Iliad Book 18: Divine Armor and the Death of Heroes

Funeral scene on dipylon Krater dating from the 8th century BCE. You can see Greek funerary ceramic pots with this same scene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Preface: the name of Achilleus

The argument has been made, and persuasively in my view, that Achilleus' name means "pain to the people." The Greek concept of a hero is, at least in part, a man of pain: who inflicts pain (on the enemy and on his own people) and who suffers pain.
Book 17:
Fight over the body of Patroklos; Antilochos leaves to take news of Patroklos' death to Achilleus.

Book 18

1. Achilleus' mourning

Pay particular attention to Achilleus' first response to the news of Patroklos' death: he throws dust on his head, stretches out on the ground, and befouls his tunic with dust. Mourning often includes symbolic or actual disfigurement; it can be seen as a ritual gesture of sympathetic death.
From this point until Book 24, Achilleus essentially ceases to participate in normal human functions: he doesn't eat, he barely sleeps, he abstains from sex.
2. Mourning for Achilleus
Compare the scene painted by the poem, in which Achilleus is lying on the ground with Thetis holding his head and the Nereids are standing around them mourning, with the scene pictured above. What kind of scene is this?
Consider Thetis' question to Achilleus; even in her most intimate moments with her son, she cannot identify with his mortality.
3. Achilleus at the wall
At one of Achilleus' most MORTAL of moments, he is endowed with seemingly IMMORTAL attributes which frighten the Trojans away from the fight over Patroklos' corpse: the aegis of Zeus, fire leaping from his head, a terrifying scream.
Watch for increasing "cosmological disruptions" in the remainder of the Iliad (e.g., in Book 18 Hera forces the sun down; later horses will cry and even talk, a river fights Achilleus, etc.)
4. 18.478ff Achilleus' new immortal armor (click to see images)
Note that what the narrator describes is not the finished armor, but Hephaistos' creative work as he makes it.
Pay special attention to the shield, which has celestial bodies at the center, the ocean running around the outer edge, and scenes from all of civilized life depicted on it. When Achilleus goes into battle, a mortal in immortal armor, he literally has 'the whole world in his hands'.
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