Jump to content
DOSBODS
  • Welcome to DOSBODS

     

    DOSBODS is free of any advertising.

    Ads are annoying, and - increasingly - advertising companies limit free speech online. DOSBODS Forums are completely free to use. Please create a free account to be able to access all the features of the DOSBODS community. It only takes 20 seconds!

     

The Iliad - A Gore Festival


Recommended Posts

I am currently trying to read a translation of the Iliad and it appears to me to be the bloodiest book I have ever read. Basically it is page after page of slaughter described in  language akin to a pathologist carrying out an autopsy. There are mass eviscerations, characters getting gored in the crotch,  decapitations, bodies cleaved asunder, giant rocks dropped on heads causing eyeballs to pop out and spears entering throats, shattering teeth and cutting tongues in two. This mayhem is not just confined to a few dramatic episodes. It is repeated relentlessly over and over again on no fewer than 255 occasions throughout the epic.  None of those lame film and TV versions get anywhere remotely near capturing the blood letting of the original. In fact Troy could have been made by the late Wes Craven as the biggest slasher movie of all time. My thoughts are that perhaps the book ought to carry a warning about the contents as it is likely to give readers of a delicate disposition PTSD. It does make you wonder about the mindset of those Ancient Greeks who are supposed to be the fountainhead of western civilisation as they apparently found this stuff not only entertaining but a source of enlightenment. By comparison Beowulf and those Viking Sagas read like pacifist tracts.
 

For those who like gore here is a summary of the 10 most horrible deaths

https://pjmedia.com/culture/spencer-klavan/2014/08/25/the-10-goriest-deaths-in-the-iliad-n155102

https://greekmythcomix.com/comic/deaths-in-the-iliad-a-classics-infographic/

Edited by Virgil Caine
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Virgil Caine said:

I am currently trying to read a translation of the Iliad and it appears to me to be the bloodiest book I have ever read. Basically it is page after page of slaughter described in  language akin to a pathologist carrying out an autopsy. There are mass eviscerations, characters getting gored in the crotch,  decapitations, bodies cleaved asunder, giant rocks dropped on heads causing eyeballs to pop out and spears entering throats, shattering teeth and cutting tongues in two. This mayhem is not just confined to a few dramatic episodes. It is repeated relentlessly over and over again on no fewer than 255 occasions throughout the epic.  None of those lame film and TV versions get anywhere remotely near capturing the blood letting of the original. In fact Troy could have been made by the late Wes Craven as the biggest slasher movie of all time. My thoughts are that perhaps the book ought to carry a warning about the contents as it is likely to give readers of a delicate disposition PTSD. It does make you wonder about the mindset of those Ancient Greeks who are supposed to be the fountainhead of western civilisation as they apparently found this stuff not only entertaining but a source of enlightenment. By comparison Beowulf and those Viking Sagas read like pacifist tracts.
 

For those who like gore here is a summary of the 10 most horrible deaths

https://pjmedia.com/culture/spencer-klavan/2014/08/25/the-10-goriest-deaths-in-the-iliad-n155102

https://greekmythcomix.com/comic/deaths-in-the-iliad-a-classics-infographic/

You are not alone in thinking that there is something rather strange about the Iliad - the Greeks, the supposed heroes, behave very badly, especially to each other. For a really heretical take on the epic, you could read the translation by Robert Graves - The Anger of Achilles - he reads it as a satire.

For a useful summary, there is this short article: -

http://www.robertgraves.org/issues/47/3481_article_191.pdf

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

There was a funny radio summary where Achilles, the greatest warrior, stand in the trench Achilles flame-capped and shout for me,, goes off in a huff in chapter one, sulks for ten chapters, and then joins the battle so effectively that the rivers run red.

 

6 hours ago, Virgil Caine said:

I am currently trying to read a translation of the Iliad and it appears to me to be the bloodiest book I have ever read. Basically it is page after page of slaughter described in  language akin to a pathologist carrying out an autopsy. There are mass eviscerations, characters getting gored in the crotch,  decapitations, bodies cleaved asunder, giant rocks dropped on heads causing eyeballs to pop out and spears entering throats, shattering teeth and cutting tongues in two. This mayhem is not just confined to a few dramatic episodes. It is repeated relentlessly over and over again on no fewer than 255 occasions throughout the epic.  None of those lame film and TV versions get anywhere remotely near capturing the blood letting of the original. In fact Troy could have been made by the late Wes Craven as the biggest slasher movie of all time. My thoughts are that perhaps the book ought to carry a warning about the contents as it is likely to give readers of a delicate disposition PTSD. It does make you wonder about the mindset of those Ancient Greeks who are supposed to be the fountainhead of western civilisation as they apparently found this stuff not only entertaining but a source of enlightenment. By comparison Beowulf and those Viking Sagas read like pacifist tracts.
 

