Analysis Of Gaius Valerius Catullus 's ' The Iliad '

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The one main difference between the gods and mortals is that mortals can die, making it difficult for a man to become truly god-like. Homer makes no mention of the afterlife in The Iliad, meaning that the only true way for a mortal to live on is through the remembrance of their life on earth. Many strive for immortality, but to achieve it, one must obtain Kleos, the glory a man receives in war. If a hero like Achilles or Hector were mentioned to someone today, chances are, the person would know who the hero was. This is how immortality through Kleos works. When the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus describes how he wishes for his poems to last for many generations, even when he has long since passed, he is explaining that, through his poetry,…show more content…
Because of the promise of Kleos, a warrior is willing to risk everything he has, including his life, to fight in battle. When Hector makes a visit to Troy, he visits his wife and son. His wife tries to convince him to stay behind and not return, because if he does, he will die in battle. Hector knows this, but says he is willing to risk his life to obtain the glory he and the rest of Troy deserve (Fagles, 6. 510-555.) There are 255 named deaths in The Iliad (Laura Jenkinson.) This statistic shows the extremity of the fighting. Achilles, Diomedes, Hector, and Patroclus are the top killers in the epic. These are, furthermore, four of the more commonly recognized names when someone mentions The Iliad today. This correlates with the idea that those who kill more people are more likely to achieve Kleos and be remembered. As a quantitative way of tracking how many people a warrior killed on the battle field, he can take the armor from the man he killed and use it as a “trophy.” After Patroclus’ death, an argument arises about who gets his armor, which is actually Achilles’ armor. Euphorbus claimed he was the one who actually killed Patroclus so he deserves the prize, but Menelaus would not have it. Menelaus killed Euphorbus, which resulted in all the Trojans being scared of facing Menelaus to fight for the armor, with the exception of Hector. Hector succeeded in getting Patroclus’ armor, by showing fearlessness and willingness to fight for it (Fagles, 17.1-140).
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