Historical View of the Greek Heroic Ideal Term Paper

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Greco-Roman Tradition

How does the ideal of heroic citizenship change from the Greek mythopoetic tradition through the emergence of Greek tragic drama to the late Stoicism of Roman imperialism?

Mythopoeic thought holds that the occurrences of events are the result of an act of will on the part of gods and spirits. A thread of anthropomorphism runs through this mythopoeic thinking as impersonal laws of nature and the deductive generalizations of logic are not a part of the mythopoeic framework: instead, every event is an aspect of some personal being. A mythopoeic orientation is one of the most primitive lenses used by humans to explain and attribute meaning to phenomena. Sensemaking in naive cultures typically involves attribution of human motivation to the inanimate and to otherwise inexplicable events. Indeed, the term mythopoeic means myth-making, from the Greek muthos or myth and poiein which means to make. From the anthropomorphic position of the mythopoeic thought, Greek thinking began to emphasize the role of the human being in their own misfortunes. This is not to say that the role of the divine was abolished from Greek thinking, but rather that it was a diminished
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factor -- one that was triggered more or less by the actions of mortals, as often depicted in Greek tragic drama.

Greek tragic drama is a form of literary composition intended for the stage in which a central protagonist or hero suffers some type of serious misfortune. The word tragoidia, from which the word tragedy is derived, is a compound word of two Greek words: tragos or goat and ode meaning song, which comes from aeidein, meaning to sing: parts written for a chorus were integral to the form of Greek tragic drama. The tragedy is based in the concept that the misfortune is logically linked to the actions of the hero, such that it could potentially have been avoided had the hero behaved in a different manner or made different choices. An overarching theme of Greek tragic drama is that human beings are vulnerable to divine actions as well as to their own mistaken beliefs and imprudent behaviors. Regardless, the vulnerable human beings who suffer are generally considered in Greek tragic drama to not deserve the draconian, overly harsh events that befall them. While most Greek tragic dramas conclude with the protagonist in misery, some do provide a satisfactory solution.

Stoicism is…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bowra, C.M. (1957). The Greek Experience. New York: Praeger. In Steven Kreis, History Guide (2006).

Dunkle, R. (1986). The classical origins of western culture. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn College, The City University of New York.

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