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Trojan Cousins

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Trojan Cousins

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Patrocles turns up in the current cinematic version of Homer's epic as Achilles' cousin. And only his cousin- which makes it kind of weird that Achilles would be completely heartbroken by his death, and go through all the ritual of deep grieving due to said cousin's death. Implication in the original Iliad suggests that Patrocles is in fact Achilles' bedmate.
Now, much displeasure has been vented on this in various people's LJs, to the tune of: OMFG how dare you write out the fact they were lovers and invent that they were cousins!
I mention 'in various people's LJs' because I've seen this rant a few times now, and unfortunately, there's a flaw in it. See, our 'brilliant' screenplay 'author' did not invent this kinship.

Here's how it works.

There's a nice chart here, which details the relationships of blood that appear in The Iliad.
Here we find that Achilles was the son of Peleus and Thetis (the couple getting married at the beginning of the Iliad, when Eris pitches in the golden apple and kicks off the whole Trojan war).
We also learn that Achilles's father, Peleus, was the son of Aeacus: his mother and her family are not part of the 'historical record'. Aeacus, however, was the son of Aegina and Actor.
Aegina and Actor had a second son in their household:
Menoetius. Menoetius begat Patrocles.

This makes of Patrocles a relative of Peleus... and thereby, a relative of Achilles.

But there's another aspect to this, too!
There is also, on the same site, a fairly thorough play-by-play of Patrocles' involvement in things in the Iliad here. Scroll on down this page to the title 'Family', for more information about where Patroclus comes from genetically-speaking. We find that he's Menoetius' son by one of four women.
I can't dig up diddly about the first possible mother's parentage (nor is it offered on the site I'm using as reference).
The second possible mother is a possible link to the Argonauts. As Daddy was an Argonaut himself, this possibility smells quite strong to me. However, as nothing's set in stone, let's look at the other possibilities.
The third possible mother is a descendant of Aeolus, who was Patroclus' great-great-grandfather (Aeolus -> Deion -> Actor -> Menoetius -> Patroclus). Actor apparently had two children in his household: one was Menoetius, who is Zeus' son, but he also begat with Menoetius' mother a child named Aeacus, who begat Peleus, who begat Achilles.
The fourth possible mother for Patroclus is Achilles' half-sister Polymele. Same father as Achilles, but Polymele was begat upon Peleus' first wife, Antigone.

Now, 'cousin' may not be the right word for your mom's halfbrother (I think you'd just call him 'uncle'), but it does suit a fellow grandson of your grandmother.

Now note: I am not saying that Patroclus and Achilles weren't lovers. Chopping that implicitly-stated aspect out of the story is editing, indeed, and pretty damn annoying. But they didn't make up the relations bit: that follows with who both Achilles' and Patroclus' fathers were, and also in two out of three lineage-traceable possible mothers for Patrocles.
You may now freely be pissed off that they're bowdlerizing the lovers bit. Be loud, be extravagantly pissed. But please, for the sake of accuracy, stop bitching they are being described as cousins.

Vague update:
it's possible that they were not intended to be viewed as cousins by the original author (or authors) of the Iliad. It's possible that they were, too. The Truth? Probably not ever gonna be known.
The point I'm trying for here is: they COULD HAVE BEEN cousins, sure- but really, that doesn't give this screenplay's bowdlerizations any more coin.
  • Apparently I've forgotten practically everything I ever knew about the Iliad, and I clearly need to re-read the sucker. Thanks for the reminder. I'd completely forgotten that they were either lovers or relatives.

    I'll now go root through my reference works to see if I even still OWN a copy. Argh. (Yes, I can probably find it online, but then I can't read it in the bathtub.)
  • Yeah, I like how Briseis is called a 'fictional' person now. (Well, yes, she is, since this is, you know, a story), but I think he meant imaginary. Except, well, in the world of the Illiad, she's not.

  • You know, I hadn't read the pissiness, but I managed to remember from freshman high school English that they were lovers /and/ cousins. Maybe it was the text we had, but the text or the teacher (possibly both) was/were very specific about that.

