Homeric Society Values

Homeric Society Values- Assignment Help

All throughout the Iliad, there is a strong sense of honor. While honor in Homeric culture is important for all people, the honor of the hero was more important. He was unable to take insults and felt that he must protect his reputation, even if it meant he would die. He believed that the hero had a duty to fight and the only way to achieve glory and immortality was by fighting on the battlefield. Thus, he prepared himself for the dangers of battle. Homeric heroes believed that men must stand together in battle, respect one another and refrain from cruelty. This was a crucial condition for the Homeric hero. He was against cruelty and injustice. He believed that killing a victim should be done quickly. He was not to disfigure him like Achilles did with Hektor’s corpse. This code gave a hero dignity and an honorable reputation that would secure his place in the community’s social memory.

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Homeric’s hero was a man who lived according to strict cultural and social norms. These would guide him at home as well as on the battlefield. His status as a hero was dependent on his understanding of his role in society and conforming to society’s expectations. He accepted the role of a hero which required him to suffer and die. The hero believed his thoughts were derived either from society or god when he spoke. Nothing comes from within. (In his soliloquies the hero refers to “his great-hearted spirit”, as if it were another person who helped him make the right choices.


Homeric heroes were able to enjoy communal honor because his entire world revolved around their relationship with their families and cities. He felt his life was meaningless if he lost the honor and glory that he was given by his community. Achilles feels like he has lost all his honor after Agamemnon took Briseis. Achilles feels rejected by Agamemnon and accepts Agamemnon’s gifts to help him fight again.


To maintain his status, the hero had to show social responsibility. However, he could only establish his status by his actions on the battlefield. He had to be respectful of and respond to social situations. He had to also respect his superiors, show loyalty to his friends and not disgrace his family or community. It was not disgrace to pull out of an impossible situation, as it was what a warrior could do sometimes. Patroklos forgets this principle and Achilles’ warning to not drive the Trojans back into their city. Patroklos’s failure is due to his inability to reason and his pride.


Homeric communities relied on their heroes to protect its religious and social rites, as well as all aspects of community life. A man was entitled to social status if he was a hero. However, a warrior is only able to justify his social status on the battlefield.


Homeric culture’s hero recognized the rightness in his community’s anger. Agamemnon, for example, stripped Achilles of his war reward and placed the blame on Zeus. He claims that “Delusion” has entangled him and that it is the god who accomplishes everything. Athena also grabs Achilles by the hair as he contemplates whether to draw his sword against Agamemnon and warns him not to fight with Agamemnon. Achilles is not responsible for his anger, or his inability to kill Agamemnon. Agamemnon and Achilles do not recognize any personal responsibility for their emotional or physical reactions, even though they are both on the brink of violence. Homeric heroes believe that outside forces initiate action and thought. Therefore, personal responsibility does not apply to hero’s decision of following the lead of an external force.


Two options were available to heroes: He could either follow an external force or make his own decisions. This idea is based on the notion that heroes are made of men who possess certain qualities. Heroic balance is one of those qualities. A hero must be proud of his achievements and keep a low profile before the gods. He needed to be able to assess and react to situations and know his own limitations. He had to be able to identify when the gods pulled their support, and the hero had then to withdraw from the battle. He made a terrible mistake if he didn’t recognize the extent to which his actions were governed by the gods. He had to accept the shame of his error and follow the gods.

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