Theme Of Beast Similes In The Iliad

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Beast Similes in the Iliad
Michael Clarke, in his article “Between Lions and Men: Images of the Hero in the Iliad” (1995), explores the true meaning behind Homeric similes, specifically those relating men and beasts. By studying these “beast-similes”, Clarke hopes to reveal their influence on the depiction of heroes throughout the poem, as well as the poem’s theme of heroism. The author begins the article by stating the common idea that the similes of the Iliad are simply adornments made to amplify Homer’s recreation of the heroic age. Upon further analysis of these comparisons, Clarke is able to conclude that the beast-similes Homer strategically uses do much more than merely enhance the heroic depictions throughout the poem; they are symbolic
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He specifically focuses on a comparison used during Achilles’ final battle with Hector: “there are no binding oaths between men and lions– wolves and lambs… they are bent on hating each other to the death. So with you and me” (often concisely referred to as “between lions and men”). The “between lions and men” simile alone is seen to largely impact the effects of Homer’s depiction of the heroic age. Clarke argues that within this simile, Achilles is depicting himself as the lion and wolf, while Hector is portrayed as the men and sheep. He claims that this comparison of Achilles to beasts may be to highlight the strength but lack of limitations possessed by the beasts and Achilles, or perhaps the lack of affection and remorse Achilles feels for Hector . The author also believes that through this simile, Achilles is acknowledging and embracing his own death soon to come; thus, the simile, as well as other beast-similes, epitomize the challenges of heroism and the relation between glory and death in Homer’s

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