The Importance of Justice in the Ancient Greek Society

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Depicting courage and gaining success in the battle, are some of the most obvious ways of obtaining honor and glory in the ancient Greek society. As evidenced in the Iliad, different people are ready to sacrifice anything including their lives in pursuit of honor and glory. For instance, Achilles and Hector are notable great fighters whose involvement in the battle result in an almost assured win which has earned them significant honor and respect in the ancient Greek society. This is seen when the Achilles decides to abstain from the battle since he was slighted by Agamemnon. This great warrior feels that he is justified to let his people be defeated in the battle as a way of punishing them through the withdrawal of his effort and prowess. Interestingly the defeat is inevitable which only rubberstamps the importance of such a great warrior and how much contribution he has in the army. The fact that Achilles is not ready to get justice through any other means for the actions of Agamemnon other than to withdraw from the war explains the weight in which success in the battle had in the ancient Greek society. There must have been other mechanisms or structures which this great leader could have used to seek justice for what he deemed as unfair treatment other than withdrawing from the battle which made them lose. It is obvious that through this he must have achieved revenge for the disrespect he was treated to.

"Glorious" Hector "who was ever the bravest fighter of the Trojans (Homer, Iliad 6.460)". is ready to sacrifice personal commitments more so that of his family so that he can use that chance to display his courage and battle prowess which in return earns him honor and glory among the Trojans. He is seen rejecting numerous requests from his wife to stay at home and take care of the family instead of dedicating all the time on the battlefield. To Hector, it is only just to dedicate his time and effort to the Trojan army so that they can win the battles.

As much as Achilles is reluctant to join the war and restore the honor and glory that his army prides in, he is considerate enough to allow his closest friend Patroclus to use his armor which enables them to successfully rescue the ships. This happens because Hector and his army are convinced that Achilles is present for the fight which makes them fearful hence retreats. This shows the balance between honor and glory versus justice on part of Achilles. He feels that withdrawing his battle prowess is a way of seeking justice for the disrespect he has been shown but on the other hand is mindful of the potential loss of glory and honor his army might suffer if they continuously lose the battles. For this reason, he agrees his armor to be worn by his closest friend as they go to war so that they can deceive the Trojan army that Achilles, the great warrior is back to fight. This trick works perfectly and they end up winning. Later, Achilles in one of his somber moments regrets the rage he showed towards Agamemnon that has resulted in him abandoning his fellow Greeks. He describes it as a mistake having resulted from the emotional reaction which was uncontrollable. Achilles is remorseful for his withdrawal decision because he feels it was not just to let his army suffer as he tried to avenge Agamemnon action. Justice, in this case, is seen to prevail because it makes the great warrior come back to his senses. The disagreement between Agamemnon and Achilles is about honor and glory as both men assert themselves as powerful and thus the competition sets in as to who is mightier. To prove his powers, Agamemnon is determined to take a girl belonging to Achilles by force which angers Achilles who orders his men not to engage in a fight with the Greeks so that Agamemnon and his army may lose hence punish him for the act of taking his girlfriend. The urge to prove might and power seems to trump over justice as Agamemnon does not care whether his action is justified or fair if at all it will depict him as more powerful than Achilles.

In conclusion, it is evident in the book that people can go to incredible heights in search of power and recognition. The ancient Greek society represents the modern communities which care less about the path followed provided one gain a personal advantage over the others. For this reason, there are many instances in the present-day societies in which justice is overlooked as individuals greedily pursue honor and power. Such cases in the book are well represented by Achilles who kills Hector as a way of seeking revenge for his best friend. In this instance, he is not mindful of whether it is just to kill a fellow human being because there is a more powerful drive beyond reasoning.

Works cited

Edwards, Mark W. Homer: poet of the Iliad. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.

Lattimore, Richmond, ed. The Iliad of Homer. University of Chicago Press, 1961.

November 24, 2023

History Literature

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