In 12.309-328 of the Iliad of Homer, Sarpedon talks to Glaikos. What does this tell us about the people for whom it is written?
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This is a great question. There are two very important points that we can learn about Homer's society through these words.
First, we can see that there is a responsibility of leaders of communities to lead the people in battle. They need to set an example of honor, courage and bravery. We can even say that there is a social contract to fight bravely for their people.
Second, here we see clearly the heroic code of honor. In Homer's world, death in battle is not a tragedy. It is the way people win unending glory for themselves. This recalls the choice that is given to Achilles - to live long and not fight, or to die early and win glory. Achilles takes he second option. The following words in this book underline the important of seeking glory, which is central to the Homeric world.
"Ah my friend, if you and I could escape this fray and live forever, never a trace of age, immortal, I would never fight on the front lines again or command you in the field where men win fame. But now, as it is, the fates of death await us, thousands poised to strike, and not a man alive can flee them or escape--so in we go for attack! Give our enemy glory or win it for ourselves!"
In light of these words, it is honorable to vie for glory in battle. This is what it means to be a hero.
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