Iliad

Death's Immortality - An Examination of Death in Homer's Literature

The idea of glory is an inseparable cloud surrounding every epic story. All characters and actions are geared towards achieving unending honor and glory. To Homer and his works, the one action that best captures everlasting glory is a heroic death. Though the ideas of wisdom (the god Athena, for example) and love (Aphrodite) pervade their culture and religion, the life of a great man is epitomized by his heroic death. Heroism in death is obsessively desired because the heroes are trying to obtain the one thing humanity will never achieve: immortality. Their religion is based on the worship of immortal human beings with power, not forces or a perfect God (most certainly not our modern day Jehovah). In a sense, through heroic death and sustained legacy, heroes of Homerâs writings strive to become the immortal gods they worship. And in the oral tradition of Homerâs culture, this can be done only through commemoration and tales passed down through time. Death, for a hero, is the beginning of his immortality.

To capture the immortality desired by heroes, they must have a just purpose for their death. This purpose is best fulfilled in battle. In a heartfelt discussion with his wife, who pleads with him not to fight and die, mighty...

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