A Ram in a Flock of Sheep

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Richard Jacobs
Lit Trad 12
A Ram in a Flock of Sheep
Odysseus is portrayed in the Iliad as a man of great will and a gifted leader that should be watched carefully. There are three characters in this third book that Homer uses to show a portrait of how others view Odysseus as this. King Priam is one of those characters. The reader can infer that King Priam is impressed with Odysseus as well as Ajax and Agamemnon. This is obvious in that before the duel he is speaking with Helen. He is asking her all about these great warriors and men that she used to know. He first asks about Agamemnon calling him a “tremendous fighter” (Iliad, 3.203) and that he “must be a king”. (3.206) Helen tells Priam all about Agamemnon and how he was her “Kinsman”. (3.218) After having this conversation King Priam starts to question Helen about Odysseus. This is where Homer starts to piece together several words into several literary elements to show his view of Odysseus. The first literary device that I notice when looking at these lines is the simile in line 236-239. King Priam is describing Odysseus as “a ram- / yes, he looks to me like a thick fleeced bellwether ram / making his way through a big mass of sheep-flocks, / shining silver gray.” (3.236-239) It takes some common knowledge about sheep and rams to truly get the meaning of this metaphor. Sheep have a strong sense of following the other sheep and sticking together. If they sense danger they will often run from it and group together with other sheep. This is because there is safety in numbers. In Homer’s simile the sheep stand for the rest of the Achaean army. The soldiers are just following their leaders. They are like every other soldier on the battle field, not a warrior. They will band together and not slice through their enemy like a hot knife through butter. Odysseus on the other hand is not just a follower. He is his own man in the battle of war often moving through enemy lines by himself. Now a ram on the...
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