Mortality, by its very nature, causes men's lives to be cut short at their primes.The Fates cut our lives short at any time, so the Greeks must have an example, a model mortal, to follow so as to make the "most of their lives."A model mortal is one who lives his life accumulating the most honor and glory: "he pressed for battle now where men win glory" (4: 259).By strictly adhering to the honor/heroic code, a mortal can raise himself to become the model mortal. This hero, Diomedes, is the model mortal of the Greeks.
Diomedes follows the heroic code, finding glory and honor on a battlefield and does so humbly while caring for his men.Diomedes lives and is prepared to die by the honor code - what a true model mortal is supposed to do. Diomedes directly states that "It's not my nature to shrink from battle, cringe in fear/ with the fighting strength still steady in my chest" (5: 280-281).Clearly, Diomedes is prepared to go into battle to fight - it is in his very nature to fight. When Diomedes kills Pandaras, he "hurled and Athena drove the shaft/ and it split the archer's nose between the eyes -/ it cracked his glistening teeth, the tough bronze/ cut off his tongue at the roots, and smashed his jaw..." (5: 321-324).This is just one of the battle scenes in which Diomedes emerges victorious.The gruesome description Homer uses shows that Diomedes is ruthless and savage on the battlefield, earning him glory and fulfilling a requirement of the heroic code.Diomedes not only lives for honor, but also fights and is prepared to die for his honor. He does not cringe like Paris, nor does he unjustly gain honor like Agamemnon. By establishing himself as one of the gr...
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...ing for death stops right before reaching the cliff.Diomedes realizing (battle fury) that he is heading for the cliff stops right before he kills himself. Achilles and other mortals lack the vital characteristic (which Diomedes has) that makes the heart of what a model mortal is: control.
Diomedes establishes himself as the model mortal through the honor gained by following the heroic code.He rises above the Greek's greatest fighter, Achilles, and the Achean's king, Agamemnon.Achilles rage will ultimately cause his death and Agamemnon selfishness dishonors him.In the long run, Diomedes, seeming incomparable to Hector or Achilles, will surpass these mortals to become the model mortal because of his adherence to the heroic code.
Homer. Books 1-6 to The Iliad. Trans. Robert Fagles. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1990.
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