How Ethical Are the Gods in the Iliad? Essay

1774 Words Oct 15th, 1999 8 Pages
Ethics and morality are synonymous terms, both meaning customs in their original languages, Greek and Latin respectively. However, the Greek term "ethics" also implies character as opposed to its Latin counterpart referring to social customs. Ethike is descended from ethikos which, in turn from ethos which means character or nature. Ethos is the fundamental and distinctive characteristic of a group within its social context or period of time, typically expressed in its attitudes, habits or beliefs. Thus the ethical nature of the gods can be explored in two ways, from an Ancient Greek perspective, and from a modern perspective.
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<br>However, this exploration from two perspectives violates the term ethical as it should be "a universal
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Platonic deities gave moral and ethical principles by their standards. Ancient Society ultimately rejected the Homeric gods in favour of the Platonic gods as these offered hope and the belief in agape- unconditional love. The belief is a reluctance to accept responsibility for actions and consequences thus deities are created for security. However, it is easier to believe in your created product if it encompasses all the qualities that you ultimately desire.
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<br>There is a persuasive argument detailing the gods as being purely a psychological invention, further upheld in the Iliad by the constant intervention by the gods of placing ideas and feeling into peoples minds- for example; "Athene, glorious daughter of Zeus, ranged through the Achaean army and spurred them on". Paris is referred to as the "godlike Alexandros"- showing the true character of the gods-concerned only with appearances and superficiality. The gods are associated with "godlike Achilles" frequently when he is in his prime and upholding the ethical principle of justice through his abstention from war, but when fighting "inhumanely", the gods are no longer associated with him as they reassume their anthromorphic status. This closeness to humans is intricately shown through sharing the same emotions. Personification also shows the use of gods as symbols for human emotions- "attended by Confusion the ruthless in

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