In The Odyssey, discuss how Homer views the violent nature of war.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Homer's view of war is almost as complex as war, itself.  On one hand, I think Homer presents a rather unromanticized reality of war for it causes Odysseus to be estranged from his home for so long.  The fact that home is associated with the hearth and happiness represents one of the ultimate cruelties of war in that it denies men the happiness and redemption they seek.  The very fact that Odysseus is able to return home becomes an exception to the norm that war robs people of life and of love, as well as the joy that consciousness in being brings.  Along these lines is another implication of how Homer views war. If Homer is right in that the essence of being human is to be alive, then war's ultimate cruelty is that it robs individuals of their basic essence of being.  War's death and taking of human life makes for a dehumanized reality for human beings lose the one quality that defines consciousness and being in the world.  Consider the exchange between Achilles and Odysseus in the underworld when the former speaks to this idea:

I'd rather be a field-hand, bound in service to another man, with no land of my own, and not much to live on, than to lord it over all the insubstantial dead (XI.489-91).

If Achilles is right, than Homer's presentation of war is a brutal one because in the end, its robbing of the one quality of being is where its brutality is the most evident.  It is here where Homer's articulation of war is a cruel one.

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