In book 18 of the Iliad, Homer masterfully juxtaposes the very specific, emotional, and individualized scene of Achilleus’s grief with the creation of the all-encompassing image which Hehpaistos forges on his shield. Towards the beginning of the book, when Achilleus learns of Patroklos’s death from Nestor’s son Antiolchos, Homer depicts an intense scene of sorrow as he writes, “The black cloud of sorrow closed on Achilleus. In both hands he caught up the grimy dust, and poured it over his head and face, and fouled his handsome countenance. And he himself, mightily in his might, in the dust lay at length, and took and tore at his hair with his hands, and defiled it” (Iliad book 18 lines 2...
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...r’s Iliad to defend his ideas about the eradication of literature, the Iliad contains countless powerful and cathartic passages which essentially invalidate Plato’s theories on poetry. After a study of the Iliad, the reader has trained his emotions. He has felt pity for the characters and fears that if he acts in the same manner and lets the same emotions which proved to be the bane of the characters’ existence in the work overwhelm him, then the same fate awaits him. Thus, by reading the Iliad, or any other good work of literature for that matter, we train our rational nature to overpower our sentimental nature. In this sense, literature is the highest form of study one can undertake, since we are constantly flooded by a sea of emotions. The most effective way to ensure we act rationally in response to these emotions is to read as much literature as possible.
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