Aristotle's Politics

Contrast and Communion of the Political Thought of Homer and Aristotle

Odysseus and Aristotle, as expressed in the Iliad (Homer) and The Politics, respectively, hold irreconcilable views regarding government; Aristotle would have doubtlessly condemned the former's beating of Thersites. To Aristotle, this act embodies the dystopia that is found in a perverse government, while the Achaeans, ironically enough, praise it as "far the best thing [Odysseus] has ever accomplished" (II, 274-5).

One of Aristotle's most famous thoughts, and the foundation of many of his political beliefs, is that "man is by nature a political animal" (I, 1253a,2). The implications of this statement can be applied to Odysseus' act: if Thersites were to remain silent, he would be denying his very nature as a 'political animal', as well as the political inclinations and sentiments that pertain to such a being.

Aristotle solidifies his support of Thersites later in the text, when he states that "Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal who has the gift of speech" (I, 1253a, 9-10). It is this same gift of speech for which Thersites is degraded. Odysseus flaunts his disregard for such liberties in lines 246-256 (Book II): "Fluent orator though...

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