How a city rose from the ashes

Evan and his companions leave Pylos and head to Messenia, a region protected by mountains.

Ancient Messenia is located in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese, and founded in 369 BCE. The site was settled in the Early Bronze Age, though it may date back to the Late Neolithic period. Today the site is protected under the World Heritage foundation. You may be wondering why Messenia is an important site. The ancient Messenians were subjugated by their fellow Greeks, perhaps not a new concept as recent history can attest, but it was certainly wasn’t the norm.

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Plato’s Atlantis

The legend of Atlantis begins with Plato who wrote two Socratic dialogues Timaeus and Critias. These are the only two existing written records which refer to the lost continent. The fact that Plato wrote about the fabled city gives credence to the existence of such a place. Like Homer before him and the legend of Troy, Plato heard the story of Atlantis and retold it. According to a number of sources, Plato while a boy was listening to his great grandfather, Solon and other men who recounted the story. Much like the Homer’s Iliad, the legend of Atlantis has a basis in fact, and it’s a matter of washing out the dregs to get to the gold.

Plato from the School of Athens by Raphael, 1509 Wikipedia

Plato from the School of Athens by Raphael, 1509

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Homer and Hollywood

I was surfing the web curious as to how many variations of Homer’s Iliad been made into a movie. What I found was surprising. A total of four movies; correction, three, one was a television series. Dickens’ Great Expectations, on the other hand, had seven movies and three television series created. I won’t even attempt Shakespeare’s works, it would be like the Roadrunner and Coyote episodes. Given that, some adaptations have been less than faithful to the original story, digressing so much the story is unrecognisable. Though to be fair, to write a script that fits into two hours to three maximum, would be a difficult task.



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In a Nutshell

‘The world does not have tidy endings. The world does not have neat connections. It is not filled with epiphanies that work perfectly at the moment that you need them.’
Dennis Lehane

Considered one of the greatest western literatures in the world, the Iliad still generates enthusiasm and intellectual discourse. A story which spans almost 3000 years it is a phenomenon I am sure Homer did not envision. Of course every storyteller hopes their creative scribbling’s would have such impact and be remembered long after they have left the world. Even if people haven’t read the story, they have heard of Helen, the Trojan War, Akhilleus, Hektor and Paris. What a legacy to leave behind!



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A Father’s Loss

‘In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.’

How does one reconcile the loss of so many offspring, the destruction of their home and the death of their people? Such personal suffering could never be healed. These events litter the history books and still wars happen. Power, greed, the desire to dominate and subjugate, annihilate are the basic premises. The cost of innocent lives, homes, cultures and humanity don’t seem to be considered as long as the end result is achieved, however one gets there. For Priam, the last King of Troy, he witnessed the end.

Death of Priam Louvre Wikipedia

Death of Priam

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I Speak but No one Listens!

Have you ever said something so profound or honest in your convictions and not believed? It happened and still does, though I’d like to think we are more broadminded and perceptive. I am however reminded of the story of Peter and the Wolf, and the whoppers he told. There’d be a lesson, one for Peter and the village! (Pardon the grammar ;D) Can you then imagine what it would be like to see the tragic end of your family, people and city? Cassandra didn’t have a choice, she saw it all and could not do a thing about it!

Cassandra Evelyn De Morgan (1898?)  Wikipedia

Evelyn De Morgan (1898?)

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Cuckold, Fool or Manhood Takes a Hit

‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.’
The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:2-17

When it comes to infidelity, there will be always the one who’d been wronged and they’ll want retribution. After all, they have been morally and emotionally offended by the betrayal. And who can blame them? In the case of the King of Sparta, it was never made clear whether his wife was abducted or had left of her own accord. Regardless of how or why, justice was sought with the combined armed forces of Greece. Whether Helen was innocent in this whole epic affair was not a consideration, she was blamed for ‘leaving’ her husband and baby daughter.

