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The usage of imagery has the ability to combine the senses and emotions in a reader through the textual creation of a vibrant image, evoking an inner cognition that would not be possible through simple dialect. Both Homer’s Iliad and Euripides Bacchae, utilize extraordinary visual images in their narratives to describe key features such as its characters, actions, mental states, or settings. Although different authors and texts, both Homer and Euripides strive to achieve the same effect on their readers in general terms, but they do seek a different comprehension specified to their own texts. Homer is able to produce imagery through his repetitive use of extended metaphors, similes, and hyperbolas. The reasoning behind this is to create a deep understanding of his characters emotions, to enhance his plots, and to convey any implied messages. On the other hand, Euripides is able to accomplish imagery through descriptive language that exaggerates his characters action and creates shocking emotions.
Specifically in Bacchae, he does so to support his theme of the natural world in contrast to the world of man. To the audience, the application of imagery allows them further clarity of the characters, the evolution the plot, and it invests their emotions into the story to build a stronger connection. Homer builds striking visual images to enrich insight on the setting and characters overall personality so that the reader can have a logical sense as to why his character do the actions they do. One of his main characters, Achilles, is central to his usage of imagery. He uses various descriptive words and repetition of rhetorical devices like similes to describe his impulsive and violent nature when battling in war. On more than one occasion, he uses a combination of the two, such as to illustrate Achilles rage towards Agenor during their battle, “Achilles now like inhuman fire raging on through the mountain gorges splinter-dry, setting ablaze big strands of timber, the wind swirling the huge fireball left and right- chaos of fire- Achilles storming on with brandished spear and the earth ran black with blood….oxen’s hoofs” (Homer, Iliad 20.560). Here, he uses three similes back-to-back in order to compare Achilles to the characteristics of fire and oxen. From this he wants the reader to grasp Achilles hot-headed, merciless, and passionate character; Allowing the reader to understand later on why Achilles has a tunnel vision when making decisions, in which causes him to act so barbaric and impulsive.
Additionally, he enhances his similes with a long description of the setting of the battlefield through phrases such as “his sharp-hoofed stallions trampled shields and corpses” and “blood on the handrails sweeping round the car” in mix with vivid adjectives such as “splattering”, “churning”, “whirling”, and “shooting” (Homer, Iliad 20.560). This triggers a feeling of danger and suspense in a reader, allowing them to see the text in a different perspective. Almost as if they were in the battlefield themselves, smelling the blood and hearing Achilles’ stallion hooves crush bodies. With this example, Homer achieves his goal in using imagery because it evoked a deeper sense of emotion and perception that emphasized the complexity of Achilles persona and the grotesqueness of that plot. Moreover, Homer implements extended metaphors in combination with descriptive adjectives in order to intensify his comparisons and drive his message home into the readers. One extended metaphor he provided showcased a truce between two armies disappear and break out into a deadly battle, “Screams of men and cries of triumph breaking in one breath…Wildly as two winters torrents raging down from the mountains….crash of war” (Homer, Iliad 4.517-527). Here, he compares the armies to two violent winter torrent destroying each other and everything in its path. Homer uses imagery through an extended metaphor in order to demonstrate the magnitude of the tension and hostility, as well as the dissolving relationship between the two armies.
Overall, trying to convey his message of the scale of this feud between them and the intensity in which they fight, as well as to foreshadow that such extreme animosity is bound to repeat later on with grave repercussions. Homer’s use of imagery has the true ability to bring the reader into the book and make them feel as if they are seeing the events unfold through a first hand perspective. He embeds sensations that allow them to nearly feel all four senses through his vivid comparisons and memorable descriptions of the events. His audience hold their breath at suspenseful events, devote emotional attachments, and gather an intellect at whats at stake in every circumstance; Therefore allowing them to foreshadow, reflect, and gain a further sense of the plot. Euripides creates complex and dynamic visual images in his readers, all while portraying his underlying messages in connection with his theme. His usage of visual images lend much support to the central conflict and theme of the natural world in comparison or harmony with the world of man.
