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YMMV / The Iliad

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  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Did Homer intended The Iliad to be an anti-war or pro-war piece? It spawn countless debates among scholars and critics.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Some believe Achilles and Patroclus to have been not just best friends, but lovers, which may add another dimension to Achilles' behavior after Patroclus' death. This interpretation is mentioned in Plato's Symposium as well as other authors like Aeschylus, Pindar and Aeschines, making it Older Than Feudalism itself, and more recently was the basis for The Song of Achilles.
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    • Achilles' refusal to continue fighting and taking Agamemnon's generous bribe makes a bit more sense when you consider the prophecy that he will die if he fights in the war. Since in the book the Greeks know it is the last year of the war, Achilles knows that every battle he takes part in could be his last, which might explain his rather wild and unhinged personality.
    • Did Helen go with Paris willingly and then get homesick after years of contentedness? Was she abducted and kept as a glorified prisoner for ten years? Or did she just make a really bad lapse in judgment, but was otherwise a decent person? Or did she get date raped by Aphrodite?
    • Likewise did Paris take Helen out of love or out of lust?
    • Is Hector's request to Achilles to give the loser of their duel full burial rites evidence of his honor (despite his attempt to maim Patroclus' body the day before) or is it a desperate plea for mercy because he knows Achilles will kill him?
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    • Is Nestor a wise leader whose good council is ignored by the brash youths at war or is he a Manipulative Bastard who's playing the other Greek leaders for the greater good of the greek coalition?
    • Who is the real hero of the Iliad - Achilles or Hector?
  • Anti-Climax Boss: You'd probably expect some sort of long (dare we say, epic?) duel for the final fight between the greatest fighters of the Greeks and the Trojans. Instead, Hector runs from Achilles in terror for a while before Athena tricks him into thinking his brother Deiphobus was there to help him and waste throwing his spear at Achilles, Hector draws his sword and runs at Achilles to what he is certain is his doom, Achilles then fatally wounds him in his collar bone with a single strike, and that's all she wrote. Er, he said.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: The story was written at a time when it was assumed you'd know all the continuity already. There are names and names and names and dynasties and political allegiances and many other confusing contexts that are glanced over without much explanation. Find a copy with plenty of annotations or have Wikipedia open next to you, or information overload sets in pretty quick. It's hardly impossible to enjoy it even without knowing every detail, though.
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  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: For modern audience at least. There's no point to be interested in the story because Troy is doomed to fall. Most of the characters on both side either die or will die in later events.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Hector. Yes he's a better person than Achilles, but people seem to inevitably forget the scene in which he wanted to hang Patroclus' head from the gates and feed his body to the dogs in revenge for Sarpedon, which makes Achilles' treatment of his body less Moral Event Horizon worthy, and more Karmic Vengeance. Numerous other acts of brutality, stupidity and occasional cowardice on his part are inevitably brushed over as well.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Aeneas. Son of Venus and one of the few Trojan survivors of the war, he's a minor hero who only has two major scenes (both of which ends with him being rescued by the Gods). And yet the Romans would write a whole epic about him.
    • Cassandra, who only has one scene in the book but promptly milks it for all its worth. The fact that she is probably the second most sympathetic to modern audience after Hector also helps. This reaches to the point that her role is usually expanded either by combine with a lot of the other female characters at Troy, wrote her many more scenes or just outright took the scene / combine with another character in one of its sequels.
    • Diomedes has his share of fans, mainly for being such a badass, but is one of the more overlooked characters. The fact he is one of the more likable and badass characters certainly helps.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
  • Funny Moments: When Hera seduces Zeus to distract him, he describes how attractive she is by comparing her with some of the other women he's slept with. It takes about 20 lines in the original Greek.
  • Heartwarming Moments: A few:
    • When Hektor says goodbye to his wife Andromache.
    • When Achilles and Priam mourn their losses.
    • When Diomedes rescues Nestor from Hector, when everyone on the Greek side (including badasses that have fought against and are equal to Hector such as Ajax) left the old man to die. Hell the two guys actually manage to turn the tables and almost kill Hector, Zeus himself had to send three lighting bolts in front of their chariot before they were gonna single-highhandedly change the whole story of the Trojan War.
  • Ho Yay: Achilles and Patroclus. In the book, they're nothing more than really close friends. And yet people have been speculating on them being lovers since ancient times. Plato apparently thinks so.
  • Moment of Awesome: There are a lot. Listing off a few:
    • The final battle of Achilles vs. Hector.
    • Ajax the Greater vs Hector, it lasts a day and ends in a draw
    • Achilles fighting the River God, who was pissed off because Achilles was choking him with the corpses of Trojans
    • Odysseus chewing out Agamemnon.
    • Diomedes injures two gods, one of whom is Ares, the god of war, in a single day.
    • Patroclus taking the field. He beats back the Trojans and it takes divine intervention to stop him from conquering Troy then and there.
