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Agememnon Was a Woman?
Crackpot Mailbox: Banjo and James Discuss the Iliad

Inbox Apr 1, 2019, 10:13 PM (17 hours ago)

Hey James,

The Iliad, Honor and Loyalty

[1] I am at book 17 in the Iliad. Due to conditioning from the civilization I live in, I caught myself thinking that maybe Achilles should have put things aside and fought for his brethren despite still hating Agememnon. I am embarrassed to say so. I wondered if this was a common way of looking at Achilles so I asked an 11 year old kid who recently read an abridged version of the Iliad what she thought of Achilles actions. She said that Achilles should have put his anger aside and helped his fellow Achaeans. I then asked her if someone kidnapped her mom, would she fight on their side? She said no. I then asked what if her buddies were being killed left right and center would she put aside her anger and fight for the kidnapper of her mother. Again she answered in the negative. I got the sense that whatever teacher had them read the book asked no such questions. I began to think about this and though many of the Achaeans protested Agememnon's actions but none besides Achilles' crew lived by their convictions. The rest mistook their convictions to be Agememnon's or Menelaus' convictions. Their honor and loyalty were used against them or at least for purposes that they would not fully benefit from. But there is a price for making a decision to live by one's convictions. Patroclus seems like a beautiful example of this. (remember I have not read past book 17 so I can't comment on how this goes down for Achilles yet). He waits. He cries. He debates. Then he smashes soldier's eyes out of their heads before he dies like a man and even in the face of Hector's derision he mocks him. What a death, that of Patroclus.


This is a book I have only read twice [I have read 5 other versions of the Troy story by other ancients] and it is subject to the dueling themes of heroism and kingship, with heroism being the root of kingship and then is discarded by the king who becomes a scheming manager of better men all too often. Keeping in mind that kings and princes would pay to have these poems written and recited, and yet most of the audience would have heroic aspirations, the poet was walking a textual-subtextual tightrope, risking offending one faction of listeners as he lauds the other. Hence you have Agamemnon's Finest Hour, possibly composed under duress before a scowling tyrant.

To read Achilles closely in the Iliad is to read a war protest text, for this war killed Achilles and not Agamemnon, who suffers his doom ignobly after his victorious return according to Aechylus. Achilles, Hector and Patroclus fight for metaphysical reasons: glory, brotherhood and patrimony, all sources of honor, the warrior's actionary fuel. Honor is always sublimated, suppressed and eventually eradicated by Civilization, being a barbaric concept, and once it is gone, the civilization falls. In the Iliad we see a still-forming civilization already showing signs of corruption. Barbarism is masculine and Civilization feminine and once the latter eradicates the former it falters and crumbles.

Please keep in mind that these poems were composed in a dark age, emerging from the ruins of civilizations destroyed by barbarians and that the poets were the slowly civilizing sons of these barbarian tribes that brought down the chariot empires of the Near East and Middle Sea.

The Iliad well demonstrates the stressed ties of loyalty to family, war-brother, tribe, daemonic self and most precariously the managerial king of a feudal confederation who finds himself a distant second in prowess to his subordinate Achilles and in cunning to his subordinate Odysseus. The Odyssey was necessary to write on the eve of the new civilization rising [and may have been written by a woman] as a demonstration of the character of the man necessary to operate honorably in a dishonorable context, that being Odysseus, the cunning, who will visit Achilles in the bleak Underworld.

The kings in all epic poetry put up with their bards and skalds and poets depicting them as emasculated in their role as king, for they knew it in their bones and knew that new heroes who would be somewhat defiant of them were required to forge on into the night of Civilization. So Charlemagne tolerates Roland, Gilgamesh befriends Enkidu and Agamemnon must abide Achilles rage and Odysseus' counsel. This bloodily budding civilization can rise and survive and will not die of its own weight until the reductionary rulers who succeed kings demand a destruction of honor cults, such as making the most aggressive Marine brigade leader step down for being insensitive. Achilles and Odysseus were the equivalent of brigadier generals, Nestor a General and Agamemnon an overlord type commander like Ike or MacArthur.


Kings and Heroes in the Iliad

[2] I note that both Agememnon and Priam are noted as duplicitous and weak. (I know Agememnon fights but he also is found cowering by the ships desiring to escape when Hector is laying waste to all comers.) They are the men of the middle. The coaxers. The new men of civilizations. I can only hope that they are both run through but it doesn't matter because their type are everywhere I look in this shit world.


This is a brilliant observations I cannot improve upon. These kings are the prototypes of the managerial ruler, the president. The feudal systems they were at the top of required the duplicity of a modern head of state in which many political factions vie for status and power. A true king would be the heroes in this story, Achilles, King of the Myrmidons, Odysseus King of Ithaca. Once the natural king must rule other kings he will tend to suffer lack of legitimacy due to compromises required by the unnatural expansion of scale. Unless there is a unifying cult, like that among the Persians, with their light-bearing deity, the social toxicity of managerial over moral rule will begin eroding the moral authority of the king right away.

It is noteworthy that these kings, or "men in the middle" never exceed the bounds of society and are killed within it, in Agamemnon's case by his jilted wife and that the heroes break through the bonds of Time and society, including the doomed Hector who the Romans loved for a thousand years.

My translation of the name Achilles is Sorrow-of-the-people, which is debatable but was accepted by one classics professor as a reasonable translation.

Odysseus translates clearly to Grieved-lord.

Zeus means Thunder-lord.

Our word chief better describes the term translated into lord for the Homeric heroes.


