Homer’s Iliad is great for the Halloween season. I’ve been reading it, and I’m trying to finish so I can start on some easy, stress-relieving scary stories as summer ends, but I’m realizing now just how appropriate this ancient epic poem is for the new season.
I’m in Book 15 out of 24, and several recent passages have struck me with their grim, vivid obsession with the morbid.
As Book 12 ends, the Trojans are invading the Greek headquarters, Hector urging them on:
They rushed to obey him,
Some swarming over the top at once, others streaming in
Through the sturdy gateways—Argives scattering back in terror,
Back by the hollow hulls, the uproar rising, no way out, no end—
To me, that conjures the kind of claustrophobic panic in the air felt in the Mines of Moria episode in The Fellowship of the Ring.
But far more graphic horrors appear in the battles that follow. Lines 655-666 of Book 13 describe the painful, gruesome death of Adamus at the hand of Meriones: