Honor in the Iliad and Antigone

991 Words4 Pages
The notion of honor is prevalent throughout the Iliad and Antigone. Both texts demonstrate that honor is essential to Greek heroes because honor is the foundation of the society and family. Homer and Sophocles clearly show that honor guides people’s actions and responses and decides the fate of themselves and others. Both authors also place emphasis on the importance of proper burial because it is a strong indication of honor to the deceased and the deceased’s family. As can be seen in the Iliad and Antigone, the aim of every Greek hero is to gain everlasting honor because it ensures his place in the social memory of his society resounding even after death. Throughout the Iliad, Homer portraits the extent to which honor plays a role in the lives of Greeks and the manner in which they are willing to sacrifice in order to reach their goals. The Iliad is set during the Trojan War, a particularly long and bloody war, fought not over boundary disagreements, and not over political conflicts, and not to protect the nation. Rather, it was a war fought to defend the personal honor. The possession of women was important to a man’s standing and honor. Paris’ theft of Helen struck a huge blow to the honor of Menelaus and becomes the initial cause of the Trojan War. Consequently, Menelaus, the Spartan ruler, called upon his brother Agamemnon to gather the Greek forces to launch the war against Paris demanding the return of Helen and reinstating the honor for the king. The war lasted for ten years and cost innumerable Greeks’ lives and brought incurable pain upon their families. To Greek heroes, honor is more important than their life as much as that life would be meaningless without it, and they even willingly sacrifice their lives in order... ... middle of paper ... ...ocles, Antigone 71-74). Family love is a strong incentive to make Antigone do the things what she believes to be true. Although she dies ultimately, she at least brings honor to herself and her family. In conclusion, one sees that honor is central to the Greeks because honor is the foundation of family and society. Both texts, the Iliad and Antigone depict the goal of every Greek hero is to ensure his place in the social memory of his society by seeking honor in his lifetime and performing a proper burial after he passes away. The pursuit of honor is the driving force for what Greeks have done to their society, family and friends. Both texts imply that family’s love is a main ingredient in making decisions. Because of love, Achilles, Priam and Antigone are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to gain honor for themselves as well as for their families.
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