Tuesday, June 14, 2011

War and Anti War

I was reading an only moderately interesting book about the Trojan War. Among the cliches of a conflict of cultures and the battles of East and West, I came across some good quotes from out of Homer.

So like a good little geek, I had no choice to look up the original, and make a stab at translation. Mucking around a bit with what I ended up with, lead me to this two little pretend imagist works posted here.

These lines are Odysseus speaking to Agamemnon. Things are not going well for the Greeks. Odysseus lets his captain know that this is the lot of soldiers, and they will have to fight until they die. He seems to be pointing to the cruelty of the gods and their callous disregard for human life. Maybe we can see the gods as standing in for the historic and economic forces in our lives, and how it can seem to the unexplored mind that war is natural and a normal part of life.

When in fact we all know that it is possible to end war.

(Iliad Book 14.86)

This Zeus has assigned.

We are to endure,
From insolence
Into grey age,
Painful war,

Until we perish.

In this second quote, Odysseus is even more clear as to who should wear the blame for the war. It is clearly the work of the gods, and Zeus in particular. He seems to see the war as a toy of the gods, and the death of the many as being of no importance to the deathless ones.

(Odyssey 14.235)

Along this hateful path
Far sounding Zeus
Led many
Knee bent men
To their death.

The image depicts the battle about the body of Patroclus, and is from a greek vase. More can be found here

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