Presentation Greece 2

The first meeting of Grundtvig mobility in Greece.
COURSE: 2010-1-CY1-GRU06-009312
Athens and Lamia, 22-29/10/2010,
Homeric Heroes from Fthia
Ourania N. Toutountzi
dr Philosophy of language -writer
• In the rhapsody A of ILIAD, we see how Achilles, feeling
deeply insulted by Agamemnon, decides not to take part in
the battle any more. Some days later, a deputation composed
of Odysseus, Ajax (Aias), Phoenix and two heralds, send by
Agamemnon, meets Achilles and begs him to forget his anger
and return to the battle. His absence could cause the
destruction of the Achaean army.
Achilles, proud, answers that he would never accept and forgive
any insult, even if it comes from a very powerful king. He also
says that if he decides to depart from Ilion the very next
morning, with his ships and his army of myrmidons, in three days
he would arrive –with the help of the great Poseidon- in the
fertile Fthia:
(ILIAS, Ι, 362 -363)
• More than eight hundred years later –much more, in my
opinion- the philosophe Socrates, in his prison, waiting for the
execution of his condemnation to death, talks to his student
and friend Kriton about his dream.
• Socrates had dreamt that a beautiful young woman, in white
clothes, came near him and told him:
• «Socrates, in three days you will arrive at the fertile Fthia»
• We meet here (Plato’ s “Kriton” 44b) exactly the same words
used by Achilles in ILIAD:
Socrates’ dream has, of course, an obvious meaning. And if, for
Achilles, Fthia is his fatherland, the place where he lives, the
place he misses, for Socrates Fthia is fatherland and
motherland of all beings. With other words, for the philosophe
Socrates, Fthia is the place where every being returns one day,
by dying. Since then, the Homeric Fthia has become a sort of
ontological determination for the human existence.
• The Homeric Fthia… fatherland or motherland of many heroes. We
learn from Homer that Achilles had come to Ilion with a fleet of fifty
ships, which transferred warriors from Pelasgic Argos, Alos, Alopi,
Trihina, Fthia, and Hellas – “καλλιγύναικα Ελλάδα” as Homer says,
which means «The Hellas with the beautiful women». And the men
who came to Ilion with Achilles, also says Homer, were called
“myrmidons” and “hellenes” and “achaioi”. The name “Hellenes”,
though maybe already familiar to Homer in its today’s sense, is
attributed by the great poet only to the men who came to Ilion with
• The Homeric Hellas is a city of Thessalia, build at the prehistorical
years. It is also possible that a city with the same name existed near
the oracle of Dodona.
• As for the name of the Myrmidons, it comes from the Hellenic
word “mirmigi” which means “ant”.
• Achilles’ grandfather was called Aiakos. They say that he was
the fairest man in earth. He lived alone in the island of Aigina,
but his father, which was Zeus, the father of gods and mortals,
transformed all the ants on the island to men and women.
• A human tribe was born, the tribe of Myrmidons. Aiakos
became their king. This people, after living for several years in
Aigina, moved later to Thessalia. They installed themselves in
the city of Fthia, and Pileas, one of Aiakos’ sons, became their
new king.
• Pileas, although mortal, was married to the goddess of sea
Nereid Thetis.
• Achilles was their son. He was brave, honest and proud.
• He incarnates the human impulsion, but also the marriage
between the mortal and the immortal element into the world.
• Achilles’ closest friend and comrade in the battle is Patroklus, the
son of Menitios. This probably is an innovation brought to the
Trojan Myth by Homer. In the prehomeric tradition, we find
Antilochus (the son of Pylos’ king Nestor) instead of Patroklus as
Achilles’ comrade and closest friend. Patroklus was born in Lokrida,
but when he was a child he killed unwillingly his friend Klisonymus.
It was then that Menitios took his son away from Lokrida and
brought him to Fthia. Pileas accepted them to his palace. Patroklus
was by a few years elder than Achilles, but the two boys soon
became the close friends that we meet in ILIAD. Patroclus is very
courteous and also brave and candid. He incarnates the affection
and reminds us, with his heroic death, the destiny of all mortals.
• In the rhapsody B of ILIAD, Homer relates in detail who were
the chieftains in each one of the two armies. Among them, he
includes Filoktitis, the king of the Thessalian cities Methoni,
Thaumakia, Melivia and Olizone. His father was Poias. It is
possible that Filoktitis was also one of the Argonauts.
• Filoktitis was the man who lighted Hercules’ (Heracles’)
funeral pyre, on the peak of the Thessalian mount Oiti.
Hercules (Heracles) was raised up into the ether and joined
the gods. That was the hero’s theosis. But before that, he
handed on Filoktitis his bow and darts. This event was
somehow connected with Troy’s destiny.
• According to an oracle, only Hercules’ (Heracles’) bow could
conquer the city of Troy. And Filoktitis joined the Achaean
army carrying with him the hero’s bow. But in the island of
Chrysi, Filoktitis was bitten by a poisonous water snake. His
wound was infected and exhaled a very bad smell. His fellows,
who couldn’t stand the smell, quitted him to the island of
Limnos. It was only after Achilles’ death that the chieftains of
the army remembered Filoktitis and the oracle about
Hercules’ (Hearecles’) bow. They returned to Limnos, and
Mahaon, the son of god Aesculapius (Asklipios), cured
Filoktitis’ wound. So the hero joined again the Achaean army
and returned with them to Troy.
• So, do we honestly have any doubt that the oracle was finally
accomplished? The story about “Dourios Ippos” (the
“Wooden Horse”), although widely known today, is not in
accord with the Homeric Heroic Ideal -as we perceive this
ideal in ILIAD. ILIAD’s heroes would never deign to conquer
Ilion using a deceit. For them, a victory is more than
everything else a moral victory and the result from their
excellence («αριστεία»), in battle and in life. It is reasonable –
and we have a lot of evidence on our side- to suggest that
Troy was indeed conquered after a heroic and deeply tragic
for both armies battle.
• And that the poet who wrote ILIAD (because ILIAD was written
by one genius poet, either his name was Homer or not)
ignored the story about the Wooden Horse. He ignored it, for
the simple reason that this story was invented later, when the
heroic ideal had already lost its original brightness. Unhappily,
nearly all of the information included in the prehomeric epic
tradition is lost.
• In ODYSSEY we find, of course, some reference to the Wooden
Horse. But there is no doubt –and we can prove this- that
ODYSSEY has been created several centuries (at least three
hundred years) after the creation of ILIAD and, obviously, not
by the some poet who wrote ILIAD.
Thank You

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