The Homerian concept of patriarchy works on different levels and can first be understood as a system of identification, whereby the importance of lineage is underscored but which often also takes the form of a reminder of what is expected of the person thus addressed…
On a different level, patriarchy represents different configurations of male interaction, within a society that is male-centered and based on power relationships. It may relate to father-son but it may also be an ‘older-younger man’ connection. Homer clearly sees the rule of the father as a desirable situation, but this dominance is not always benign, as evidenced even among the Gods in the relationship between Zeus and Hephaestus (I. 571 pp). Within the Iliad, all men are subject to the laws patriarchy, with the kings enjoying father-son relationships with Gods. Thus ‘Zeus is hard: who before this time promised me and consented…’ that Agamemnon might sack Ilion. Now he is punished ‘in dishonor having lost so many people’ (IX. 19pp). Like a father, Zeus offers or withholds approval. Here we have the example of the stern, exacting father but when Priam morns Hector, whose body is dragged around the grave of Patroklos every day by Achilles, Zeus mediates between Hera and Apollo to bring help to Priam (XXIV, 64pp). So, kings may be sons of the Gods but there are also times when they may need to bow to humans in supplication, as Priam does, when he clutches the knees of Achilles in great distress, like a son might do (XXIV, 476 pp). And this is not the only time, when Achilles acts like a father. ...
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