    Friends of youth and friends of the heart as well as kin and shield-brethren, something like that. Yada.
  • Couple points:

    1. "And only his cousin- which makes it kind of weird that Achilles would be completely heartbroken by his death" Obviously you aren't close with any of your cousins. If any of my cousins (atleast a handful on my dad's side) died, I'd be tremendously heartbroken.

    2. I don't remember the specifics as I read the book in an ethics class, so we didn't discuss the bedroom romances as much as the moral implications, but regardless, it's a really big book, and surely they cut stuff out (I heard the entire Gods part), and if the fact they were lovers didn't move the plot along, then by all means, cut it. I hope people aren't also complaining if they cut the catalog of ships!

    3. It's all up to interpretation. It's a text written in another language from a different culture and time period, and word usage and cultural meanings are vastly different. So, one person could read it as they were lovers, when infact Homer could just be saying they loved each other; not romantically, but just extremely close family bonds. And seeing as how family to those cultures was extremely important, it would beg to be that if they were blood related, that bond of relation would be deep and important.
    • all true. The only thing that this little picking of nits was intended to address was how a few folks are throwing little temper tantrums that the screenplay's author invented that they were cousins.
      Which, well. He didn't.

      (no, I'm not too close to my extended family, it's true. I'm adopted, I feel like a damn alien whenever I deal with them.)
    • (no subject) - gwyd - Expand
  • Love that mood.
  • Also, I can't help but roll my eyes at anyone that's getting worked up over it all. It's a movie, and clearly interpretive, I think it even says something about 'based on' or whatever.
    • Indeed. If you're going to get worked up about something, get worked up about Achilles and Patrocles suddenly becoming a chaste couple as opposed to an ideal form of love.
      Get worked up about the motherfuckers writing out Cassandra, for the love of pete. Cassandra was just The Shit.
      Or how about making it a 2-week seige. That's obviously bullshit.
      Or how about...
      ...the list of ACTUAL inaccuracies to get pissed at is so much longer.
  • I don't recall Patroclus and Achilles being lovers, just best friends, and I've read the Iliad dozens of times. Was there something subtle I missed?
    • This is from Plato's Symposium, somewhere between lines 179b-180c: "Very different was the reward of the true love of Achilles towards his lover Patroclus- his lover and not his love (the notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into which Aeschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of the two, fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer informs us, he was still beardles, and younger far)."

      The meaning is extremely clear in the Greek. "Lover" is a technical term meaning the older, wiser partner in a homosexual relationship. It also implies "top," and the person putting his penis into another guy's anus or mouth. The "Beloved" is the younger, hotter, "bottom." The Romans borrowed this cultural pattern from the classical Greeks and carried it on throughout the Classical and Rennaisance periods. Generally 19th and early 20th century translators pretend that this is a purely friendly, not sexual relationship. Modern translators are generally less afraid of gay sex, and anyone who knows any ancient Greek knows that the relationship refered to is definately sexual (although generally not exclusively).
  • near-topic

    if you're planning to go see the movie, and it's at a time that the hoptoad and i are free, i think it'd be enjoyable to go see it together. it's been years since i even read parts of a translation (i don't recall which edition, only that it belonged to my dad and that it was a yellowed-falling-apart pocket paperback when i was a kid), but reading ilium really fired the hoptoad's imagination, and reminded me of a lot of characters i'd missed thinking about.

    ...and i have a feeling you may have some of the same sorts of expectations for the movie that he and i both have: not too high, could be fun. neh?
  • Done patting yourself on the back yet?

    Aeacus, however, was the son of Aegina and Actor. Aegina and Actor had a second son in their household: Patrocles.

    Okay, so, you wouldn't respond to the rebuttal in my journal, so instead you snarked at me in your own and ignored my point? Aeacus was not the son of Aegina and Actor. Aeacus was the son of Aegina and Zeus -- q.v. boasting about it in the Iliad. Actor (NOT the same Actor as the one related to Patroclus; there are four 'Actor's in the Iliad, just as there are two 'Ajax's) married Aegina, but according to mythology, Zeus was Aeacus's father. Aeacus was the only child to come from Zeus and Aegina.

    Patroclus was indeed the son of Menoetius, who was the son of Actor, who was the son of Deion. Menoetius's mother was not Aegina. One more time, say it with me -- it's a different guy named Actor. This is where you keep getting hung up. Four mentioned in the Iliad itself, and I count eight in a mythology compendium I found.

