Thersites: An Unbridled Tongue

Mixing bowl (volute krater)Museum of Fine Arts of BostonAccession Number 03.804 He is one of those bit players in Homer who are so unforgettable. Caustic, repulsive, and comedic all at the same time, Thersites has always been the source of controversy. Who was he? And was he intended to be dangerously insurrectionist or only entertaining? It is an often overlooked aspect of the Thersites story that he was said by post-Homeric… Read more

The Homecoming Queen

A guest post by Timothy Banks When we first meet Helen in the Iliad the goddess Iris has led her to the Scaean Gates of Troy, where she looks out onto the battlefield. There she laments the actions that brought her to Troy and longs for home: “…would that I had chosen death rather than to have come here with your son, far from my bridal chamber, my friends, my… Read more


  Finding Helen in texts is frustrating. Many contradictory facts may be encountered. Who was Helen? What about her life, her power, her birth, her beauty? Was she hated or was she loved? If we were to write a short biography, it might read like this: Helen was the daughter of Leda and Tyndareus/Zeus, and Clytemnestra, Castor and Polydeuces’ sister. Penelope was her cousin. She married Menelaos king of Sparta,… Read more

Shields in Iliad and the Use of Metals

…He [Agammenon] took moreover the richly-wrought shield that covered his body when he was in battle—fair to see, with ten circles of bronze running all round it. On the body of the shield there were twenty bosses of white tin, [35] with another of dark lapis in the middle: this last was made to show a blank-eyed Gorgon’s head, fierce and grim, with Rout and Panic on either side. The… Read more


Marbled head of a veiled woman (500BCE)Metropolitan Museum of Art Andromache is a fascinating woman. Following her different bedfellows or husbands, we learn about her life. Andromache appears in many texts, among them the Iliad,  Euripides’ play Andromache, the Aeneid, and the French play Andromache written by Racine who offers another perspective about Andromache. Her name means battle of a man, from ἀνδρός of a man and μάχη battle. How come,… Read more