Helm to helm, shield to shield: Menestheus' idiosyncratic tactic in Homer's Iliad
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Citation (published version)J. Degener. "Helm to Helm, Shield to Shield: Menestheus' Idiosyncratic Tactic in Homer's Iliad."
The study presents a novel approach to the longstanding debate regarding the presence of hoplite or proto-hoplite tactics in The Iliad arguing that the tactic is indeed in evidence as an expression of the fully egalitarian sensibilities of a late Iliad by a Homer who deftly provides for his Athenian provenance and anti-aristocratic sensibilities to be disclosed through a more incisive reading. The key to resolving the question depends upon a more sustained scrutiny of the heretofore underappreciated role of the Athenian contingent led by Menestheus whose like in the tactical arrangement of horse and shield-bearing men, the hoplite tactic, “had never been seen before on earth.” The complexities of the narrative construction, launched in the catalogue in book two and then winding through the middle books with a focused consideration of those forces led by Telamonian Ajax in hoplite formation, finally resolve in the hoplite formation of the Myrmidons led by Patroclus in Achilles’ absence as an egalitarian leader of the laos from the laos.