The Good Man Gets the Last Word

Eidos | 8/18/2019 | Staff
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Iliad ends not as at began. The first line of the great poem, foundational to so much of Western thought, is about Achilles, the great Greek warrior, and his rage. The final line is about Hector, the dead defender of the losers of the Trojan War.

Hector is the wall of Troy and he is frequently described by his shining helmet. He is fighter, a husband, and a father, the best of King Priam’s many sons.

Translator - Hector - Line - Poem - Tamer

I would quibble with the far more brilliant translator and suggest that Hector, in this last line of this lasting poem, is a tamer not a breaker of horses, at least in the sense that most Americans will understand the word. The poem has much to say about horses: some divine animals speak and weep. Such animals are not broken, they are civilized.

The feral child is human and so must never be broken. Instead, when we find such a sad soul, we show them, slowly, and with consent, the wonders of civilization. They learn and so change, becoming what they might be and not what they were. The “is” of nature becomes the “ought” of maturity. This is the image of horses in Iliad.

Man - Experience - Horses

Maybe, as a man with little experience of horses< I hesitate.

“Breaking” horses means a mutual relationship, I am told, to those who work with horses: they are not broken, but loved. Yet most of readers now do not have the relationship with horses that even Victorian classicists could assume in their readers. Horses are not in our lives and a broken creature is not (to us) made freer, but more our slave.

Hector - Horses - Companions - Slaves - Description

Hector made horses his companions, not broken slaves. This contrasts with another description...
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