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My Favorite Simile In "The Iliad" And Other Personal Responses To "The Iliad"

796 words - 3 pages

One of my favorite similes in The Iliad is in the beginning of Book Three when the armies are closing in on each other. Paris challenges the Achaeans to send their best warrior to fight him one-on-one. When Menelaus saw him “flaunting before the troops” (III: 25) he “thrilled like a lion lighting on some handsome carcass, lucky to find an antlered stag or wild goat just as hunger strikes--he rips it, bolts it down, even with running dogs and lusty hunters rushing him” (III: 25-29). This is an allusion to animal-like behavior, which shows up quite often in the poem. It is a vivid description; the reader can imagine it taking place as well as some of the literal descriptions of the battles throughout the story, yet it is metaphorical. The idea is that Menelaus is like a beast being so stirred up by the sight of a weaker animal that will serve as food when he is hungry that he rips it apart even though there are distractions all around. This is a good image because it helps to further characterize Menelaus; it effectively reminds the reader that he is so focused on revenge toward Paris since he stole Helen that his hatred is burning in him like an animal’s hunger.

In Book Nine when the embassy of Achaean leaders go to Achilles to appeal to him to come back to fight, he refuses and Phoenix starts a lengthy, persuasive speech with two important stories. In the first section of his speech he tells of his own struggles with rage in a situation with his own family when he fled (IX: 580). This led him to Phthia, where he became like a father to Achilles (IX: 587-599). He uses the memories of his own situation to try to relate to the relentless Achilles. Phoenix talks of their relationship when Achilles was a baby to appeal to his emotional side. He sees that this does not work and continues to encourage him to accept Agamemnon’s gifts and come back to fight. He tells the story of another warrior in a similar situation: Meleager resisted going back to war and his hesitation kept him from getting the gifts promised to him (IX: 727). So Phoenix, in about 200 lines, appeals to Achilles in every way he can. I think Phoenix’s narrative...

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