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Essay on The Importance of Nestor in Homer’s Iliad

The Importance of Nestor in Homer’s Iliad

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

The Evil Iago of Shakespeare’s Othello

“How shall I murder him, Iago?” This one line, spoken by Othello, in Shakespeare’s play of the same name speaks volumes of the evil and deceitful nature of the character being spoken to, Iago. The ability to turn a noble, self controlled, respected man such as Othello into a raving, murderous lunatic can only be had by an evil man such as Iago. Iago is conniving, vengeful, vain, ruinous, dishonest, egotistical and paranoid. This makes him one of the most evil men in all of literature.

The first of many examples of Iago’s villainy occurs in scene one of act one. His vain ego has been hurt. Othello has chosen a “bookish theoric” to be his lieutenant instead of Iago. Iago has this to say of Othello’s choice:

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow almost dammed in a fair wife,

That never set a squadron in the field

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster–unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the togaed consuls can propose

As masterly as he. Mere prattle without practice

Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had th’ election;

And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof

At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds

Christianed and heathen, must be beleed and calmed

By debitor and creditor. This countercaster,

He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,

And I–God bless the mark!–his Moorship’s ancient.

This position is one Iago expected, not only because of his seniority in battle, but also because of his seniority with Othello himself.

Iago clearly shows his vengefulness when he tells Roderigo: “Call up her father.Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight…”

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