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R.J. Rabel: Agamemnon's Aristeia Agamemnon's Aristeia: Iliad 11.101-21 Robert J. Rabel Book 1 1 of the Iliad, standing nearly at the half-way point of the poem, has a particularly complex relationship bom to what precedes and follows. On the new day of battle that begins here, the plan of Zeus, mentioned first in Book 1, is explicitly laid out. Zeus proclaims that Hector will have power to kill until he reaches the ships of the Achaeans (11.186-94). Also in this book Achilles sends Patroclus to Nestor, "and this was the beginning of his doom" (11.604).1 The Janus-face of the book manifests itself not only in the content of the narrative but also in the accompanying similes. Carroll Moulton has demonstrated convincingly that a number of the similes of Book 1 1 possess clear connections with the long-range movement of the action. Thus the simile likening the movements of Hector to the intermittent light of the Dog Star (1 1.62-64) looks backward to a description of Diomedes (5.5-6) and forward to the climactic charge of Achilles against Hector in Book 22 (26-32). Likewise, the simile comparing the serpents on Agamemnon's armor to rainbows (11.27-28) looks forward to the simile at 17.547-50, where Athena's cloud is also compared to a rainbow; both signs are portents from Zeus.2 The pivotal role of Book 1 1 of the Iliad is reflected through the complexity with which its plot reflects the past and future through the present poetic moment. In this paper I will study in detail the imagery and the density of temporal references in one brief episode of the aristeia of Agamemnon (11.101-21) in order to demonstrate the artful complexity attainable through a Homeric multiple-correspondence simile both in relation to its immediate narrative context and to incidents of the past and future to which it is related.3 An 1 As W. Schadewaldt has demonstrated, the narrative of Book 1 1 looks backward to the origins of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles and forward even beyond the ending ofthe poem to the death of Achilles himself: cf. ¡liasstudien, 3rd ed. (Darmstadt 1966) 1-73. All references to and quotations from the ¡liad employ the text of D.B. Monro and T.W. Allen, 3rd ed. (Oxford 1920). 2 C. Moulton, "Similes in the Iliad" Hermes 102 (1974) 392. 3 D. West ("Multiple Correspondence Similes in the Aeneid," JRS 59 [1969] 40) points out that scholars have traditionally regarded Homeric similes as largely ornamental, with one point of comparison between simile and narrative. M.M. Willcock (The ¡liad ofHomer, vols. 1-2 [London 1978 and 1989] on 11.480 and 17.63-64) points out that many similes exhibit a characteristic twopoint correspondence. 2 Syllecta Classica 2 (1990) assumption underlying this paper is that the Iliad exhibits many of the features of an oral poem, including a reliance upon the stereotypical, but that the verbal echoes generated by the oral, formulaic art need not be gratuitous, even in passages separated by half the poem. In the first stages of his aristeia, Agamemnon slays a series of minor heroes who appear in groups of two, first of all Bienor and Oileus. Next he moves against Isus and Antiphus, and as often in Homer, it is the second in the series that truly matters.4 Agamemnon kills these two sons of Priam and in heroic fashion strips off their armor (11.101-12). The two had fallen into Greek hands once before. Earlier, the poet tells us, Achilles had captured and bound them as they pastured sheep on the spurs of Ida, and later handed them back to the Trojans for ransom (11.104-06). After their deaths the poet adds that Agamemnon knew them, since Achilles had once brought them to the Achaean ships (1 1.1 1 1-12). The slaying of the hapless Trojans is immediately followed by a simile describing the depredations of a lion against the helpless children of a doe: dis- de ???? ???f??? ta?e??? ??p?a t???a ?>??Sitos- s???a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5157
Print ISSN
1040-3612
Pages
pp. 1-7
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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