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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/7/15

Conservative Journalist Tod Lindberg's New Book (REVIEW ESSAY)

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But couldn't Lindberg argue that this is what he means by the moral peril that Achilles as "a near-perfect rendition of the highest heroic type of his age" "poses to the legitimacy and authority of the political order"?

But Achilles represents the complete abolition of the legitimacy and authority of the already-established political order.

To the slaying victors such as Achilles go the spoils. The spoils of war include the material wealth of the conquered people and slaves -- in plain English, the annihilation of the political order of the conquered people. If you're lucky, you are enslaved. But if you're not lucky, you are killed off -- genocide is what we today call it -- or "collateral damage."

In the Hebrew Bible, David is portrayed as a genocidal slayer of his own people during his outlaw years before his eventual rise to become established and recognized publicly as King David.

In the slaughter-of-the-suitors episode in the ODYSSEY, the returning King Odysseus is also portrayed as a genocidal slayer of his own people in Ithaca.

The mourning followers of the historical Jesus imagined him as returning in second coming at the end-time as the slayer warrior/king leading God's angelic forces in destroying all kinds of unworthy people, but sparing the worthy ones.

C. G. Jung has alerted us to the fact that archetypal patterns of the genocidal slayer/hero that are memorialized in certain ancient stories are stored in our collective unconscious -- as President Truman's dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shows.

Of course we do not expect to find Jung's terminology about the collective unconscious used explicitly in the Homeric epics. Nevertheless, it is instructive to consider Fagles' translation of the famous passage known as the invocation of the Muse in the ILIAD:

Rage -- Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,

murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,

hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,

great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,

feasts for the dogs and bird, and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.

Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,

Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.

The invocation of the Goddess/Muse involves invoking the feminine dimension of the presumably male singer/poet's psyche.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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