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Showing posts from July 1, 2016

Book 15 of 2016: Homer's Iliad--One of the First and Great War Stories

The Iliad of Homer one of the first and one of the best War Stories of Western Literature.  It opens with "The Anger of Achilles" and ends with funeral of Hector, the great hero of Troy. Hector was killed by Achilles in the last of many fight scenes.

In this reading, I was struck by how much the combatants "talk smack" to each other. They insult and provoke each other like professional wrestlers before cutting each other to pieces with sword and spear.  Hundreds and hundreds of men die in this story, many of them falling to the ground and "biting the earth" as they writhe and gasp on the way to Death and Hades.  

The meaning of "biting the dust" is just the same for us as when Homer sang his poem 3,000 years ago:fall headlong in the dust, and bite the earth [πολέες δ᾽ ἀμφ᾽ αὐτὸν ἑταῖροι//πρηνέες ἐν κονίῃσιν ὀδὰξ λαζοίατο γαῖαν].

Dozens of times as I read "he fell headlong in the dust and bites the earth" I heard the refrain from "Ano…