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Greek heroes: The Iliad vs. Today’s Standards

Uploaded by deliverygirltx on Feb 17, 2002

In the Iliad, Homer’s heroes exhibit many symbolic attributes of heroism, maliciousness, and acquisition to the gods. To be a hero one has to be, quick in battle and always show courage. To honor the men who came before them and to keep his sons from being shamed by their father’s memory is to show true heroism. “ ‘What disgrace! Look at you, carrying on in the armies’ muster just like boys—fools!’ “(2.400-401) In their heroism they show how they are vengeful against any and all enemies who oppose their family or their lives. These heroes are very malicious in nature on the battlefield. They lack pity or mercy, and have a very vicious ill will for the man who begs for his life, leaving the victim helpless. When his aggressor does not grant him this request, the aggressor shows how he is savage and inhumane by today’s standards. By these means they are lacking in the restraints normal to civilized people. “ ‘So now let no man hurry to sail for home, not yet…payment in full for the groans and shocks of war we have all borne for Helen’ “(2.420-423). Acquisition to the gods is one obligation, which should have been easy to fulfill in Greek times. The hero has to be submissive to the demands of the gods, to do all that they demand of him and to fulfill his destiny according to their will.

A Greek hero is one who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and is favored by the gods. He is noted for his feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially if he has risked or sacrificed his life in battle. “The secret hero. Undeniable. Unbreakable. Beyond pain and suffering. Divine”(Rollins, 82). Heroes might actually be great men, although Homer treats his heroes as nobles and fighting men. Thus the noble characteristics of the hero are projected through his animal counterpart, as a man becomes as strong as a lion or as swift as a deer. To see error in their actions is to be a true hero.

Diomedes, also referred to as Tydides, is not considered a first class hero in the Iliad, but is a hero none the less. “So the great fighter would shine forth and tower over the Argives and win himself great glory”(5.2-3). He is gallant and loyal to the cause of the Greek...

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Uploaded by:   deliverygirltx

Date:   02/17/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,131 words)

Views:   2253

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