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.4. The Feminine and the Warrior
When Masculine and Feminine Meet
And when Odysseus formulates his best wishes for Nausicaa he describes a good marriage (Odyssey 6.180–185):
The Masculine within the Feminine
The inversion could not be clearer.
Comparisons to female animals
In the human sphere as in the animal sphere, roles are clearly attributed to males and females.  Thus the place for females, both human and animal, is inside, where their role is to raise offspring.  The place for males is outside, in combat during times of war. In this sense, the feminine gender, when it is applied to men in combat, whether in human or animal form, is an insult marking weakness.
Overly sophisticated armor
Amphimachus’ excess, linked with the delicate and refined nature of a woman’s adornments, is presented as explicitly feminine. The “weapons” of women are ineffective and inadequate in the context of war. In Aphrodite’s misadventure in Book 5, the brilliantly adorned goddess is immediately driven off by Diomedes. Is there, in Amphimachus, a pale reflection of the eminently feminine figure Aphrodite? One thing is for sure; when Amphimachus dies at the hand of Achilles, the gold in his armor is restored to the normal channels of war: the victor will claim the armor of his adversary. When armor takes on the literal qualities of women’s finery, the man who wears it can no longer remain a part of the community of warriors.
This is an extraordinary comparison: the woman is labeled as alēthēs ‘truthful’ rather than careful, and the relationship between the balance and the truth is underlined. Commenting on this passage, Marcel Detienne writes: “If the female worker in the Iliad is described as alēthēs, it is almost certainly because she is holding a balance, the symbol and instrument of justice. This is further evidence of the close and fundamental association between the balance and the truth.” 
First, note Aphrodite’s attentiveness as she watches over her son. To protect him, she performs a series of maternal actions: taking him into her arms, holding him against her bosom and navel. The arms of a mother are like a city wall: Aphrodite literally puts herself between Aeneas and the Greeks. She shields him with her arms. Additionally, the fold (ptugma, Iliad 5.315) in the garment where she hides Aeneas reinforces the idea of the depth in which she enfolds her son. This depth is like the symbolic security of a child near a mother’s womb. Aeneas is transformed back into a young child, incorporated within his mother’s body, hidden and cradled in her arms. When Aphrodite is, in turn, injured in the arm by Diomedes, she can no longer carry her son; she opens her arms and drops him (5.343).
Hecuba’s gesture is solemn: by showing her breast, a symbol of maternity, and by making reference to its nourishment and protection, she reminds Hector, just before his death, that he was once a young child, and that even the bravest warrior remains, in a certain sense, a child for his mother.
In this comparison, the poet clearly develops the theme of maternity: Menelaus is a mother, Patroclus a new-born calf. Is this a poetic way to emphasize Menelaus’ concern and the fragility of Patroclus? Or is it simply a way to say that Patroclus has just been cut down at the height of his youth? Patroclus is the only warrior who drifts a little from the purely warlike model of masculinity, without, however, transgressing its limits; Patroclus’ gentleness is mentioned both by a woman (Briseïs, Iliad 19.300) and his companions in battle (Menelaus, 17.671–672).  Without going so far as to claim that Patroclus occupies the place of a woman with Achilles,  there are certain peculiar aspects of his character worth pointing out. It is Achilles who calls him a “little girl” (kourē nēpiē, 16.7–8)  when he sees him lamenting the Achaeans’ misfortunes. During the embassy scene in Book 9, Patroclus prepares the libations and instruments of sacrifice, while Achilles cuts the meat (9.201–220). Patroclus also treats Eurypylus’ wounds. When the doctors Podalirius and Machaon are absent, Patroclus replaces them, using helpful pharmaka ‘drugs’ (11.844–848). In both the Trojan and Greek camps, women are never shown tending to the wounded. War is strictly the business of men, and in this sense Patroclus, the gentlest of the Greeks, represents the “positive” side of feminine virtues: food preparation, healing, tenderness.
Odunē should be understood here in the full sense of the term: the word refers to sharp, shooting, heavy, exhausting pain  —all characteristics of the pain of childbirth. In this way, “the masculine universe of the Achaean combatants … attributes the suffering of a woman in labor to the king of kings among the heroes.”