The American University in Cairo
Department of English and Comparative Literature
506 Greek Classics- Dr. Doris Shoukri
Essay Exam- Part II of Midterm
The poet is a ‘student of his culture’ and thus both The Iliad and The Odyssey are directed sources of their own period. Select any one episode or scene from either of the poems as one that you feel is most memorable. What does it tell about Homeric culture?
A writer is a reflection of his age. A work of art is considered a mirror of the customs, culture, and concepts of the age to which it belongs. Homer’s writings are a true representation of this. His Iliad and Odyssey both reflect the old Greek culture, yet in Homeric touch. The meantime the Greek gods and goddesses are glorified in old Greek literature, Homer portrays them differently: he dramatizes the gods to make them more human like rather than god like. However, glory in Homer’s writings is dedicated to Man, not gods. In his Iliad, Homer evolves his poem around the theme of ‘kingship’. He focuses on the heroic part of his characters; unlike his Odyssey that focuses on the human part. Both The Iliad and The Odyssey are about stories; or in other terms ‘kleos’. The term ‘Kleos’ is derived from ‘Clio’. Clio is one of the nine Muses; she is the Muse of History. Since Greek literature highlights the history of its heroes, Homer follows the same tradition. His Iliad is a good representation of a famous tradition of his age: kleos. This is evident in Homer’s portrayal of his main characters in The Iliad. His major male characters; Achilles, Priam, and Hector are good examples of the idea of man and his kleos. In his portrayal of the three aforementioned characters, Homer relies on the ‘foiling’. He presents three models that best reflect the main theme of his poem; kingship. The meantime Achilles is presented as the ‘god-like’ warrior, Priam is presented as the king who has ‘a heart of iron’; while Homer’s portrayal of Hector is different. In the...
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