Points of interest concerning the tamarisk in the iliad

The four mentions of the tamarisk in The Iliad (none in the Odyssey): [6.37-50]; [10.465-468]; [21.17-26];[21.342-355].

–Each time the tamarisk is mentioned it is involved in a scene of supplication: a combatant is captured and seen pleading for his life.

–In each of the four mentions it is a Trojan who is the supplicant, and an Achaian being supplicated, never the other way.

–In three of the four mentions it is a single Trojan supplicating two Achaians.

–In at least three of the four mentions there seems an underlying ambiguity as to how the scene will turn out: will the supplicant be treated mercifully?

–In three of the four mentions mercy is denied to the supplicant, resulting in his execution.

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How the fourth mention of the tamarisk fits in with the others requires some additional explanation. But the principal differences are:

— they are not Trojans and Achaians per se, but their representatives from among the immortals (Hera and Hephaistos for the Achaians, Xanthos for the Trojans).

— the supplicant’s plea is granted (Hera tells Hephaistos to leave Xanthos alone, and he does.)

Additionally, it’s notable that the tamarisk (along with other plants) is said to be burnt in this mention. (Does that symbolize an end of merciless treatment toward supplicants as well.)… The Greek word translated as ‘tamarisk’ is murikay (μυρίκη) (a further note on this subject here).


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