Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday with Words: On Fear and Courage

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I have been participating in the AO Forum Book Discussion of The Iliad.   (Can I just take a second to gush about my AO Forum ladies?  I love that we have a group of homeschool moms over there who are willing to take the time to tackle some of these ‘classics’ together so that we can grow and learn together.  The group experience really makes it so much less intimidating and more enjoyable to tackle a book like this.  We’re about halfway done with The Iliad, but discussion has already commenced about what we might read next…so feel free to pop on over and join us for the next one!  Although, be forewarned, we can bit a bit – ahem – silly at times…)
Anyhow, The Iliad.   Epic war stories are generally not my thing.   The Iliad is not for the faint at heart, and to be completely honest, I have skimmed over some of the gorier battle scenes.  Nevertheless, I am finding the story itself fascinating.  In each of the characters – in their actions and interactions with each other – you really start to see reflections of human nature, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And in some of those people you may just see yourself.
“That left the famous spearman Odysseus on his own,
not a single Argive comrade standing by his side since panic seized them all.
Unnerved himself, Odysseus probed his own great fighting heart:
'O dear god, what becomes of Odysseus now?
A disgraceful thing if I should break and run, fearing their main force-but it's far worse if I'm taken all alone.
Look, Zeus just drove the rest of my comrades off in panic flight.
But why debate, my friend, why thrash things out?
Cowards, I know would quit the fighting now but the man who wants to make his mark in war must stand his ground and brace for all he's worth - suffer his wounds or wound his man to death.'

Weighing it all, heart and soul, as on they came, waves of Trojan shieldsmen crowding him tighter, closing in on their own sure destruction...
like hounds and lusty hunters closing, ringing a wild boar till out of his thicket lair he crashes, whetting his white tusks sharp in his bent, wrenching jaws and they rush into attack and under the barks and shouts you can hear the gnash of tusks but the men stand firm - terrible, murderous as he is - so the Trojans ringed Odysseus dear to Zeus, rushing him straight on.

But he lunged first..."

~Homer (trans. by Fagles), The Iliad, Book XI

This passage resonated with me, and encouraged me. Here was someone who had to face his fear, and overcame it. You see that fear in that little moment of hesitation where he asks himself if he's going to run and face dishonor or stand his ground and fight, come what may. And yet, as the Trojans close in upon him, he lunges first. He chooses to do what is right - not necessarily with a lot of pomp and bravado (in contrast to some of the other characters) but with true courage. I connected with him in that little moment of often do I want to take the easy way out in a challenging situation? Am I going to turn and run, or set my fears aside and 'lunge first'?
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  1. And Odysseus was going to need all that learned courage to get home.

  2. Cindy's comment reminds me of just why I do want to tackle The Odyssey soon.

    But as for silliness, I'm afraid that I don't understand what you mean. The AO Book Discussion subforum is the pinnacle of high intellect and deep philosophy in my experience.

    1. Seriously though, I will totally read the Odyssey with you when the time comes. :) Especially if you can show me how it relates to Dallas and/or the Dukes. :P

  3. Well now I feel like a famous person :P but just like Dawn I have no idea what kind of silliness you are talking about! :) all I know is that my IQ has grown a few points with y'all, specially in the 80's tv area ;)

    1. Yes, maybe now we can all go on Jeopardy and win, we've all grown so smart now. :D

  4. I am glad I have written proof that you are up for the Odyssey, Dawn and Jen! LOL. I too want to read that and have some company.
    I have had the same experience you describe reading the Iliad. I would not have persisted if left alone, I would never have gone pass the second book with that long list of both side's names... remember that week?

    I am also excited about reading 3 Men in a Boat, that is going to afford lots of laughter.

    1. So...there's at least 3 of us in for the Odyssey, yay! If it's anything like the Iliad, we'll need each other. :) (I read book 2 while I was sick in bed...that was interesting. So yes, I remember that week quite well!) I'm looking forward to some laughs and lighter reading too, though.

    2. YAY for us. But I must say that I am even more excited about 3 Men in a Boat under Silvia's tutelage.

  5. I'm reading the Odyssey now. I started it about 3 months ago. Talk about slow going. I knew I just needed to jump in and start reading in small chunks. So maybe I'll be at the end when you all are there too. :-P It's slow going because I have a life and I'm also trying to absorb and digest as much stuff about restful learning and Charlotte Mason as possible. I have several books going at the moment and they each get a little time as I'm able able. I'm with you, Jen, in this journey of learning.