Notes on The Iliad Themes

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The Iliad Topic Tracking: Rage

Books 1 - 4

Rage 1: The poem begins with an introduction to the theme of rage. Achilles, raging at the requests and demands of Agamemnon, withdraws from the war until the death of Patroclus. In this section, however, it is the rage of Chryses at his daughter's abduction that moves along the plot. Chryses offers Agamemnon an appropriate ransom for his daughter and the Greek king refuses to accept this. As a result, Chryses appeals to Apollo. Apollo is consumed by rage and punishes the Greek armies with a plague.

Rage 2: Agamemnon is enraged by Calchas' prophecy because is blames him for the destruction. He is also angry that Achilles over stepped his bounds in asking for a prophecy, which is the office of the true leader. As a result, Agamemnon capitulates but demands Achilles' prize in exchange for his own. Achilles, equally enraged at the presumption of and selfishness of Agamemnon, withdraws from the Greek camp and the battle.

Rage 3: At the beginning of the duel between Helen's husband and her lover, the two swear that the loser will forfeit their claim to the woman. Because Paris was rescued from battle, rage overcomes Menelaus. This rage increases as the Trojans refuse to remit Helen. Menelaus throws himself into battle with a new destructive power.

Books 5 - 8

Rage 4: After the battle has begun again, Diomedes is enraged by the gods and rampages through the Trojan line slaughtering men. This anger gives Diomedes super human strength and the Greek warrior goes on one of the most destructive killing sprees in the poem. His rage brings about the death of many men.

Rage 5: Ares, watching the coming juggernaut of Diomedes, fills the son of Priam with anger and a desire for revenge. Hector, inspired by Ares, tears into the Greek warriors. Diomedes continues his rampage. The two heroes wreak havoc in the opposing lines as rage continues to claim lives.

Books 9 - 12

Rage 6: Achilles, still angry with Agamemnon, refuses to help his compatriots. This is a continuation of the introduction to the epic as well as the conflict in Book 1. Achilles' rage at Agamemnon will govern his decision to enter battle until a greater anguish displaces it.

Rage 7: Despite his concern for the wounded, Achilles will not enter the battle because of his continuing rage. This anger is so strong that even in the face of wounded friends, routed troops and an endangered camp, Achilles will not compromise. Rage makes it so that Achilles would rather see friends wounded than be slighted by Agamemnon.

Books 13 - 16

Rage 8: Hector returns from being wounded with the help of the gods. Finding his captains wounded and many troops dead, Hector rampages, reinvigorating the Trojan attack. He berates Paris and mimics his earlier killing spree as he carves into the Greek numbers.

Rage 9: Poseidon's rage against the Trojans causes him to transgress against the will of Zeus. The god of the sea is angry that the Trojan troops are slaughtering the Greeks, so he inspires Greek leaders to reenter battle. His rage also leads him to agree to a plan with Hera to deceive Zeus. This endangers his place in the pantheon because Zeus has threatened great retribution for any god who did not heed his orders. Rage even controls the decisions of the gods.

Rage 10: Hector's rage propels him back inside the Greek camp where he plans to burn their ships. This idea has been planted inside his heads by the gods as he continues to seek retribution for his fallen comrades. Hector puts himself at danger in this endeavor and incites fear and rage in the Greek troops.

Rage 11: Patroclus, excited by his early triumphs, falls into a fit of rage that causes him to push too far into the Trojan line. Achilles warns Patroclus that he may not be safe if he pushes too far, but eager for glory and burning with rage, Patroclus pushes on. His anger brings him temporary victory as he strikes down Trojans left and right.

Rage 12: Despite Apollo's warning, Patroclus continues to attack Troy because he is enraged. He charges the gates three time and finally the god of the sun is forced to scream at the Greek warrior. As a result of his rage-inspired risk, Patroclus is hit by a shaft from Apollo and ultimately struck down by Hector.

Books 17 - 20

Rage 13: Hector's rage causes him to seize Achilles' armor from Patroclus and to taunt Glaucus. The armor is not exactly his, because he did not kill Patroclus alone. The seizure of the armor indicates a lust for glory, but it also reveals Hector's clouded vision as he seizes the armor of Achilles and attempts to desecrate the corpse of his companion.

Rage 14: The fervor over Patroclus' body sends both sides into a rage resulting in the loss of many lives. The Greeks and Trojans cluster around the body of the fallen warrior. The Trojans are enraged at their invaders and the Greeks fight for the right to bury their dead. This rage only adds to the death toll and the corpses as more warriors fall around.

Rage 15: Angered by the death of Patroclus and frustrated by his inability to kill Hector, Achilles continues to slaughter without discrimination. Only rage at the death of his companion was strong enough to overcome Achilles earlier rage. Achilles' anger is present throughout the epic as it is replaced by different focuses. During most of the book he is fooled into inaction by his own fury while by the end he is propelled into action by a new and growing anger.

Books 21 - 24

Rage 16: Achilles continues his killing spree, massacring Trojans in the river Xanthus. Even though the river asks him to stop, Achilles is too blinded by anger to know what to do. When Xanthus talks to Apollo, criticizing him for not saving more Trojan lives, Achilles' rage is born anew as he challenges a god--Achilles' rage is strong enough to allow him to challenge a divinity.

Rage 17: Hector's rage, coupled with his pride, compels him to fight a battle he knows he will lose. Even though he knows that Achilles is momentarily invincible, his anger allows him to believe that it is possible to strike down the warrior with a spear. This rage allows him to be deceived by Athena as she takes on the form of Deiphobus. Hector dies at the hands of a jubilant Achilles, whose own rage makes him refuse a pledge for the safety of Hector's corpse.

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