Term Paper: What Can the Iliad Teach Us About Humanity in War?

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¶ … Iliad teach us about humanity in war

Humanity and War in the Iliad

The Iliad, one of the greatest works of ancient literature, is essentially a poem that celebrates war and the warring codes. The action of the poem spans a large period of time during the Trojan War, without actually seeing the battle through the end. The view of war presented in the Iliad differs widely from the modern view of war. The poem certainly presents the dark and destructive side of the conflict, which leads to the deaths of significant heroes (Patroclus, Hector, and even Achilles towards the end of the war), the pain and the suffering of the wives who lose their husbands and brothers in the fight and many other tragic events. An instance of the dreadful effects of war is given in Andromache's speech at the death of her husband Hector: "O my husband... / cut off from life so young! You leave me a widow, / lost in the royal halls -- and the boy is only a baby, / the son we bore together, you and I so doomed."("The Iliad," Book XXIV)

However, war and military glory are crucial values in Ancient Greeks. Both heroes and gods are appreciated according to their valiance and strength: the main virtues of Achilles and Hector are their undaunted courage and their warring skills, while Paris who is unskilled in war and unfit for it is despised by the rest of the characters, including Helen. The Iliad thus offers a complex insight into the human condition as well as the human nature, both insights being gained through the central theme of war. One of the most important lessons that the Iliad teaches is a significant lesson in humanity: Achilles, a very complex character, is at first motivated by his "rage" as the opening lines of the poem indicate: "Rage -- Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles, / murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses, / hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls, / great fighters' souls, but made their bodies… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"What Can the Iliad Teach Us About Humanity in War?."  Essaytown.com.  January 10, 2008.  Accessed August 23, 2019.