Friday, 16 August 2019.
These two passages seem to offer contradictory advice. In the beginning of the Iliad, Agamemnon behaves perfectly in accordance with the logos of the first passage; thus, he takes Achilles’ woman because he is accustomed to thinking that he, as the highest ranking person there, deserves to be given the best and biggest share of the goods (including the taken women). But if Achilles’ anger is to be divine and righteous anger, then his anger seems to be rooted in some aspect of Agamemnon’s behavior that makes it actually unjust and wrong.
But what about it is unjust and wrong? The second passage (the one from book 4) makes that clear. For the sake of the warriors who, for the sake of honor, had heard his call to arms and came to risk their lives and limbs for the sake of Agamemnon’s campaign, the basileus should have given up his own prize. It would have been the pious thing to do in that situation, as a sign of respect for the warriors who were risking it all for his sake. As the man of superior rank, as a basileus, he should have been willing to give up his prizes in order to save and preserve those who were his social inferiors. But he was not, and instead he clung to his prizes as if that wealth was worth more than the respect of the warriors who were fighting for his sake.
In that moment, rather than being the magnanimous benefactor, he becomes petty and small; he tarnishes the dignity of his social rank. In that moment, Agamemnon becomes a tyrant.