What Forces Shaped The Greeks ' Attitudes Essay

2120 Words May 1st, 2016 9 Pages
What forces shaped the Greeks ' attitudes to competitiveness?
Social performance played a crucial role in the life of any Ancient Greek and the result of this constant performance was that the agôn became essential to the social dynamics of Ancient Greece. Agôn had a variety of meanings throughout Greek history, at first the term was used to define a space in which people compete however later on it was used to denote any kind of competition whether it be in an athletic contest or a philosophical debate. Many social forces can be seen to have shaped Greek attitudes to competitiveness: from the need to assert social status to the focus on displaying arête (excellence) and gaining kleos (fame). These are what I shall examine in this essay in order to judge to what extent social forces had an influence on the Greek’s attitude to competitiveness throughout Ancient Greek history.
The earliest instance of the agôn in Greek literature can be found in Homer’s Iliad. However, it is important to note that there are several problems with using Homer as a historic source for the reason that it reflects centuries worth of oral tradition. Therefore, it is difficult to determine which practices were in place when the epic began and which were added between then and when the epic was recorded. In addition to this, in the Iliad Patroclus’ funeral games are used as a literary device in order to show the diffusion of tension between the Achaians, therefore, it is uncertain whether the events…

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