The Timeless Truths of Homer's Iliad

Powerful Essays
James Hutchinson

Ms. Spicer

AP Literature

20 August 2010

Homer's Timeless Truths

Is Homer's The Iliad relevant to today's society? Is this work a timeless parable depicting universal human truths transcending time and context or merely a superbly-crafted epic poem to be studied and admired for its stylistic brilliance? Has the text endured simply because of Homer's dramatic verse or because of the timeless human truths it conveys? Was it written to persuade readers to question the moral implications and savagery of war or simply to provide provocative entertainment? These questions have been posed for centuries yet rarely have been sufficiently answered. However, an astute student of contemporary politics, media, and entertainment cannot fail to notice that many Homeric themes, such as the celebration of war, the corruption of power, and man's desire for personal glory are as apparent in contemporary American life as they are within the pages of The Iliad. Though it is unknown whether or not the blind Greek poet intended to create a work that would have such an enduring impact on Western man, clearly the poem's underlying themes and the ominous questions it raises remain relevant in the twenty-first century. One of Homer's primary themes, the glorification of war and violence, is clearly relevant today. The celebration of war is omnipresent throughout The Iliad. To Homer's characters, battlefield courage, skill, and savagery are seen as both the ultimate means of serving one's country and of proving personal strength and integrity. War is depicted more as an opportunity to achieve a greater good and demonstrate individual valor than as a necessary evil to gain a larger political purpose. Homer's heroes focus more on the craft of battle itself than on the geopolitical goal they hope to obtain through the protracted bloody combat. In one scene, Hector responds to his army's reluctance to fight by proclaiming, “Fight for your country! That is the best, the only

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