“If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all” (Journey Quotations). Exile presents itself in many forms throughout Greek and Roman mythology. Regardless of their purpose, however, all Greek and Roman mythological characters realize the above quote by American journalist Dan Rather to be frighteningly accurate. As they step off to begin their ordeal of exile, for some reason, they fail to stay focused on their present, thinking only of their cloudy, uncertain future. These prize-seeking journeyers remain ignorant of what is immediately before them, causing them either great trouble or great accomplishment. Though the dubious reasons why exile is placed (and occasionally forced) upon the benighted characters, they must all undergo this grave and glorious task. In Greek and Roman mythology, many characters of many myths must undergo a period of exile, in order to serve a punishment for a wrong they have committed, to accomplish a task that was appointed to them, or to earn an invaluable prize that is of great significance to them and the world around them.
One of the most common reasons a character must endure their share of exile is to serve a stringent punishment that is orchestrated specifically for their crime or mistake. In ancient Greece, exile was used as the harshest punishment for a crime.
“Many crimes involved monetary penalties. The punishment for murder was
exile. The fine for rape was 100 monies, and the penalty for theft depended on
what was stolen” (Early Laws).
Obviously the idea of “exile” was looked upon as being a great dishonor and embarrassment within early Greek communities. A more tragic use of this unforgivi...
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...mythology, many characters of many myths must embark on a journey of exile, in order to serve a punishment for a wrong they have committed, to accomplish a task that was appointed to them, or to earn an invaluable prize that is of great significance to them and the world around them. It has been explained in the words above that exile is a necessary component of the lessons of Greek and Roman mythology, in that exile must be served as a brutal punishment, that it is an honor to be entrusted with a task of great importance, and that winning an invaluable prize and having your name be remembered forever is as valuable as achieving immortality. To avoid the uncertainty of exile, in the inspiring words of musician Greg Anderson we must all “focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it” (Journey Quotations).
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