The Odyssey

A Moral Genealogy in Literature: From Uruk to Classical Greece College

The moral message of a piece of literature reflects the culture which the author belongs to. The three pieces of work here progress in chronological order. The Epic of Gilgamesh is from the early days of human civilization, by the ancient Mesopotamian city-state Uruk. Homer’s Odyssey, in contrast, was written around the 8th century B.C. during the early days of ancient Greece. Following Homer, a period defined by cultural historians to be classical antiquity ensues. Here, we find our next story Orpheus and Eurydice. Within the great literature in early civilizations these three elements are prominent: the embrace of power, an amoral attitude toward manipulation, and a favorable attitude toward sexuality. Odyssey shares some aspect of Gilgamesh’s moral, but its moral message lies between that of early human civilization and classical Greece. Finally, readers will find that classical antiquity champions emotional restraint. Gilgamesh, Odyssey, and Orpheus and Eurydice demonstrate a transition of culture from one centered around life and power to one that placed an emphasis on control of emotions because the morals of these stories progress in such an order. As a study of cases, we seek to provide insight and does not claim to...

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