Book 19 - Summary, Themes, Motifs and Symbols

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  • Created on: 20-05-15 10:18


On the following morning Thetis brings the new armour to Achilleus. Achilleus calls an assembly (a parallel to the assembly he called in Book 1) and fromally renounces his anger. Agamemnon replies an uneasy speech, and admits that he was blinded: he offers all the gifts promised by the embassy in Book 9. Achilleus has no time now for gifts of formalities, or for the practicalities of war - he is urgent to enter the battle. But Odysseus characteristically insists on food before fighting, and on the full pubic formalisation, including the parade of the promised gifts, of the reconciliation between Achilleus and Agamemnon, Briseis, returned now to Achilleus' hut as part of Agamemnon's compensation, amkes a moving lament for Patroklos. Achilleus laments, remembering his father and his son, in terms which prefigure the emotion of his meeting with Priam in Book 24. The book ends with a description of Achilleus' arming for battle, and the prophecy of his horse Xanthos, briefly endowed with human speech by Hera. The prophecy, that Achilleus will be 'brought down in battle by a god and a man', add one further stage of precision to the anticipation of Achilleus' death expressed by Thetid. The final detail is given by the dying Hektor: the man will be Paris, the god Phoibos Apollo, the place the Skaian gates.

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Theme of Glory of War

"his eyers glared out from his lids"

This shows us that Achilleus is eager to return to battle because he is starved from war and he wants to return and experience war all over again. It is as if war is his toy and he is an impatient child.

"their wounds still pained them"

This shows us that event though warriors have fought well and achieved to be alive still, they still carry the wounds and scars of war, marking a reminder of what glory they achieved.

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Theme of Military Glory over Family Life

"for all our grief"

This shows us the events that families go through, as if Homers is showing the audience that it is not just the soldiers at battle who suffer but families also.

"not let your heart be concerned about this"

This shows us that families are always worrying about their children and husbands during war, knowing that not whether they are safe.

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Theme of Impermanence of human life

"now that the life is killed from him"

This shows us that life for the mortals is very short and they do not know when it is that they will die and how they are to be treated during and after death.

"to light before its time"

This shows the audience that as soon as a child is born, it is exposed to a dangerous world and that child will have to overcome these dangers but also lead its own death, according to it fate.

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Theme of interaction between fate and freewill

"brought down through the gods will"

This shows us that it is not the mortals that decide how to live their lives but the mortal gods. This means that no matter what they do, they cannot change their fate.

"well myself that it is my fate to die here"

This shows us that Achilleus has finally acknowledged his fate and is going to follow it accordingly. That way, he cannot escape his fate and knows that he will die in Troy and not alongside his family.

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Theme of Intervention of the immortals

"took his hand and spoke to him"

This shows the audience that eventhough Thetis cannot help her son to his fate or diverge his fate, all she can do is comfort him till the end.

"Ate ... the accrused goddess who blinds us all"

This shows the audience that they need to watch out for the immortals becuase they can cause the mortals to do unspeakble things and cannot control themselves.

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Theme of Pride

"It is wrong to go on in stubborn rage for ever"

This shows the audience that his pride is unimportant now and he is acknowledging that his pride has caused the downfall of the Achaians and his companion, i.e. Patroklos.

"either give them, as is right or keep them with you"

This shows the audience that eventhough his pride has been restored, he would rather give his gifts away to the allies rather than keep them to himself. He is sharing his pride.

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Theme of Anger

"in heart-consuming anger over a girl"

This means to the audience that Achilleus knows that his nager was unneccessary and he should have controlled his anger better. There are worst things to be angry abour rather than a girl prize, instead be angry with your enemy.

"he is immediately seized the goddess Ate in his heart's fury"

This can be interpreted as the gods anger being more powerful than a mortals anger. Therefore, the audience would be weary of disrespecting a god or goddess.

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Theme of the Role of Women

"killed her with an arrow"

This is surprising to an audience because Briseis is now deemed to be unimportant to Achilleus now. Whereas in earlier books in the epic, he compared her to his wife and caused him to refrain from battle.

"You were always gentle"

This shows the audience that a male character has treated a female captive not as an animal or for physical pleasures, but as a human being with feelings.

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Motif of Armour

"fear took hold of all the Myrmidons"

This shows the audience that armour made by the gods is fearful because they do not know what the gods expect them to do, whilst at the same time, they need to honour the this exquisite armour.

"delighted to hold the splendid gifts"

This shows us that because this armout is made from Hephaistos, Achilleus is not hesitant and quickly puts on the armout whilst respecting the Olympian gods.

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Motif of Burial

"flies may crawl into the wounds"

This shows the audience that Achilleus wants Patroklos' body to be as best preserved a spossible in order to recognise him in the Underworld.

"No, we must bury those who die"

This shows the importance of burial during this time because they cannot afford the risk of more soldiers dying through disease because of them not conducting the rituals.

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