W.B. Gallie coined the term “essentially contested topic” at the 1956 meeting of the Aristotelian Society. Gallie believed that while words like justice have a positive connotation in society, they have no legitimate basis as a word. Freedom is one of these words. Freedom is traditionally defined as the ability to act, think, or speak without being restrained. However, freedom is much more than the definition humans have given to conceptualize the meaning within a Webster’s dictionary. Freedom as a majorly contested topic is made especially apparent throughout two of the most famous Western war stories of all time, The lliad and The Aeneid, where Homer and Virgil inadvertently show the stark contrast in what the word “freedom means” to each of them respectively, to other Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman writers, and between the Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman cultures as a whole.
The Iliad defines the essentially contested concept of freedom through interactions between humans and the gods. From a modern day perspective, it seems very possible that humanity within The Iliad has no “freedom” at all. But how would characters within The Iliad have seen things? From the first lines of Homer’s epic poem, Homer is begging the Muse to show “how the will of Zeus was accomplished” (Homer 1). This line is a consistent undertone throughout the entirety of the poem; freedom to Homer and subsequently to his characters is “freely” fulfilling the will of the gods as a human. Examples of this are apparent throughout all of The Iliad, including when Achilles decides to give Hector’s body back to Hector’s father, Priam after the gods express their anger with Achilles.
But this Achilles - first he slaughters Hector,
He rips away the...
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...her Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman writers, and ultimately illuminating the differences between the Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman cultures.
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