The Iliad XIX-XXIV
1. Make a brief (3-4 phrases) summary of each book, trying to think of patterns.
2. What does Book 19 have to do with the Wrath of Achilles?
3. What do you expect to happen at the beginning of Book 19? Why doesn't it happen?
4. Examine the "reconciliation" scene at the beginning of Book 19. Does either man express exactly what he was initially upset about? To what extent is this a satisfactory "reconciliation?"
5. To what extent have the expectations of Agamemnon (that Achilles will accept recompense and cool out) and Achilles (that suffering Agamemnon will grovel) been met as of Book 19? What is ironic in the fact that Achilles' Wrath has not ended yet?
6. What (if anything) is excessive about Achilles' grief for Patroklos so far (to the end of Book 19)?
7. Discuss the aristeia of Achilles (Books 20-22). In how many ways it is "exponentially greater" than any you have seen so far?
8. Various remarks and statements have been made all the way through the poem about the superlative nature of Achilles the Warrior; to what extent are these justified by his actions in Books 20-22? Are they exceeded?
9. What "excessive" (read "hybristic") elements are there in the actions of Achilles in Books 20-21?
10. Compare the Wrath of Achilles as implicit since the end of Book 16 and manifest especially in Books 20-22. In what ways is it different from the Wrath of Books 9-16? In what ways is a triad operating here? What irony is there is Achilles' choice, now made, given what he had to say about it in Book 9?
11. To what extent is Hektor responsible for his own death? In what ways has he been being hybristic?
12. Why does it take divine deception to kill Hektor? Is his death "heroic?" What do you make of his race around the walls? Is your opinion of Hektor diminished or enhanced by his end?
13. Compare in detail the deaths of Hektor, Patroklos and Sarpedon. To what extent is a triad operating here?
14. Book 22 ends with three laments; in what ways do these form a triad?
15. The "return" of Achilles (literally and metaphorically) begins in Book 20. In terms of exactly which aspect of his personality does he "return" in Books 20-22?
16. The "climax" of this poem is Hektor's death; why doesn't the poem end here?
17. What actions of Achilles in Book 22 could be called excessive?
18. What actions of Achilles in Book 23 could be called excessive? Given that this question has focused you on Patroklos' funeral, can you think of any reason (from the poet's point of view) for describing a funeral of unparalleled magnificence here (i.e., what inevitable event [but not part of the story of the Iliad] might the poet be "prefiguring" here?)?
19. Identify the "quarrels" between warriors which occur in Book 23, any one of which is theoretically able to be the beginning of a crisis like the one caused by the quarrel in Book 1. Why exactly do none of these develop (or, by whose actions are they defused)? What implicit contrast is the poet making here?
20. In terms of exactly which major aspect of his personality does Achilles "return" in Books 23?
21. What actions of Achilles in Book 24 could be called excessive?
22. What things does Achilles do in Book 24 which (presumably) he has not done since the end of Book 16 (e.g., he eats)? To what extent are these details of "normalization" necessarily described before a poem avowedly about the Wrath of Achilles can be ended?
23. Can you read the interview between Achilles and Priam in Book 24 without tears? What is the poet doing here?
24. In terms of exactly which major aspect of his personality does Achilles "return" in Books 24? In what ways is a triad operating here?
25. Examine carefully the "Niobe Scene" in Book 24 (lines 509-620). What elements of ring composition are operating here? Given that many scholars consider lines 614-617 to be spurious (i.e., added to the text by someone other than Homer), how could you use the concept of ring composition to support their contention?
26. The myth about Niobe is very straightforward: A daughter of Tantalus, Niobe boasted that she was more blessed than the goddess Leto, in that she (N.) had 12 (or 14) children while Leto had only two; Leto's two, Apollo and Artemis, in response gunned down all of Niobe's children; her consequent grief was extreme (so that she is often referred to in Greek literature when people are talking about grief, especially that of parent for child), and she was turned into a mountain cliff. With this in mind, examine carefully the "Niobe Scene" in Book 24 (lines 509-620). What elements is Achilles inventing here? Why? (e.g., Achilles wants grieving parent Priam to eat; therefore he says that Niobe ate). Given that at least one detail in Achilles' story is nearly ridiculous (gods don't bury people), what might be going on here?
28. Book 24 ends with three laments; in what ways do these form a triad? What is the effect of the rather surprising person who gets "the last word?"
29. Examine the proposition that Books 1 and 24 form a "ring," as though the whole Iliad were merely a "circular" digression in someone's "linear" narrative of the whole Trojan War. What "replications" of elements of Book 1, in other words, can you find in Book 24?
Source: http://duke.usask.ca/~porterj/CourseNotes/IliadStiles.html. Used by permission.