What kicked off my interest in Homer

Eleonora Cavallini, Achilles in the age of metal
Joey DeMaio’s lyrics imply a careful and scrupulous reading of the Iliad. The songwriter has focused his attention essentially on the crucial fight between Hector and Achilles, has paraphrased some passages of the poem adapting them to the melodic structure with a certain fluency and partly reinterpreting them, but never altering or upsetting Homer’s storyline. The purpose of the lyrics (and of the music as well) is to evoke some characteristic Homeric sceneries: the raging storm of the battle, the barbaric, ferocious exultance of the winner, the grief and anguish of the warrior who feels death impending over him. The whole action hinges upon Hector and Achilles, who are represented as specular characters, divided by an irreducible hatred and yet destined to share a similar destiny. Both are caught in the moment of the greatest exaltation, as they savagely rejoice for the blood of their killed enemies, but also in the one of the extreme pain, when the daemon of war finally pounces on them. Furthermore, differently than in the irreverent and iconoclastic movie Troy, in “Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts”, the divine is a constant and ineluctable presence, determining human destinies with inscrutable and steely will, and, despite the generic reference to ‘the gods’, the real master of human lives is Zeus, the only God to whom both Hector and Achilles address their prayers.

2 thoughts on “What kicked off my interest in Homer

  1. Manowar has some great stuff. Some crap, too, of course. IIRC, they live in the southern Hudson Valley, somewhere near Valhalla.


    1. I was a fan around 1989-93. I’d lost interest in most metal by that point because living in Washington I was in the epicenter of grunge, but their epic badassery made me hold on a little longer than the rest. I haven’t thought about them much since, but listening to some of their back catalog over the last couple weeks I’ve got to agree – they’re a very uneven act. Surprisingly however a number of their songs have held up (though even there the themes and music itself can get a tad repetitive) but I’ll always appreciate the way they brought Greek and Norse myth alive for me. Maybe I should look them up and see if they want to collaborate on a Starry Bull concept album, since they’re in the area. :D


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