Iliad and Odyssey

Topics: Odyssey, Trojan War, Homer Pages: 5 (1809 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The views and beliefs of societies are often portrayed in the literature, art, and cinema of a certain era. The epic poems, The Iliad and Odyssey, give scholars and historians an idea how the Ancient Greek lived their everyday lives. By reading the two "novels," the reader is able to experience the three thousand years old society of Homer. The various similarities between our society and the societies depicted in the Iliad and the Odyssey are surprising profuse. To name a few: the superfluous violence in Iliad and Odyssey, the characterization of Odysseus, the obscure use of narcotics, the similarities between Catholicism and certain stories of the Odyssey, and the role of pets and animals. Despite the numerous similarities, there are some distinct differences. The specific differences between our society and that of Ancient Greece is the role of women in ancient Greece, polytheism, the and the importance of hospitality. Violence, it is a part of the Iliad and Odyssey; it is portrayed in nearly all our movies and literature. The numerous battles in the Iliad constantly described the grotesque deaths of warriors. "He brought him down with a glinting jagged rock, massive, top of the heap behind the rampart's edge, no easy lift for a fghger even in prime strength, working with both hands, weak as men are now." Giant Ajax hoisted it high and hurled it down, crushing the rim of the soldiers four horned helmet and cracked his skull to splinters, a bloody pulp…" 435-443. Violence, the many scenes of war in the Iliad reminded me of the first battle scene of Saving Private Ryan. The extremely violent images of men crying out for their mothers, the intestines spilling out of a man's belly, and the many pictures of bullet wounds. I believe that if Homer had lived in the 20th century, that the battle scenes of the Iliad would resemble those of the many gruesome films and books written in this century. A specific example of senseless violence was during the fall of Troy; Hektors young child was thrown off the high walls of Troy. It obvious that every society throughout time has appreciated virulent violence. Like the Iliad, the Odyssey had many violent and action scenes. Odysseus's encounter with the Cyclopes, Polyphemus, entranced the reader with many cacophonous images. "Up from his gullet, bits of human flesh and wine were gushing: in his drunken sleep, he'd vomited." Pg. 181. Then the description of the blinded of Polyphemus: "and when that stake of olive-wood, though green, it was glowing…and then they clasped the pointed stake, and drove it into his eye, twirling the burning hot point deeper and deeper into the eye." Pg. 181. I could not help it, but when Odysseus returned to Ithaca, it reminded me of a Jerry Springer episode. Near the end of book XVIII, Odysseus is engaged in a verbal argument with Eurymachus; during the argument Eurymachus actually throws a stool at Odysseus! A scene like that has never happened on American TV before. In book XXII, Odysseus kills at least seven men. In the Odyssey, the main character, Odysseus seemed to be "un-touchable." Odysseus survived the Trojan War, shipwrecks, the raid on the Cicones, The lotus eaters, and the Cyclops. Not to mention the encounter with Hades and the battle with the suitors. Like American "pop" culture, the hero is rarely killed, but rather slightly injured. Rambo, James Bond, Matlock, Magnum P.I., and Odysseus all have the same characteristics: astute, subtlety, self discipline, strong, but not necessarily adheres to the heroic code of conduct. All of these characters adapt their behavior to the circumstances in which he finds himself, although always retaining a realistic conception of his self-interest and his ultimate goals. All five characters have imperfections. Odysseus is full of pride; he nearly got himself killed by Polyphemus. Rambo has a speech impediment, James Bond and Magnum are too fond of women, and Matlock is...
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