Honor In The Iliad And The Odyssey

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Violence is a common and reoccurring pattern in Greek literature. Famous and honored Greek heroes all share a common characteristic: they are brutal and murderous. Within Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey these are the types of heros that attain kleos and honor. In Greek culture, the best way for a hero to get kleos and honor were through acts of violence. Achilleus attains kleos through his violent acts towards the last books of The Iliad. Because The Iliad takes place during the Trojan war, there are several scenes of blood and gore. After Patroklos’s death Achilleus becomes consumed with vengeance and, “is motivated by bloodlust, an appetite that powerfully underscores his άριοτείαι” (Neal 31). Achilleus’s anger incites his ruthless slaughter of several Trojans:
Achilleus, gathering the fury upon him, sprang on the Trojans with a ghastly cry, and the first of them he killed was Iphiton...Great Achilleus struck him with the spear...in the middle of the head, and all the head broke into two pieces...Next, after him, facing Demoleon..., Achilleus stabbed him in the temple through the brazen sides of the helmet. And...the bronze spearhead driven on through smashed the bone apart, and the inward brain was all spattered forth. So he beat him down in his fury. Next he stabbed with a spear-stroke in the back Hippodamas as he fled away
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Both Achilleus and Odysseus reacted violently towards things that angered or offended them. Achilleus went on a rampage and did not show mercy to anyone on the battlefield following Patroklos’s death and, Odysseus killed everyone that had violated his honor during his absence. Both heroes were ruthless and their violence left the subsequent generations a clue about ancient Greek culture. Violence was important and without it, Achilleus and Odysseus would not have been considered as Greek
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