16 January 2012
Between Beauty and Reality (addressing prompt #1)
The Iliad, an epic poem composed by Homer, tells the story of the disastrous events that transpired from the famous Greek hero Achilles rage. One of the first great epic poems of early Greece, The Iliad offered to Greek history an ‘ideal past’ that represented the idealized values of society as well as, in particular, the idealized Greek warrior. Despite the glorified nature of Greek values their role in historical events was vital. They provided the basis on which ancient Greek people determined what was good and bad, right and wrong, etcetera. Their blatant emphasis on warfare sheds light on the nature of societies primarily focused on the physicality as well as cultural, artistic, political and mythological meaning of war. Epic poetry represented these values but did not limit their definitions to what was without interpretation or conflict. Inherent in war is conflict just as innate in the military dominated historic values of Greece are underlying struggles that defined historical character’s relationships with said values. Often, a disconnect is apparent between the ideal, glorified interpretation and the reality of a value. For a male in ancient Greece the most valued profession was to be a warrior and as a warrior the values of arÃªte, honor and glory were highly esteemed. Arete was a literally a system of values extolling ‘manly pride’, ‘excellence’, ‘soldierly valor’ and ‘achievement of one’s potential’, among other things. Honor was seen as how the public viewed and judged someone’s character. A military leader gained honor from his fellow warriors through fulfilling his duty to protect them. A strong loyalty to one’s homeland was also valued in ancient Greece and a leader’s protection was meant to encompass not only his fellow men but also his entire home. No system of an afterlife was recognized in ancient Greece, rather immortality was gained...
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