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The Role of Humor in 'The Iliad'

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Sean Quinn

on 28 January 2013

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Transcript of The Role of Humor in 'The Iliad'

'The Iliad' focuses on the ninth year of the decade-long Trojan War The Trojan War At the marriage of Achilles' parents, Eris (the goddess of strife), offers a golden apple as a prize "for the fairest" The basis of the entire story of 'The Iliad' can
be seen as humorous Trojan-born Paris was abandoned
by his mother, Hekuba, after she was informed that he would be the cause of the destruction of Troy. Paris (whom had been saved by shepherds after his mother abandoned him) is chosen to mediate the dispute over the apple and to choose the goddess he believes to be the fairest. The abduction of one woman sparked the entire war. Paris, however, was saved. The Role of Humor in 'The Iliad' Sean Quinn Each goddess attempts to bribe Paris with various promises. Aphrodite wins the apple after she promises Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. Unfortunately, the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, is married to Menelaus (a Greek). Paris abducts Helen after Menelaus leaves Sparta, sparking the Trojan war. Other Instances of Humor The relationship between Zeus and the other "lesser" gods Zeus often can be found scolding, insulting or generally rebuking his subordinates In Book V, Zeus insults Aphrodite, telling her she is not meant to be fighting. Aphrodite had been injured by a mortal, Diomedes, in combat. Zeus speaks to Aphrodite, telling her "it has not been given you to be a warrior. Attend, henceforth, to your own delightful matrimonial duties, and leave all this fighting to Mars and to Minerva." Instances of humor occur almost entirely between gods/gods or humans/humans Rarely is there an instance of humor between a god and a human Hera's seduction of Zeus (Book XIV) "And in her mind this thing appeared to be the best council, to array herself in loveliness, and go down to Ida, and perhaps he might be taken with desire to lie in love with her." (XIV. 161-63) Hera appeals to Aphrodite for "loveliness and desirability" Hera then asks Sleep, the cousin of Death, to "put to sleep the shining eyes of Zeus under his brows" (XIV. 236) Hera is determined to help the Achaeans behind Zeus back. She has become humorously empowered The powerful Zeus was manipulated by his subordinate. Hera's triumph over Zeus is a comic one After Zeus has been lulled to sleep, Hera informs Poseidon that he may assist the Achaean army. The majority of humorous
incidents throughout the Iliad
tend to bring embarrassment or suffering for one party. Readers are entitled to laugh at certain scenarios throughout 'The Iliad' Often, humor is nothing more than a step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
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