'consider The Nature Of Heroism In Epic Poetry. How Does The Role Of The Hero Relate To The Society That Produced Him? How Is The Idea Of The Hero Questioned?'

2283 words - 9 pages

using The Odyssey by Homer and Aechylus: The Oresteian Trilogy, Agamemnon.'Consider the nature of heroism in epic poetry. How does the role of the hero relate to the society that produced him? How is the idea of the hero questioned?'One of the most famous epic writers is 'Homer'. Homer's Illiad and Odyssey are the first two known works of western literature. They were written in 760-869 BC. They were both created to be oral poems and some question the ability of an orator to be able to remember and recite such long works. There is also question whether 'Homer' was a man or a collection of writers. In this essay I will investigate and analyse the Odyssey in relation to other texts, breaking the above title into the three sections. Firstly the nature of heroism in epic poetry and how Odysseus fits into this. Secondly hero and his society, what aspects of society effect the hero and thirdly how the idea of the hero is questioned in the poem.Homer writes about the thirteenth century BC in Greece and in 'Homer and the oral tradition' Kirk explains how this was a Heroic age:'W.P.Ker and H.M.Chadwick evolved the concept of a Heroic Age: the age of a special kind of militaristic and aristocratic society, whose leaders are bound by a rigid code of personal honour and self-esteem and by the glorification of physical prowess and personal possessions.' (p. 10)This is the materialistic society that relates to the heroes in Homer's epic works. The hero is the main subject matter of most epic poems, the life of the hero is told throughout. The whole story is centred on a great man who does many heroic deeds. In the Odyssey Odysseus is the hero returning from the war in troy to his threatened home in Ithaca. Not only has he been away from home ten years at war but also ten years on the long journey home where he has had to deal with Cyclops, female gods and bad seas.Epic poems are written in impersonal, elevated and formal verse, the kind of language, which is not used in ordinary discourse. In 'The Homeric Epics' Trypanis points this out:'The language they employ is not a living idiom, but an artificial world.' (p.85)Although the language Homer writes in is exaggerated and gives characters God-like qualities it always stays within human capabilities never confusing the supernatural God's with human achievements. Trypanis also explains this in 'The Homeric epic':'epics never descend to a low or unseemly description' (p.99)There are many examples of this ad they are listed below:- Odysseus' son Telemachus is described as godlike:'Telemachus the godlike youth'(p.6)This is a characteristic put on him by society as he is the son of a hero. It shows the importance of family and ancestry in the heroic Greek culture.- When Helen of Troy introduces Odysseus' tales she implies that he is almost not human and has no fear like a god:'all the daring feats of dauntless Odysseus'(p.52)- In 'the Oresteian Trilogy' Agamemnon talks to his wife, Clytemnestra and realises himself...

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