Episode Six: Just The Two of Us
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
This week Abi and Sarah get emotional about Classics, and this time it’s not a result of the overwhelming joy we feel for them (I mean, there’ll obviously be some of that too). Instead, we’ll be looking at one of our favourite duos with affection and a little bit of sadness. I know, right? Versatility! Seriously, though, we never thought a bath could be so emotional.
This couple, in our humble opinion, give us one of the greatest moments of Homer’s Iliad – the exchange between Hector and Andromache in Book 6.
These two characters take us back to the Trojan War, an epic 10-year battle between the Greeks and the Trojans - an epic battle between the East and the West (literally nothing changes) – which was supposedly over the face who launched a thousand ships, Helen, but was most likely about world domination and trade (again, we humans are pretty predictable). Anyway, the man who supposedly stole the woman was Paris, Prince of Troy, and Hector is his brother, heir to the Trojan throne and commander of the Trojan armies. Andromache is his truly delightful wife and mother to their son, Astyanax.
We wanted to do an episode on just the badass, fiercely independent Andromache and how utterly amazing she is, but this is just one of those times where each of them are made even better by their other half (ew, gross). Listen in to find out how Andromache tests the gender stereotypes of her day, even with her name!
We tend to hear a lot about Hector, not least because of the way we view him today – the ultimate Romantic hero who would do anything for his people (*cough cough* we love you Eric Bana). But that’s not the only aspect of his character. No, he’s...multifaceted (*gasp*). He’s a maniac on the battlefield, he’s responsible for his brother, he’s a caring father, and he’s in an “equal” ancient relationship. Equal in the sense that he actually talks to his wife and agrees with a lot of her opinions about the Trojan War. C’mon, what do you expect – the ancients weren’t living in a post-suffragette reality. Tune in to find out how we came to see Hector as just the unshakeable hero, and why Andromache is one of the coolest ancient women in history.
These two are the kind of couple that for their contemporaries fell into the category of that couple that’s just so perfect that you can’t even hate them, and you don’t even want to. We all know a couple like that. To be fair, Homer makes this especially easy with the other couples he presents us with – they’re not even good competition. This week we look at how Hector and Andromache compare to Paris and Helen, along with Odysseus (*evil eyes*) and Penelope.
The featured passage in this episode comes from Euripides’ Trojan Women (lines 643-660; lines 673-683).
Euripides Trojan Women (lines 643-660 and 673-683)
Homer, Iliad, Book VI (lines 312-529)
Virgil, Aeneid, Book III (lines 294-355)
Jacques de Longuyon, The Vows of the Peacock, 1312.
Troy: Fall of a City (2018), BBC and Netflix
The video mentioned in Abi’s tidbit (enjoy! *winks*)
Amphora depicting the death of Priam at the hands of Neoptolemus, 550-540 BC, Attic Black Figure vase found at Vulci, Attributed to Group E (British Museum cat. no. 1842,0314.3)
Amphora depicting Hector's last visit with his wife, Andromache, and infant son Astyanax, startled by his father's helmet, 370-360 BC, Apulian red-figure