For those who like gore here is a summary of the 10 most horrible deaths

https://pjmedia.com/culture/spencer-klavan/2014/08/25/the-10-goriest-deaths-in-the-iliad-n155102

https://greekmythcomix.com/comic/deaths-in-the-iliad-a-classics-infographic/

And after half thenkills the first thing they do is strip the body of armour for war booty has the battle rages on

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, stokiescum said:

And after half thenkills the first thing they do is strip the body of armour for war booty has the battle rages on

One of my favourite books is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It's fairly bloody, which is not usually my kind of thing. He is good at Western epics. His Border trilogy is also very good.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Tiremola said:

You are not alone in thinking that there is something rather strange about the Iliad - the Greeks, the supposed heroes, behave very badly, especially to each other. For a really heretical take on the epic, you could read the translation by Robert Graves - The Anger of Achilles - he reads it as a satire.

For a useful summary, there is this short article: -

http://www.robertgraves.org/issues/47/3481_article_191.pdf

 

No Greeks in it, three tribal groups: Danaans, Achaeans and Argives make up a very loose confederation of besieging forces. 

I would say the central theme is that most human suffering comes as a result of the pride of kings. The bickering of the various kings causes most of the slaughter. The only action which is rewarded in the whole book is Priam coming before Achilles dressed humbly, and asking as a father not a king, for the body of his slain son.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I read an interesting book a while back about Agincourt. Apparently the English laid waste to a corridor 50 miles wide before tha battl proper. Any man who might be able to fight was killed or crippled. Anything useful, like food, was either taken it destroyed.

Quite recently I read a book about the Hunters, the surgeons. When John Hunter served as a military surgeon around here he end of the 18th century any wounded man deemed to be inevitably dying was thrown overboard.

War has never been pleasent.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Frank Hovis said:

There was a funny radio summary where Achilles, the greatest warrior, stand in the trench Achilles flame-capped and shout for me,, goes off in a huff in chapter one, sulks for ten chapters, and then joins the battle so effectively that the rivers run red.

One thing the makers of Troy did get right was casting Brad Pitt with his permanent petulant pout as the swift heeled Achilles who comes over just like some spoiled Hollywood superstar. The Iliad starts with him publicly slagging off Agamemnon so you wonder why he bothered going to the siege of Troy with his Myrmidons at all. Of course, the films never seem to include the Gods as characters though their intervention seems to determine the fate of all the human characters. The latter is slightly surprising as you would have thought Hollywood with its current obsession with superheroes and the availability of CGI would have exploited this angle by now. Maybe it is because Disney can’t get exclusive rights to a story written thousands of years ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Rare Bear said:

I read an interesting book a while back about Agincourt. Apparently the English laid waste to a corridor 50 miles wide before tha battl proper. Any man who might be able to fight was killed or crippled. Anything useful, like food, was either taken it destroyed.

Quite recently I read a book about the Hunters, the surgeons. When John Hunter served as a military surgeon around here he end of the 18th century any wounded man deemed to be inevitably dying was thrown overboard.

War has never been pleasent.

I get the fact war is horrible but a lot of more recent western art glosses over the unpleasant aspects so as not to deter people from fighting when needed. What is odd about the Iliad is that such a graphic account of war was used both as entertainment and a source of inspiration by the ancient Greeks. You would have thought any young Hellene having read all the horrible ways you could die would have said fuck that for a game of soldiers when anyone suggested they might fancy fighting in the front row of a hoplite formation.

Edited by Virgil Caine
Link to post
Share on other sites

Not much in that that comes close to real warfare horrors.

There's an excellent book by Nigel Nicolson called 'Napoleon 1812' which goes into minute detail about the retreat from Moscow. One of the stories that stands out is about one soldier who gets his legs smashed by a cannon ball at the battle of Borodino before the French enter Moscow. 50 days later the Grand Army retreats and are forced to go the same route past the Borodino battlefield. Rotting corpses are everywhere, but somehow this crippled soldier survived by 'living inside a gutted horse and eating its putrid flesh' for all that time!

Only for someone to take pity and finally put a musket ball through his head.

If you're interested endless tales of misery, insane levels of bravery and endurance I recommend that book. 

