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The Iliad

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The Iliad The warrior ethic was the foundation upon which ancient Greece and its realms were built. This way of life may have seemed barbaric at times, but it was greatly admired by the Greek men. It led to constant feuding of the Greek peoples, but also paved the way for such great epics as the Iliad. The warrior ethic also led to pseudo-immortality: the warrior's legacy (or infamy) lived on after death. In such a time as before the Trojan War, power was ever the goal of man; and this power would come from dominance over his fellow man. To achieve this dominance, a man must be strong, and a brave warrior. He must never show fear, and never turn away from battle. Showing fear was not respected, as illustrated by Hektor in the Iliad: "...yet I would feel great shame/ before the Trojans...if like a coward I were to shrink aside from the fighting..."(66). ...read more.


This warrior ethic sometimes went beyond simple male machismo and turned into an ethic more fitting of a barbarian (NB- the ancient Greeks saw everyone but themselves as barbarians). Warriors may commit cruel or unusual acts during fighting, such as Achilles treatment of Andromache's family. Before the war at Troy, Achilleus seemingly had a feud with E�tion whom he killed and respectfully burned. Yet Achilleus did not stop at E�tion's death, he proceeded to kill Andromache's seven brothers whilst they were "...tending their white sheep and lumbering oxen..."(66). So Achilleus slaughtered these 'non-warrior-ethic' men who could defend themselves. This act does not seem to fit anywhere within the warrior ethic. Yet this brutal act seemed not to defame Achilleus in the eyes of his comrades. Achilleus even went on to commit another heinous act: the dishonouring of Hector of Troy's dead body. ...read more.


The warrior ethic, so deeply embedded in Achilleus' mind, told him to stay and fight, and die having gained such a legacy to be remembered ages after his death. He did so, and killed the second greatest warrior of the day, Hektor. Hektor provides insight into the matter of living after death in his plea to the gods concerning his son, Skamandrios "...grant this boy, who is my son,/ may be as I am, pre-eminent among the Trojans,/ great in strength, as I am, and rule strongly over Ilion;/ and some day let them say: 'He is better by far than his/ father,"(67). Hektor shows no concern for the length of his Skamandrios' days, so long as Skamandrios acquires respect, glory and admiration from his peers. This idea of glory over life sums up the nature of the warrior ethic. Yet even better than glory during life, would be glory after death. And obviously, certain Greek and Trojan warriors did achieve this posthumous glory by inspiring the composure of the Iliad. ...read more.

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