Monsacré, Hélène. 2018. The Tears of Achilles. Trans. Nicholas J. Snead. Introduction by Richard P. Martin. Hellenic Studies Series 75. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_MonsacreH.The_Tears_of_Achilles.2018.
I.3. Erotic Images of War
Erotic Representation of Combat
The dance of Ares
The veils of a city
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.
Marriage in battle
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.
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.  Finally, women’s powers of mortification emerge from this overlapping of images.  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.  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. 
War at the Heart of the Opposition between Eros and Thanatos
Hector lying in the dust is, in the manner of an erotic partner, “softer to touch” (malakōteros amphaphasthai, 22.373) than ever before.  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.
Aphrodite and Apollo combine their efforts to keep Hector’s body supple and intact by removing the risks of dismemberment and decay.  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):
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).
The paradox, as pointed out by Charles Segal,  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,”  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.