Menelaus Giacomo Brogi circa 1881 Vatican Museum Wikipedia

Giacomo Brogi circa 1881
Vatican Museum

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One Man’s Death, Fatal Repercussions for the Trojans

There are a number of plot twists in the Iliad, causation’s for many key events in the story. Each have a significant role in the final outcome of the story and perhaps one of the more pivotal scenes was the death of Patroklos. It changed the losing team into a winning one and saw the annihilation of a city and its people.

Achilles and the body of Patroclus Nikolai Ge 1855 Wikipedia
Achilles and the body of Patroclus
Nikolai Ge 1855

Who was Patroklos? He was not only a boyhood friend of Akhilleus but also a relative. There’s also the inference they were lovers which was possible as it was common in ancient Greece and much of the ancient world to have same sex relationships. Unlike the movie Troy where the character of Patroklos was younger, he was older than Akhilleus, though it was never mentioned by how much.

He was considered wiser and more level-headed than Akhilleus, which was why Nestor approached Patroklos. He suggested Patroklus should advise Akhilleus to re-join the war and reiterated the words of his father, Menoetius on the day they left to join the allies:

‘My son, Achilles is of nobler birth than you and he is also by far the stronger man. But you are older than he is. It is for you to give sound advice, make suggestions and give him a lead which he will follow to his own advantage.’
Iliad, Book 11, Lines 785-89

While he was a boy, Patroklos killed a youth during a game of dice. How? It was never explained except it was an accident. Dangerous game by the sounds of it! As a consequence his father, brother or first cousin to Peleus Akhilleus’ father, sent Patroklos to live with the king. Both he and Akhilleus were educated together. Patroklos, a prince in his own right, was one of Helen’s suitors and bound by oath to take up arms if something amiss happened.

In Book 16, Patroklos tries to convince Akhilleus to re-join the fight. The Achaeans suffered heavy losses and without Akhilleus were certain to lose. He refuses. However, Patroklos persuades his friend to let him borrow his armour and lead the Myrmidons into the fray. Patroklos and his men charge into the fight, rallying the Greeks, who thought he was Akhilleus. He was a competent warrior and killed many men in the battle including the king of Lycia, Sarpedon who happened to be the son of Zeus. Then he faced Hektor.

‘[Hektor]… stabbed him with his spear in the lower belly, driving the bronze clean through. Patroklos thudded to the ground…’
Iliad, Book 16, Lines 821-822

Menelaus and Meriones lifting Patroclus' corpse on a cart while Odysseus[on right] looks on. National Archaeological Museum Florence Wikipedia
Menelaus and Meriones lifting Patroclus’ corpse on a cart while Odysseus[on right] looks on.
National Archaeological Museum Florence

Patroklos showed great strength of character and virtue, elements which Akhilleus did not possess. The character of Patroklos demonstrated a person didn’t need to be the best warrior, however goodness and integrity was more important.

Thank you for visiting and reading. Hope you enjoyed the post. As always, I look forward to your comments.


Patroclus Ancient Greek Mythology
Patroclus Greek Myth Index
Patroclus Greek Mythology Link 

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Listen to Your Elders!

Agamemnon praises the elderly warrior King Nestor of Pylos:

‘Father Zeus, Athene and Apollo, give me ten such advisers as Nestor, and the town of lord Priam would soon be captured, sacked and turned over to Greek hands!’
Homer, The Iliad, Book 2, Lines: 371-374

Nestor and his sons sacrifice to Poseidon on the beach at Pylos (Attic red-figure calyx-krater, 400–380 BC) Wikipedia

Nestor and his sons sacrifice to Poseidon on the beach at Pylos (Attic red-figure calyx-krater, 400–380 BC)

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I’m a Believer

There were many characters in the story of The Iliad and I’m not counting the Olympian gods! The bards in Homer’s time, before and since, had unique mnemonic tricks to remember these legends as well as music to provide cues during the telling. The tale contains over 15,600 lines and though not considered the longest epic it is still quite extraordinary feat of mental acuity. I, for one, cannot remember the first few lines let alone try to memorise the entire story.

Idealised portrayal of Homer dating to the Hellenistic Period. British Museum

Idealised portrayal of Homer dating to the Hellenistic Period.
British Museum

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