The passing of works from generation to generation is not an uncommon thing, nor is it a new practice. For centuries, even since the beginning of time, scholars have recorded and passed on historical accounts, works of art, poetry, and great literary works as a means of transcending the culture from one generation to the next. In doing so, these works were not merely used for leisurely purposes, rather as a way to teach and educate different lessons, morals, and values. Many notable works have come and gone throughout the ages, each with their own set of teachings or lessons to be gained.
I believe it to be true that Homer’s Iliad is a wonderful work of literature, as well as a container of many valuable teachings. These teaching, however, are not limited to the culture and time of Homer’s days. When applied to our modern world, The Iliad runs the gamete of varitable lessons from which we can draw from it. In fact, the lessons in The Iliad even mirror situations we might find typical in today’s world. Although it may take many forms, or different meanings, honor is a trait most decent people still consider an admirable, and often even necessary quality.
The Iliad efinitely does not lack scenes which make a good case for honor as a worthy attribute to hold. One such scene which comes to mind is the conflict between Diomedes and Glaucus. These two warriors meet on the battle field, ready to battle. While talking in a negative manner about each other’s lineage. While engrossed their discourse, they discover that their respective ancestors were allies. Rather than continue their hateful words and do battle, the two men decide to call a truce to honor their ancestors heritage. Glaucus and Diomedes even trade armor so that everyone will know they will do no harm o one another.
When looking at this scene from a modern stand point, one might see their pre-battle talk as “trash talk”, and their conflict as fist fight of sorts. However, The I Iliad shows up that situations like this are best if avoided. Many men would not have the courage to walk away from a fight for fear of being called a “coward” or “wuss”. What these men do not realize is that there is honor to be found in doing what is right, not necessarily popular. Glaucus and Diomedes placed the honor or their ancestors above their own need and desire to engage in battle.
Their counterparts might have though it oolish, perhaps even cowardly, to lay down their arms, but this did not phase these two men of honor. The concept of respecting one’s elders is also presented in this scene. Often today, young people are accused of being disrespectful of their elders, or parents. The Iliad gives us reason to believe that such acts are not the works os honorable men. Just as Glaucus and Diomedes did what they did for the sake of their elders, young people today should follow their lead and take steps to ensure their actions are respectful and well representative of their ancestors.
This whole idea can be summed up by Glaucus’ tatement of what his father once told him: “Always be the best my boy, the bravest, and hold your head up high above the others. never disgrace the generation of your Through time, many men have fought courageously for causes they find to be just and worthy of battling for. Such men have risked their lives, their freedom, and their loved ones to achieve what they feel is right. Others, however, have stood sheepishly on the sidelines and watch others fight their struggle for them.
Today we see political leaders rallying troops to fight their fight, without ever the slightest notion of stepping onto the attle field themselves. Their lost sense of nobility is also seen in Paris, from The Iliad. Not only does he withhold himself from most conflict, Paris even goes to such lengths as polishing his armor to make it seem as if he has had some important physical involvement in the fight. He even uses the Gods as an excuse for his lack of activity in battle. Only after seeing what a fine, upstanding soldier hector has become does he begin to reflect on his actions.
Paris sees in Hector the hero he could have been and, deciding that late is better than never, rushes to Hector’s side to join the fighting. Particularly, this scene puts to mind the effect people have on their peers on today’s society. It is all too familiar to see a person wait for his friend to take action or recourse on a situation, before determining what he himself should do. Although this group mentality may feel right, or give temporary satisfaction, it will not last. The Iliad shows us nobility only comes to those who take immediate actions for their causes or duty.
If Paris had not withered away in his quarters while a war was being fought on his behalf, then perhaps he might have been the kind of hero Hector was. Hector needed to friends or cronies to tell him what he should fight for, rather he brought it upon himself to stand and be noble in the face of adversity. A fine demonstration like this can, and probably should, be used to illustrate to today’s world that being noble means standing as your own man, and backing your beliefs with immediate action. (Virtual Iliad).
