Book 6- Summary, Themes, Motifs and Symbols

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  • Created on: 10-05-15 12:51


With the golds now out of the fighting, the Achaians break the Trojan line and drive them back towards the city. Hektor is urged by his brother Helenos to rally the Trojans then go into the city and arrange for the women to offer appeasement to Athene, in the hope that she will hold back Diomedes. As Hektor goes towards Troy there is the famous meeting between Diomedes and the Lycian Glaukos. We expect a major combat, but as Glaukos tells the story of his ancestry Diomedes realises that their families are linked in guest-friendship,and the encounter ends in joy and the exchange of armour (of widely fiddering value - a splendidly mordant tailpiece).

The rest of the book is set in Troy, and contrasts eloquently with the scenes involving Paris and Helen in Book 3. This Trojan interlude is carefully structured in three linked scenes between Hektor and the women in Troy (his mother Hekabe, Helen, and his wife Andromache), interwoven with a running contrast between Hektor and Paris. With superb economy the scenes explore the effects of war on the non-combatants - women and children - and the relation between a fighting man and those strong ties that would hold him in time of peace. The scenes define, both directly and symbolically, the proper spheres of men and women, and of war and peace. Paris is discovered out of his proper sphere, lounging in the women's quarters and fussing over his armour, while the women get on with their tasks around him.

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Summary continued

When Hektor goes to visit his wife - the third and most important of the triptych of encounters of women, marked by its length and intensity - it is significant that Andromache is not at home when Hekotr comes. She too is out of her proper sphere (and even presumes to advise on tactics, in a desperate attempt to keep her husband in Troy): and at the end of the scene Hektor returns her to her sphere ('go back to the house and see to your own work, the loom and the distaff, and tell your maids to set about their task'). Hektor and Andromache meet at the exact point which forms the boundary, both physical and symbolic, between the spheres of war and peace, between the realm of men and the realm of women and family - the Skaian gates.The tension between a man's duty to fight and his duty to his family is marvellously expressed when Hektor's great nodding helmet terrifies his own baby son, and he removes it for a moment of domestic tenderness - the formulaic phrase ' Hektor of the glinting helmet' here invades the narrative, just as 'swift-footed Achilleus'  takes tragic meaning when Achilleus cahses Hektor has refused Andromaches tearful invitation to put family above country, they seperate to their spheres. Hektor, taking up his by now symbolically helmet, goes out to the plain of war and danger. Andromache returns, reluctantly, to the home, the sphere of family and security and women's tasks (she will be there, properly engaged in her wifely duties,when Hektor is killed). 

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Summary continued

The moment marks Hektor's choice, and Andromache recognises is as such (this choice foreshadows that fatal decision in Book 22, when once again Hekotr chooses to stay outside Troy and reject his family's appeals). Andromache follows Hektor's instruction and tells her maids to set about their tasks - but the task she gives them is lamentation for Hekotr, in his own house, while he still lives. The scene ends on a note of impending tragedy: it is now certain that Hektor will die.

Paris comes running through the city (his eager speed decribed in a splendid simile) to catch Hekotr just as he is turning to leave, and the two brothers return to the fighting.

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Theme of Glory of War

"Ableros fell to the shining spear of Antilochos"

This shows us that war is not always glorious and mean die gruesome deaths, despite soldiers trying to win glory for themselves and to be remembered.

"Alexandros in the bedroom, fussing over his exquisite armour"

This shows us that even though men are in battle men are dying through gruesome methods soldiers do not gain great glory and honour by not fighting.

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Theme of Military Glory over Family Life

"His dear father and honoured mother laughed aloud at this"

This makes the audience wuestion whether it is really necessary, if it means that families are going to be torn apart by warfare.

"My wife talked me round with gentle persuasion"

This means that Paris does not want to fight but would rathewould like to lay with Helen whilst others fight his battle that he has caused.

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Theme of Impermenance of human life

"with these words the hero turned his brothers mind"

This shows that audience that death can come fairly quickly and unexpected. This means that every mortal needs to enjoy their lives whilst they are still alive.

"even he lived no long life"

Every person is destined to die, some may die sooner rather than later. It does not matter what their status is and they cannot prevent or cheat death.

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Theme of the interaction between fate and freewill

"the day will come when sacred Ilios shall be destroyed"

This has always been the fate of Ilios (Troy) since the very start of the epic. However, nobody knows when this would take place, so the people need to be prepared for the worst.

"fate I tell you is something no man is freed from"

No mortal can escape fate because it has already been set in place by the gods. It is up tothe mortals to fufill their fate and not be lead astray.

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Theme of Pride

"this man is better by far than his father"

This shows the audience that Hektor is proud of his son and wants him to grow up and do great deeds and be a powerful father. Obviously, this does not happen because Astayanax is thrown from the walls of Troy and killed after the siege of Troy.

"sure of his own magnificence"

This shows us that Paris is so full of himself that would rather dress as a "glorious warrior" rather than act like a brave warrior.

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Theme of Anger

"Did you get the very best treatment from the Trojans in your house"

This reminds Menelaos of the anger he felt when his wife left him for Paris, which makes him angry with all the Trojans. Therefore this results to him not caring for Trojans.

"It is because of you that the clamour of battle round the city"

This emphasises that Hektor is angry at his brother for shirking away from battle, shaming the city and his entire family because of his actions.

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The theme of the role of women

"Helen was sitting there among the servant women"

She is being a proper wife to a husband she does not love anymore. But she still has to fufill her duties, no matter how she feels about her husband.

"do not make an orphan of your child and your wife a widow"

During warfare, women suffer because once their husband is dead, they are vulnerable to attack and forced slavery.

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Motif of Armour

"gold armour for bronze"

Sometimes when Xenia is being performed, armour is used to show thier friendship and can be used to be exchanged for something valuable.

"nodding dreadfully from the top of the helmet"

Armour changes the perception of others and sometimes make warriors scary and intimidating to look at, especially for younger children.

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