The Pursuit of Honor and Glory in The Iliad

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Glory and honor are crucial to understanding Homer’s characters in Iliad because heroes are the essence of the society from which they come. The pursuit of honor and glory primarily triggers the epic war captured by the poet in Iliad. The fame sought by characters in Iliad resounds even after death, and they are committed to doing anything to achieve honor and glory (Balloo 1).  The concepts of honor and glory are closely related to the idea of justice since they shape how justice is viewed in society. The heroic actions and deeds of characters are not only aimed at achieving glory but also serve as forms of justice. The most evident form of justice seen in the Iliad is the reciprocal type where proper vengeance is considered a matter of sacrifice from the avenger and the victim and not an issue of personal gain (Stanton 26). While characters in the Iliad engage in exacting revenge driven by the desire to obtain honor and glory, their heroic behaviors develop the concept of retributive justice based on reciprocity and fairness.

            One significant factor that connects honor and justice in the Iliad is the divine justice that is based on favoritism and the desire to maintain honor. For example, Zeus has two urns; one of the blessings and another of evil. However, Zeus mingles the gifts from the two urns to be distributed to people without regard for merit (Il. 22.208- 213). In the same way, Zeus gives out punishments based on the concept of honor and reciprocal justice as opposed to basing the penalties on his divinity. For example, some scholars consider Zeus's punishment of Hera a demonstration of the god's concern for his honor than with the evaluation of the rights and wrongs of his relationship with other gods (Allan 12). On the same note, the Trojan's are depicted as sympathetic characters who are fought for by some gods including Hera. However, the motivation behind these gods engagement in the war is the pursuit of glory and honor since the mortals, and the immortals all seek to maintain honor and achieve glory out of the battles.

            Apart from that, Homer presents justice as destruction and death only during the time of war, but in times of peace, justice is defined by love and dancing. The characters engage in battles to obtain glory and justice and the process does not allow for arbitration or a peaceful solution. Instead, the means of securing justice is characterized by severe forms of revenge and insults. An excellent example is the Achilles action of murdering Hektor, mutilating his body and dragging it around the walls of Troy in retaliation for Patroklos's death (Il. 22. 425-440). For a hero like Achilles, this kind of severe revenge is a form of retributive justice which involves necessary punishment and reciprocity accomplished on the basis of specific rules and  on behalf of his people (Strunton 26). The revenge administered by Achilles is also a way of repairing the damage done by Hektor to his friend Patrokolos and the Greek community as a whole. Therefore, the pursuit of glory and honor in Iliad

make heroes view revenge as s proper form of justice that ensures punishment remains proportionate to the offense for which it is being administered.

Works Cited

          Allan, William. "Divine Justice and Cosmic Order in Early Greek Epic". The Journal Of Hellenic                  Studies, vol 126, 2006, pp. 1-35. Cambridge University Press (CUP),                                                     doi: 10.1017/s0075426900007631.

          Balloo, Yennaedo. "The Epic Entourage: Homeric Values Of Heroism In The Modern Age And                                     Setting". English And Comparative Literary Studies (ECLS), 2009, pp. 1-22.,                               ml?p2=%5EUX%5Exdm778%5ES15420%5Eke&ptb=2EF76173-F3D2-4005-BB2B-    14597F087905&n=782a068f&ind=&tpr=hpsb&trs=hps&cn=ke&ln=en&si=CLCL3smw18oCFSfnw        godm2cFNQ&searchfor=scholarly%20articles%20on%20kleos%20and%20time%20in%20Illiad&st             =tab&httpsredir=1&article=1002&context=ecls_student. Accessed 12 Dec 2018.

          Homer. "Iliad". Www.Gutenberg.Org, 2005,                 h.htm. Accessed 12 Dec 2018.

          Stanton, Judith. "Research Note: A New Perspective On Revenge And Justice In                                              Homer". Bridgewater Review, vol 2, no. 2, 1984, pp. 26-27.,                                                                    1816&context=br_rev. Accessed 12 Dec 2018.

November 24, 2023

Life Literature

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Achilles Homer

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