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Homeric Heroism vs. Virgilian Heroism

  • Date Submitted: 12/01/2011 12:36 PM
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Two of the greatest epic poems in human history, the Iliad and the Aeneid, portray a world of gods and goddesses, and most importantly, epic heroes fighting in the Trojan War. By having heroic characters, both authors, Homer and Virgil, give their points of view on what they think a hero is. Homer’s, the Iliad, states that heroism is a matter of one achieving self-honor, while Virgil’s, the Aeneid, describes heroism a duty towards one’s people and country. Therefore, even though both poems seem to be very similar, the main theme in each poem differs because Homer supports heroism with personal honor, while the Aeneid supports heroism with patriotic honor.
Homer’s point of view on a hero is described as having both honor and glory. But how does a warrior gain glory and honor? Homer explains that glory and honor can be gained through war by fighting battles. Having a warrior combat in war allows the warrior’s status to become both honoring and glorifying. In fact, Homer mentions that honor and glory become so important   the Iliad that some characters in the epic poem believe that honor and glory is far more important than life itself. For instance, Achilles though is knowledgeable that he is destined to die, decides to go into battle anyways because he prefers to be remembered as a hero than stay safely at home and live forever.   Furthermore, Homer describes heroes as having individualistic pride with only
his own honor. Achilles, for example, portrays individualistic pride by deciding to not participate in battle and allowing his fellow warriors to die. Achilles’ actions become very stubborn because he only focuses on re-gaining back his own honor which consequently leads to the death of his dear friend, Patroklos. Achilles, as a heroic character, only puts himself first before others. Therefore a Homeric hero consists of extreme individualism by putting himself before others, and in addition, only concerns himself with his own honor and glory. A...


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