vegetation, oion eersēeis ‘fresh as dew’ or, more precisely, ‘as if covered by dew’, is not without significance. Indeed, the theme of dew, and more generally the theme of freshness and botanical growth, is in the background of the narrative of Hector throughout the final three books of the Iliad, from the moment his mother cries out to him from the Scaean gates until she laments over his funeral bed. Hecuba attempts to dissuade Hector from the certain death awaiting him in a confrontation with Achilles by speaking to him of the life she gave and the branch she had grown (22.87). During the exchange, she bares her breast, which “wipes away memories of sorrow” (lathikēdēs, 22.83).
When she next sees him, she again employs a similar image of vegetation to describe the freshness of Hector’s preserved body (Iliad 24.757–759):
Yet here you lie all fresh as dew, and comely as one whom Apollo has slain with his painless shafts.
The paradox, as pointed out by Charles Segal, [33] is that the adjective hersēeis or eersēeis—found elsewhere in the Iliad only in a passage describing the coupling of Zeus and Hera in Book 14, where a patch of “dew-bespangled lotus” (14.348) sprouts from the earth—is used to describe Hector’s dead body. There is, then, a symbolic vegetative, and more broadly erotic, background to the story of Hector’s corpse, since the noun and adjective forms of “dew” are closely associated with life, growth, and beauty. Seeing “in the corpse of her son a beauty like that of dew and flowers,” [34] Hecuba, in a certain way, summarizes the ideal heroic death of a warrior: to die, after a great accomplishment, at the height of youth and beauty. [35]
Hector’s body passes from being an object hidden and protected by the gods to an object prepared and displayed by his loved ones in the city of Troy. From Iliad 22.361 to 24.759, it is as if nothing has happened: we find Hector lying down, this time on “a bed” (24.720), beautiful in death, just as Paris, when lying in bed, was beautiful in love (3.382, 391–392, 447-448).
It is perhaps here that we find the clearest element of the term-for-term opposition between Paris and Hector that was established in Chapter 1 above. The beauty Paris evokes while he plays the lyre and dances in his bedchamber is, in effect, a sign of cowardice. [36] The freshness of Hector’s body, so soft to the touch after being struck down by Achilles (Iliad 22.373) [37] and later lying intact on the funeral bed, is the sign of his heroism: because of his courage, he remains dear to the gods (24.423–424), who allow his beauty to endure beyond his death and who, more importantly, accentuate this beauty at the precise moment he loses his life.
In the preceding examples, I have elaborated several elements that place war at the heart of the opposition between Eros and Thanatos. The contiguous spheres of sleep, erotic exchange, and death in the epic have already been clearly defined. [38] Eros and Thanatos provoke the same physical and psychological transformations. Erotic desire and death both engulf the heart of those they strike; [39] both subjugate their targets by loosening their knees.
Besides the analogies linking the modes of intervention of love and death, the epic mentality envisions erotic exchange and hand-to-hand combat in the same way, or at least with the same words. [40] Beyond the shared vocabulary, a series of associations, comparisons, images, and metaphors that conflate the erotic realm and the realm of death in war have been uncovered. Finally, and most importantly, the beauty of a warrior, which is central in the system of epic values, is never more forcefully evoked and affirmed than at the moment of his death. The young warrior dying gloriously in the epic is at the intersection of the spheres of Eros and Thanatos, where a reversal is carried out: his attractive, seductive beauty is confirmed at the very moment that his life runs out. This “eroticized” death belongs fully to the masculine, heroic sphere; for the beauty of the deaths of Patroclus and Hector, there is no feminine equivalent.


[ back ] 1. Guiraud 1978; particularly chaps. 4 and 5: “Les symboles de la libido” and “La rhétorique de l’érotisme.”
[ back ] 2. Guiraud 1978:120: “La métaphore militaire est si cohérente, si pertinente que tous les modes, moyens et phases du combat et toutes les phrases qui les expriment contiennent, en puissance, une image sexuelle.”
[ back ] 3. See p. 19 and following, above.
[ back ] 4. In the same way, the Greeks desire Achilles who has separated himself from them: 14.368. On pothos, desire mixed with regret that is focused on someone who is absent, far away, or dead, see Vermeule 1979:154–155, and Vernant 1977:430–441.
[ back ] 5. Vermeule 1979:99–105.
[ back ] 6. Iliad 3.121; 6.371, 377. To enhance the beauty of Penelope, Athena makes her “whiter than sawn ivory” (Odyssey 18.196, etc.).
[ back ] 7. An idea evoked explicitly by Hector himself when he confronts Achilles: gumnon eonta / autōs hōs te gunaika, Iliad 22.124–125. On the force of the insult in such a comparison, see p. 40 below.
[ back ] 8. Iliad 13.291 and 17.228. The same image with the verb oarizein is used during the “Achilles-Hector rendezvous,” 22.127–128. The other occurrence of this verb is in the exchange between Hector and Andromache, 6.516. For interpretations of these passages, see Segal 1971b:35–36; Vermeule 1979:103, 157, 235n24.
