Gabriel B.


Thucydides and Homer each manage to show the devastating personal and societal effects of war, albeit in very different ways. Thucydides wrote his histories because he knew that this war was an event that would inevitably affect people and society in ways that were expressed more subjectively by Homer.
This is paralleled by Homer, who I think picked war as the focal point for The Iliad because he knew that it gave him an opportunity to offer an insightful glimpse into the human condition.
On one hand (that of Thucydides), objectivity that directly implies certain philosophical truths about human nature, on the other hand (Homer’s), direct glimpses into the human psyche in the context of objectivity (the Trojan War).

I think evolutionary science sheds light on some of the subtleties of visceral human behaviors. While “social darwinists” took the principles of evolution and used it to support their own societal theories that legitimized and rationalized their own wretched behavior, they did not realize that they leave out a large portion of evolutionary theory, the portion that dictates that the survival of a species is not based upon survival of the fittest, but upon the effective cooperation and harmony of a species of a whole (can someone say Plato?). Social darwinism and scientific darwinism differ on a very important level. One has evidence, the other does not. The argument is then given by those who yet refuse to drop this apparent boon to selfishness: Those that are selfish and take advantage of the populace are richer than those who do not…….
While I recognize that this may be the case, under no circumstance does that mean that the rest of humanity as a species benefits from the avarice of an individual. Evolution is about the progress of species, not individuals.

“It is just how we are,” or “It’s just the way things are,” is not a rational justification for greed. Those that have made the biggest impact on the world around us and the development of civilization, science, and philosophy have not been the wealthiest of individuals.

1.
There are certainly many similarities between all of the listed heroes, but at the core of these characters there are very striking differences, not only in terms of their overall demeanor, but in the motives and forces that compel them to fight and act as they do. While all of the characters strive towards glory and honor, Hector at least partially acts on behalf of his beloved Troy, while Achilles seems to be driven by glory in itself. In other words, Hector gains glory by fighting for Troy , Achilles gains glory for glory’s sake.

The safety of the Trojans is undoubtedly a high priority for Hector, while Achilles, much to the dismay of the other Greek heroes, proves to be apathetic regarding the well-being of the Greek army. There is a stark difference in terms of loyalty and relationships, for it is not just the allure of glory that drives the other heroes, such as Odysseus or Hector, but a sense of adherance to their separate kingdoms, spouses, and the men by their sides in battle.

2. Andromache and Helen certainly appear more practical and perhaps more pragmatic than the other more lofty heroes of the Iliad. Helen at least recognizes that she is partially responsible for the situation that besets Troy, and can admit without chagrin that Paris does not have half as much brains as beauty. In terms of heroism in a Homeric sense, I find it hard to gauge the capabilities of these characters. Helen appears to be riddled with regrets and guilt, Andromache with fear and worry for her husband and city. These characters seem to bring the story back to earth, away from the loftiness and nearly god-like status of the warrior heroes and their pursuits of glory.