Paris runs his mouth a bit. Then runs a bit. Then runs back out again.
Whether it is a brief bout of nobility or a fecundity of foolish fanfaronade Paris’s challenge, and eventual engagement, in single combat is fitting. In fact, it borders on requisite. As the instigator of hostilities, it can be argued that this offer comes about nine years late. He has brought this tribulation on the Trojans; anything short of the self-sacrificing act would serve to heap shame on upon the affliction of his kinsmen.
With Menelaos rising to the challenge, Paris’s honor was further bound to the task and yet this is when he wavers. He comes back to the delight of all. Even though Aphrodite intervenes to rescue him there is never any argument against single combat. Hektor chastises his retreat to the point of wishing he had never been born and is relieved to see Paris rise to his rebuke. Meneloas will be satisfied one way or another. Both armies rejoice in putting aside fighting in the hopes of peace and friendship.
In the end, he must meet Menelaos, duty demands it.
Only one man, off scene, might stand opposed to this possible end of hostilities. For Achilleus, were he keeping tabs from beside his ships, this is a dire development indeed. It seeks to rob him of all the glory he sold short his life for. Paris’s just decision spells doom for all his heroic hopes. With Aphrodite’s intervention, the stage is set for even greater animosity with the Trojans and thus greater glory in their defeat. This only serves to ratchet up the tension, though. The glory is not yet won by someone else, but his position on the sidelines now has an even greater cost.
Questions? Comments? Haiku?
Lattimore, Richmond. The Iliad of Homer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.
The Space Between (Iliad Guide): http://tinyurl.com/IliadSpaceBetween