Other Structures

1. Time-structure - days of battle and dawns
2. Pathos - the emotional curve
3. Types of heroes - Agamemnon's council. see here

1: time-structure


days & dawns


9 days...and the 10th..: 1.53; 12 days: 1.493; sunset of 12th day: 1.605


Day of Battle 1; dawn 1: 2.48




dawn 2: 7.381; dawn 3: 7.421 dawn 4: 7.433


Day of Battle (?); dawn 5: 8.1 night 8.485




Day of Battle 2; dawn 6: 11.1 night 18.239




Day of Battle 3; dawn 7: 19.1 night 23.56


dawn 8: 23.109; dawn 9: 23.226


dawn 10: 24.12; 12 days of wrath: 24.31; (9 days: 24.107(1)); dawn 11: 24.695; 9 days: 24.784; dawn 12: 24.788

If we accept day 2 (books 8-10) as an addition, the poem describes three whole days. Day 1, or at least the "truce & duel" theme, clearly represent the past (because of its duels, Helen pointing out who is who, the fact that the Plan of Zeus is not yet carried out). The middle day, the longest day, could very well represent the current situation of the Ionians. The day of Achilles must be future, because surely there has not been such a day yet. So we have a "what was, what is and what will be" structure. If we judge book 8 to have been there from the beginning(2), we get a 4-days-of-battle structure which is not an obvious reference, unless it be to a "three times...and the fourth..." kind of structure. The fourth always being decisive, as the Day of Achilles indeed is. There is something to be said for that, but the setup of the poem, its three-part structure, suggests rather more Kalchas' past - present - future scheme: 1. this is how it started (but Menelaos and Paris should have fought it out for themselves) - 2. this is how it is now (we are being defeated, we are using Patroclesses as if they were Achillesses) - 3. may Achilles come and save us (but he will not conquer Troy for us). This fits better with the "healing poem" character which I ascribe to the Iliad.
It also fits better with my basic hypothesis: the Iliad is about Homer's own time and place. In that period, heroes were prayed to, worshipped, given gifts (votive offerings). Especially, I imagine, in cities that were under threat a nervous population would be asking the hero to save them. Homer takes this seriously: in the person of Patroclus, he seems to suggest that Achilles is like "a spirit that can possess people". It can make them fight angrily and relentless, forgetting their own survival. Unclear is in what measure Homer is manipulating the image of Achilles. Perhaps he was in origin just an icon a of a superman, an invincible warrior with an impenetrable armour. Anyway, the result is an icon of a defensive hero, a "hero of the counter-attack".

Day 2 then, is the present. The Achaeans are losing the battle that they themselves started. The wall is down, the ships are under threat. So why is Achilles not fighting for us, though we have offered him many gifts? The ironical answer is: Achilles is not helping us, because by not helping and leaving us in the lurch until the last minute, he will be given many more gifts than if he was fighting for us all the time (ref. Athena's promise in the first Assembly); but the realistic answer is: he is not yet ready to die.

Surely Day 3, the Day of Achilles, will come. Achilles' spirit will come down on some Patroclus and he will single-handedly drive away the enemies. The war leaders were counting on it. This always works because it is shameful to abandon your comrades under any circumstance and shame is to be feared more than death itself. See the page on Achilles.


One of the structural correspondences between Iliad and Odyssey

  1. Probably these 9 days are included in the 12 days of 24.31
  2. If not, we have only 11 dawns instead of the magic number 12. But this seems easily adaptable.