Compare and contrast the war society
The Iliad and the Odyssey are two of the world masterpieces that have survived the times - Compare and contrast the war society introduction. Admired through the ages as the ultimate epics, Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey, was venerated by the ancient Greeks themselves as the cornerstone of their civilization (Nagy, Online). The two epics are the portrayal of early Greek civilization with the spotlight focused on heroism and the heroes’ struggles and triumph. Early Greece likewise was depicted in the two epics as a people who believed in the power of the immortals which was clearly shown in how the gods and goddesses ran the lives of the characters.
The Iliad and Odyssey are both colorful and dramatic. Not only was Homer able to use vivid descriptions of the different war episodes but he was also successful in portraying supernatural beings that Odysseus met during his journey back home. These styles of Homer likewise characterized the people during the time that the epics were written.
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A very diverse Greek culture was shown in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Just like what was previously mentioned, people in ancient Greece revered their heroes. The people then consider men or women who were endowed with superhuman abilities which were believed to have come from the gods and the goddess as their heroes. These heroes likewise embodied the character of the Greek people as a whole. Homer used the different characters in the two epic to give a picture of how society and the people was during the earlier times.
Achilles was regarded as the handsomest, the swiftest, the strongest and the bravest of the Greeks (Taylor, Online) and his being half-immortal has something to do with this. His fighting prowess was said as the main reason why the Greeks were winning the battle against the Trojans. And as a matter of fact, his quitting in the middle of the war paved the way for the Trojans to advance. These physical attributes of Achilles pictures the physical beauty and strength of the Greek race.
Being a half-immortal and half-human, Achilles felt that he is invincible. With the accolade that was accorded him by the people and by the different kings of Greece, he became egoistic and proud. He was more of an emotional leader than an intellectual one. He lets his emotions rule over his mind which sometimes brought his life and the life of his men in danger. He was very impulsive. Any person of any race, may exhibit these attributes and the Greeks are no exemption. A simple achievement most of the time makes people proud and feel indispensable
The Greeks are also portrayed as intelligent people, not easily perplexed by confusion and problems, strong in facing the challenges of life and loyal. This was most evident in the character of Odysseus, the hero who was not able to return to his land after the war until after 10 years of wandering. Odysseus of the Odyssey showed physicality and strength of character, loyalty and strong determination. He was able to surpass the wrath of Poseidon – the floods, shipwreck and the rest. He showed the will to return home despite all odds and most importantly, he remained a husband to Penelope.
Odysseus is human and thus was weak to resist temptation that came along the way. He was almost enticed to leave his wife, but still his greatness of character overcame everything. People, like the Greeks come to a point of being tempted to do bad things. This is specially so in times of war or its aftermath when most of the problems arise.
There were other Greek heroes that Homer used to depict the character of the Greeks during the war and post-war society. One is Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek contingent.
Agamemnon is a greedy king who above anything else wants to amass land and power. He sacrificed the lives of his men for the sake of his ambition. In a subtler view, this is true for war transform people from meek cubs to fierce tiger with one objective – to win.
Another Greek character in the Odyssey was Helen. She portrays the typical woman of ancient Greece who is subject to the command of the male species. In the war, women suffer the most because they are helpless and cannot do battle. And this was Helen.
Then there is Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. She was typical of those Greek women who, after the war, carry the burden of waiting for the return of their warrior husbands. But Penelope’s positive outlook made everything possible.
The aftermath of the Trojan War saw the heroes return to Greece. But not all of them were able to return. Achilles met his fatal death while in the last stage of the war. And some other minor characters also died. For those who were able to return they faced the new challenge of rebuilding their kingdoms. Menelaus returned to Sparta and started life again with his wife Helen. After 10 years, the war is finally over and the people especially those who figured in the war are then back to normal routine. But for the Greeks – the members of the army and their families, the “ghost” created by the war continued to haunt them leaving them hesitant to move about. In war, as what many of us know but sometimes refuse to accept, there are not winners – only losers, even the heroes. In war, we see fighter enter the battlefield in search of honor; one by one they are slain before our eyes. They are surely heroes in every sense of the word who are strong and courageous and larger than life (Online, 1993). However, a hero standing against the background of war leaves a thought worth pondering – Is their struggle worth the sacrifice?
This leads us to ask where the heroes are after the war. Are they in battle gear and always in the lookout for an assault? Or do they come in different face and form?
Post war society is in need of “new heroes”, heroes that would not rely on physical strength and canny decisions to make a difference. Society which survived the war needs heroes that could in still positive attitude and sanity on people who were rocked by the struggles of the war. Heroes in post war society are more of compassion, faith and hope.
They must show compassion. War survivors need not see arrogance and hatred anymore so kindness should prevail. They must also be full of hope that the coming days will be brighter and they must continue to hold on to their faith, faith in their God, faith in their fellowmen, faith in their leaders and faith in themselves.
As for the Trojan War, the children of the heroes like for example Telemachus the son of Odysseus, played a significant role. He symbolized the hope of new society for the people of Ithaca. After the war and his father’s inability to return, Telemachus did his best to help in carrying the people of his kingdom to a brighter light. This is not only true to Telemachus, other children of the heroes of Troy had somehow lived up to the glory of their parents.
The Iliad was more popularly known as a love epic. It was written to be able to give insights to readers into the minds of men during the desperate circumstances of war (Taylor, Online). The Odyssey which is more a narrative of Odysseus’ adventures and immortality on the other hand wants to show the readers that a strong determination and will power can overcome any obstacles that may come a person’s way. It shows that faith and hope can make things happen.
The society in general, be it Greece or any other societies, evolve. This is so because time changes. From the ancient civilization up to the present generation society undergoes a “metamorphosis” so to speak. What may be true before may not be anymore true today and what may be acceptable in the past may not be anymore acceptable today and vice versa.
Thus the people need to adopt and must always be on the look out for change. Change is swift. An individual should learn how to go with the tide of change and this is best done by keeping an open and broad mindset that society is very dynamic and time changes and so as events, people and life.
The Iliad. Barron’s Educational Series. 1993.
Nagy, Gregory. Heroes and the Homeric Iliad. Greek and Roman Myths and Heroes.
Cummings, Michael J. The Iliad. 2003. www.cummingsstudyguides.net/theiliad
Taylor, Phylis. Iliad a Practical Approach. www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum.html