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The Iliad by Homer and The Aeneid by Virgil - Essay Example

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The Iliad by Homer and The Aeneid by Virgil are two time-honored classics referred to as epics. These epics are argued by many to be two of the greatest ever written. Both focus on men who are half god and half mortal. These books form part of the foundation on which western classical tradition was built upon.
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The Iliad by Homer and The Aeneid by Virgil
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Download file to see previous pages Honor takes on different roles within each book. In The Iliad, Greek hero Achilles is ruled by personal honor. The concept is used in an individualistic manner. Achilles strives forth in his heroic efforts to be remembered throughout the ages. In Book IX, Odysseus tells Achilles that he can achieve personal honor and glory by saving the Achaians.
Honor in The Aeneid is not individualistic. The Roman hero Aeneas is bound in honor to his duties of state and to the people. His exploits are done for his countrymen and for the Republic. In Book II, he recounts their tale to Dido, although reluctantly. Aeneas describes their story as a "sad remembrance" and that "I will restrain my tears and briefly tell, What in our last and fatal night befell" (26).
In Book XII of The Aeneid, Aeneas displays honor by agreeing to single combat to save the lives of many. Aeneas fights Turnus, in hopes of ending the battle and returning peace to the Latins and Laurentum. Aeneas will also win the hand of Lavinia in marriage. Aeneas wounds Turnus, then slays him. Thus the war meets its end and the epic therefore ends.
In Book XXII of The Iliad, Achilles instance of honor is quite different. Achilles fights in single combat against Hektor. Hektor is not a willing participant and only agrees after he is promised assistance from Athena. Achilles casts his spear first but misses. Hektor hits the center of Achilles shield with his spear. Achilles wins by stabbing Hektor in the throat. After dragging the dead body behind a horse for 9 days, he is humbled by Hektor's parents pleas. He returns the body, with thoughts of his own father on his mind.
Honorable intentions have impacted the lives of many in these epic stories. Fate has a hand in affecting events as well. Fate in these stories involves two parts. There are laws that govern mens lives: human mortality and the afterlife. It is believed that there is a period of limbo in which the souls of the recently deceased pass through if left unburied. Another part of fate is the view that the outcome of certain events cannot be changed by man or God(s).
In The Aeneid, Aeneas' journey is predestined and unalterable to Italy. The unification of the Trojans and the Latins is another predestined event, causing the formation of a new race. Human mortality and the afterlife are shown when Aeneas is taken to Hades to visit his father. In Book VI, Aeneas sees Deiphobus who is not as he was in life: "Whose face and limbs were one continued wound: Dishonest, with lopp'd arms, the youth appears, Spoil'd of his nose, and shorten'd of his ears" (135).
In The Iliad, there is an unalterable predestined occurrence. Hekuba has a dream and foretells of the fall of Troy. In this dream, her son Paris will be the cause. Achilles is also predestined to die during the Trojan war, since he is mortal. His death was delayed somewhat by the fact that his mother dipped him in the river Styx. Human mortality and the afterlife are exemplified when Patroclos' spirit returns. In Book XXIII, he reminds Achilles that until he is buried he must wander the earth. This happenstance also supports the concept of the period of limbo souls await if left unburied.
With fate often times comes strife. For Greeks, life is based on strife. If strife was avoided, then life was avoided. For Romans, strife is part of fulfilling a destiny. The trials test a leader, who himself does not often see the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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