From Epic to Hellenic: Part Five of Six

From Epic to Hellenic: Part Five of Six

Connecting tradition with heroism

This is part five of a six part article exploring the Classical traditions of heroism. My high school philosopher teacher once remarked that one can perceive perfection as a balance. With that in mind, consider the idea that perfection in a hero is found in the balance of masculinity and femininity.

Interestingly enough, Homer’s other epic Odyssey chronicles the long, arduous journey home of the cunning hero, Odysseus that reflects the same heroism archetype as the Iliad. Similar to Achilles in the Iliad, Odysseus feigns insanity by plowing the beach to attempt to evade the “draft” that the Greeks had for the Trojan War. The reason that Odysseus tries to evade war is unknown, but it can be attributed to the same sort of hubris that Achilles had.

Perhaps Odysseus thought that his cunning trumped other men’s abilities, so he did not want to risk his life. Odysseus’ cunning and unparalleled intelligence spawns the Trojan Horse, which ultimately ends the Trojan War with a victory for the Greeks. The Odyssey picks up where the Iliad left out, detailing Odysseus’s travels home, where he encounters Polyphemus, almost loses his memory at the Land of the Lotus Eaters, and many other struggles that are designed to make him lose his way. One of the struggles that Odysseus faces is similar to what Achilles faced in the Iliad, which is the effect of deadly pride.

The Sirens sing the future of men and reveal knowledge that one cannot find anywhere else. However, the Sirens lure men to their death with their voices by tempting and coaxing them off the boat they are on. Odysseus instructs his men to tie him to the ship and to plug their ears with beeswax, but Odysseus himself longs to hear their voices and believes that he harnesses enough strength to resist the temptation that the Sirens present. Ulysses and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse artfully illustrates the scene with a glowing Odysseus perching forward, leaning towards the dark and gloomy Sirens.

The colors that Waterhouse uses show the godliness that Homer gives to Odysseus. While Achilles literally almost became a god due to the powers of the Styx, Odysseus’ godlike characteristics lie more in his wit and his desire of forbidden and telling knowledge.

These godlike characters may differ in the characteristics that extenuate their godliness, but Homer unites them with respect to their pride. Similar to the Iliad and Achilles, Odysseus does not perish because of this pride even though he almost does with the Sirens. In fact, Odysseus never dies in the Odyssey itself. In both epics, Achilles and Odysseus are plagued with this form of insurmountable pride, but this pride never kills them. Achilles dies of a flaw independent of internal characteristics and Odysseus lives to tell the tale of how he narrowly escapes the Sirens.

Homer’s two-fold heroism archetype in both the Iliad and the Odyssey synthesizes together to show the different aspects of a Greek hero. Rutherford opens up by discussing how the Iliad and the Odyssey are very different works, but are believed to have been written by a single poet. However, the differences between the two are with the narrative especially regarding the hero.

In the Iliad, Achilles as a hero is skimmed over way more than Odysseus is. Odysseus has a happy ending where he returns home, slays the suitors, and resumes his marriage with Penelope. However, Achilles does not have a happy ending as Briseis is taken away from him and he eventually dies. The treatment of heroes is very different and leads some Classists to believe that the epics were written by different poets. However, Rutherford points out that the two epics are similar in length to one another, more so than other epics. The structure and the meter of the poems also give evidence that the poems are written by the same poet.

Cover Image Credit: On the Screen Reviews

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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