Sunday, September 1, 2019

Patroklos is not very important to the Iliada Essay

Patroklos is introduced as the companion of Achilleus – the great warrior – which automatically makes him significant to the poem as a whole. His relationship with Achilleus is first shown in book 9 where Patroklos obeys everything Achilleus asks him to do and is names as ‘his companion Patroklos’. This shows they have a good relationship which is important as it shows the audience another side of Achilleus, one where he is loving and caring and human enough to crave the company of a close friend. However the menial tasks Patroklos is first asked to perform could have been undertaken by any common slave and therefore in this scene he does not come across as particularly important to the poem. This close relationship is emphasized a number of times throughout the poem, in particular when Achilleus ‘gave a silent signal to Patroklos with his eyebrows’ which would indicate that their relationship is such that Patroklos understands what Achilleus wants him to do through facial expression alone. Moreover, in book 11, Patroklos is referred to as the ‘pleasure of my heart’ by Achilleus, suggesting that their relationship is deeper than just friends. Patroklos’s role in Achilleus’s life is explained in part by Nestor who speaks of the advice given to Patroklos by his father ‘by birth Achilleus is superior to you, but you are the older. He is far stronger than you, but your proper task is to give him words of wisdom and advise him and guide him – and he will listen to you for the best. ’ This indicates that Patroklos has throughout his life influenced Achilleus and continues to do so, meaning he is crucial in understanding Achilleus’s character. Nearing the end of book 11, Patroklos cuts an arrow from Eurypylos thigh and stops the bleeding which shows he is compassionate and endears him to the audience which may be a device employed by Homer to emphasize the sadness of Patroklos’s death later in the poem. This scene is also used to show the brutal effects of war due to its gory nature. After book 16 Patroklos comes to the forefront of the poem. Achilleus instructs him to don his armour and push the battle from their ships. Achilleus once again shows his feelings for Patroklos as he prays to Zeus that he will come back safely. Zeus does not grant this, foretelling Patroklos’s death. During this book, Patroklos has his aristeia which adds excitement and impact to the poem. Patroklos’s fighting lasts for many pages and is a significant part of the poem, showing his importance overall. Patroklos’s fight with Sarpedon is important as Zeus becomes upset over the death of his son and although he allows the Achaians to take his armour, he ensures the body is well looked after – showing a loving side of Zeus that is not often seen during the poem. Without Patroklos this scene would not have been able to take place. Patroklos’s death is told over many lines and begins with Euphorbus stabbing him in the back as he is too scared to face him in battle. This shows once again how brave and important Patroklos is. The passage describing Hektor killing Patroklos is very descriptive and includes mockery from Hektor and Patroklos’s final speech. This once more makes the audience feel for Patroklos as he is cruelly mocked in the last moments of his life. The next book is entirely dedicated to the fight over Patroklos’s body which indicates that he was important and a large part of the poem. There are also many men willing to defend Patroklos which shows he was well loved ‘I would gladly stand by Patroklos and defend him, since his death has touched right to my heart’. At the beginning of book 18 Achilleus learns of the death of Patroklos ‘and the black cloud of sorrow enveloped Achilleus†¦he lay there with his whole body sprawling in the dust, huge and hugely fallen, tearing at his hair and defiling it with his own hands’, this passage shows how much Achilleus cared for his friend, he is so overwhelmed with sorrow that he is unable to speak. Even the serving women ‘shrieked loud in their hearts’ grief’, enabling the audience to understand that he was loved by all, emphasizing the pain of his death. Furthermore, Patroklos’s death makes Achilleus feel guilty ‘let me die directly, since I was not able to help my friend at his killing’ and spurs him to fight once more. The sensitive side of Achilleus is bought out again during this ‘his warm tears falling when he saw his trusted friend lying there’. Patroklos’s death is the catalyst needed to make Achilleus rekindle his fighting spirit ‘but now Patroklos†¦I shall not give you burial until I have bought here†¦the head of Hektor. ’ Which shows that without Patroklos Achilleus would not have fought again, meaning he is catalytic in this part of the Iliad. Finally it is made clear that Patroklos was instrumental in Achilleus’s attachment to Briseis. ‘You were always gentle. ’ Briseis explains that Patroklos was the one who arranged for her to marry Achilleus, and since this all began because Briseis was taken away this shows that without Patroklos’s intervention Achilleus would not have been so angry in the first place and would not have refused to fight, making the Iliad into a very different story. Therefore, Patroklos was key in shaping the poem into the story it became.

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