Odyssey Literary Analysis

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In 2000, American military historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote that “any time the Western way of war can be unleashed on an enemy stupid enough to enter its arena, victory is assured.” Beyond idolizing Western civilization’s military performance throughout history, Hanson’s statement raises several questions about the development of this particular approach to warfare and its various consequences and implications at local and global scales. This evolutionary process traces back to Ancient Greece (c. 800 BCE), of which the main if not only written accounts of the time were Homer’s epics. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey not only stand as the prime works of literature of antiquity —and, thus, entertainment—, but also illustrate the archetypical …show more content…
The orthodox current claims that the transformations triggered by the Hoplite Reform took place in an abrupt and sudden manner, and, thus, can be categorized as an intense revolution. Kagan and Viggiano claim for a precipitated change in the archaic Greek structure and perception of warfare beginning with Homer’s epics. Such evolution of the fighting style, from the individual combat between hero-aristocrats to the massive engagement of entire hoplite armies, was driven in great part by the innovations in weapons, armor and tactics. Nonetheless, the invention of the double-griped hoplon and the rearrangement of heavy infantry into a cohesive phalanx formation had various political, socioeconomic and psychological implications outside the battlefield, especially concerning the creation of a hoplite middle class. This model is most similar to George Grote’s thesis, as both claim that the Hoplite Reform marked the turning point between Homeric aristocratic fighting style and values into the later broader sociopolitical structure and mindset. Thus, this changes forced the narrow, highborn aristocracy to secede a substantial portion of their power. Yet, it only enabled the creation of a broader oligarchy and never reached the extent of a full democracy in the short run – …show more content…
Anthony Snodgrass suggests a piecemeal evolution in which “the aristocratic soloists took up new items of equipment before the invention of the phalanx,” even before the rise of the tyrants . He affirms that there was no climactic point in which the fighting style and military structure changed, but rather aggregate events at which an increasing number of citizens could afford their own panoply and participate in the army. Another gradualist viewpoint is Paul Cartledge’s, who claims that the broader socioeconomic and political circumstances had a greater influence than the period’s military developments. His main driving motives for warfare were the increasing overpopulation and land hunger: communities competed to accumulate the maximum amount of land, even within the same polis. From the accumulation of small-scaled conflicts, the “wealthy and well equipped commoners” become a major faction within the Greek poleis and the ruling aristocrats had no choice but to integrate them into the army. Inevitably, as the power of independent farmer-hoplites kept rising, the aristoi had to acquiesce to the ensuing reforms to avoid stasis and civil

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