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LESSON 2 - First Part / Second Part
ACHILLES' GRIEF - From Homer's Iliad 

by George Valsamis



Page 2

The primary thirst of the soul


IN THE 11th rhapsody (verse 608), Achilles calls Patroclus "divine gift to the thirst of my soul" (κεχαρισμένε τῷ ἐμῷ θυμῷ). A gift (=χάρις, χάρισμα) given (=κεχαρισμένος) by God, since Patroclus is δῖος (=god‑like and belonging to God).

Θυμὸς is the spring of the appetitive, irrational, powers of the soul. Θυμὸς can not be satisfied by a purpose, since a purpose requires intervention of reason. This is why θυμὸς can be satisfied only by the gift of a purpose, which transforms θυμὸς to βούλησις (will). The point is, that whoever gives such a gift does it on purpose, which means that a gift is purposeful as a gift, that for the primary thirst (θυμὸς) of the soul (ψυχὴ) to be satisfied, a soul must receive her purpose as a gift from some other person.

Therefore, primarily, for the one that grants the purpose to the thirst of a soul, this purpose is generated not as an idea, but as actual will to make someone content and complete. To Achilles Patroclus is God's gift and embrace, an embrace that directs Achilles' primary thirst precisely into God, where a soul can be satisfied. 

Patroclus himself as a human person is transformed by this relationship. As son of Menoetius, Patroclus is just ἄλκιμος (=brave and powerful - see verse 605). He is recognised as δῖος (=divine, θεῖος) only by him, to whom Patroclus is given as a divine gift.

[Note the word dios (δῖος). We translate it as godly and divine, since literally it means "he who belongs to and resembles Dias (Δίας) or Zeus (Ζεῦς)", the father of Gods and supreme God. Note also that Ζεῦς means "living and giving life" - compare his name with Zen (Zῆν)=living, Zoe (Zωή)=life, etc.]

Patroclus was addressed by Achilles as God's gift, precisely at the moment when Patroclus appeared ἶσος Ἄρῃ, equal to Ἄρης (the God of War, adopted by the Romans by the name of "Mars"). As God's gift Patroclus is the fulfillment of God's will. To Achilles war had a face - the face of Patroclus, the face of God. How can we understand this?

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Cf. The Complete Iliad * The Complete Odyssey
Greek Grammar * Basic New Testament Words * Greek - English Interlinear Iliad
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