, , ,

In the Fall of 2014, students in the course Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies 110, at the University of Saskatchewan, were asked to compose a first-person account from the standpoint of one of the characters in Homer’s Iliad, or a character of their own invention, with a view to eliciting further insights into Homer’s poem or developing alternate perspectives into the world of the Iliad— its characters, values, social structures, or what-have-you. The model for this exercise was Julian Barnes’ revisionist account of Noah and the Flood in A History of the World in 10½ Chapters, but the authors were given free rein to adopt any approach they might chose. This collection of eight pieces offers a sample of the results.

Homer Through Other Eyes_Page_01Our authors draw inspiration, directly or indirectly, from a variety of sources and present an interesting register of tones: from the comic exasperation of James Wood’s Hades (Disney’s Heracles) and the existentialist bureaucratic hell of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, to the more somber figures of Vergil’s Fama (Rumor) and the obsessive prospector of Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” We view the heroes’ quest for glory through the eyes of a carrion-raven (who sings of the heroes’ achievements while dining on their fallen foes) and the narcissistic Paris, but also in the utterly humane viewpoint of the fallen Patroclus. At the same time, we are led to reflect on the later reception of Homer’s poem in the tormented uncertainty of the war-prize Briseis, who recalls the characters of that name in Homer’s Iliad and Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy while at the same time highlighting the generic and cultural constraints under which those characters labor.

The goal of the assignment was to encourage a fresh examination of Homer’s poem, to provide students with a space in which they might explore more fully, and through a different lens, both the issues that Homer addresses and those that he either suppresses or ignores. These pieces achieve that goal in a wonderful fashion, both in their overall conception and in the many, often exquisitely subtle touches that you will find scattered throughout each.

– John Porter

You can find this e-book on iBooks or on pdf here: http://homepage.usask.ca/~jrp638/pubs/HomerOtherEyes.pdf