Monday, March 14, 2022

Iliad Book IX: The Embassy to Achilles

AN AUDIOVISUAL FORM OF AUDIOBOOK. I think this video of Iliad Book 9 is the best acting performance I've done so far in my life (that's not saying much; only about 25% of such acting as I have done was good, I believe; and Ive only been in 15 productions). It's an epic poem and I'm not off-book, but the project is so big that it seems to have developed its own form, wherein it's natural for my eyeballs to be continually checking in with the book in my hand. It's storytelling as theater, rather than theater as storytelling. I guess it isn't theater, since it's not live. But it's not a movie, in that it's not a visual depiction of the story. It's an audiovisual form of audiobook, in 24 movies. 

This is Book 9, the Embassy to Achilles, where the Greeks (aka Achaeans, Danaans, Argives) plead with Achilles (aka Aiakides, Peleion) to give up his anger against Agamemnon (aka Atreides, meaning "son of Atreus"), accept the abundant reparations Agamemnon is offering to him, and consent to defend the overmatched Greeks from the fierce Trojan defenders, especially their greatest fighter, Hector---whose wife and baby son we met in Book 6. 

We may detest the Achaeans for making war against the innocent but wealthy Trojans; we may root for Troy, as do Apollo and Aphrodite. But we are also subject to the love Hera and Athena feel for the Achaeans, who include "Patroclus, who was strong and gentle..." In Book 16, Patroclus' death will break our hearts; for now, a domestic scene of peace, where the man who soon will slaughter others all day and die under Hector's spear is quietly serving bread to the great, unwise, angry young man whom he loves. 

Book 9 is all about the missed opportunity for Achilles to stop the tragedy from unfolding by giving up his anger. Instead he refuses, and the mission (the "Embassy") fails. Especially moving is the plea of the aged Phoenix, Achilles' godfather, who reminds Achilles of his childhood.

Free download of my book How To Write about Homer (Infobase, 2010).