Berkman Center for Internet & Society


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These are the discussion questions from Week One of Homer's Poetic Justice.

Instructions: Each of the following discussion topics has its own message forum. We hope you will respond to one of the questions below by Sunday, April 11th, 9PM, Eastern Daylight Time (before the X-files comes on!). You may respond to more than one, of course, but be aware that each question has its own 'discussion group', so you should address your response specifically to that question. A response in the length of a paragraph is ideal; hypernews works better with many shorter responses than with longer ones, and we encourage you to reply briefly to the responses of others--this will make for true 'dialogue'.

1. The picture that is crafted by the divine artisan seems to represent the world as seen by Achilles. What is at stake in the litigation scene on the Shield? From what you know of Achilles from Scroll One, why would this scene be important in Achilles' world view?

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2. What is at stake in the quarrel [neikos] in Iliad 1? Considering that none of the main characters has yet died, how might this quarrel relate to the litigation scene in the Shield? What are the considerations of justice in this quarrel (that is, what constitutes 'justice', and how is it guaranteed)? Are the conditions of 'justice' met?

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3. In other traditional versions of the story of the Trojan war, the conventional way to start is by talking about the "Judgment of Paris," in which Paris has to choose the goddess who should receive the golden apple inscribed"To the Fairest." He must choose between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, each of whom offers Paris a reward if he chooses her: Hera offers him great wealth, Athena offers him great power, and Aphrodite offers him the most beautiful woman in the world. Of course, he chooses Aphrodite, and his 'reward' of Helen of Troy is the immediate cause of the Trojan War. The Iliad, as we have seen, begins instead with the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles. How does beginning with this quarrel [neikos] instead of the Judgment of Paris relate to the overall ideas about justice in the Iliad?

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