Monday, January 25, 2010


I loved the story Menelaus told about capturing the Old Man of the Sea and learning what happened to his brother. The passage in which Menelaus tells about Agamemnon’s death and Menelaus reacts is just really moving; the way he keeps on weeping and has no desire to move on with someone he loves so much just completely gone is so true to life in how it feels when someone close to you dies. And then Proteus tells him that weeping won’t do any good, instead, he has to be strong so he can hurry home and kill Aegisthus, if Orestes hasn’t already. This is something people don’t want to hear when someone has died – it’s hard to realize that somehow you have to move on when it feels like your world has ended. I mean, that’s how I feel when someone I know dies, as though there’s no possible way I can do anything anymore because they’re gone – like what am I supposed to do now? I think that the period of weeping and then how he “felt my heart, my old pride, for all my grieving, glow once more in my chest” (142) is exaggerated in how fast he manages to moves on, and it represents the longer cycle of grief people go through. Like most epic stories, the dramatic tales mirror something less exciting that happens in real life. For example, most people, when they realize they have to move on from their grief, instead of getting ready to go get revenge on their brother’s murderer, simply have to find the strength to go through everyday life.

OK, so I liked that passage so much I blathered on a bit. Anyway, back to the questions. We learn that Menelaus obviously loved his brother very much, and despite being a great warrior, like all humans has a heart that grieves deeply. He’s not immune to feeling depressed about the loss of his brother, and that’s something I like about heroes like him and Gilgamesh; they are shown to be just as human as everyone once someone dies. Its significance to the story isn’t really in exposing what happened to Agamemnon – we’ve already heart it like a hundred times. (That said, I think this telling of it was the most evocative and I think it should have been saved for this moment and maybe only vaguely alluded to earlier in the book… oh well.) I think its significance is more in hearing it from his brother, and in hearing how it affected him. It reminds us, like I said, that heroes are human too. We don’t really learn much new information, since the story’s been repeated so much; we do learn about Greek culture though. I think what it says about the culture is that family is really important and that brothers have really strong love for each other, that they’re considered the most important thing in each others’ lives. It also shows that vengeance is considered very honorable in the wake of murder. The god Proteus actually urges him to kill Aegisthus because of what he did.

My grandmother died and because I don't know what that means, I don't know what to do. Maybe when you have blind faith you can say things like "she's in a better place" and "now she's moved on" but I don't know what happened to her. If I don't know what life is I know even less what death is. I just don't know what I am supposed to say or do or think.


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