Book 16- Summary, Themes, Motifs and Symbols

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  • Created on: 12-05-15 17:50


Patroklos, who had seen the crisis from the hut where he was comforting Eurypylos, now comes running to Ahilleus and appeals to him with a cummulation of all the emotion that glowed in the previous formal appeals, begging him, as Nestor suggested, at least to allow Patroklos to lead the Myrmidons into battle, dressed in Achilleus' own armour. This is the hinge of the Iliad, turning events into a straight and tragic sequence which redirects Achilleus' anger and ensures the fall of Troy.Patroklos' appeal is specifically linked to his own death: 'So he spoke in entreaty, the poor fool - what he was begging would be wretched death for himself and his own destruction'. Achilleus agree, but tells Patroklos to return after he has driven the Trojans way from the ships, and not press on to Troy.

Meanwhile Aias is pushed back under Trojan pressure, and a ship is fired. Achilleus sees this, and urges Patroklos into action. The Myrmidons muster, and the importance of this sequence is marked, as to often, by a wealth of detail - the catalogue of the Myrmidons, a variety of similes, the long description of Patroklos' arming, Achilleus' careful libation and prayer, granted only partial fulfilment by Zeus.

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Summary continued

Patroklos and the Myrmidons extinguish the fire and drive the Trojans in confusion and slaughter back across the plain. Sarpedon, leader of the Lycians and son of Zeus, faces Patroklos in single combat and is killed by him- the most important death in the Iliad so far, marked by furious fighting over his body and the moving account of his translation to Lycia by the twin brothers Sleep and Death, for full burial by his brothers and kinsmen (concern with burial or its denial now grows increasingly insistent as the Iliad moves to its climax). Patroklos presses on towards Troy, ignoring Achilleus' instruction, and called to his death by the gods (Blind rejection of advice brings disaster to all great men of the Iliad - Agamemnon, Achilleus, Patroklos, and finally Hektor). After success which threatens the very capture of Troy, Patroklos is ultimately met by Apollo, who knocks the armour from him and exposes him first to a stab from a minor Trojan, Euphorbos, and then to a fatal spear-thrust from Hektor. As he dies Patroklos prophesises the death of Hektor, a motif repeated when Hektor himself dies at the hands of Achilleus.

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Theme of Glory of War

"The misery that has overcome the Achaians"

This shows us that sometimes war is not always so glorious as audience members may think, but soldeirs either die guresome deaths or suffer serious injuries.

"Then glorious Hektor"

This means that because he has killed Patroklos, the pretender, he is triumphant and feels that he can succeed gloriously in battle. In other words, nothing can stand in his way.

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Theme of Military Glory over Family Life

"shall I ****** him out of ruinious fighting"

This indicates to the audience that there is a different side of Zeus that they do not see. He is worried about his son, but he cannot change his fate.

"some other god too may wish to rescue his own dear son"

This shows the audience that during warfare, the gods cannot do anything to help their sons or daughters other than to watch them suffer.

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Theme of Impermanence of human life

"If only none of all the Trojans would escape death"

This shows the audience that soldiers are scared of dying in battle and fantasise about what the world would be like if death did not exist.

"and his spirit flitted from his body"

This gives us an insight about Patroklos' soul leaving his body from a painful death. This gives the audience sympathy for Achilleus because he was not there for him at battle.

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Theme of interaction between fate and freewill

"who is mortal and long ago decided by fate"

This shows us that the Greeks believe that every mortals fate was decided long before they were born, but only the gods know about their fate.

"It is cruel fate and Leto's son that have killed me"

This shows the audience that he has now been made aware that he is dying and that it is his fate. This is one of three deaths that occurs in this story.

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Theme of Intervention of the immortals

"put a heart without courage in Hektor first of all"

This shows us that Zeus is guiding Hektor towards his fate by guiding him to fufill killing Patroklos. Therefore, he cannot be lead astray from his fate.

"Immediately lifted godlike Sarpedon away from the weapon's range"

This gives us the impression that sometime the gods are not always playing with the mortals, but caring for them. This is almost showing a different side to the immortal gods.

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Theme of Pride

"Your pride is ruinous"

This means that Achilleus is more concerned about his pride rather than fighiting. He is causing defeat among the Achaian ranks.

"why make me your prophecy of grim death"

This shows us that Hektor is too proud of his own achievement that he insults Patroklos' dead body to make a statement.

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Theme of Anger

"They swarmed out all at once like wasps"

This shows the audience that all the anger inside of them from bot going into battle transforms into fury to battle.

"shame on you Lycians! Where are you running?"

This means that Sarpedon is angry at his troops because they are acting like cowards and running away from battle and Patroklos.

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Motif of Armour

"the craft star bright corselet of the fast runner Achilleus"

This shows the audience that Patroklos is arming himself into battle as Achilleus in order to scare the Trojans away. However, he is getting nearer is fate.

"And Lord Apollo... broke the corselet off him"

This shows us that just because a warrior is wearing armour to go into battle, it does not mean that he is prone to injuries or even death.

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Symbols of the Achaian ships

"when you have driven them from the ships come back"

This shows the audience that the Achaian ships are too precious to be destroyed, so every measure needs to be taken to ensure that they are safe from attack.

"there were fifty ships which Achilleus... led to Troy"

This shows the audience that this is a big exhibition to take part in and every warrior is needed to ensure that this military campaign is a success.

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