Fate, Honor, And Shame Essay

Fate, Honor, And Shame Essay

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The ideas of fate, honor, and shame, are common themes in many works of art that shape many aspects of culture and the people in those societies. Both ancient Greek and Japanese cultures were based around ideas of fate, honor, and shame. While not necessarily placing the same emphasis on each of the ideas, their importance is shown in works from each culture. The Greek epic, The Iliad, places an large importance on fate, while placing less emphasis honor and shame, while Chusingura, a Japanese film, displays the opposite, placing a large amount of emphasis on honor and shame, yet little on fate.
Fate plays an important role in the development of plot in The Iliad. Many of the character’s actions and thoughts are based around fate. For these characters, whether they have prior knowledge or not, their death has been decided by the gods. For example, in the beginning of The Iliad, the author says that throughout the story “the will of Zeus was accomplished” (1.5). Zeus chose what would happen to each of the characters, including deciding what their deaths would be like. Many of the important characters’ deaths are fated, intertwined, and inescapable. Sarpedon, son of Zeus is fated to die in the battle at the hand of Patroklos. His father, Zeus, is upset that his son’s destiny is to die. He has a moment where he debates if he should save his son. “I ponder, / whether I should snatch him out of the sorrowful battle/…/or beat him under at the hands of the son of Menoitos” (16.435-438). While Zeus had a moment of hesitation, in the end, Sarpedon fulfilled his fate and was slain in battle. Sarpedon’s fate was to die at the hands of Patroklos, and the killing of Sarpedon was also a part of Patroklos’ fate, however it was not the entirety ...


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...d in death. Achilles also feels guilty because by refusing to fight, Patroklos and other Greeks were sent into battle. Their deaths are perceived as a disgrace caused by his actions, and therefore Achilles feels shame. Along with the shame that he feels with the death of Patroklos, Achilles is also angered by Hektor, who ultimately took Patroklos’ life. In retribution, Achilles deliberately tries to shame Hektor after death. Achilles “thought of shameful treatment for glorious Hektor” (22.395), and decided to defile Hektor’s body by repeatedly dragging it in the ground, to leave his body exposed to the elements, and by refusing to return Hektor’s body to his family. As discussed earlier, a part of Greek culture was to honor the dead. By Achilles refusing to honor dead Hektor, he disgraced Hektor and in turn shamed him and caused Hektor’s family to feel shame as well.

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