Virtue In Telemachus’ Life Essay

1236 words - 5 pages

Telemachus is the son of Odysseus and Penelope in the Odyssey. He was raised without a father and this caused him not to have a strong male example in his life. He was forced to mature into a man on his own and become the man his father was. Telemachus is required to figure out ways to be honorable on his own and this causes him to have a deeper responsibility than the normal man of his age. In Telemachus’ life, he is able to mature into an adult man capable of making virtuous decisions and acting with the honor that is required of a virtuous man of the Greek world and Christian world.
Virtue in the Greek world was determined mainly by how one is viewed by others. This was an important notion for the Greeks, since their society was very aggressive. The world of the Odyssey was fiercely competitive, as each hero strove to outdo the other (Finley 118). This competitive attitude stems from the Greek concept of arête, or excellence (Moran 2). This neec for excellence is what caused the Greeks to try their hardest to fulfill their function as a human and as a member of society. In order for a Greek person to be fully functioning, they had to excel in certain attributes that were key to their role in society. For the average Greek male, their function was to be brave, effective, and honorable. These three qualities are the virtues that every Greek male strived to attain, with honor being the most important. Bravery and effectiveness are both related to combat and how a man conducted himself on the battlefield. If a man is not effective in war, or other occupations, then he had no means to attain arête. The same can be said about bravery, since bravery is essential for a warrior to succeed. Honor is the most important virtue of the Greek world since this is what all people strived to have. If one was honorable, then his life was on track. This stems from the fact that the society is based on how one is viewed by others, as previously mentioned. Every value, every judgment, every action, all skills and talents have the function of ether defining honor or realizing it (Finley 113).
Virtue in the Christian world is not grounded on the ideas of self-justification and the approval of others as in the Greek world. Starting in the time of Aristotle, the whole idea of human flourishing and rational thought came into existence. Man is flourishing in this world when he is engaged in rational thought (Moran 2). In the world of the Greeks, the virtues were a means to an end; while in the era of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates the virtues are partly constitutive of the end (Moran 3). This notion of virtue as a constitutive of the end brought God into the picture of Christian virtue ethics. Thomas Aquinas introduces the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity and these are the primary virtues that define a Christian man of the present time (Moran 3). Faith is the virtue in which one believes in God and all he has revealed to us (CCC 1814). Hope is the virtue...

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