To clarify, he showcases nature as an untamed, wild, and disorderly representation of rationality. On the other hand, he portrays the city of Thebes as an orderly and civilized representation of rationality. This notion translating onto his main characters as well. In one of the plays scenes, Euripides contracts a visual image that shows possible harmony between nature and man, “Some of them held their arms young deer or wild wolf cubs, and offered them their white milk – all the women…..infants behind” (Euripides, Bacchae 700). Through his use of detailed vocabulary and uncommon actions given to the characters, Euripides is able to build an image in the readers mind of women nurturing nature’s animals and that allows the reader to infer that symbolic meaning of union. The audience gains comprehensive understanding and advancement in the plot and, from this, is able to infer and determine how the theme translates into other components of his story, such as Dionysus and Pantheus.
Along with supporting the visual images in line with the theme, Euripides is able to teleport the reader into a setting through his smooth and descriptive word choices, “One of them took her thyrsus and dashed it against a rock, causing a dewy stream of water to spring forth. Another….draught of white liquid scraped the earth…lively jets of milk…..sweet streams of honey” (Euripides, Bacchae 710). His use of words such as “dewy,” “livley,” “dripped,” and “sweet” brings the image to life and allows the reader to really gain a complete understanding of just how tranquil and peaceful the setting is. It brings the audience to a state of awe, almost as if they were viewing and experiencing the calmness themselves. Although, Euripides creates this beautiful image with the purpose of driving his underlying message into the readers and allowing them to foreshadow that disrupting such harmonious setting and people will only bring about severe and destructive consequences. In support of the foreshadow, Euripides affects the reader tremendously by immediately following with a completely contrasting visual illustration of the once peaceful setting, “You might have seen ribs or cloven hooves flung everywhere; and bloodstained pieces hung dripping form the pine-branches…..royal eyes of yours” (Euripides, Bacchae 740).
The 360’ contrast that this visual image brought in comparison to the previous visual image, completely appealed and disgusted the audience. Euripides wanted to put the sensation of confusion and astonishment into his readers through his vivid vocabulary and abnormal character actions. He wanted his readers to grasp the back to back visual image as a representation of the evolutionary relationship between man and nature. Where from the first image being harmonious and unified to the second striking visual image being chaotic and blurring the line between the two concepts. Moreover, Euripides showcases the capacity of his characters matched with how the lines between nature and man are blurring through his description of Agaue, “foaming at the mouth and rolling distorted eyes, her senses gone, was in the grip of Bacchus and deaf to his entreaties….flesh in sport like a ball” (Euripides, Bacchae 1120-1136).
These visual images are meant to come vividly to the audiences imagination and create an astounding reaction of shocks and doubt. By choosing a character to appear so graphically deranged in combination with destroying the socially established connection between mother and son, Euripides brings about many conflicting emotions. He picks a mother to be the one to completely destroy her son in a horrific manner, bringing the reader into the entry on a first hand perspective to experience all the sensations and emotions of disgust, confusion, and even denial. This causes to the audience to even reread the entry to even make sure they read it right because of its striking content. Euripides establishes these visual illustrations to play into his readers sensations and guild them through a rollercoaster of emotions. From this, he is able to further propel them to acknowledge his theme and recognize the opposing yet similar personalities and of his two main characters. In addition, he highlights and connects the boundaries between man and nature to that of god and mortal. Euripides is able to paint intense pictures in his audiences imaginations through a careful utilization of specified and descriptive arrangement of vocabulary; Hence his audience then creates an array of emotions, reactions, and meanings in association to these images, pushing them to analyze the theme and elemental messages being them.
Homer and Euripides achieve in developing powerful visual illustrations though multiple different techniques, each conjuring up a different reactions or sensations in their audiences imaginations. Euripides is able to artfully utilize descriptive language to build vivid and realistic descriptions of scenes and characters, appealing to many senses and emotions in his readers. He has the ability to use the perfect balance of descriptive vocabulary in the exaggeration of his characters actions to be able to manipulate his readers emotional connections, as well as urge them to develop an understanding of his themes and messages.
On the other hand, Homer builds his striking visual images through a repetitive use of similes and extended metaphors. He uses this figurative techniques to make his image more engaging and appealing to the readers emotions. His extended metaphors convey his messages in a more precise and alluring manner, while his similes leaves much creativity to the audiences imagination. Homers use of language his audiences sensations, brings them into the book on a first hand perspective, and allows them to analyze, infer, and critically think about his characters persona, settings, and overall points. Both Homer and Euripides imbedded vivid visual images through an array of manners to heighten and advance their language, which, in turn, manipulated their audiences senses, emotions, and brought their imagination to life.
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