WASHINGTON, DC Former president George Bush has come under fire over charges that he stole much of his recent autobiography "Looking Forward" from Homer's "The Iliad."
Though Bush has denied plagiarism charges, critics have pointed to a number of similarities between the two works.
Bush's narration of the events leading to the capitulation of Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War contain some of the most striking similarities. On page 217, for example, he begins, "Hussein had left me no choice; I gave the order. The invasion began. And then the crafty son of Laertes, the strong spear-arm from the broad island of Ithaka, gathered men from Samos, strong blameless warriors from Aeolia and Mt. Elion of the fertile plains, and hewed down mighty ash timbers and fashioned a horse."
Later he mentions how "crafty and word-wise the sons of Atreus cut the neck of a fat cow and skinned it and cut the meat into portions and wrapped the thigh bone in thick fat and roasted it and poured libations over the smoke to Zeus, the son of devious Cronus, who shook Mt. Pelion with bolts of thunder, and he was pleased and brought sleep to the guardians of the citadel."
Critics have also noted a strong resemblance between Homer's character of Achilles and General Norman Schwarzkopf, the architect of the allied victory, who is referred to in the book as "the son of Thetis, white-armed sea nymph from Salamis whom Idoneus brought from broad Lykia into his own country and laid with her."
Schwarzkopf could not be reached for comment. However, his publicist released a short statement in which she denied that Mr. Schwarzkopf "ever sacrificed five lambs to Mars, bringer of destruction, and led away seven women of Ilion to his hollow ship, and six golden vessels, and four swift mares."
She affirmed, however, that Mr. Schwarzkopf did "range as a boar who has cornered the hounds that hunt him, and tasted their blood, and cast his spear wide and bloodied the gray dust of Ilion with Phyrocis, son of Meliander from Phrygia and the twin sons of Adacrises, who led fifty ships of fifty strong men from Samos."
But the book's most surprising revelations concern General Colin Powell, who is referred to as "crafty and guileful Odysseus, who with honeyed words soothed the temper of proud Agamemnon." Previously thought of as a shoo-in for the office of President should he choose to run, Powell has been damaged in the public eye by Bush's assertion that he "led Philoctetes, smitten by the death venom of the water snake, who had stepped onto the forbidden altar of Chryseis, onto the island of Lemnos and gave him wine to drink and barley with cheese, and when sleep had overtaken him, hastened back to the hollow ships and made again for Ilion, mighty citadel of Ionia."
Powell had previously denied any responsibility for the abandonment of Philoctetes. A Pentagon spokesman had claimed as late as 1994 that he was left on Lemnos due to a bureaucratic error. Since the book's revelations, however, Powell has admitted that he made the decision, but reminded reporters that he also "entrusted to strong Neoptolemus, son of Achilleus, his secret so that he might persuade cursed Philoctetes to return to Troy and smite ill-starred Paris with the bow of Herakles."
Sales have outpaced demand and prompted Random House to offer Mr. Bush a two million dollar advancement on a sequel, which will detail his relationship with Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze. Bush has already received ten million dollars for film rights to the second book. The movie will star Mel Gibson as Mr. Shevardnadze, who will also be referred to as "the crafty son of Laertes."