From Nature and Culture in the Iliad: the Tragedy of Hector Bibliography

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From Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector. Copyright 1975 by The University of Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.

In his Chicago University Press article Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector, James M. Redfield describes how “A Homeric community consists, in effect, of those who are ready to die for one another”, and the heroic role that the warriors from such a “tight-knit community” must achieve through action. He continues to mention how society contributes to the encouragement of this certain social task and the desire for the status of heroism. Among these nations and warriors, there is “a double meaning of combat: Defensive yet aggressive and altruistic yet egotistic”. The lengths these men go to in order to attain what they seek is imperative to the negative effects it also has.

The heroes of these communities are praised by society and they are portrayed as being god-like, but “All of this is only a social illusion; the hero may appear god-like but he is only mortal.”Their people put them onto a pedestal, and that praise alone gives them privileges over the average citizen. Knowledge of these privileges puts pressure on someone who is defending their nation. Their job is to protect their people, however; if a nation isn’t at war then the warriors wouldn’t be able to prove themselves. So they are then obligated to seek out another nation and use force against that land, which can have a detrimental outcome. This creates a “paradox”.

“To die for something, he says, is better than to die for nothing – and that is, after all, the alternative.” These warriors legitimize themselves by showing off the virtues that are of necessity on and off the battlefield. On the battlefield they, without hesitation, instinctively act in the way needed to survive. Yet, simultaneously, they’re capable of analyzing the situation and absorb the fact that, ultimately, the cost of their duty is indeed with their own lives. When on...
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