Clouds of anger

Trojan Horse

The full title of Homer’s epic poem is The Iliad: The Wrath of Achilles. It is an apt title for its books cover only the period of Achilles’ anger – not the journey to Troy nor its destruction. It occurred to me yesterday, as I navigate my own journey, that the failure of the Greeks to take Troy in a month was less the efforts of the Trojans than the Greeks to appease their own emotions. They spent ten years of slaughter, posturing and fighting amongst themselves before they finally admitted what they should have known from the beginning: They simply could not breach the city wall. They didn’t have the technology. The Spartans couldn’t take Athens until they had built a navy to capture the city by sea.
It wasn’t until the Greeks’s will was broken at Troy on the anvil of their own vanity and rage, and all hope had vanished that the mind of Odysseus, the wily, was clear enough to devise his plan of building the giant horse and hiding its greatest warriors inside. The Greeks could have easily done this following their first defeat.  But pride and determination – qualities we ourselves revere – kept them from grasping the futility of their tactics.
How often is it that our willful denial negates our best efforts? How many times do we throw ourselves against walls instead of clearing our head of roiling emotions? And to turn the argument over and look at a word we think of as positive: How often is unmindful hope our undoing?

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