Greek Code of Honor Essay

Homer’s two epic novels “The Iliad and The Odyssey,” are regarded as the highest cultural achievement of their people, the defining moment of the Greek culture that sets the characters in stone. Homer has two very important words repeated throughout his Greek epics: honor and greatness. His great sense of Greek Code of Honor or face time is not the same as the spiritual notion of honor that is independent of what people may say about you. The spiritual notion of honor is more of a lofty notion of what saints have taken. The lie we tell ourselves is like Achilles, as a schoolboy who cries when he is made fun of.Homer’s characters are self-seeking, vain, and proud.

They know better than any other person who believe “That pride goes before the fall,” and never pretend to be immune to Hubris. These human characters know it is terrible to be humiliated. Briseis was Achilles’ prize for his bravery and valor. Briseis, was also a token of what the Greek commanders thought of Achilles’ that was a symbol of high regard.Achilles,’ is deprived of his honor and seeks revenge.The wrath of Achilles is the focus of Homer’s Iliad, however there are other stories in this epic that also refers to the Greek Code of Honor.

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There is the story of Helen and Paris, The marriage of Hector and Andromache, for example. Achilles is not the hero of these stories. These are separate stories with different heroes, in Homer’s story as Ajax, Diomedes, Odysseus, Amphilochus, Idomeneus, Sarpedon, Aeneas, as well Hector. The names of the hero’s can be found in episodes called Aristeia, which is from the Greek word meaning; “the moment of glory.” The reader will find the basic principal of Greek morality, which is “The pursuit of excellence,” in these scenes that will last forever.The basic principal of the pursuit of excellence can be found for example, when the young Lycian Warrior Glaucus appears to the Greek Hero and tells him he is the son of Hippolochus, who had told him in the past [“To always be the best, and be superior than other men.” The Iliad, Book 4].

This is an example of the warrior code of the Greeks. Homer also shows another example of the Greek code in Book 12, when Glaucus with his chief Sarpedon prepares an assault on the walls the Greeks have built as a defense of their camp.Glaucus tells his friend that it is their duty as Greek nobleman to get in the forefront of the camp. That is why they are honored at banquets and are treated like Gods, he tells him.

[“If we could avoid this war and live forever without getting older, I would not myself fight in the forefront or send you to fight where men find their glory. The fact is that thousands of deaths press upon us, which no mortal not escape. Let us go and gain glory for ourselves at other’s men’s expense or give him glory.” The Iliad]. This refers to the Greek code of honor or moral code of life and death justifying an Aristocrats’ privileges.

 The story of the Iliad is about strength and glory whereas in the Odyssey is more about a man’s cunning and deceit. This difference is clear in the very first line of the epic. The Iliad tells the story of rage of Achilles who is the greatest, strongest hero in the Greek army. The Odyssey focuses more on Odysseus, another great Greek hero who is a “The man of twists of turns.” [The Odyssey, Book 1.

1]. Odysseus, is not known for his great strength or bravery however rather for his cunning, and deceit.For example: it is Odysseus, idea to take over Troy by offering citizens a large wooden horse filled with  Greek soldiers. Odysseus is known as the “man of many ways” or “man of many tricks.” Odysseus, adheres to the Greek Code of Honor, by remaining Mortal and stay with his wife Penelope, when the Gods offer him the chance to stay on the island with Calypso and be immortal. Odysseus deceives Calypso to escape. This decision angers the Gods who delays his homecoming for ten years.

                             It is the nature of mortal life that is the Greek code of honor in The Odyssey. The choice to remain mortal when a man is offered to be a God, becomes problematic when Odysseus speaks with the ghost of Achilles in the underworld Odysseus tells him [“All the shade of the dead must worship and serve, Achilles.” Book 11, The Odyssey]. The ghost of Achilles answers Odysseus [“I would rather be the meanest and most obscure slave of the poorest landowner than be the most famous of the dead. If being dead is so awful, what is it about being human that makes up for the infinite suffering that attends our deaths?” The Odyssey; book 11].

As in The Iliad, this question concerns, the nature of human life, the nature of human civilization and human savagery.                         Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, is an astonishing work of poetry and narrative literature and is considered the greatest work ever written. The interaction in the stories between the Gods, goddess and humans as well as their souls after death indicate spiritual awareness.

However, it also indicates human weakness to divine characters. Homer made it clear in his epic stories that the mortals Greek Code of honor is just as rotten as the Gods and Goddesses.                                                       -Works Cited- The Ethics of Greek Culture to 500BC toBy Sanderson Beck    TROY: Homer’s Iliad Retold By David Boyle ad Viv Croot; General Editor Michael J.

Anderson; Publisher: Barnes and Nobles Books, Inc, Ivy Press Limited 2004.      Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia: Fourth Edition; edited Bruce Murphy; Publisher: Harper Collins, The Iliad, Part II: The Heroic Code. Feb 27, 2004 


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