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Achilleus’ Vow of Abstinence: Iliad XIX, 205-210

Abstract : In Iliad XIX, 205-10 Achilleus issues a challenge and swears a solemn vow: «No, but I would now enjoin the sons of the Achaians to go into battle fasting and without food, but at sunset to prepare a great feast, once we have avenged the outrage. But until then, for my part, drink or food will by no means pass down my throat, seeing that my friend is dead». The lengthy preoccupation with Achilleus’ refusal to eat and drink in Iliad XIX, 145-237 and his desire to impose his abstinence on the entire army has long disturbed interpreters. We will best understand him at this juncture if we see lurking in the background the belief that the renunciation of food and drink until a goal is attained solemnizes one’s commitment to that goal and sanctifies its accomplishment within the supernatural realm. The purpose of this paper is to establish that Achilleus is operating within the context of a type of self-imprecating abstention vow which is well documented in many cultures.
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Submitted on : Monday, April 8, 2019 - 5:15:31 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 1:09:30 AM

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David Martinez. Achilleus’ Vow of Abstinence: Iliad XIX, 205-210. Mètis - Anthropologie des mondes grecs anciens, Daedalus/EHESS, 2012, Dossier : Serments et paroles efficaces, N.S.10, pp.39-51. ⟨10.4000/books.editionsehess.2659⟩. ⟨halshs-02093233⟩

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