The Glory Of War Analyzed In Homer’s The Iliad And Ishmael Beah’s Autobiography, A Long Way Gone

649 words - 3 pages

Taking into consideration the many historic events of our time, there is no claim to be made that humanity has kicked its addiction to warfare. The contention, however, lies in whether this addiction may be described as glorious. Those keen to label it so need only look to “the world’s greatest war novel” Homer’s The Iliad in which war creates heroes out of men on both sides of the battlefield. It is fought nobly and bravely, and immortalizes, through song and story as Homer himself had done, the champions of either army. Advocates of the opposite view would instead cite Ishmael Beah’s autobiography, A Long Way Gone, in which war is seen through the eyes of a twelve year old child who bears witness to the horrific destruction of his family. Eventually conscripted as a child soldier and forced to live by the mentally scarring doctrine ‘kill or be killed,’ the theme is not to be missed. Through each author’s use of diction and content, both narratives present compelling grounds for either claim.
In The Iliad, the glory of war is established through artistic words, inspiring speeches and ostentatious imagery. In book fifteen, after Hector had already been wounded by the battle and many lives have been lost, Homer writes: “Arrows leapt from the bow-string, spears shot from steady hands—some to pierce the bodies of strong young men, many to fall between ere they could taste the white flesh, and to stick in the ground greedy for a taste.” (Homer 180) In this passage alone, there are three
instances of personification, all which serve to make the audience as bloodthirsty as the instruments of death are portrayed to be. In contrast, the syntax of A Long Way Gone is very simplistic both in structure and in word choice. Regarding the consequence of war, Beah writes “people stop trusting each other, and every stranger becomes an enemy.” (Beah 37) In...

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