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Concepts of the hero Florine Cleary

CLAS E-116 February 22, 2007

Please do a two or three (Maximum) page Close Reading of any METAPHOR of your
own choice. Prefix your essay with a brief sentence, so indicating the term which You
intend to focus upon. This metaphor must be drawn from Iliad.

…he (Nestor) grasped his redoubtable bronze shod spear, and as soon as he was
outside saw the disastrous rout of the Achaeans who, now that their wall was
overthrown, were fleeing pell-mell before the Trojans. As when there is a heavy
swell upon the sea, but the waves are dumb – they keep their eyes on the watch
for quarter whence the fierce winds may spring upon them, but they stay where
they are and set neither this way nor that, till some particular winds sweeps
down from heaven to determine (krino) them – even so did the old man ponder
whether to make for the crowd of Danaans, or go in search of Agamemnon.

Throughout the Iliad there is the theme of outside forces directly or indirectly

shaping and influencing the characters and through them the outcome of events. The

characters find their telos in the acts they are moved to perform, but this telos is unknown

or they are unable to act effectually towards it “till some particular winds sweeps down

from heaven to determine (krino) them”1.

The metaphor of Nestor and the Achaeans being in tumult and each man like a

wave waiting for what will establish their direction and their end hinges upon the term

“krino”. Here krino is used to mean “determine” but elsewhere in the Iliad it is used as

“divide2”, “marshaled3”, “read4” and “selected5” but krino can also mean to prefer, to set

apart, to evaluate, to decree, to resolve, to judge and to govern. It is from krino that we

get such words critic, hypocrisy, criteria and crisis. The poetic use of krino in this

metaphor is made richer by understanding the other meanings it would invoke in
1
XIV, 15 (page 158)
2
360 (page 29)
3
445 (page 31)
4
145 (page 58) The use of “read” is as applies to Eurydamas interpreting dreams, I’m taking this to be like
discerning the meaning of them and discern from the Latin cerno taken from the Greek krino.
5
185 (page 74)
someone well versed in Greek6. In all uses there is an element of something being chosen

for some reason and at a decisive point.

Up until this passage it is men who practice krino but in the above mentioned use

it is ambiguous as to who is to determine Nestor’s actions and by extension that of the

Achaeans. That it requires a wind from heaven for the waves to no longer be stricken

dumb and in a state of chaos where “they stay where they are and set neither this way nor

that” applies well to the Achaeans who Zeus-abandoned and somewhat stunned are trying

to endure while being attacked by Gods (the “fierce winds”) and men during the battle

(the “heavy swell”). The tide as it were of the battle has changed such that this is their

moment of crisis.

Just as in the previous uses of krino someone must evaluate and pick whether to

esteem the Achaeans above the Trojans and so govern them to victory or allow them to be

completely destroyed for this is the decisive point for them.

6
When Odysseus rebukes Agamemnon for decideing that they cannot be judged ill of for fleeing since it
must be the decree of Zeus that they lose he does so by citeing that this is their allotted fate that Zeus has
set the Achaean warriors apart for a “life of hard fighting from youth to old age, till every one of us perish”
we can see again the interplay of various meanings of krino.

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