Book 18 - Summary, Themes, Motifs and Symbols

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  • Created on: 20-05-15 09:35


Antilochus gives his terrible message. Achilleus' extreme of grief brings his mother to his side, and the scond of the four scenes between Achilleus and Thetis is set in ironic parallel with the first (in Book 1): Achilleus' agony now is the direct result of that first appeal to his mother. His only interest now is the killing of Hektor, even though, as Thetis tells him, that will mean his own death. He is 'a useless burden on the earth', and he curses the anger that has caused the death of Patroklos and many others. Thetis reminds him that he cannot fight without armour, and promises to bring in the morning divine armour made by Hephaistos.

The Trojans now threaten to recover Patroklos' body, and Iris, sent by Hera, tells Achilleus to show himself at the ditch to frighten back the Trojans. He does so, with a flame set burning at his head by Athene, and shouts three times. The Trojans fall back, and Patroklos' body is rescued: Hera sends the sun down to end this long day's fighting.

The Trojans meet in assembly, and Poulydamas urges them to go back to the city, and not risj another night in the plain, in view of Achilleus' evident return to the battle. Hektor's fatal dismissal of this advice, which he later regrets, evidences a double determination, human and divine, which is characteristic of the Iliad: there is a long-standing antagonism between Hektor and Poulydamas, and also Athene takes away the Trojans' wits when they vote in support of Hektor.

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Summary continued

On the Achaian side there is night-long mourning for Patroklos, after washing and anointing of the body.

Thetis comes to Hephaistos' house on Olympos, and asks him to make a new armour for her son - a change of scene and of tone, and a relaxation of tensions before the final acts of the drama. The working of the shield is described in detail. The design of the decoration encompasses the whole world, a microcosm of human activity in war and peace - a pictorial representation of that wider world beyond the battle of Troy which is otherwise iluminated only n the similes and the vignettes which give brief and pathetic details of a warrior's life before the war.

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Theme of Glory of War

"I have not been the saving light"

This shows the audience that every soldier is expected to do his part in the fighting, If not, then just like Achilleus, he will be shamed.

"their best men were killed by their own chariots or their own spears"

This gives us the impression that men die gruesome deaths when they go to war. Through this, it is a void between winning glory or die a gruesome death in battle.

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Theme of Military Glory over Family Life

"the black cloud of sorrow enveloped Achilleus"

This gives us an insight into what families react when their sons die in battle. In this case, Achilleus regrets letting Patroklos go to war.

"I must lose you to an early death"

This shows us that even though Achilleus will have not have a family he knows that he needs to win glory through his inescapable fate.

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Theme of Impermanence of human life

"there is terrible news for you to hear"

This shows the audience that Patroklos' death was very unexpected, particularly for Achilleus. Therefore, it shows us that death can come when we least expect it.

"kill the one who hopes to kills"

Thisshows us that the main objective in battle is to kill members of the enemy. Therefore, the weaklings are usually the ones that die first.

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Theme of interaction between fate and freewill

"after Hektor dies, your fate is certain"

This shows the audience that nobody can escape fate. Instead it has to be followed or else they are guided back to their fate.

"They applauded Hektor and his disatrous plan"

This gives us an insight that even though Hektor's freely approved plan was approved, it was only through the god's doing that this was done.

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Theme of Intervention of the immortals

"she took her son's head in her arms"

This shows the audience that whenever their mortal children are in trouble, they do anything to comfort them but they cannot protect them from mortal danger.

"with feet as quick as the wind"

This gives the impression that the immortal gods and goddesses have superficial strength and are the causes of supernatural occurances. They are deemed to be powerful.

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Theme of Pride

"drives even a man of good sense to anger"

This gives us the impression that Achilleus is beginning to realise that pride is dangerous and can sometimes be the reasoning to pivotal downfall for leaders and empires.

"of being shut up inside our walls"

This shows the audience that Hektor's own pride is starting to get the better of him due to his blindness of not being able to see the potential danger of Achilleus.

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Theme of Anger

"Achilleus' voice carried clear and loud"

This gives us the impression that Achilleus is angry because he is being vengeful over the death of Patroklos, but his anger is being more controlled than Book 1.

"after Zeus' anger fell on us"

This shows the audience that a gods anger is more destructive and terrifying than a mere mortals. Zeus' anger has caused the entire Trojan army to go to chaos.

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Theme of the Role of Women

"his honoured mother heard him"

This shows us that women who are mothers are expected to attend to their sons anguish and pain. This isan example that all mothers should live up to.

"keen for you with their tears falling day and night long"

This shows the audience that another role that women need to perform is to mourn for the dead. It appears that all women are being given simple tasks to perform.

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Motif of Armour

"until I have brought here the armour"

This shows the audience that the armour that Hektor is wearing at thid moment in time is going to be the ruin of his downfall and lead to his fate. Therefore, he would not be protected for long.

"a beatiful finely-worked thing"

This shows the audience that the armour made by the immortal gods is always made to be perfect and divine in all of its beauty.

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Motif of Fire

"a three-legged cauldron on the burning fire"

This shows us that fire is seen as a comfort as well as a luxury to have after soldeirs have come from the fighting.

"he threw unwearying bronze on the fire"

This shows tha audience that blacksmiths have a broader knowledge on how to work fire in order to get started on making new armour and weaponary.

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Symbols of the Achaian ships

"I told him to come back to the ships"

This gives the impression that the Achaian ships are acting like a border between countries. Once the soldiers pass this, they are immediately in danger to themselves.

"go to the ditch as you are and show yourself to the Trojans"

This shows us that despite him not having armour on him, he is scaring away the Trojans from the barrier of the Achaians safety.

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Symbol of the Shield of Achilleus

"young men were whirling in the dance"

This give the audience the impression that before the Trojan war, there was merriment and dancing. Therefore, it indicates that life was cheerful before any wars.

"stood on the walls to defend them"

This may foretell the audience what Troy might be coming to. Eventually, the walls of Troy will fall and all wives and children will succome to slavery.

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