[ back ] 9. See Benveniste 1969 1:307.
[ back ] 10. On the meaning of damazō, damnēmi, see Vernant and Detienne 1974:85–87.
[ back ] 11. Vermeule 1979:101–102 cites, among other passages, Hesiod Theogony 120–122, “Eros that relaxes the limbs, and in the breasts of all gods and all men, subdues their reason and prudent counsel” (trans. Nagy and Banks). See also J. Svenbro 1984 who, in a symmetric but inverse perspective, shows that Sappho uses the model warrior from the Iliad to define the philotas ‘love’ of women.
[ back ] 12. Cf. the Phaeacians in the Odyssey (warm baths, banquets, dance): Odyssey 8.248–249; Paris Iliad 3.54–55, etc.
[ back ] 13. See Boedeker 1974:43–57 on the relationship between dance and Aphrodite.
[ back ] 14. Note, too, the five-fold repetition of oida within five lines (Iliad 7.237–241); the poet summarizes through Hector’s voice the primary actions a warrior must know how to perform in order to be effective in the field; the repetition of the verb creates a rhythm connecting each enunciation.
[ back ] 15. On the “dance of the dogs,” see Vermeule 1979:103–105, 235n24; on scavenging dogs, see Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1981:165–169.
[ back ] 16. MacLeod 1982:111 compares this verse to Iliad 3.106 where the sons of Priam are called “high-handed and ill to trust” and points out the play on the word aristoi: they excel at dance, not combat.
[ back ] 17. Mazon 1937–1947, 3:103: “Achille compare Troie, la cité inviolée jusqu’à ce jour, à une captive à qui, vainqueur, il arrachera de force son voile.”
[ back ] 18. Nagler 1974:44–63.
[ back ] 19. On this notion of intact/pure, see Redfield 1975:161.
[ back ] 20. Hector himself mentioned this threat during their conversation on the ramparts: violence and slavery await Andromache if Troy falls: “… some Achaean man, one of those men who wear khitons of bronze, takes hold of you as you weep and leads you away as his prize, depriving you of your days of freedom from slavery” (Iliad 6.454–455).
[ back ] 21. See Nagler 1974:50.
[ back ] 22. A mourning woman will “tear her cheeks for grief” (Iliad 11.393).
[ back ] 23. See Vermeule 1979:169 and Chap. 5, “On the Wings of the Morning: the Pornography of Death”; also Kahn 1980.
[ back ] 24. Vermeule 1979:103.
[ back ] 25. On vultures, see Detienne 1972:47–57.
[ back ] 26. See Mylonas 1962:478 and Alexiou 1974:10–11.
[ back ] 27. My primary reference here, as in this chapter as a whole, is J.-P. Vernant’s 1981–1982 seminar at the Collège de France (Vernant 1982b).
[ back ] 28. On the meaning of eisoraō ‘to look upon with admiration, contemplate’, see Iliad 12.312. Sarpedon says to Glaucus that the Lycians “look up to us as though we were gods”; similarly for ‘to look upon with respect’, see Eumaeus to Odysseus at Odyssey 20.166: “Stranger, are the suitors treating you with more respect?”
[ back ] 29. On hapalos, see p. 26 above and Plato Symposium 195D–196B.
[ back ] 30. See the remarks on this passage in Vernant and Gnoli 1982:59–60.
[ back ] 31. The notion of handling or touching something conveyed by the verb amphaphaō becomes even clearer if we consider the other uses of the verb in the Odyssey: 8.215 (Odysseus and his bow); 15.462 (a necklace); 19.475 (Eurycleia when she recognizes Odysseus by the scar on his thigh).
[ back ] 32. In her work focused on Aphrodite, Deborah Boedeker (1974:23–42) clearly shows that whenever the goddess is called Dios thugatēr by the poet, it is always her protective attribute that is being underlined; she is the divine agent who rescues. On the other hand, whenever she is philommeidēs Aphroditē, it is her function as the goddess of seduction and sexual union that is being referenced.
[ back ] 33. See Segal 1971b:70, as well as the remarks in Onians 1954:254.
[ back ] 34. See Segal 1971b:70.
[ back ] 35. See Vernant and Gnoli 1982:45–76
[ back ] 36. See pp. 11–12 above.
[ back ] 37. This line warrants comparison with the words of Andromache at 24.739, “for your father’s hand in battle was not tender.”
[ back ] 38. See, in particular, Vermeule 1979:145–177.
[ back ] 39. Eros: Iliad 3.442; 14.294; Thanatos: 5.68; 16.350, etc.
[ back ] 40. Cf. pp. 25–27 above. I would point out again the double meaning of the verb lilaiomai ‘strongly desire’ that applies sometimes to erotic desire (Odyssey 1.15; 9.30, 32; 23.334: Calypso and Circe’s desire for Odysseus; Iliad 14.331: Zeus’ desire for Hera) and sometimes to the rage of battle (Iliad 3.133), or the “desire” of spears to feed on human flesh (11.573–574; 15.316–317; 21.168).