Diomedes and Glaucus in Fortaleza

uoCZqHQIt was an incredible match between Brazil and Colombia in the the World Cup quarterfinals yesterday, but in the end Seleção bested Los Cafeteros 2-1.  A hard-fought game, and hard loss for James Rodriguez, who was the tournament’s highest scorer at 6 goals (as compared to “only” 4 for Messi, Müller, and Neymar apiece).  James took it hard, but was comforted by an especially gracious David Luiz. “Rodriguez was in tears after the match, and noticing this, David Luiz and Dani Alves went over to console him,” NBC reports, noting further, “Then, as the players exited the pitch, Luiz offered to exchange shirts with his opponent. With an arm around the youngster, Luiz turned to the fans and encouraged the crowd to applaud Rodriguez, which they did.”

GR855It was an admirable act of genuine sportsmanship that reminds me of a scene from Homer.  In Book 6 of the Iliad, the Greek warrior Diomedes meets with a Trojan ally named Glaucus, with whom he discovers he shares an old connection.  Let us avoid each other’s spear in the battle, he says (in Tony Kline’s translation), Let us exchange our armour then, that those around may know that our grandfather’s friendship makes us two friends.  The vase to the left by the Kleophrades painter, now in the Met, depicts the scene.  To my mind, the photo from Fortaleza this weekend is every bit as powerful as the ancient representation from the Trojan War.

About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
This entry was posted in Classics, Poetry, Sports & Games. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Diomedes and Glaucus in Fortaleza

  1. Susanna Lang says:

    Thank you for offering this interpretation of a game I happened to see yesterday–I hadn’t seen any of the others–as I prepare to teach the Iliad to 8th graders in the fall. I will use your post, if you don’t mind, to help them connect to an impossibly distant text.

    • Hello Susanna– thanks for your note! Yes, please do share this post with your students. I would be very interested to hear their reactions, either directly or from you.

      • Susanna Lang says:

        I will let you know in September. By the way, you are my son’s advisor at Sewanee–and we very much appreciate the support you’ve given him. He speaks very highly of you.

      • Hi again Susanna– I had though you might be Paul’s mother, but didn’t want to presume. He is developing into a fine poet, I think, and I’m happy to have him as my advisee. Will you be visiting sometime, I hope?

      • Susanna Lang says:

        Thank you! I agree, his poetry is surprising. He’s actually working more on fiction this summer, though. I’m looking forward to this fall, when he’ll have a real writing class–being his teacher as well as his mother has its pitfalls. We’ll be dropping Paul off at Sewanee somewhere around Aug. 24, but it’s too difficult for us to come for the parents’ weekend.

  2. Chris Hague says:

    A great comparison! Exchanging armor in battle is the ultimate show of trust and exchanging uniforms now definitely has the same personal experience of respect for another’s athletic ability. However, didn’t a vengeful god switch one of the armors for a weaker alloy and Glaucous dies because of it?

  3. slang12 says:

    I neglected to send you a report on how the lesson went with my 8th graders when I introduced your blog comment on Diomedes and Glaucus in Fortaleza. My first surprise was that I did not need to work as hard as I expected to engage my students in the story of the Iliad–they were already engaged from their summer reading of Rosemary Sutcliff’s retelling, Black Ships Before Troy. They enjoyed a brief reference to the World Cup, which they had definitely followed, but were perfectly happy to go back to ancient Greece. I had them compare translations of the passage you’re referring to–Chapman, Fagles, Mitchell–which they found very difficult. However, I think they got my teaching point, which is that the translator is always making choices that affect how we understand the text if we do not read it in the original. Sutcliff’s book is just a more radical translation, making more far-reaching choices. Thank you again for writing this post!

    We are grateful as well that you are gowning Paul. We are coming for the ceremony, and his grandparents are coming, too. We look forward to meeting you then.

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