Achilles is sulking. War is raging. Helen is looming. Well, actually, she is working at a loom before she is called before Priam, who tells her that Paris and Menelaus will fight for her in front of and between the Achaean and Trojan armies. Still, Achilles sulks. Dishonoured, he sulks. But a sulk full of rage and sanctioned by Zeus–a divinely manly sulk, if you will. I think one of my favourite descriptive phrases is when Priam recounts Odysseus’s speech. Odysseus seems awkward, bulky, stupid, and taciturn, but when he speaks, Priam says, “[Odysseus’s] words began falling fast like snowflakes in winter, / then no other man on earth could compete with Odysseus.” (3.208-209). How lovely an image. I can just see massive snowflakes that should be graceless caress the wind as they fall, full of wonder, to the earth. Coating the world in splendour and sparkle. Delicious. It calls to mind hearths and warm drinks. It calls to mind standing in a snow fall and somehow becoming one with the falling sky and the receiving earth. Hugged between it all.
There is a fantastic song that I am currently entirely in love with. I am going to share it here, because it is so filling, like Priam’s description of Odysseus. Like snow falling, no one could compete.
Enjoy with this:
And as a fire burns through a boundless forest
on the mountain crests, and from far off the flare can be seen:
Just so did the gleam from the polished bronze of their armor
flash through the whole sky, up to the very heavens.
And as the great flocks on the Asian wetlands—wild geese
or cranes or long-throated swans–by the streams of Cäyster
wheel this way and that way, glorying in their wings,
and with loud cries keep settling, and the whole marshland resounds:
just so did the troops pour forth from the ships and huts
beneath the feet of the men and the hooves of the horses,
and they stood there massed in Scamander’s flowery meadow
as measureless as the leaves and flowers in their season.
And just as great hordes of flies keep swarming around
a sheepfold in springs, when milk overflows the buckets:
in such vast numbers the Argives stood massed on the plain
against the Trojans, eager to tear them to pieces.
The Iliad (2.438-454)