(SUB)TEXT: Home as Identity in “The Odyssey” (Part One of Three)

He was famously a man of many ways, whether we interpret these as abilities or norms; designs or deceptions; reasons or identities. Yet despite such resources, he was also famously stuck, making a 10-year odyssey of his attempt to return home from a 10-year war. What keeps the man of master plans from homecoming and domestic bliss? In the first of a three part discussion of  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 82 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 24

It's here: our last episode on the Iliad! Achilles continues to mourn Patroclus, and to try to disfigure Hector's body. After days of this, Apollo intervenes, and the gods help Priam to retrieve his son's body from Achilles' tent. Brian, Shilo, and Jeff consider Achilles' "foreign policy" in his dealings with Priam, and the meaning of Homer's epic as a whole. Does the end of  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 81 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 23

After our antepenultimate Iliad episode comes... the penultimate episode! In Book 23, Hector is dead, and Achilles mourns Patroclus, who comes to Achilles in a dream and demands a funeral. So Achilles organizes funeral games: chariot and foot races, boxing and wrestling, and more. The Argives compete, and contend over the justice of their competition. We ask: why does Homer's  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 80 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 22

Here's our antepenultimate episode on the Iliad! In Book 22, Apollo, disguised as Agenor, lures Achilles away from Troy. When he sees through the deception, Achilles goes after Hector, and chases him around the city's walls. This goes on until Athena disguises herself as Deiphobus, and tricks Hector into facing Achilles. Then Achilles kills Hector, and drags his corpse around  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 79 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 21

We're back, with our preantepenultimate episode on the Iliad! In Book 21, we get into the action. Achilles kills so many Trojans that the river Scamander protests the mess he is making. So Achilles fights the river, and nearly dies. Then there is a war between the gods; they lay it on without restraint. Meanwhile, Achilles kills two of Priam's sons, as he watches. And the  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 78 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 20

In Book 20, Achilles gets new armor from his mom, and rejoins the battle. Zeus tells the gods to take sides, and to go nuts. And Achilles faces Aeneas and Hector, and fights them, so that the gods have to save them. Brian, Shilo, and Jeff talk about why Achilles' single combat with Aeneas is the centerpiece of the book, and why Achilles and Aeneas talk so much before they  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 77 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 19

We're back! And so is Achilles. But what is he back for? Join Brian, Shilo, and Jeff as we ask why the Iliad isn't over, now that Achilles says his wrath is done. We discuss whether Achilles has a new cause for wrath, against Hector, for the death of Patroclus', and whether this new cause is the same or different from his old cause for wrath, against Agamemnon, for the theft of  Continue Reading …

C&C Ep. 76 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 18

Achilles is crushed by Patroclus' death.  Thetis, his mother, helps him to revenge himself on Hector by asking Hephaestus to make Achilles some new armor.  We ask about the elaborate and famous description of Achilles' shield.  How should we understand the details on this shield, which looks like the world of the living?  Does the shield conceal the world of the dead, who are  Continue Reading …

C&C Ep. 75 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 17

Shilo gets a new gig, and we offend a whole county!  But back in the Iliad, Patroclus is dead, and the Greeks and Trojans fight over his body.  Why is a whole book concerned with Patroclus' body?  And why do we care about the armor and the horses of Achilles?  Brian, Shilo and Jeff talk about how this book contributes to the suspense of the story, and about the meaning of  Continue Reading …

C&C Ep. 74 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 16

In this book, Achilles comes upon the crying Patroclus, and pities and chides him.  Then Patroclus puts on Achilles' armor, joins the fight, is stunned by Apollo, and killed by Hector.  Brian, Shilo and Jeff ask why Achilles lets Patroclus join the fight wearing Achilles' armor, when Achilles himself says he is ready to return to battle?  We explore Achilles' thinking: what is  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 73 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 15

Zeus wakes up, and gives us a spoiler of the rest of the Iliad.  Then he sets his will in motion.  Apollo fills Hector with chutzpah, and he leads the Trojans to fight among the Greek ships.  In this episode, Brian, Shilo, and Jeff ask about the smile of Zeus.  Has he caught Hera in a lie?  Does his smile mean that he thinks he is superior to all the other gods?  Is it boring  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 72 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 14

Poseidon interferes with the will of Zeus because Hera has seduced the king of the gods with a sexy belt. Also, the battle between the Greeks and Achaeans continues to escalate. We return to the question of "who should be in charge?" and try to figure out why someone should be in charge of something (war, sports, business) generally. We think especially about taking feedback  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 71 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 13

We wonder why Book 13 doesn't have a cool name like Book 12 did. Then we turn to other questions, like what is on the minds of both sides of this conflict? is it true that military prowess, or military virtue, gives you other virtues, such as skill at deliberation? Or are the two things separate? Said another way and using the example of sports, why isn’t the best player  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 70 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 12

Shilo, Jeff and Brian continue their read through of Homer's Iliad. We try to figure out why Book 12 exists as the midpoint of the story and how Homer is using it to build on his themes and continue the narrative. Specifically we ask why is the book so short compared to the others? Why all the similes about war and the natural world and is war a natural phenomenon? You can  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 69 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 11

[Yell-y war voice] "CARNAGE ON THE BATTLEFIELD!!!!" Our opening question from Jeff is "can we spoil the Iliad?" We try to understand what's going on with the story in terms of the hierarchy of Greek heroes on the battlefield and who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are. We also try to understand what's happening with Achilles, who said that he'd return to the fight once  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 68 Bonus Pod Q&A with Mr. Mark Eleveld’s AP Literature Class at Kankakee High School

We got some calls! Thanks a ton to Mark Eleveld and his students at Kankakee High School. We’re truly honored that you all took the time to call or write in with your questions about our Episode 62 on the Iliad Book 5, where we discussed the apparent blurring of gods and mortals, and especially Diomedes' wounding of a god, as well as the difference between courage and the  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 67 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 10

The Night Raid! It’s an important book kinda in the middle of the story with lots of action. Agamemnon wakes up in the middle of the night and convenes a war planning committee. Nestor says the Greeks should send some spies out; Diomedes and Odysseus volunteer. Hector also calls for a spy to go look at the what the Greeks are up too, and Dolon volunteers. We talk about the  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 66 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 9

The Trojans have pushed the Greeks all the way back to their ship.  Night falls, and a panicked Agamemnon and Menelaus need a plan.  They decide to send an embassy to Achilles, to beg him to rejoin the fighting.  And (spoiler alert) the embassy fails -- but interestingly.  It looks like Achilles' position softens; but if so, why doesn't Odysseus report this to the rest of the  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 65 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 8

The gods assemble on Mount Olympus after the Trojans put a whooping on the Greeks. The Greeks decide to build defensive fortifications for the first time in the nine year war. Zeus gives a speech to the other gods warning them about going against his will. What do we think of Zeus as a leader? How does he compare to the leaders of the Greeks and Trojans? You can find our  Continue Reading …

Combat & Classics Ep. 64 Homer’s “Iliad” Book 7

Book 7 opens with a duel. The Greeks draw lots to fight Hector and (supposedly) end the war. Nine Greeks volunteer to fight and lots are drawn. Ajax wins the lottery and fights Hector. Ajax seems to be winning but the fighters make a truce and decide to take a day off to bury and honor the dead. Our opening question is: Who are the Greeks without Achilles? Some followup  Continue Reading …