As human beings, we realize our mortality and accept the fact that our physical time on this plane of existence will be short. Therefore, most of us believe that we will continue on in some form of life when we die. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and many other religions all believe in a God, or Gods, to whom much dept. and credit is due for the life he has given us, and for the potential afterlife we can attain from Him. This is ideally done through worship, and constant doing of this God’s will. When we look at the state of religion today though we see religion as a purely ritualistic nature.
One’s God is not considered at all times, or when taking action, but only when a person faces danger, wishes to gain something, or in times when that person is forced to think of their God (i. e. Church). Homer knew that reverence to one’s God was not merely an act to be considered on only certain occasions. He knew that with ever action a man takes, with every thought one considers, that the wishes of God(s) should play the central part in determining what to do. Wise men already know this, as did Homer, which is reflected through The Iliad.
Achilles’ mother prays to Zeus to help her son in his quest to defeat the Acheans. Achilles himself had spent much time praying and worshipping to Zeus, and because of this, and his mother’s interaction, that Zeus started to help the Trojans in battle gainst the Acheans. Zeus even went so far as to himself cast doom and defeat down upon the Acheans. Acts of the Gods such as this did not come merely out of coincidence or random selection. The reverence which Achilles and his mother paid to Zeus persuaded him to intervene on behalf of the Trojans.
Today’s “religious” people could learn a great lesson from this particular scene. Many claim to have the favor of God, and may even pray and worship for the sake of ritual. Homer knew though, that only if one truly kept the Gods in heart and honestly and faithfully spent time worshipping them could they be ewarded for their reverence. Any reward a man receives should be credited to the Gods, for if not then the efforts of the Gods have gone in vain, and may not be repeated. For as The Iliad shows us, only consistent reverence of the Gods will win their favor and help men to lead satisfying lives. Virtual Iliad).
The greatness of a leader can be determined by many qualities such as valor, honor, brevity, and other such admirable traits. Perhaps though, the best test of how great a leader truly is, can be found when looking at the length to which he will accompany or efend those he is responsible for. Medals are awarded to generals who lead their men into battle, and show utmost courage in defending and fighting along side his men. Even sea captains have a duty to their ship, as they are to be the last ones off in the situation that the ship might sink.
Leaders also usually have a respectable amount of power, and with that can come selfish behavior. It has not been unheard of in our world today to see leaders cast out his fellow countrymen to other lands, despite the impoverished situations they may find themselves in. Neither is it uncommon for leaders to abandon his men when the situation becomes too uncomfortable or dangerous. Perhaps these men could provide better guidance to those they represent if they were to take a note from The Iliad.
When King Agamemnon sensed a grismal fate for his Acheans, his main concern was for the men of his army and his countrymen. Naturally, he did have some sense of concern for his own well being, however it was outshined by his anguish over the fate many of his men might encounter on the battle field. The Iliad gives a beautiful account of how Agamemnon ust have truly felt concerning his loyal servants: “Now as he scanned across the Trojan plain, Agamemnon marveled in horror at these fires, a thousand fired blazing against the walls of Troy, and the shrill of pipes and flutes and low roar of men. (Virtual Iliad).
Presuming all leaders we see today could be so brave and noble, they might find many more men willing to be their servants or soldiers. As it stand, modern day Agamemnons are few and far between. Surely however, what The Iliad has to say about this matter will not fall on deaf ears, but rather be heard by men who could gain from this important The centuries that have past have provided a great number of tools and works that we as a society are expected to draw from for our own moral gain.
While some are works inspired by a God, others were fashioned by mere mortals hoping to make a dent on the moral fabric of all people, no matter what the time or place. Surely, when Homer wrote The Iliad many years ago he had such dreams of inspiring others to their greatest potential with his work. However, it is interesting to ponder the thought of how, or even if, Homer would have envisioned his work being able to stand the test of time and remain a resource nd guideline for honorable living even in the 21st century.
That is not to say that copies of The Iliad are used as such, but the potential is definitely there, if it were to be conveyed to our present generation of people still trying to seek out what is not only decent and right, but what truly makes a person whole. It is with that in mind that it would be truly worthy of all people to hear the cry of the ancients and not let their lives fall into obscurity, or be tarnished by wasteful living. With The Iliad comes much learning, even at the dawn of a new millennium.