Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of December 12th - December 18th,  2003

Chapter IX

The Spirit of Fire

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  The Sun continues its journey through Sagittarius, the 9th sign of the zodiac. The Lord of this mutable fire sign is Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus. Astrologically, this theme deals with connections to morality, spirituality, foreign peoples and lands, and those we send to deal with foreigners, such as ambassadors and emissaries.



  If our hypothesis is correct that the Iliad was written with astrological design in mind, then the 9th book of this work should correspond to the 9th sign of the zodiac. In this chapter we would expect Sagittarian themes to be laid out, with illustrations about how the energy translates into life.

  Because Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign, it's energy can burn hot, but vacillates in it's intensity and longevity. There is great enthusiasm, but it is generally short lived. We hear this theme being woven into the design as Diomedes admonishes Agamemnon about his 'power' from Zeus,

  "In your case,

the son of crooked-minded Kronos (Zeus) gave you one gift and not both: a staff of kingship
honored by all men, but no staying power-
the greatest gift of all."

  The flip side to fire's spirituality is it's vanity, when people misinterpret divine design as their own doing. Diomedes again tells the assembly, speaking of Achilles,

"At the best of times
he is a proud man; now you have pushed him far
deeper into his vanity and pride.
By god, let us have done with him-
whether he goes or stays! He'll fight again
when the time comes, whenever his blood is up
or the god rouses him."

  We can see fire's enthusiasm for action. The Greeks troops in this chapter are surrounded by a thousand Trojan watchfires, and Nestor wonders,

  "What Akhaian (Greek)
could be highhearted in that glare?"

  Fire is used to frame Patroklos in a spiritual light,


Sacred Fire

"Meanwhile Patroklos, like a god in firelight,
made the hearth blaze up. When the leaping flame
had ebbed and died away, he raked the coals
and in the flow extended spits of meat,
lifting these at time from the firestones..."

  Throughout this chapter, an emphasis is placed upon prayer, and how to pray to the gods,

  "Burnt offerings,
courteous prayer, libation, smoke of sacrifice,
with all of these, men can placate the gods
when someone oversteps and errs. The truth is,
prayers are daughters of almighty Zeus-
one may imagine them lame, wrinkled things
with eyes cast down, that toil to follow after
passionate Folly. Folly is strong and swift,
outrunning all the prayers, and everywhere
arriving first to injure mortal men;
still they come healing after. If a man
reveres the daughters of Zeus when they come near,
but if he spurns them and dismisses them,
they make their way to Zeus again and ask
that Folly dog that man till suffering
has taken arrogance out of him."

  Aside from all these references, the entire book is devoted to sending emissaries to Achilles in an attempt to win him back into the battle.