martedì 13 novembre 2012

Is the Iliad an anti war story?

Imagine the Achaean fleet...
The Trojan War. 1,186 ships were sent to Troy, exporting Democracy. Ten long years of siege. I mean, ten winters. An effort so immense. Blood ran in torrents. A business for marines as Telamonian Ajax? Who paid all this stuff? Lets try to see all this stuff through the peaceful point of view of a miserable peasant or shepherd of Arcadia. There was a dark side? There was a "company" leaded by Ares that saw the war as a business? Could we consider the Trojan Horse a sort of ancient atom bomb that in no time wiped out an entire city, so from a certain point of view an unconventional weapon? The Trojan Horse would have been against the Geneva Convention?
G. D. Tiepolo,  The Procession of the Trojan Horse into Troy, National Gallery, London.

Imagine a cluster munition (nowadays are prohibited) in that time that releases or ejects an elite force. Prone to indiscriminate effects, especially in a populated city. Imagine that it was so well thought out that it seems a gift. So, not a conventional weapon! I am wondering if from a certain point of view the idea of the Trojan Horse was "against the mankind" (as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), as an entire city, with women and children, was wiped out. "Against the mankind" means against the human picture of Aeneas escaping from Troy with his father Anchises on his shoulders...

The Burning of Troy, by Johann Georg Trautmann (1713–1769).
Someone tried to ask to the world wide web if we can consider Iliad an anti war story. Tremendous question. Did Homer want to warn us about catastrophic effects of any conflicts? I think it is an important actual topic and what I want to say is that in my humble opinion in Homer's Iliad war is depicted as bloody and fruitless. In fact, are there clear winners? How many people die in vain? Why does Homer show dirty deeds done by the Greeks and Trojans? Why do Diomedes and Odysseus, two respected Greek warriors, sneak into a sleeping Trojan camp and kill many unarmed, dreaming Trojans, against any unwritten code of heroic conduct that the bravest warriors followed? What about the dead body of Hector?! Desecration of a dead body was a sacrilege and an insult to Greek and Trojan society. The most important thing. Homer's last comments on the futility of war when Achilles and Priam share a moment of realization of what has been lost to the long Trojan war.
An engraving showing the Hector's son, Astyanax, thrown from the walls of Troy as his mother Andromache looks on. Read below about mercilessness to women and children.

"Yet The Iliad still has much to say about war, even as it is fought today. It tells us that war is both the bringer of renown to its young fighters and the destroyer of their lives. It tells us about post-conflict destruction and chaos; about war as the great reverser of fortunes. It tells us about the age-old dilemmas of fighters compelled to serve under incompetent superiors. It tells us about war as an attempt to protect and preserve a treasured way of life. It tells us, too, about the profound gulf between civilian existence and life on the front line; about atrocities and indiscriminate slaughter; about war's peculiar mercilessness to women and children; about friendships and sympathies across the battle lines. It tells us of the love between soldiers who fight together. Most of all, it tells us about the frightful losses of war: of a soldier losing his closest companion, of a father losing his son." (source:  "The Iliad and what it can still tell us about war" Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, 30 January 2010)

Brueghel, Jan the Elder, The burning of Troy, (c.1671-72)

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