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.
III.1. Crying in the Heroic Space of the Iliad
In Books 2 and 3 of the Republic, Socrates and Adeimantus discuss the program of education that would be implemented in their ideal city. The idea is proposed that the legislature should control the fables and myths of the poets, that they should “edit” a sort of orthodox Homer whose heroes do not cry. This conception of crying as a manifestation of weakness, vulnerability, and cowardice, while it is clearly formulated during the classical period, does not appear to be applicable to the world of epic.
Heracles, when he appears in the Iliad, is also presented weeping: “He would weep till his cry came up to the sky” (8.364), Athena says of him, describing his pain and exhaustion during the labors imposed upon him by Eurystheus.
His tears have nothing to do with heroic pain. For the law of war is entirely different; it contains within itself this condition: glory and pain. Tears are the complement of kleos; one is not possible without the other. In this sense, there is nothing about crying that demeans or emasculates the hero.