The role of the character Nestor in Homer's Iliad is one often overlooked. Nestor is not only an Achaian counselor, respected and listened to due to his age, but he also “serves as a link between the peace of home the Achaians are leaving and the barbarism of war to which they are succumbing”(Richardson 24). Nestor incites action, instills values and motivates the characters to keep a balance between this peace and barbarism.
Nestor first appears in book one during an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon over Briseis, a war prize belonging to Achilles. As tensions rise and swords are about to be drawn, Nestor calms the situation by demanding the two men's attention, then asking for the respect he has earned with his age, for he has "known far greater men who did not disdain him." He then advises Agamemnon to renounce the girl, for she belongs to Achilles. As for Achilles, Nestor advises, "do not defy your King and Captain." In this way Nestor is bringing about an order which is about to be lost. The many years of fighting have worn patience down and the men have become caustic. It is here that we begin to see the barbarism that becomes prevalent later in the epic. Nestor is here attempting to reinstate the values of respect for authority and another's property.
Book two begins with Agamemnon's dream of a definite and imminent Trojan defeat. He and his war council plan an assault on the city of Troy, and to test the loyalty of his army, Agamemnon announces they will be returning home, giving up. When the army hears that, after nine years of war in the service of Agamemnon, they will see their homeland once again, chaos prevails and, in a mad dash, they bre...
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...barism, peace and war, home and adventure, and connects the present with the past and reveals the continuity of life. “No other character has Nestor's ability to bring order from disorder”(Goodrich 117 ).
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bespaloff, Rachel. On the Iliad. Trans. Mary McCarthy. New York: Pantheon Books, 1947.
Clarke, Howard. Homer's Readers: A Historical Introduction to the Iliad and the Odyssey. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1981.
Goodrich, Norma. Myths of the hero. New York: Orion Press, 1962.
Homer: Iliad. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.
Richardson, Nicholas. The Iliad : A Commentary. Vol. VI: books 21-24. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1993.
Willcock, Malcolm M. A Companion to the Iliad: Based on the Translation by Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976
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