Gross.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, maynardgravy said:

Not much in that that comes close to real warfare horrors.

There's an excellent book by Nigel Nicolson called 'Napoleon 1812' which goes into minute detail about the retreat from Moscow. One of the stories that stands out is about one soldier who gets his legs smashed by a cannon ball at the battle of Borodino before the French enter Moscow. 50 days later the Grand Army retreats and are forced to go the same route past the Borodino battlefield. Rotting corpses are everywhere, but somehow this crippled soldier survived by 'living inside a gutted horse and eating its putrid flesh' for all that time!

Only for someone to take pity and finally put a musket ball through his head.

If you're interested endless tales of misery, insane levels of bravery and endurance I recommend that book. 

Gross.

Again that is not really the point I was making. Nicolson is writing a historical account. People don’t sit around listening to bards recounting it on high days and holidays for fun. To the Ancient Greeks the Iliad occupied a cultural significance akin to the Bible which incidentally also contains a lot of gore. The nearest equivalent for us is Tolstoys account in War and Peace of the Battle of Borodino which covers some of the same themes of the Illiad such as the philosophical examination of history, life and death, and how to live well. It is reckoned to be a masterpiece but I don’t recall it being anywhere near as graphic or relentless. I am just puzzled by the Illiad’s need not only to recount the brutality of war but to repeat it over and over again in such gory detail. It is clearly something the Greeks understood and expected but artistically it seems odd to me. As a reader the impact wears off so after a while as each new battle is set up you simply end up wondering which particular horrible method for dispatching the victim will be adopted.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Hail the Tripod said:

No Greeks in it, three tribal groups: Danaans, Achaeans and Argives make up a very loose confederation of besieging forces. 

I would say the central theme is that most human suffering comes as a result of the pride of kings. The bickering of the various kings causes most of the slaughter. The only action which is rewarded in the whole book is Priam coming before Achilles dressed humbly, and asking as a father not a king, for the body of his slain son.

And Ajax topping himself however in Troy the film and the bbc drama I think hector kills him.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, maynardgravy said:

Not much in that that comes close to real warfare horrors.

There's an excellent book by Nigel Nicolson called 'Napoleon 1812' which goes into minute detail about the retreat from Moscow. One of the stories that stands out is about one soldier who gets his legs smashed by a cannon ball at the battle of Borodino before the French enter Moscow. 50 days later the Grand Army retreats and are forced to go the same route past the Borodino battlefield. Rotting corpses are everywhere, but somehow this crippled soldier survived by 'living inside a gutted horse and eating its putrid flesh' for all that time!

Only for someone to take pity and finally put a musket ball through his head.

If you're interested endless tales of misery, insane levels of bravery and endurance I recommend that book. 

Gross.

There was a TV program in a while back about Napoleon's expedition to Egypt. In the TV program there was mention of Napoleon killing his prisoners and euthenising his own wounded in on situation. 

I did skim through Larry's account of the Egyptian campaign but could find no reference of it there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Anyway for anyone who enjoys a good laugh here is a clip of Achilles fighting Boagrius (Brad Pit v Nathan Jones) from the film Troy. Incidentally there is no evidence of this character being on Achilles list of victims in the Illiad

Some top quality petulance from Brad Pitt at the beginning alongside some sterling character acting by Brits who can’t believe they are getting paid so much money for appearing in this film.

To be honest watching the scene it is surprising that the Trojan War lasted so long as Troy clearly had an idiot as champion. If the rest of the army was this useless they stood no chance. Boagrius turns up for a fight without helmet or armour wearing the sort of heavy metal leather arm band beloved of movie makers (nearly all historical epics now seem to consist of people running around in studded biker/bondage gear). Fortunately, he has two spears, a sword and shield to Achilles sword and shield. The fight starts well for Boagrius as his first spear throw hits Achilles shield causing him to discard it. However, rather than hanging on to his remaining pole arm and using its reach to skewer the now shieldless Achilles he chucks it away in a vain attempt to hit his opponent at over 30 paces. As a result he gets killed in a surprisingly bloodless manner as soon as Achilles is in sword range. He richly deserved to die for being so stupid and Troy should have fallen immediately for employing someone so dumb.

