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Heoes Of The Iliad And The Odyssey

2057 words - 9 pages

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”
― Sophocles, Antigone
Honor is a major component of ancient Greek culture, which weaves its way through out the great epics of the time. It is perhaps the single most important entity to some of the most renowned heroes. However, the desire for honor seems to have the power to lead such famous men into the clutches of “excessive pride”, or hubris (Oxford Dictionaries.com). As a result, choices tend motivated by the idea of increasing not only their honor, but soothing their insulted pride. Their actions tend to be chosen because of their honor was insulted, which as a result has wounded their pride, and it seems necessary to seek revenge. These choices sometimes lead to devastating consequences and retribution by the gods and other men. The two, honor and pride are so intertwined with one another, that it can be hard to distinguish between the two. However, heroic mortal men like Achilles and Odysseus, whose stories are found within The Iliad and The Odyssey, experience and are often consumed by the damming vice of pride, or hubris, and therefore are subjected to the ramifications that come with their decisions.
In order to distinguish between the actions done through honor, or pride, it is necessary to set a standard definition of the two. According to the online Oxford dictionary, pride is “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements…or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired” (Oxford Dictionaries.com). Pride is often categorized as a vice, something that is negatively represented with unjust morals. That is why it is categorized as one of the Seven Deadly Sins; it comes with immoral thoughts and actions. It is looked down upon to be consumed by pride and to place so much emphasis on those thoughts and behaviors. Thus, when a Greek is prideful, it often means that they were boasting of their power and cleverness, when they should have stepped away after they won a particular battle or achieved some success. Instead, that pride causes further vengeance and penalties that could have been avoided altogether.
Honor, on the other hand, is defined as, “a person or thing that brings credit; adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct” (Oxford Dictionaries.com). Honor is seen as a positive entity, resulting from great moral deeds. Honor is what the bards will sing of for ages to come; it is what makes these mortal heroes, immortal. Honor is displayed through the conquering of wars, heroic efforts, and sometimes specifically being good soldiers. This is all to win favor with the people and with the gods, who will bless them in return. The trend within the Homeric epics is that when the characters’ honor is insulted, their pride is what fights back. Whether they believe to be merely protecting their honor or not, Greek heroes are often...

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