    • Achilles' initial return to battle after the death of Patroclus: his armour is lost, so he can't actually fight. Instead, he climbs up onto the ramparts, and roars his battle cry at the Trojans until they flee in terror.
    • Helen verbally bitch-slapping Aphrodite. The Goddess says she should go to Paris's bed. Her response boils down to "If you think the bed needs filling, why don't you go screw him yourself?
  • One-Scene Wonder: Cassandra for the virtue of being an absolute Large Ham.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Helen of Troy is frequently remembered by Mycenean Greeks and modern audience as a cheater who caused the Trojan War despite this epic depicts her more as a victim of circumstances. Doesn't help by the fact that many other characters who far outstrip her in term of characterization and popularity like Achilles, Hector and Cassandra all got caught up in the Trojan War and die horribly because of it.
  • Squick: There are moments. The casual trading off of Briseis as a sex slave is quite nasty (see Values Dissonance).
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Helen speaking to Hector's corpse:
      Helen: Hector, dearest to me of all my husband's brothers! These tears of sorrow that I shed are both for you and for my miserable self. No one is left, in all of Troy, that is gentle or kind to me.
    • Achilles receiving news of Patroclus' death.
    • Everything involving Priam, starting with the death of his sons.
      • In particular, going to the Greek camp alone in the dark to beg Achilles for the body of Hector. "I have endured what no one on earth has ever done before — I put my lips to the hands of the man who killed my son."
    • While sleep-deprived and in shock after Patroclus's death, Achilles is visited by his ghost. He tries to hug it, and finds he can't.
  • Values Dissonance: Not surprisingly.
    • It is difficult for many modern readers to not instinctively side with the Trojans as a whole and Hector in particular. After all, the values that he embodies are still widely held, and nearly the entire western tradition has considered Hector the more heroic onenote .
    • The mindset of Achilles was more valid back in the Heroic Age of Greek warfare, which glorified individual exploits and honor. It is more alien to most Western cultures today, and even very different than, say, the military discipline of another ancient city-state, Sparta.
    • Modern readers are often surprised to find Helen portrayed as lonely and conflicted (especially with Ancient Greece's misogynist attitude), when she was historically the butt of many insults and jokes about the infidelity of women. The attitude of the Heroic Age Greeks was different, as we see in Homer. Women are spoils of war and they are not blamed for making their captivity as easy on themselves as possible by being submissive and loyal. On the other hand the pathos of their condition isn't ignored either. Briseis is a case in point; Achilles killed her husband but he's also been kind to her and, urged by Patroclus, promised to marry her. She is now loyal to Achilles and maybe even cares about him a bit, certainly she shares his grief for Patroclus.
      • Heck, in the Greek tragedies that have anything to do with Orestes or the House of Atreus, there's usually a line or two taking a potshot at Helen. Euripides is particularly notable as a major plot point in his Orestes is Pylades, Orestes, and Elektra wanting to take Helen (as the instigator for the whole Trojan War) hostage because Menelaus won't bail them out after they murder Clytemnestra and Aegisthus and the city turns on them.
    • The whole concept of a war waged over a woman (willingly or forced by Aphrodite?) leaving an arranged marriage may be uncomfortable by today's standards. Of course it seems that Helen is now being kept in Troy against her will.
      • Paris had also stolen much treasure from Menelaos; this is mentioned a lot in the epic.
      • In some versions of the myth Helen herself chooses Menelaos from among her suitors.
    • There is a famous scene when Andromache suggests that Hector fight from the relative safety of the walls instead, pointing out the she is a stranger in the city and neither she nor their son has anyone else to rely on if Hector dies. He declines, tries to hug his child, but the child is terrified and doesn't recognize his father in the scary helmet over his head. He takes off the helmet, and says something like: "Gods if I have ever pleased you, now hear my prayer: let my son grow up to be a great man so that his people say he is greater than his father..." To the modern mind, the continuing line is an aversion of cuteness, while to the Greeks it was probably natural: "And let him come home safely from combat with the bloody armor of his slain enemy and make his mummy glad." Hector does not mention himself in this wish for his son's future as he probably does not expect to live to see it.
    • What happens if in war a soldier surrenders and begs to be taken as a hostage? Kill him, especially because if you're victorious you'll get to loot his home anyway! This lesson gets spelled out twice by the Greek heroes, even.
    • During Patrocles' funeral games, Achilles offers some of his loot as prizes. For one event, the winner gets a bronze tripod, worth twelve heads of cattle, the runner up gets a female slave, worth four.
  • Wangst: Achilles can come off this way to a modern audience.
  • The Woobie:
    • Helen needs a hug. An entire war happens because of her decision, as well as the fact that the other Trojan women clearly dislike her (with good reason).
    • So does Menelaus.
    • Priam. The scene where he enters the Greek camp and begs Achilles for Hector's body is a real tearjerker.
    • Cassandra, especially knowing her final fate in The Oresteia.
    • Jerkass Woobie: Achilles, after Patroclus is killed because of his arrogance. This is even more prominent if you think they are lovers.

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