Emotional politics in the Iliad
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/07/2022
This thesis constitutes a systematic analysis of emotion’s role in Iliadic politics. I hereby argue that emotions, which the evidence of Homer’s Iliad reveals as shaping and shaped by communal norms, are constitutive of Iliadic politics both normatively and anti-normatively. This means that the way in which leaders experience emotions, enact communal rules, and manage honour dynamics, especially within a deliberative context, is intimately bound up with the wellbeing of the community. Ch. 2 concerns political debate and variants of leadership emerging from the Achaeans’ community. I show that a worsening of conflict is linked to individuals’ focus on their own emotions and priorities, thereby failing to consider the emotions and rights of others. To this end, intersubjective thinking and feeling are of central importance vis-à-vis Iliadic honour dynamics and interpersonal relationships. Ch. 3 discusses decision-making processes in the Trojan community, showing that leaders must not only be able to follow procedural rules but propose constitutively rational plans of action. This involves the sound evaluation of one’s emotions while giving due consideration to the advice of one’s counsellors. Ch. 4 demonstrates that, unlike the Achaeans’ and the Trojans’, the Olympian assemblies unexceptionally engender effective decision-making. This is because Olympian actors do not push their claims to honour too far. Rather they display behaviour in accordance with communal norms and μοῖρα (fate). Following this, Ch. 4 shows that when leaders succeed in correctly deploying political mechanisms, the negotiation of communal norms and management of honour dynamics are able to accommodate dissent and emotional tension. Thereafter, Ch. 5 explains that effective negotiations are not restricted to members belonging to the same community but extend to those of warring communities, namely, the Achaeans and the Trojans. In these contexts, such negotiations are grounded in ethical values and shared religious beliefs, which transcend individual communities. However, because shared moral values are typically enacted on an interpersonal level only (and rarely on an intercommunal level), the instantiation of a superordinate ‘community of communities’ is not ultimately realised to any great extent within the epos. Still the Iliad gifts to readers such an aspiration.