Glory Explored in Homer's the Iliad Term Paper

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¶ … Glory Explored in Homer's the Iliad

We love to love our heroes. We like to imagine their lives are pure and easy, without deceit or imperfection. It is easier to think of our heroes that way because it gives them a sense of being greater than life. The reality is however, that many heroes are human first and, as a result, have very human characteristics. This fact should not disappoint though. It should reassure anyone with aspirations to know that some of the greatest men in history were human and had faults. This did not stop them from pursuing and claiming fame and glory. Achilles and Hektor in Homer's, The Iliad, are two heroes that will live in infamy not because they were perfect but because they achieved glory by overcoming the setbacks that being human present. The idea of kleos, or fame and glory, is brilliantly laid out with these two men and Homer makes their stories all the more realistic for us by embedding them with other human characteristics such as compassion, drive, and anger. These heroes are the ones we will remember because while they are different in terms of personality and compassion, they share the same drive and determination to find fame.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Glory Explored in Homer's the Iliad We Assignment

Fame and glory are taken seriously in the novel, so much so that men are gauged by how they are perceived regarding these notions. Fame and glory are linked to bravery and a man's competence is determined by how he appears to those around him. Battle becomes more than an act of winning for one's nation; it is also a way of gaining support and respect in the community. From a reader's perspective, Homer is supporting the type of lifestyle that seeks fame and glory. Furthermore, Homer also supports the notion that judging men on kleos and how they respond to it is perfectly acceptable. Homer admires aggressive deities like Athena but mocks gods that choose to turn from aggression, pointing to Aphrodite and Artemis. Fighting accomplishes many things: it wins wars and it proves an individual's honor and integrity. Paris disregards the weight of this phenomenon and suffers the consequences of appearing weak. He chooses time with Helen over the opportunity to fight and never completely recovers. Avoiding responsibility in war is considered lazy and dishonorable with a set of misguided priorities. However, seeking fame and glory is a complicated matter, as there are many outside forces affecting how a man chooses to do so. Homer allows us to understand the complexity of humanity with this notion. He is proving how each man and every man will take the responsibility of seeking fame differently. Personal drive and desires will come into play as men make choices. We must also stop to consider personalities as we stop to explore kleos in these ancient people.

There are many facets to the notion of kleos of fame and glory. While our society likes to package things up neatly, the notion of kleos is actually one that is complicated, depending upon many variables. The most notable variable is the character of man. Men are compelled to the notion of fame and glory for different reasons, even if the public might not be privy to these reasons. Most always, however, the notion of fame and glory are associated with fighting and this is certainly true with The Iliad. Critic Harold Bloom observes with Homer, "you fight to be the best, to take away the women of the enemy, and to survive as long as possible" (Bloom 7). These are certainly characteristics we find in ancient literature. The theme of fame emerges through heroic acts and these acts often include fighting on behalf of women and country. Fighting makes heroes and men can become heroes in very different ways. Fighting also involves war. There are many opinions about war and Homer's epic delves into many of them. The pursuit of glory may sound like something easy to do but Homer shows us how it is not by forcing his characters to make choices that affect glory. Men will almost always choose the opportunity for fame over something else and this is demonstrated through Hektor and Achilles. Heroic men almost always will eventually choose their country at one point of another, for this is how a hero becomes a hero to his community.

Homer refuses to ignore the brutality of war while he admires it. Men who fight sometimes die gruesome deaths. In their communities, their women and children become slaves or concubines torn from the safety of home. Plagues often ravage the land as it does in the Achaean camp, decimating the army. It is not uncommon for warriors to experience in the height of war nor it is unusual for warriors to express regret regarding war. It is Achilles who reminds us that all men face the same death in the end regardless of the bravery or cowardice and through this observation, Homer never forces the reader to question whether war is legitimate. Likewise, Homer never implies war represents a waste of time or even a waste of life. Instead, he provides two sides to the story of war, lending credibility to his work. He remains authentic to both sides of the story of war. War is man's opportunity to seek glory but it is not all good. War is justified in many ways but that does mean it is glorious from all aspects. This is hardly the case and Homer gives authority to his opinions regarding glory when he displays it in the light of truth. War is not always pretty but it is sometimes necessary for settling disputes and achieving harmony.

Homer's ability to look at the may faces of war make The Iliad a successful piece of literature. Homer presents heroes that are real to us. They are real because they do not seem fake. They are not alike and their differences make the human. Two of the most important characters in the story are nothing alike at all. Hektor is a man of compassion and is often swayed by his notions of family. His concern for their well being overshadows anything else and this can be problematic for a glory-seeking hero. His angst between fighting and family is revealed when Helen approaches him about it and he tells her he would feel "deep shame / before the Trojans . . . If like a coward I were to shrink aside from fighting" (Homer VI.441-3). He knows what lies in his future but that does not make it any easier for him. In this scene, he removes his helmet and kisses his son lifting his voice "in prayer to Zeus and other immortals" (IV.475) declaring, "He is better by far than his father, / as he comes in from the fighting; and let him kill his enemy/and bring home to blooded spoils and delight the heart of his mother" (IV.478-80). Here we see the sensitive, compassionate side of Hektor. He loves his family, which is not a bad thing but he also realizes his other responsibilities. This conflict makes Hektor more real for readers. He knows what it means to want glory but he also knows the price.

Hektor's humanity and his angst allow us to understand the weight of kleos. Hector may have been reluctant to fight at times but there can be doubt that he was an impressive warrior. He illustrates his keen sense of action when he causes coercion with Achilles is no longer relevant. He shows his ability to lead as his army tears down the Achaean wall and razes an Achaean ship. Hektor is also responsible for killing Patroclus. In short, Hektor is no wimp; he is what we might refer to as a moderate warrior because he considers responsibility. He is also honest. He has what it takes to be a successful warrior and he demonstrates that he is not a heartless brute out for blood. His compassion makes him a well-rounded individual and it satisfies us when we think of him in terms of kleos. He tells Achilles, "Brutal as you are I will not defile you, if Zeus grants / To me that I can wear you out . . . I will give your body back to the Achaians. Do you likewise" (XXII-254-6, 268-9). Hektor shows us he can be rational even when the circumstances prove that he does need to be. To illustrate the striking difference between the two men, Achilles responds to Hektor's rationale with disdain, stating:

There are no trustworthy oaths between men and lions, nor wolves and lambs have spirit that can be brought to agreement/but forever these hold feelings of hate for each other, so there can be no love between you and me" (XXII.262-5).

This scene reveals how each man views glory and fame within the context of his own circumstances. One might think respectable warriors would be in agreement on such matters but they do not, revealing… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Glory Explored in Homer's the Iliad."  March 28, 2010.  Accessed September 18, 2020.