Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of February 13th - February 19th,  2004

Chapter X

Hard Times

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Homer's Nestor

Homer's Nestor

  We've been examining Capricorn, the sign of maturity, responsibility, executive power and old age. Saturn, the ruler of this sign, is often depicted as Father Time, together with his sickle and sash heralding the old and the new year.

  Each of the archetypes have a high side and a low side. Hard aspects, such as the square, inconjunct and opposition tend to manifest the more difficult characteristics of this theme. Combined with Saturn, time and age can grind you down, responsibilities become a burden, hurdles are seen as impediments or obstacles. Smooth aspects (sextiles, quintiles and trines) confer wisdom from experience, maturity and time tested values. Accumulative efforts weather well, seasoning and developing a full bodied flavor, as with a good wine.



  If our hypothesis is correct, that astrological themes were woven into Homer's Iliad with the first chapter corresponding to the first sign of the zodiac, we might catch a glimpse of how the Greeks of the 8th century BC viewed this segment of life. How did they weave these threads together in a literary tapestry which still speaks to us today?

  Capricorns often find their niche in maturity. They may not possess the beauty and vigor of youth, but there's an enduring quality which sustains them beyond their years, like the strength of a gnarled old root. Their responsibility, discipline and toughness sees them through.

  In Chapter X of Homer's Iliad, times are hard for the Greeks. The Trojans have pushed them back into a defensive position, huddled inside their hastily prepared moat and wall. Agamemnon, the king of the Greeks, confers with Nestor, the wise old man, rousing him from sleep:



  "There lay his many-faceted kilt or loin-guard
girded on when the old man armed for war
to take his soldiers forward, undeterred
by doleful age."

  Considering our image of toughness, here is what Diomedes, when awakened, has to say to Nestor,

  "Hard as a knife,
is what you are, old man. By night and day
you never rest. Are there no younger men
who might go round about to wake the captains
one by one? Can no one hold you down?"

  The chapter opens describing how tough things are for the Greeks. Nestor manifests some of the more desirable qualities of Capricorn and Saturn, but the situation they face describes the reality. Lifting from various lines in Chapter X,

  " thick and fast the groans of Agamemnon
came from his heart's core, and his very entrails
shook with groaning..."

  "...foreboding anguish for the Argives..."

  "...for years to come
that havoc will be felt among the Argives."

  "...plunged by Zeus into the worst trouble a man could know..."

  "...Hard enemies are encamped nearby..."

  "...I think he, too, will have his difficulties..."

  "...I have hard words for him..."

  "...He picked up a tough spear..."

  These images are only from the first five of 19 pages in this chapter. There are many more. Like the old adage says, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." So says Capricorn.