    Dude, people sometimes reuse names. God, get over it, sometimes you get to be wrong.

    Here. Since this is still causing so much debate. The Iliad:

    When Achilles saw him thus weeping he was sorry for him and said, "Why, Patroclus, do you stand there weeping like some silly child that comes running to her mother, and begs to be taken up and carried--she catches hold of her mother's dress to stay her though she is in a hurry, and looks tearfully up until her mother carries her--even such tears, Patroclus, are you now shedding. Have you anything to say to the Myrmidons or to myself? or have you had news from Phthia which you alone know? They tell me Menoetius son of Actor is still alive, as also Peleus son of Aeacus, among the Myrmidons--men whose loss we two should bitterly deplore..." (Book 16)

    and when Achilles' arms grew weary with killing them, he drew twelve youths alive out of the water, to sacrifice in revenge for Patroclus son of Menoetius. (Book 21)

    Then Achilles set his foot on his chest and spoiled him of his armour, vaunting over him and saying, "Lie there--begotten of a river though you be, it is hard for you to strive with the offspring of Saturn's son. You declare yourself sprung from the blood of a broad river, but I am of the seed of mighty Jove. My father is Peleus, son of Aeacus ruler over the many Myrmidons, and Aeacus was the son of Jove. Therefore as Jove is mightier than any river that flows into the sea, so are his children stronger than those of any river whatsoever..." (Book 21)

    So...like I said. Take it from some mac.com homepage guy. Or, you know, go to the source material. Pick one. Sure, you can make the point that everyone in mythology was ultimately related to everyone else, because the gods always ended up meddling in the bloodlines of heroes, and all the gods were related...but that's stretching just a wee bit, don't you think? Especially when the whole point was that they took a text which never refers to Achilles and Patroclus as related and altered it to call them cousins?

    Or can you not understand the point I'm making here?

    • Okay. The two premises are:
      1: Achilles' father & Patrocles' father were cousins: their fathers were brothers.
      2: Patrocles' mother was one of four people. One of those four was Achilles' half-sister, one was a cousin of his through matrilineal consanguinity.

      Your quotes, while they go a great way to suggest that nobody in the Iliad says 'Hey Patroclus, go getcher coz Achilles ta come over here, he sure do got him a purty mauth!', do not go anywhere to suggest correctness in your premise that the tale of Iason and the Argonauts was unrelated to the Iliad. That's about the only way you can disprove the suggestions of consanguinuity that are on the table.

      This is not about you. This is about you, and somewhere around 10 other people, whining that OMFG TEH ILIAD DOES NOT SAY THEY WERE CUZINS!!!1!!1ONEoneONELl--
      --and completely ignoring that the Iliad is not a piece of work intended to be considered as a separate item from the whole of Greek mythology. Homer assumes, quite often, that we know exactly who Zeus & Athena are in relationship to each other- we wouldn't know that if we didn't know who they were when we sat down to read it, as they behave very father-and-daughterly towards each other quite often, yet they do not actually call each other 'Dad' or 'kiddo' He assumes we will know something about most of the Acheans just by being given their lineage- again, if we hadn't read Iason & the Argonauts, most of these people would be unfamiliar to us.

      The contextual clues in the Iliad suggest that reading the Iliad by itself and ignoring the Golden Fleece is a bad idea, given the relationships that the Argonauts maintained after their journey, and the fact the Iliad kicks off with one of the Argonauts getting hitched. And of course, we can't forget Iason & Medea, either, as Medea's relatives turn up in here. And we can't forget about Perseus. And...
      Irish mythology is orally related (in my experience) with the following preceding it: 'this is a PIECE of the tale. It's not the whole story. So it's not going to make perfect sense because you've missed what came before, and what came after'. I sometimes wish all myth came with a disclaimer like that as the standard bumper text: the Iliad does stand alone quite neatly, but it doesn't seem to have been intended to do so.
      It's a substantive chunk of a broader milieu, and that broader milieu makes of Meneotius and Peleus cousins, which makes of their offspring, Achilles & Patrocles, second cousins.
    • (no subject) - colubra - Expand
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