Iliad Martial Code Essay

1215 Words5 Pages

In The Iliad 2.246-324, Homer discloses quite a bit about the society his characters live in and displays important aspects of the martial code.

This sequence begins with Thersites, a common soldier, berating king Agamemnon. He his speaking out of anger, since he and his comrades had been at war for nine years, and also attempting to entertain his fellow troops. Thersites is exceptionally ugly. The author says the following:
Here was the ugliest man who ever came to Troy.
Bandy-legged he was, with one food clubbed, both shoulders humped together, curving over his caved-in chest, and bobbing above them his skull warped to a point, sprouting clumps of straggly, woolly hair.
Thersites criticizes Agamemnon for the way that he lives. While the …show more content…

The martial code can be simply defined as the code of conduct that heroes must adhere to in battle. A man must never show mercy, never retreat and never exhibit cowardice.Diomedes “breaker of wild stallions”(cite) is a perfect example of the model soldier. When Sthenelus advises him to fall back, Diomedes responds “[n]ot a word of retreat. You’ll never persuade me. It’s not my nature to shrink from battle, cringe in fear with the fighting spirit still steady in my chest” (6.279-82). Thersites breaks the martial code when he suggests that he and his fellow soldiers sail home and leave the war behind them. Odysseus reacts not only to the man’s irreverence, but also to his gutlessness. The martial code is important to not only the Achaens, but to the Trojans as well. Aeneas, captain of the Trojans tells one of his soldiers in battler “[n]o talk of turning for home! No talk of turning the tide” until their enemies are defeated.During his reprimand of Thersites, Odysseus admits that he does no know how long the war will last nor how it will end. To many readers, this war appearers trivial and insesent, but none of that matters to a Homeric hero. What matters to these men is honor and glory, both of which can be attained by following the martial …show more content…

The united states was established by a group of revolutionaries, so the love of rebellion has been instilled in every patriotic citizen. They root for the underdog and fight for the downtrodden. Thersites could be one of these underdogs. He is weak, poor and generally hated by the men in power, so one might question why is he is not the hero of this story. The answer is found in the context of the poem. In a society that is aristocratic, physiognomic and honorific, Thersites is simply a menace, not the noble insurrectionist a modern reader might see him to be. Rebellion is not celebrated, it is harshly subdued. No one is capable of rising beyond their station, where they are born, there they will likely die. An ugly and insolent soldier is not to be praised. After describing Thersites ghastly appearance, Homer notes that “Achilles despised him most, Odysseus too”(2.257). These are the strong, intelligent, upper-class heroes that are seen throughout this poem, and that fact that they despise this man is meant to tell the reader something important: don’t root for

Open Document