Women in the Iliad

[3] Also the issue of women...Paris is banging Helen and she doesn't protest too much. All these men are dying for this split-tail. Hera swears she didn't bang Zeus and let Sleep put him down so Poseidon could attempt to turn the tide. Another tricky broad. Aphrodite tries her hand at war and I think it was Diomedes that sent her packing. She is told to mess with love and such....from war to love. Hmmm. Briseis is stolen by Agememnon which is the cause of Achilles' rage. When Agememnon sees he can't roll around in his Balenciaga Battle Gear and win from the back lines he begs Achilles with Troy's 10 hottest babes and other loot. Agememnon thinks like a bitch. Basically the women are duplicitous and bear some resemblance to Priam and Agememnon, at least in my mind. The bonobos rule the world.


Right on, Banjo.

Let's not throw out the babe with the battle ire.

The women are very real property and necessary for the extenuation of the heroes' bloodline forward through Time. I once read an ancient author's Apology for Helen written at the end of the Hellenistic period. She was, "the face which launched a thousand ships," on one hand, and on the other an illustration of the woman's plight, for she is eventually re-united with Menelaus and rules in Sparta besides him. You will hear her give counsel to Odysseus' son, showing that if she accepts a powerful man as her master she can exercise some real agency.

Whether we are to believe that Helen could not resist the charms of Paris or that he took her by force or craft, she remained, for the ancients, the feminine standard, literally balanced on the conundrum that was her ability to attract and replicate men. I am of the camp of Helen apologists. She knew she was a piece-of-ass and dealt with life from that limited perspective.


Totemic Imagery in the Iliad

[4] Also will you comment about the point when the snake bites the eagle and Hector mocks the omen and says to fight on? I found this to be very interesting.


Apollo, son of Zeus slew the Pythian serpent, which represented the combined knowledge of the civilizations that the barbaric ancestors of the Greeks conquered, wresting from them their knowledge and dominating their former sacred space, with the oracle of Apollo situated at Delphi, near Achilles home territory. Apollo was the patron of Troy, with Achilles insulting that god and bringing his doom. Most of the female deities are descended from the mythos of conquered folk and the male deities the sky gods of the conquerors. Even Poseidon was a sky god, "breaker of horses" like Hector, who Zeus demoted to sea god. With sky gods, always read descended from nomad conquerors of barbaric type. Poseidon, Zeus and Apollo represent three successive waves of barbarian conquest, with Poseidon being overthrown retained and Apollo adopted in by the priests of the second wave under Zeus.

Zeus would be represented by the eagle, which is the totem of the victorious sky god.

Apollo had been a sky god as well, was indeed Helios, the pilot of the chariot that pulled the sun. Therefore, if I was Nestor, or whoever Priam's omen taker was, I would read te serpent biting the eagle not as Apollo's will triumphing over Zeus's will, but as a sign, that the men of Troy, whose patron was Apollo, slayer of the Pythian Serpent, which represented ancient wisdom, would not fare so well as had the Shining One, but be done to death by the bite of the ancient snake, with Troy becoming a ruin rather than an oracle shrine.

As a true hero, who strives against men, kings and gods, Hector was right to laugh, knowing that his body and personality were doomed, but that his deeds and resultant honor would outlast the kings who affected the holocaust that would kill him, Patroclus and his own slayer, Achilles, and even the gods, whose cults barely outlasted him by a thousand years, yet we admire him from these three thousand distant years.




A Dread Grace

Now imagine, if you will, if Agamemnon was the mother of Helen, a queen, and she went to Achilles on teary knees like Priam did to retrieve his son's body and asked Achilles to be her champion, perhaps her king, perhaps her son-in-law. Now that, would be a winning team, with Odysseus scheming on their behalf.

That is the subject of this project, the contributions, negative and positive, of the feminine imperative to the Western way of war.

In the end, Agamemnon was not a real woman, but a potential hero king, who became reduced to an emasculated administrative state by the seductive wiles of the woman with the power to ruin us all with her soft embrace—Civilization.

Thank you, Banjo.

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Add Comment
BP BollocksworthApril 7, 2019 6:38 AM UTC

Among the most important texts put to animal skin. The Byzantines valued it so much they bothered to keep the manuscript tradition going, in the archaic Hellenic language and unmodified, long enough bequeath it to us.

If a civilization falls once honor is exhausted, then we can’t have too much time left.
responds:April 9, 2019 12:52 PM UTC

Many folks don't realize that the Renaissance was partly due to such Greek texts being translated and circulating in Italy.
BanjoApril 5, 2019 8:01 PM UTC


Thanks so much for the reply. I did not realize that Homer was on such a tightrope that you mention. That makes a lot of sense. Families probably wanted to be written into the story.

Your perspective on Helen is helpful also. I can appreciate that Helen's power is in her beauty and ability to confer good genetic material to the next generation. It probably also lies in her ability to get the men of power to desire her. Craftiness. Specifically I think she is trying to curry favor on her bed with Hector because Paris doesn't strike me as a man who would be there when the chips are down.

I spoke to a number of people in the last week about Achilles and all but you and an old erudite black guy on the subway who spoke to me because he saw me reading the book, see Achilles as a cry baby who is simply shirking his responsibilities. There really seems to be something wired into people that they should serve their masters and civilization at the expense of personal honor and above what you as an individual think is right. The guy on the subway said something along the lines that most people just can't comprehend an honor base society so they just see the Iliad through their current cultural paradigm...or something like that.

Thanks again James, your big ol' swole and concussed brain runs like a top which makes up for dummies like me.
responds:April 6, 2019 4:42 PM UTC

Paris was credited with killing Achilles according to the tradition, much of which did not make it into the Iliad, that Paris shot Achilles at the gates of Troy in the heel where his mother had held him by the heel as she dipped the boy in a magic potion to make him invulnerable.

There is much to be made of that metaphor, also that Apollo was the god of archers and disease.