Sarah’s Bridge to the Blog

In class today we briefly talked about the mythological backgrounds of the characters referenced in Omeros so (because I took five years of Latin and am currently in a Greek Mythology class) I decided I’d dig deep to see if I could find even more curious connections between some of Walcott’s characterizations and the characters themselves. Hope this is enlightening:

Achilles was the hero of Homer’s Illiad. He was a great warrior whose only bodily weakness was on his left heel. Achilles was killed by an arrow to his left heel shot by Paris, son of the King Priam of Troy. He was the son of Peleus and the Nereid Thetis. Thetis attempted to render him immortal by dipping him in the River Styx but was unsuccessful because she left his left heel dry. (It was prophesized when he was an infant that he would be instrumental in the eventual fall of Troy.)

Hector was King Priam’s eldest son and became Achilles’ greatest enemy when he killed Achilles’ companion Patroclus in the Trojan War. Some accounts have Hector mistaking Patroclus for Achilles because Patroclus was wearing Achilles’ armor. (In this version of things, Achilles was sort of having a hissy fit and not fighting with the Greeks because Agamemnon had taken his war “prize” Briseis from him.) Mistaken or not, Hector was killed by Achilles who then dragged Hector’s body behind his chariot as retribution for Patroclus’ death and rejoined the war effort. King Priam was forced to beg Achilles for the return of the body of his son.

Helen (of Troy) was said to be the most beautiful woman of her time. Helen was married to the Greek Menelaus but later either ran off with Paris or was abducted by him (accounts differ).  This triggered the Trojan War. The Greeks were lead by Menlaus’ brother Agamemnon. Polydeuces and Castor (the Dioscuri) were her brothers. (Fun but irrelevant fact: She had a daughter named Hermione! Gah! Harry Potter!)

Philoctetes sailed with seven ships to lay siege to Troy along with his fellow Greeks. He was wounded en route on an island by a snake. Because the wound was festering and apparently smelly his comrades abandoned him on another island, Lemnos, for 10 years. He was the possessor of the hero Heracles’ bow and arrows (which apparently never missed their mark). A prophesy stated  Troy would not fall without the aid of this bow and as a result Philoctetes was rescued, taken to Troy and healed by Machaon.

Machaon was a well known healer (along with his brother Polidarius) who led a group of Thessalonians in the Trojan War. As mentioned above, he was responsible for healing Philoctetes’ wound upon his arrival to Troy.

After her two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, fought and killed one another in a battle for her father’s throne Antigone disobeyed the new king Creon by performing a ritual burial for Polynices (the brother who the new king has stated would not be afforded that right because he has attacked the city of Thebes). At the end of her story, she has committed suicide which then leads to her betrothed, Haemon (Creon’s son) committing suicide which then leads to Creon’s wife, Eurydice, committing suicide.

Achilles led a large group of Myrmidons in the Trojan War. The Myrmidons came into existence when Aeacus (one of Zeus’s many sons) begged Zeus to populate and protect the island Aegina while gazing at an ant hill. Aegina was apparently created at Zeus’ behest as well. He had a son named Telamon.

The Argonauts were the men (and maybe women) who accompanied Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Included among them were Heracles (great friend of Philoctetes), Telamon (son of Aeacus and brother of Peleus), Peleus (father of Achilles), Polydeuces, and Castor (brothers of Helen).

(Source (for the most part): www.pantheon.org)

 

 

 

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One Response to “Sarah’s Bridge to the Blog”

  1. Gwendolyn says:

    Hey Sarah,

    Thanks for this! It has truly influenced my reading. Now I feel like I am reading in palimpsest–every time a character comes up I am not only thinking about the role he or she might play in the work but also his or her role in literary history and again his or her role in his or her own life/myth.

    They really need to go ahead and make singular ‘they’ a thing. What a mouthful.