The Peloponnesian War And The Iliad Analysis

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History of The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides and the Iliad by Homer are both timeless accounts of war that also analyze human nature. Both authors divulge their belief about what comprises human nature through the observation of war and its effect on morality. Homer and Thucydides agree that emotion, specifically compassion, is the key to a human life. However, the authors differ on their definition of compassion. Thucydides sees compassion as a natural emotion felt among equals while Homer sees compassion as an emotion only achieved through suffering. Thucydides wonders whether one can feel compassion only for an equal, while Homer demonstrates that true compassion comes from relating to those less than you. Both texts prompt the reader …show more content…
It is clear Achilles recognizes the seriousness of death, yet he lacks compassion for the lives lost due to his inactivity (Il. 9.420). The first time he feels this guilt is when his beloved Patroclus dies at the hand of Hector (Il. 18.83-85). He is transformed by this loss; he refuses to eat (Il. 19.24-26) and the adjectives Homer uses to describe him are inhuman, “…eyes that glared, like a white-hot steel flame…” (Il.19.325). So Achilles goes back to battle with one thing on his mind, revenge. He spares no one and continues to display inhuman characteristics through his lack of compassion for anyone and everyone (Il. 20.482-483 and 21.103-104). Eventually the battle ends with the inevitable death of Hector. Hector’s body needs to be returned to the Trojans, as there are many people who will mourn Hector (Il. 22.60-61). However, Achilles refuses his dying wish to return his body and Hector utters some of his final words to “Your heart is a lump of iron…’” (Il. 22.396-397). Achilles is not satisfied by the mere death of Hector; he drags Hectors body three times around the city walls (Il. 24.18-20). Clearly Achilles is not human at this point. What happens when someone suffers a great loss? Achilles loses his humanity, his compassion, but can that be …show more content…
Compassion is the key to a human life, but the definitions surrounding compassion are completely dependent upon the individual’s idea of compassion. My philosophy is a mixture between the two: a normal human feels compassion for those within his/her social circle, but a human who has suffered knows compassion on a deeper more genuine

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