Professor S. Stoner
Western Heritage Course Paper
20 November 2015
Are Honor and Glory Critical to Understand Heroes’ Motivation?
Honor and glory are central to the Greek character. Since heroes are the essence of the society from which they come from, Greek heroes live their lives according to honor and glory, in all kinds of varied forms. Both traits trigger a magnificent war that takes the lives of numerous men, and shapes its development at every stage. The fall of Troy is “a thing… whose glory shall perish never (Homer, Iliad 2.324)”. The goal of the Greeks is fame that is never ending and lastly even after death, and they let nothing bar their way. The honor of the individual, family, and community guide every action …show more content…
His message is well received. Meanwhile, Thersites, a man- and commoner- despised by all, advises the army to return home and is struck down by Odysseus to the pleasure of the gathered crowd. Here, the respect and honor that Odysseus has achieved lends sufficient weight to his argument that his opponent, without equivalent status, is barely allowed to retort. The honor and glory an individual has gained increase the respect and influence he commands as well. Honor and glory were important to the ancient Greeks because social status was not fixed. Indeed, in the eyes of the Greeks “social status correlates closely with access to power, but does not fully determine it.” Positions of power were not simply inherited, and through honorable and respected actions a person could elevate their social position significantly. This mobility in Greek culture inspires a cooperative attitude between the local leaders and the people following them. The leaders require the voluntary cooperation of the people under them, and only achieve that with respect and honor. This quality allows Achilles to disobey Agamemnon and refuse to fight when Agamemnon dishonors him by taking his prize. Many of the strategic decisions for the …show more content…
This communal sentiment often conflicts with individual desires. Many times throughout the Iliad what is best for the group is rejected for individual honor. Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon wage war to regain honor, despite the cost of the lives that will be lost in the process. There are multiple instances throughout the Iliad where the question of standing down to prevent others from being killed is rejected as cowardly or weak, and the fight continues. With the massive struggle between two of the Greeks’ greatest men, Agamemnon and Achilles, to retain their honor in the public view, it becomes clear that there are different views on honor within the society. Agamemnon felt his personal honor was greater than that of the army, but Achilles calls him out as “wrapped in shamelessness, with your mind forever on profit (Homer, Iliad 1.149)”. Both of the heroes see their women as a sign of status and honor, but relinquishing the symbol of honor for the sake 3 Paper 1 Cheryl Texin 21h.301 Rec: F2 of the army, as in Agamemnon’s case, does not necessarily diminish his personal honor. Many other respected men, such as Odysseus, try to convince Agamemnon to calmly return his