Ransom, Revenge, and Heroic Identity in the Iliad

Synopsis

Wilson examines the nature of compensation--ransom and revenge--in the liad, offering a fundamentally new reading of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles. She presents a detailed anthropology of compensation in Homer, located in the wider context of agonistic exchange, to demonstrate how the struggle over definitions is a central feature of elite competition for status in the zero-sum and fluid ranking system of Homeric society. The study thus asserts the integral role of compensation in the traditional, cultural and poetic matrix of this foundational epic.