May 16th, 2004


Well, I saw the new Brad Pitt movie which is based... errr.... inspired, rather on Homer's Iliad. I enjoyed it. Pitt makes an interesting Achilles. You do believe he is the Greeks' greatest warrior. This is partly Pitt's physical acting, partly the fight choreography, and partly good camera work. Maybe some camera tricks, too. He looks superhumanly fast at times.

In the real Iliad, the gods are very active participants in the story. The participate in battles, appear to people, and squabble among themselves. Some take the Troy side, some the Greece side. This movie doesn't deny the gods exist, but it denies the gods are involved in the fight. It's one of many modern touches.

There is a connection between the Iliad and Atlas Shrugged. Atlas is the story of the men of the mind on strike. It struck me as a very unusual story line when I first read it, the whole idea of building a plot around men of ability refusing to exercise their ability.

But the Iliad, the first great epic of Western Civilization, has a parallel structure. It is the story of a man of ability on strike against an unjust ruler. When I say "man of ability," I must confess that Achilles is not a man of mind. In Rand's terms, he is much more a man of muscle. The unjust rulers in Atlas are pragmatist collectivist mediocrities. The unjust ruler in the Iliad is a conniving King.

Galt is drawn back to the world by his love of Dagny, which results in his getting caught. Achilles is drawn back to battle by his love for the slain Patroclus.

But you have to watch out with the literature "parallels" game. It's usually fun, but not really all that revealing.

The ethics of the 2 books is a study in contrasts. The Greek heroes, after all, are out for booty. But in Atlas it is the villains who are out for booty.

Rhyme of the day:

Rand stole her plot.
Or maybe not.