Firstly, I have to insert a complaint. Achilles. Most people I know who have actually read the Iliad do not like this particular fellow. He's obnoxious and vindictive and, frankly, he's a whiner. (I despise whiners. This is why I can't stand Frankenstein. And I do mean Mary Shelley's book.) However, lately, I've found a string of teenage or twenty-something girls who are all OMG!ACHILLES!LURRRRVE!!!1one!!11!!! (excuse my lapse into teenybopper language, but it is my attempt to fully convey the exact reaction of these people). This troubles me, because all of them are under this impression solely because of Brad Pitt. Seriously, I remember a class last year where we were all about to mutually dislike Achilles so our professor could make a dig at him, but this ONE girl was all, "But I lurrrrve Achilles!!!one!11!!!" And then our professor declined to make the joke. This vexed me somewhat, because he had no compunctions earlier about dissing Lady Macbeth. (Now, to be fair, this was actually one of my favourite professors, so I'm not really attempting to lay any blame on him.) But, you know, there's always at least one, and they're everywhere and ruin it for the rest of us. Now, if this girl had actually read the Iliad and discussed reasons for liking him (such as his role as a Greek hero), rather than simply lurving Brad Pitt, I would not be so vexed. In fact, I would have welcomed the discussion. Sadly, it matters much more these days who plays the character on the Big Screen than the character himself. Sad, isn't it?
Then again, Sean Bean in that movie really was a good casting choice for sleazy, suave, snarky, wiley Odysseus. I'd love to see him in a movie version of the Odyssey, preferably done by somebody who's actually read it and bothered to do a little research. I'm not sure who should play Penelope, though. Preferably somebody who can show her strength and cunning as a woman, despite the fact that she's ultimately playing into the patriarchy and waiting for somebody as sleazy as Odysseus (not that I don't admire him for his cunning, but he's not my favourite guy in the ancient world either.)
Hm, well, I considered talking about the role of goddesses in the Iliad, but I'm not sure there's anything I can say that isn't immediately obvious to anyone who's actually read it. I mean, I could blah blah blah about how they have much more power--even in relation to male gods--than traditionally assigned to mortal women, blah blah, and they actually have power in spheres traditionally associated with men, blah blah, but they are still under Zeus' rule, even if they are potentially able to overthrow him, blah blah. Like i said, stuff anyone can figure out if they've actually read it. I should probably take a reread myself and see if I can think of something more interesting to say.
Anyway, I hope this is of some interest to somebody somewhere. Perhaps I'll try to come up with a Homeric reading list next.