Over the weekend I saw Troy for the second time, but the first time in a real theater (with a real audience, which means one that didn't make a sexual innuendo out of everything). This post isn't going to discuss the movie, but I liked it a lot. I feel somewhat uniquely qualified to say that, since I can speak as a veteran roleplayer who interacts with the conventions of modern fantasy on a regular basis and as a classics major who has read substantial portions of the Iliad in the original and who also spends a lot of time thinking about Greek warfare. Speaking from that perspective, I liked the movie a lot. If you didn't - and especially if you didn't because you were one of those people who thought they were making a movie out of the Iliad instead of picking up the tradition of telling stories about the Trojan War (the tradition within which the Iliad is situated) - come talk to me, and I'll see if I can't set you straight.
What I really wanted to talk about was a line that Thetis has to Achilles: she tells him that if he stays in Phthia, he will find a wonderful woman, he will have sons and daughters, and they will love him and remember his name - and when his children are dead, and their children, then his name will be forgotten.
Now of course because Achilles is Achilles he foregoes that option in his quest for kleos aphthiton. And that's a very important part of Achilles that I felt the movie makers understood very well and I'm not going to comment on that since it is basically the central issue of the movie.
But it got me thinking: I too am going to find a wonderful woman (or at least I'm planning to), and I too will have sons and daughters who will love me. And when I am dead they will speak my name to their children - but when my children are dead and my children's children, then my name will be lost to history. I have no plans to perform great deeds that will leave my name to generations of academics, lawyers, or readers. Of course I may, but I am not looking for it.
What is interesting to me about this is that I do not especially want my name to be remembered. Now of course it is easier for me to say that than Achilles, because I am a Christian and as such I consider human beings immortal. But even so ... Achilles wanted to be remembered forever. I will be content if my name is forgotten, so long as my actions echo through the rest of my race. If I raise mighty sons and daughters in a family that is a picture of the godhead, and if they pass that legacy on to their sons and daughters ... what could be more glorious than that, to raise a family whose members will be remembered by those who encounter them because Christ is formed in them?
My children will hear great tales of the family their grandparents forged, and with God's help they will see that their own family is what it is because of their mighty grandparents. And I dream that my children will also raise Godly families, the sorts of families that change the world by being. My grandchildren will probably not know much about my parents. Perhaps they will not even be sure if their great-grandparents were Christian. And the same may be true of my great-grandchildren. But the legacy will remain, and I am content with that.