This poem shows three Achaean perspectives on three characters from Homer’s Iliad, each from an individual point of view.  That individuality is one of most important bequests of classical Greece.


I. Achilles in the Tent

I am just so infuriated that
I cannot stand it. Such ineptitude.
Old Agamemnon’s arrogant and fat.
What does he know of godly virtues, good?
True, he’s persistent, focused, tough as brass;
and that does go a long way in a fight;
however, he’s a greedy, pompous ass,
and doesn’t have a clue of what is right.
I hate to put up with his snottiness;
and as far as I am concerned, he can
go off to hell. I hate his haughtiness.
Commander, hmmph! He’s just a journeyman.
I’d just as soon as see him, see him gone,
as I would Troy, who never did me wrong.

II. Agamemnon on the Field

It is true; no one is as mad as him.
That absurd prima donna is insane.
His soul is a melancholic chasm
that would destroy us all with bile and bane.
I hate him, for he is a pompous twit,
and overly dramatic. He thinks he’s
the only one who matters. What a git.
And nothing pleases him but his own ease.
That egomaniac presumes no one
can fight but him. He is all flux and mood.
He’s more like a teenager than grown man,
a stormy fury lacking any good.
I so hate having to put up with his
theatrics as if he is all there is.

III. Odysseus at the Seashore

Both Agamemnon and Achilles are
so powerful, and yet undisciplined.
Each sees himself as a bright, shining star;
but each is rather like a whirling wind,
a cyclone lacking subtlety and wit,
without the wily cleverness that aids
in solving problems. Granted, true, tough grit
is vital; but intelligence invades.
It is the thing that gets one home alive.
Oh, even if it takes a decade’s length!
because, it’s true, the goal is to survive;
that in and of itself is a great strength.
And so, although no man can know enough,
it’s what he knows that matters in the rough.


This poem is among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

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