The Anger of Achilles by L. Muellner
Cosmic anger and the poetic function of the mênis theme in Greek epicHour 25 members who have enjoyed our past discussions with Professor Leonard Muellner will be happy to hear that the Center for Hellenic Studies has added Muellner’s The Anger of Achilles: Mênis in Greek Epic to its curated collection of free, online books.
As in his first full-length volume, The meaning of Homeric εὔχομαι through its formulas, Muellner has focused this study on a single word and theme, but in this case his topic is nothing less than the subject of one of the foundational texts of the Western cannon.
The book has five chapters and an appendix:AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Approaching Anger1. Mênis and Cosmic Status in the Hierarchy of Peers2. Mênis and the Social Order3. The Narrative Sequence of the Hesiodic Theogony4. The Mênis of Achilles and the First Book of the Iliad5. The Mênis of Achilles and Its Iliadic TeleologyAppendix. The Etymology of MênisBibliography
Throughout, Muellner combines philological and anthropological approaches as he presents careful, systematic and contextual analysis of each and every occurrence of mênis and its derivatives in Greek epic, eventually arriving at a new definition:Mênis is an emotion that acts to change the world. It is not a word for ‘solemn anger’ but the sacred name of the ultimate sanction against tabu behavior, and epic personages invoke it to forestall people from breaking fundamental cosmic rules.Each chapter builds upon the next as Muellner considers the words, formulas, themes, and texts that deal with this cosmic anger. Richard Martin has rightfully called Muellner a “homerist’s homerist” for his beautiful prose, original analysis, and technical skills as a philologist. Chapter 3, which explores the metonymic logic of the Theogony, supports such an epithet. It is a revelation that may change how you read ancient Greek myth generally. The appendix, which considers an Indo-Iranian term related to mênis, may feel less familiar to readers, but proves worth the effort. Rest assured, Muellner translates every passage he discusses, so even new readers of ancient Greek literature will find that this text is accessible and rewarding.