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Heroism and cowardice in the Odyssey.

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  • Essay length: 1036 words
  • Submitted: 01/01/2004
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AS and A Level Classics

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Name: Manya Aggarwal Date: 26/12/2003

Class: 12-H

Heroism and cowardice in the Odyssey.

The most respected and venerated social group in Homeric times was that of the heroic warriors and kings. These were the people who lead their armies into battle and won accolades for their valor or courage displayed on the battlefield. The cowardly on the other hand, were subjected to strong prejudice. Their existence was considered a burden on the earth and they were ignored and ridiculed by everyone. This is evident in the Odyssey when Homer describes the incident of Elpenor's death. "There was one called Elpenor, the youngest of the party, not much a fighting man and not very clever. This young man had got drunk and gone to sleep on the roof of Circe's palace. Roused in the morning by the bustle and din of departure, he leapt up suddenly, and forgetting to go down the ladder and take the proper way down, he toppled headlong down the roof." As is clear from this description, Elpenor's death was never much of an issue for Odysseus or his crew, who laughed it off and ignorantly left his body unburied

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