How is respect and disrespect represented as crucial to characters in the Iliad?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The issue of respect and disrespect is tied to honor.  This is a major force for so many of the characters in Homer's work.  It is essential to their state of being in the world, and represents a force through which its defense can "launch a thousand ships."  The reference to Helen is one such example that shows how respect and disrespect are crucial to individuals in the Greek setting.  Menelaus feels that Paris' actions showed a lack of etiquette or professional respect.  In this, fighting emerges to defend one's respect.  His brother, Agamemnon, feels that Troy's refusal to bend to his will is a sign of disrespect, one through which war is the only recourse.  His constant battles with Achilles comes down to him feeling disrespected by the great warrior.  At the same time, Achilles finds that the disrespect that precipitated Patrocles' death is something that must be avenged.  Naturally, this is capped off by the disrespect that Achilles shows to the dead body of Hector in dragging it off after their fight. For sad Hector, there is a lack of respect in retreating from the inevitable call of death and of battle.  While he realizes the end result, he also understands that in the attempt to avoid such a  condition, there is a greater lack of respect from others and, most important, from himself.  In these instances, honor, or what is seen as the issue of respect and disrespect, becomes essential and crucial to the consciousness of the characters in the work.

jessicaemma | Student

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