Heroic Ideal Greece, Rome Essay

Pages: 2 (792 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World

According to Aristotle, the ideal hero should be good (better than ordinary men), valorous, true to life, and consistent. Sophocles' Oedipus is certainly all of these things. The key, of course, to the Greek hero is the heroic insistence upon truth, honor, and respect for the gods.

Plato's hero Socrates intellectualizes this insistence and dramatizes the search for truth by way of dialogue, holding up the philosopher as a heroic type, as in the Allegory of the Cave.

In Rome and with Virgil's Aeneid, the hero, however, is once again a man of arms. He is the father of a country and of a noble race. He strives to be a mirror of virtue and of justice. But he also embraces the Stoic ideal of putting himself second -- behind his duty to the State. Since Roman citizenship was more universal in terms of accepting many different races of men, it becomes necessary in the Roman Empire to exercise authority at a remove, with less personality and drama, as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius show. The gods, too, are somewhat more impersonal than in Greek drama.

The Enchiridion, for example, is a work of Roman Stoicism that emphasizes clarity in the intellectual realm and points out the limitations of human control. It focuses on self-mastery rather than on domination of men. It is inward looking -- much like Sophocles' drama -- but it lacks the personality of the Greek hero.

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In the end, the heroic ideal combines elements of personal glory with divine intervention or what today is called Providence. Achilles' and Hector's fate is decided by the Fates. Aeneas, likewise, has a destiny to fulfill. But the hero must also evince selflessness and humility -- as Oedipus does in his tragic tale -- and as Marcus Aurelius attempts to do in his rule as Emperor of Rome. The hero strives to be better than ordinary men and yet is not insensitive of his own faults. Ultimately, he submits to a higher power, whether it is personal (as in Greece) or impersonal (as in the late Stoicism of the Roman Empire).

Reference List

Essay on Heroic Ideal Greece, Rome an Assignment

Aristophanes. (1973). Lysistrata/The Acharnians/The Clouds. Trans. Alan Sommerstein. NY: Penguin Classics, 1973.

Homer. (2008). The Iliad. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. UK:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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