Violence and its Functions in The Odyssey and Antigone

In both Homer's The Odyssey and Sophocles' Antigone, violence and war seem to be considered honorable; great fighters such as Antilokhos, Akhilleus and Odysseus of The Odyssey and Eteocles of Antigone are glorified and celebrated as exemplary figures in their respective societies, courageous souls willing and capable of going into battle. Yet in both the poem and the play, a sense of deep tragedy and futility accompanies nearly every incident of violence. Each major battle is met with the question of whether the benefits of violence have outweighed its consequences, and the answer to this question is almost always no. Violence, in general, serves in both works as an unfortunate, tragic and even irrational resort, and belies the concept of honor and greatness of violence in the Greek world.

In The Odyssey, Odysseus immediately rises to the forefront as a victim of violence. And it is often his own violent behavior that in turn troubles him later on. When Telemakhos visits Nestor while investigating his father's disappearance, the prince of charioteers recounts the price Odysseus would pay for attacking a Trojan town needlessly: "But when we plundered Priam's town and tower/ and took to the ships, God...

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