However, this exploration from two perspectives violates the term ethical as it should be “a universal system of moral principles and values “ applicable through actions perpetrated by humans. However, absolute standards are unobtainable and conditional upon the society and time in which they are conceived. Another definition suggests that to be ethical is “to conform to accepted standards consistent with the agreed principles of correct moral conduct”. Conversely, until Aristotle, there were no “agreed principles for moral conduct” thus the term ethical cannot be used within the context of Homers society. We can, however examine the role the gods have to play in the Iliad and examine the relationship between the immortal and mortal to ascertain an “ethical” framework of the poem.
Where does our ethical view come from? If it is within us, as part of our “soul” our precondition of being human then it should be universal regardless of the elapsing centuries and societies, especially if a belief in an ultimate creator is entertained. Indeed, if we believe that this creator is eternal and that he/she bestows our souls, then the idea of eternal souls immediately becomes more viable as they are made of the essence of this creator. By soul I mean the spiritual awareness, the essence of an individual. Indeed the idea of karma-a Sanskrit term meaning action in terms of cause and effect has consequences for the idea of an eternal soul as it has to live with the consequences forever. This in turn creates responsibility upon the individual in the form of freewill. This metaphysical principle is essential to the idea of ethics as we are presented with the awareness of alternatives thus, choice. The gods in the Iliad, however, are not concerned ...
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...belief in his literary creations.
By the ethical standards proposed in the modern day society (Hume and Schopenhaeur believe that it is a fundamental mistake to conceive ethics and morality as forms of law) through human rights groups and even, idealistically, human nature, the treatment of mortals by the immortal gods and goddesses in the Iliad is unethical and wrong despite the “helping” of Achilles by Athene or Hector by Apollo. The gods are perpetrators in the waging of war against their male/female counterpart deities- their mortal counterparts merely fighting for them by proxy. The behaviour of the gods cannot be condoned as ethical even in context of the Homeric ages- their behaviour is depicted by Homer as amoral and uncaring. Plato developed religion in the true sense of the word, as a consequence of behaviour not in accordance with the human soul. As mentioned, the gods do not perform a perfunctory role of “gods” with religious hindsight. However, religion is “morality touched by emotion” (Matthew Arnold) and with no standards set for behaviour by the immortal beings the characters within the Iliad, mortal or immortal cannot be expected to indulge in ethical behaviour.
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