Identity Themes in Ancient Greece
Honor and Culture are two of the most prominent Identity themes in ancient Greek literature. Honor seems to be a slightly more important theme, although Honor and culture are intertwined in many ways. The Greeks are dominant because of these two strong aspects of their society. Greeks, especially the Athenians, believe that their culture is much better and more advanced than any other at the time. This gave the Greeks a sense of pride, or honor in their society. This goes both ways because Greek culture is characterized by Honor, and Greek honor is directly influenced by their culture.
Honor is a very prevalent theme in the Greek documents that we have covered in class. One of the documents that highlights the theme of honor the most is the “Funeral Oration of Pericles Book II”. Thucydides speaks of how great the Athenian culture is and and how honorably the dead men had fought in battle. This document also displays how honorable it is to die defending Athens. This is shown when Thucydides says “Such is Athens for which these men, in the assertion of their resolve not to lose her, nobly fought and died; and well may every one of their survivors be ready to suffer in her cause”(Funeral Oration of Pericles Book II, pg. 3). This quote shows how willingly Greek men are to die to protect their city and gain honor.
This identity of Greek honor can be perceived as arrogance in many situations as well. The Greek have so much honor and pride in their culture that every other society is inferior to them. This is displayed in “The Melian Conference” document that we read for class. This is shown when the Athenians say the following to the melians: “For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences - either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done to us”(Melian Conference, pg. 1). This excerpt from the “Melian...
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