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Published: 27-10-2019

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Sacred Rituality and especially Hiketeia in the Iliad

Hiketeia is a ritual supplication in which an person embraces the knees of an additional in solicitation of a favor or errand. The use of hiketeia in The Iliad establishes a nature of authority in characters of energy, such as Zeus and Achilles, by demonstrating and generating indebtedness in “generosity” granted to the supplicant. Passages in Book 1 and Book Twenty-4 validate and examine the acquisition of power for each Zeus and Achilles by granting the requests of Thetis and Priam made by way of hiketeia.

In Book 1 Achilles’s mother, Thetis, is an immortal goddess who performs hiketeia onto Zeus. She grasps him by the knees with one hand and his face by the other. Thetis begs him to bring honor to her son soon after Agamemnon has disgraced him in front of his troops. She asks Zeus to give the Trojans victory until Agamemnon begs in desperation for Achilles to return and fight. Because hiketeia is sacred and a moment of pure subjection, the request can't be denied casually. If a request is granted, the baiter is indebted to the person that granted hiketeia. Zeus in the end agrees to this request, in spite of the repercussions from his wife and the deaths of thousands of mortals, since he himself is indebted to Thetis for saving him from the Olympians:

Away with you now. Hera might catch us here.

I will see to this. I will bring it all to pass.

Look, I will bow my head if that will satisfy you.

That, I remind you, that amongst the mortal gods

is the strongest, truest sign that I can give.

No word of function of mine—nothing can be revoked,

there is no treachery, nothing at all left unfinished

after I bow my head to say it shall be accomplished (Homer, 94).

Zeus’s agreement is seen as generous because the gods will be angry by his decision, and as a result Zeus has gained a excellent power over Thetis. She is conscious that Zeus will anger his wife, Hera, and the other gods by granting her this wish, and this strengthens Zeus’s energy more than her.

Zeus makes use of the power over Thetis that he gained in Book A single later in Book Twenty-4. Achilles has defeated and killed Hector, but rather of respectfully returning the corpse, he drags it by chariot about the city to disgrace him because Hector killed Patroclus. Achilles’s behavior makes the gods angry, so Zeus demands that Thetis inform Achilles to return the body to Hector’s family members. Thetis is bound to his command and recognizes this herself ahead of even realizing Zeus’s actual request,

Why… what does the fantastic god want with me?

I cringe from mingling with the immortals now—

Oh the torment—never-ending heartbreak!

But go I shall. A higher decree of the Father

Must not come to nothing—whatever he commands (Homer, 591).

Zeus then sends Iris with a message to Priam, Hector’s father. Iris tells Priam to go to Achilles and provide a ransom for Hector’s physique. Priam follows the order and is protected by Hermes on his journey to Achilles’s camp. Upon seeing Achilles, Priam instantly performs hiketeia. Weeping, he embraces Achilles’s knees and kisses his hands, begging him to realize that he is a father whose fifty sons have all been killed in this war. Achilles is overwhelmed by guilt by the believed of his own father and agrees to return Hector’s corpse. Even so, guilt is not the reason Achilles’s provides in. He has currently received the order from Zeus (by means of Thetis) to return the physique. He also sees this as a double opportunity. By granting Priam’s request, Achilles is in a position to obtain energy more than a great emperor whilst also seeming like a levelheaded, compromising, generous ruler.

Achilles condescendingly blames the predicament on fate and expresses his “sorrow” for the way issues transpired. He becomes angry when Priam demands to see his son with his personal eyes without any much more delay by Achilles. Achilles sends his guards to collect the ransom, but utilizes capes to make Hector’s physique appear presentable. He knows that if Priam becomes angry by the appear of his son’s corpse, he will lash out and kill Priam. This, he knows, would make the Zeus and the other gods angry since it is an abomination to kill an individual who has performed hiketeia. Achilles further insults Priam by telling him to consume with them and stay the night before he can see Hector’s body, for even Niobe “turned her thoughts to food” after her young children have been killed. Achilles furthers his hidden agenda to power by providing much more generosity to Priam. He gives a war-delay for the time that it takes to bury Hector effectively. This war-delay is likely a social custom, but Achilles poses the provide as a substantial present.

In these two passages from The Iliad, hiketeia offers both Zeus and Achilles energy more than the solicitor. Zeus, who is a lot more effective than other gods and infinitely far more effective than Achilles, is able to settle an old debt with Thetis and subject her to his future bidding by granting her request via hiketeia. Zeus grants Thetis’s request with little thought, since even though he expects anger from Hera, he knows can achieve power more than his wife with a threat. Due to the fact Thetis is aware of these consequences for Zeus, the binding ritual increasingly subjects her to much more debt.

Whilst Zeus grants hiketeia with ease and thoughtlessness, Achilles is forced to grant hiketeia since of Zeus’s command, but he does it so to increase his energy in the mortal globe. Thetis offers him the message from Zeus that the gods are angry at his behavior and that me must return the physique, but when Priam performs hiketeia, Achilles sees that obeying Zeus’s command the appropriate way will give him energy over an emperor and give him an advantage more than Agamemnon in the view of his troops and peers. By handing more than Hector’s body he receives the ransom that Priam offers: the garments and treasures of an emperor. These are visual symbols of power that Agamemnon does not have. He continues with “generosity” in providing Priam a war-delay to bury his son, which is really most likely to be mere social custom. This act of mercy following his mutiny of Hector’s corpse shows the Achaeans that he is merciful and compromising, as opposed to Agamemnon, who let thousands of his personal troops die simply because he could not compromise with Achilles more than a war prize. Achilles uses indebtedness in present giving to additional his own prideful agenda and to lastly avenge himself in his rivalry with Agamemnon.

Zeus and Achilles both grant hiketeia for self-looking for interests. Hiketeia is a way to obtain power over an additional whilst seeming merciful and compromising—characteristics which neither Zeus nor Achilles actually possess. Granting requests in positions of influence, present providing and generosity all establish a nature of authority more than a supplicant and both Zeus and Achilles took their possibilities to do so, even if in a condescending manner. Both passages from Book One particular and Book Twenty-Four demonstrate the energy that can be gained from “generously” granting hiketeia.
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