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STUDYWORLD STUDYNOTES:

CLASSIC LITERATURE ANALYSIS

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"AND""OR"

The Iliad
by Homer Book XXIV of Homer's " The Iliad", features three women, three laments, and three roles. These women are Hector's wife, Andromache, his mother, Hecuba, and his sister, Helen. Priam travels to the Greek camp, escorted by Hermes, offering a ransom to Achilles who murdered Hector, avenging Hector's killing of Patroclus. Upon Priam's return with the body, each woman expresses her sorrow for the commander of the Trojan forces. The first woman to exhibit her anguish is Andromache, Hector's wife, who "held in her lap between her hands the head of Hector," (lines 336-337) as she spoke. Although she grieves for the death of Hector, most of her lament was directed towards her youngest son, Astyanax. She explains in lines 356-357 to her son the situation they are faced with: "He was no moderate man in war, your father, and that is why they mourn him through the city." But before she is concluded, Andromache shifts her pity onto herself, claiming that she will miss Hector more than his parents: "You gave your parents grief and pain but left me loneliest, and heartbroken" (lines 358-359). As Andromache's voice breaks, Hector's mother, Hecuba chimes in. She tries to make sense of her son's murder, referring to her other sons who Achilles captured but sold them overseas, sparing their lives. Hecuba realizes that Hector killed Patroclus, but does not see vengeance as a justification for her son's murder in lines 374-377: "He trussed and dragged you many times round the barrow of his friend, Patroclus, whom you killed -- though not by this could that friend live again." However, Hecuba was satisfied that "the immortal gods . . . have cared for [Hector] in death" (lines 367-368). Hecuba sobs again, giving way to the final lament, made by Hector's sister, Helen. She recalls that Hector is her "dearest bother by far," (line 383) referring to his kindness and gentleness (line 394): "Never did I have an evil word or gesture from you" (lines 388-389). She feels sorrow not only for Hector but for herself as well, weeping that no one is left to befriend her (line 397). Following Hecuba's eulogy, a moan comes from the people (line 399). This is significant because after the first two women spoke, only the women sobbed. Hector's body is finally returned to Troy as Andromache, Hecuba, and Helen mourn for him. Though they share their grief for the son of King Priam, each woman expresses her lament in a different way. This, however, should be expected because as each one played a different role in his life, so should each look differently upon his death.

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