Review in Choice

Holway, Richard.  Becoming Achilles: child-sacrifice, war, and misrule in the Iliad and beyond.  Lexington Books, 2012.  255p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780739146910 pbk, $25.95. Reviewed in 2012jul CHOICE. Holway’s evaluation of the Iliad in light of attachment theory and Freudian interpretations of family dynamics represents a valuable contribution to a series of interdisciplinary Greek studies edited by Gregory Nagy. Holway (Univ. of Virginia) posits that Achilles’ glory-seeking temperament developed because his mother attempted to use him to retaliate against Zeus for rejecting her, providing illuminating insight into the psychological underpinnings of Greek hero-mythology and Greek culture more broadly. Greek hero literature is literally built on such examples of “parents sacrificing children’s needs to their own.” Dysfunctional families abound in the Homeric tradition, and the deleterious effects on people and institutions match up well with the family psychology literature. Holway pursues these connections to explain heroic violence and glory-seeking (chapter 2), patterns of patriarchy and misogyny (chapters 5 and 6), and even Socrates’ actions during and after his trial (epilogue). While the analysis relies heavily on a portion of contemporary psychology to explain much about ancient Greek society, the book is an excellent resource for numerous fields of study. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. — J. E. Herbel, Georgia College and State University

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