How has The Iliad contributed to our notion of civilization?

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

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I think that one way Homer's work has contributed to our notion of civilization is through its storytelling merits.  Homer's story is a great one, replete with challenges from Gods, struggles between human beings, and ensuring that human problems are powerfully compelling and yet seen in an accurate context in terms of their impact on others.  Within this storytelling element arises some wonderfully rich characters.  Achilles as a brooding, yet skilled warrior is contracted with the honor- bound, yet sad Hector.  These two characters have helped to configure where human consciousness can lie and how tragedy can be seen as an inseparable part of the human experience.  The book is also powerful in reflecting how a society based off of war is not one to be glorified.  It is difficult to gauge if this was Homer's intent, but the work stands out as one of the most defiantly anti- war writings.  It reflects how societies that are based off of war are doomed to fail, and in doing so, almost repudiates the Classical standard of warfighting as being socially acceptable.

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