Edited by Virgil Caine
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Virgil Caine said:

One thing the makers of Troy did get right was casting Brad Pitt with his permanent petulant pout as the swift heeled Achilles who comes over just like some spoiled Hollywood superstar. The Iliad starts with him publicly slagging off Agamemnon so you wonder why he bothered going to the siege of Troy with his Myrmidons at all. Of course, the films never seem to include the Gods as characters though their intervention seems to determine the fate of all the human characters. The latter is slightly surprising as you would have thought Hollywood with its current obsession with superheroes and the availability of CGI would have exploited this angle by now. Maybe it is because Disney can’t get exclusive rights to a story written thousands of years ago.

The gods are there in the recent bbc version

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Virgil Caine said:

Anyway for anyone who enjoys a good laugh here is a clip of Achilles fighting Boagrius (Brad Pit v Nathan Jones) from the film Troy. Incidentally there is no evidence of this character being on Achilles list of victims in the Illiad

Some top quality petulance from Brad Pitt at the beginning alongside some sterling character acting by Brits who can’t believe they are getting paid so much money for appearing in this film.

To be honest watching the scene it is surprising that the Trojan War lasted so long as Troy clearly had an idiot as champion. He turns up for a fight without helmet or armour wearing the sort of heavy metal leather arm band beloved of movie makers (nearly all historical epics now seem to consist of people running around in studded biker/bondage gear). Fortunately, he has two spears, a sword and shield to Achilles sword and shield. The fight starts well for Boagrius as his first spear throw hits Achilles shield causing him to discard it. However, rather than hanging on to his remaining pole arm and using its reach to skewer the now shieldless Achilles he chucks it away in a vain attempt to hit his opponent at over 30 paces. As a result he gets killed as soon as Achilles is in sword range. He richly deserved to die for being so stupid and Troy should have fallen immediately for employing someone so dumb.

That wasn’t Troy it was another Greek city.menalaus wanted there army.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Virgil Caine said:

I get the fact war is horrible but a lot of more recent western art glosses over the unpleasant aspects so as not to deter people from fighting when needed. What is odd about the Iliad is that such a graphic account of war was used both as entertainment and a source of inspiration by the ancient Greeks. You would have thought any young Hellene having read all the horrible ways you could die would have said fuck that for a game of soldiers when anyone suggested they might fancy fighting in the front row of a hoplite formation.

I've got somewhere a fantastic book about the hoplite way of way and society, which explains why it was done, and how it influenced for 2000 years the western idea of a 'fair fight'.  basically, you had one big battle to decide which side won, as opposed to months and months of guerilla warfare.  you didn't slaughter all the enemy women and children, you just took booty and a few slaves.  cowards were worse than enemies. etc etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, stokiescum said:

That wasn’t Troy it was another Greek city.menalaus wanted there army.

great film, troy, disliked by most because it actually reflected the real storyline.  And Brad Pitt was great casting - pouting hero doing it for glory, not honour.

The only bit they left out - because of the US dislike of gays at that point - was that Achilles and Patroclus were widely thought to be lovers, hence Achilles going mental when Hector kills him.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, stokiescum said:

And Ajax topping himself however in Troy the film and the bbc drama I think hector kills him.

Ajax commits suicide in Greek legend after the death of Achilles because Athene gives Achilles armour to Odysseus rather than him. The resulting shame is apparently too much for him to bear. Presumably a shame based culture where loss of face was worse than death.
 

He does fight Hector in the Illiad but the contest gets declared a draw by the Gods because it lasts all day without a result. Film makers don’t seem to pay much respect to the characters in the epic or their fate in the poem.

Edited by Virgil Caine
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Virgil Caine said:

I am just puzzled by the Illiad’s need not only to recount the brutality of war but to repeat it over and over again in such gory detail. It is clearly something the Greeks understood and expected but artistically it seems odd to me. As a reader the impact wears off so after a while as each new battle is set up you simply end up wondering which particular horrible method for dispatching the victim will be adopted.

Like Dickens, Homer was paid by the word ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, wherebee said:

I've got somewhere a fantastic book about the hoplite way of way and society, which explains why it was done, and how it influenced for 2000 years the western idea of a 'fair fight'.  basically, you had one big battle to decide which side won, as opposed to months and months of guerilla warfare.  you didn't slaughter all the enemy women and children, you just took booty and a few slaves.  cowards were worse than enemies. etc etc.

No hoplites at Troy, armoured chieftains in chariots roll up throw a spear and roll away. The slaughter only really gets going when a body of troops routs.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Hail the Tripod said:

No hoplites at Troy, armoured chieftains in chariots roll up throw a spear and roll away. The slaughter only really gets going when a body of troops routs.

In ancient battles they often stoped when one lot ran off they didn’t bother chaseing them

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...