A COMPARATIVE BEOWULF MOVIE AND EPIC POEM ANALYSIS.docx

Another limitation on the sources involves the

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example even if it is extremely unlikely, in the original oral story, Achilles may have been a woman. Another limitation on the sources involves the translations from Greek to English. Since the English and Greek language are not 100% compatible, when translated, the Iliad in Greek will not be the same Iliad when translated to English which severely limits our understanding of the ancient epic poem. These massive limitations mean we can’t fully rely on the Iliad as a foundation for our understanding of Greek lore/literature. While the film retains the enmity between Achilles and Agamemnon, and the causes of the Trojan war, it departs significantly in the way that it aligns Achilles and Hector with a more modern, melodramatic "Hollywood" attitude toward honor and honorable conduct. At times the film characters directly contradict the behaviors of
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their written counterparts, specifically in ways that are meant to make them more sympathetic to the audience, even though it comes at the expense of the principles of the original story and our ability to believe the film. One example of this is the absence of the character Chryseis, and Achilles's attitude toward Briseis. In the Iliad , Chryseis is a Trojan woman given to Agamemnon as a spoil of war, but her father is a priest of Apollo, who calls upon the god to avenge the capture of his daughter, and Agamemnon is forced to return Chryseis. This hurts his pride, and he takes Briseis, another Trojan girl, who had been given to Achilles and was apparently perfectly happy with Achilles. In the film, Chryseis is not featured, and while Briseis is initally given to Achilles, he has a single conversation with her before she is taken by Agamemnon, sparking a violent reaction from Achilles that seems wholly disproportionate to the investment he has, or should have, in Briseis. This seems to paint Achilles as a "gentleman" figure, defending Briseis as a woman beset by male aggression, when in fact the written character had no problem seeing women as property to be won and traded in war; his great dispute came from the fact that taking her was a blow to Achilles's pride, rather than a human rights violation. Another similar "ennobling" of the characters compared to their written counterpart involves Paris's duel with Menelaus. In the Iliad , Paris is said to be boastful, but cowed when he sees Menelaus parting the Greek lines to face him. Hector reproaches Paris, and Paris returns to fight, seemingly at terms with his fate. Menelaus bests him, but Aphrodite causes Paris to disappear before Menelaus can kill him. Because the film eschews the presence and intervention of gods that is so prevalent in the Iliad , Paris is made to survive the encounter by means of Hector killing Menelaus, purely because Paris is "my brother!", said with a tone of melodramatic severity. We are meant to understand that the violation of the treaty, and the fact that this act will plunge Troy back into war, killing thousands, is less important than the bond of brotherhood or the fact that Paris proved himself a coward moments earlier.
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  • Winter '08
  • Angelo Mauricio
  • shownthat Beowulf

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