Self and the Other Term Paper

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Trojan Wars and Culture

The three epic stories namely, The Iliad, the Trojan Women, Pericle's Funeral Oration are powerfully written master pieces of work, that illustrate the element of horridness of war beautifully.

The Iliad

The story of Homer's Iliad focuses on the "rage of Achilles." Reading this epic poem makes one believe that it is based entirely on the totality and gruesomeness of war. However, it tells us about the details of war with full description and information. Though war is an important aspect of the tale, but the real story is based on the remarkable fighter and hero-that man is none other than Achilles.

Achilles possesses the greatest military expertise of any of the Achaean ranks and also the greatest fighting ability out of all of the warriors, Trojan or Achaean. At the beginning of the epic, Achilles becomes liberated from his fellow warriors and retreats back to his own ships of Myrmidons and after refusing to fight for the Achaean cause against the Trojans. We learn about the problems that are faced by Achilles when it comes to his fellow soldiers, but as the story proceeds we see that he has no choice but to face the reality that he has chosen to live a short and glorious life, instead of a long and blessed life. Achilles knows that he will eventually die in the heat of battle and become famous for the way he dies. If this story is really true then he has gained eternal fame in Homer's tale.

Achilles eventually returns to fight with the Achaeans, on his own. The mighty Hector of Troy kills Achilles' best friend and soul mate Patroclus.

Achilles is really disturbed by this and avenges to kill Hector by creating havoc with the life of Hector to gain revenge. He manages to finally kill several Trojan men and then finally after chasing Hector for some time around the city of Troy, he manages to kill him and damages his body by dragging him around to get his hate, and anger out.

King Priam of Troy, Hector's father, comes to Achilles peacefully after his son's death, to beg Achilles for the body of his son making this scene the most emotional human aspects of the epic. Achilles agrees to the King's wishes and seems to become sad by the damage.

From reading the story of Achilles, we learn that he is a born warrior. Being the son of Peleus, he feels that he must fight. His battles with the Trojans bring him glory and honor. He already has the honor of the gods. He says, "My honor lies in the great decree of Zeus..." (IX.741.p.272). By book IX, he shows no desires for material wealth. He even rejects Agamemnon's offers. His is not inspired by the ideals of heroism since they don't concern him; this clearly shows that his ideals are different from those of his peers. First of all, these materialistic prizes offered by Agamemnon are already; secondly, he believes that by accepting these gifts would mean accepting that Agamemnon is greater than him. "Twelve cities of men I've stormed and sacked form shipboard, eleven I claim by land, on the fertile earth of troy. And from all I dragged off piles of splendid plunder, hauled it away and always gave the lot to Agamemnon..." (IX.398-401.p.262).

Nonetheless, it is more important for Achilles to win the battle of mortality that would glorify him in the Homeric world. He feels honor and glory are more important to him than materialistic things because he doesn't know whether he will live or die. Achilles is confused about what he really wants. Pride and stubbornness are elements of his rage, and they are consciously present in his anger manifested from his fear and confusion -- "Stop confusing my fixed resolve with this..." (IX.745-746.p.272).

Achilles knows he wants honor and glory since his life will be short. So, the choices he makes for his honor are crucial. This is a really crucial point in his life because his life depends on the decisions he makes. This is why he chooses to go to war, live a short life, and attain much glory. At the end of book IX, after the embassy has told Achilles about the offers made by Agamemnon, Achilles remains angry because he believes that wealth and material possessions will not motivate him to fight.

Pericles's Funeral Oration

Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War is considered to be the greatest historical work of that time. Its the story of the was that divided the Greek world from 431-404 BC because of a war. In the war, Athens and its allies fought against Sparta and its allies. The story
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contains a speech where Pericles, the leader of Athens fought during first years of the war pays tribute for the Athenian casualties of the war. Following winter the Athenians gave a funeral at the public cost to those perished in this war.

When the right time came, he went onto the elevated platform in order to be heard by the crowd and delivered the following lines:

Most of my predecessors in this place have commended him who made this speech part of the law, telling us that it is well that it should be delivered at the burial of those who fall in battle. For myself, I should have thought that the worth which had displayed itself in deeds would be sufficiently rewarded by honors also shown by deeds; such as you now see in this funeral prepared at the people's cost." [Thucydides: Funeral Oration]

Plutarch believes that there is a distinction between good deeds done by ordinary men and good men. This most likely implies that Pericles was a good man.

Pericle's has good ancestry and upbringing, genealogy, education, and a profound interest in philosophy. The outcome of his upbringing and education was seen in his well-composed personality, judicious scientific mind.

His feared participating in politics because he didn't want to be ostracized, therefore he decided to help the poverty stricken people. However, in the process, he became a famous person and lost all his privacy. His devotion to politics was prominent in his excellent oratory skills

In politics, Pericles tried hard to make people happy, but he was really well-known for great architecture. As unfortunate as it may seem, he was accused for using money from the national treasure for the construction of the buildings. Plutarch praised the architecture and even went out of his way to pay for all the buildings constructed by Pericle's when the government officials began to complain.

Under the rule of Pericle's, Athens was unified as a single entity. Pericles was a fair and just ruler. However, the public still troubled him due to jealousy. Pericles was unselfish in his life.

Pericles' had a natural talent for waging wars. His most famous campaign took place in the Chersonese. He also had fought at the Black Sea. However, success never went to his head. His objective was to preserve the territory of Athens, which had been occupied and taken over, and to also keep an eye on the Spartans.

The Spartans act against the Athenians triggered taunting against Pericles. Due to this, his morale was low. By this time, Pericle's life in the public was going down the tubes, and so was his private life. He began to lose his friends and family to the plague, but still remained noble and dignified. After a while Athens needed a good leader. Pericles is remembered fir his wisdom and morality.

The Trojan Women

The Trojan Women is a story of women destroyed by the conquerors at the end of a war. The story calls for an end to the figurative war between the sexes, raging for 27 years.

The story is rather depressing, featuring the burning of a city, an impending typhoon, a rape, and the killing of a child. The bloodiest act is the starting of the Trojan War. Meanwhile, the goddesses Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite decide to have a beauty contest. Paris, the son of Hecuba, Queen of Troy, was the judge for the contest. Aphrodite promised Helen, to Paris if he chose Aphrodite as the most beautiful. Helen was already extremely gorgeous and so Paris had no problem to the agreement.

About 416 B.C. The island of Melos did not give aid to Athens during the war against Sparta. The Athenians revengefully killed the men and took the women and children as slaves. Such an atrocious crime had never occurred between the one Greek city-states.

Helen is crowned the most beautiful woman in the world. It is her majestic beauty that will make her life adventurous. Starting with her kidnapping at age 12, followed by an arranged marriage, and ending with a passionate affair. Her affair leads to the outbreak of the Trojan War.

Cassandra, the sister of Helen's true love, has the power to foretell the future. However, even though she sees Helen as the culprit…

Sources Used in Documents:


Homer, The Iliad

McLaren, The Trojan Women

Thucydides, Pericles's Funeral Oration

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