Hard-breathing horses

Hard-breathing horses

Caught up in the maelstrom of battle between the Greeks and Trojans, these horses have just seen their master massacred, and free of his chariot, and possibly traumatised by the violence, they try to bolt, but are held back. Homer never shies away from the graphic...
Horn-curved cattle

Horn-curved cattle

Homer describes these cattle and some 3,000 years later, yesterday, I passed them grazing in a field in Switzerland as we drove to Geneva on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was unusual to see horned cattle and these were distinctly curved, and we commented on them.  Then...
Gleam-footed horse

Gleam-footed horse

You can see the gleam of its hooves, as I once saw in a perfectly preened and prepared pedigree horse whose hooves had been polished with oil.  But its hoof-gleam is the least of it, this glorious creature speaks, having had a voice put in him by the preeminent...
Sweet-garlanded lady

Sweet-garlanded lady

None other than Artemis, or Diana, Apollo’s twin, and goddess of wild animals and hunting. Struck by Ever Angry Hera (or Juno), my least liked goddess, and a handful even for omnipotent Zeus.   ‘Artemis sweet-garlanded lady of clamours answered him:...
Beware the Idomeneus spear

Beware the Idomeneus spear

Famed with good reason – see his bringing another warrior to meet his ‘dark-named destiny’.  However, the most graphic and distressing spearing I recall from the Iliad is by Patroclus, Achilles’ great pal.  And that’s before we let loose...
Beware the rip-fanged hound

Beware the rip-fanged hound

A terrifying image of Odysseus in pursuit of prey, like a flesh-tearing dog on the trail of a defenseless deer or rabbit.  Odysseus, loving son, father, husband, great wise hero and, let us not forget, ‘sacker of cities’.  He’s a complex...
Wine after washing

Wine after washing

A libation to Athene in thanks for her beneficence. But first, a bath and a meal. And then that lovely offering of ‘sweet-hearted’ wine. See also the bestellar reviews, complete with rich quote-mosaics, of Adam Nicolson’s magnificent Why Homer Matters and...
Voice communications

Voice communications

Consider the vital role of the herald before mechanical forms of broadcast, and how important the quality and strength of their voice.  Here, like leaders before and for millennia after, Agamemnon relies on heralds to summon his men. Another age-old though unlamented...
Bronze-armoured Achaians

Bronze-armoured Achaians

The Trojan war was a Bronze Age affair, magnificently evoked in different sea-surrounded places by two books of Adam Nicolson. His Sea Room touches on the Bronze Age in a remote island off the coast of Scotland, while Why Homer Matters brings it into vivid view in...
Strategic consideration

Strategic consideration

The wild card of ancient Greek military planning was the existence and randomness of divine intervention. You never knew which god was backing your enemy, or when or how they might suddenly rouse themselves in wrath and take destructive action against you. Hence, the...
The bounteous sea

The bounteous sea

In an age of over-fishing I like these two triologisms suggesting cornucopian fish stocks. Firstly, a reference to the brightness of Achilles’ shield, resembling a beacon giving light to mariners being buffeted on a stormy sea. The second describes Iris carrying...
Athene’s disguise

Athene’s disguise

Here Zeus spurs Athene to intervene in the Trojan war, and she descends to earth in the guise of a glorious soaring hawk, nose-diving. See also the bestellar reviews, complete with rich quote-mosaics, of Adam Nicolson’s magnificent Why Homer Matters, and...
Remember to eat

Remember to eat

An amazingly intricate way to remind you to eat, no matter what the gods are hurling at you. Artemis is the huntress, and I liked this description of her as ‘shaft-showering’. And boy, between Apollo and Artemis, poor Niobe had a double helping of tragedy....
On pointless hatred

On pointless hatred

In with the gore and glory of Homer’s war-words, there are repeated expressions of sorrow at human hatred.  ‘Soul-perishing’ echoes our more commonly used ‘soul-destroying’. Either way, to be avoided if possible.  See other such pleas by...

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