From Epic to Hellenic: Part Three of Six

From Epic to Hellenic: Part Three of Six

Connecting Tradition with Heroism

This is part one 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.

Considering Homer as a single poet supports the belief that the Greek archetype of heroism must have some sort of divine interaction with it, which in turn influences the Roman archetype. Some think that Homer refers to a group of people while others prefer to think that Homer is one poet. Kullmann takes on the opinion that Homer is a singular person, a poet who could not write, but rather had someone write for him.

However, Kullmann explores one of the problems with that theory, which is the difference between the relationship of heroes and men in the two epic poems. Iliad prefers to depict the relationship between gods and men as one where the gods frequently intervene in the affairs of men.

On the battle field, Aphrodite swoops in to save precious Diomedes while grey-eyed Athena is depicted fighting on behalf of the Greeks. This interaction between gods and men reveals that the culture believed that gods had a role in their everyday life. Aeneas has interactions with Neptune, Venus, Juno, Aeolus, and Mercury, but they do not directly intervene to change fate, rather to derail it or hasten it. The interactions between god and men in the Iliad alters whether or not specific men die thus as a whole heroes are seen as mere playthings of the gods.

This idea portrays the Greeks as having an external locus of control rather than a Roman-like internal locus of control. Meanwhile over in the Odyssey, the gods take more of a hands off approach to their relationship with heroes. Interestingly enough, while the gods may be different, the heroes are quite similar.

This article explains that for all intents and purposes of the paper, Homer is a single person who originated both epics. Also, this article highlights the differences in the roles that the gods have in each epic by pointing out and analyzing instances such as Odysseus’s return to Ithaca. Odysseus’s homecoming, especially when one considers how Aeneas was able to make the same homecoming, demonstrates that the Vergil and therefore the Roman culture rely more on the actual man to do the work, not gods. Odysseus’s homecoming was not exactly grandeur, but he had the opportunity to be reunited with his family as a result of gods propelling him on his journey. This shows that there exists disconnect between Greeks and Romans. While the Greeks appraise the idea of receiving help from the gods and have fate on their side, the Roman interpretation of a hero is one who advances all the more boldly against them [misfortunes].

Livy's historical work includes mythology, containing the story of the Aeneid that backs up Vergil’s assertions about heroism. Book one is an account of the founding of Rome. The story is described as twofold. The first version being more similar to the Aeneid, where Aeneas and his men take over the Land of Latium and Romulus and Remus are suckled by Lupa. Then Romulus and Remus have a feud and Romulus kills Remus and starts Rome. This is the version that the Sybil said would come to past. The other version of the story is that the war never happened, a peaceful treaty occurred and that the founding of Rome was a different ordeal. History was thought of differently in Roman times than it is now.

Mythology was a bigger part of history. The importance of this work is that it backs up the Aeneid historically. Virgil's intent when writing was to not only show that the Romans were better than the Greeks, but to also prove that Aeneas is related to Augustus.

This connection achieves what Virgil intends to achieve, which is that Rome is more successful than Greece because the hero of Rome is greater than the heroes of Greece. The Iliad and Odyssey as the longest epics of their time did not have any work to be compared with. In fact, one of the first works translated into Latin from Greek was the Odyssey. The Aeneid’s purpose was to one up the Iliad and the Odyssey, which contributes to Vergil’s supercharged Homeric hero that even Livy supports with his historical account.

Cover Image Credit: On the Screen Reviews

Popular Right Now

30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Coping With The Loss Of A Passion

It's hard to get it back once you lose it.


In college, time to focus on passions seems limited. The homework, essays, group projects, and exams are never-ending.

In high school, I took my free time for granted. I was dancing four hours four nights a week, but I wasn't constantly stressed. I had time to focus on my passion, which is dance.

In college, I am a part of an amazing dance club. But I don't get to compete, take technique classes, or be with the team I was with since I was 8 years old. Now, I receive videos of my team from home's amazing performances, and it aches a bit. I am so proud and happy for their growth but jealous that they have more years than I do. It is nearly impossible to find technique classes at college to take with no car, little free time, and barely any money. I miss my team, I miss my dance teachers and choreographers, and I miss competitions, but most of all, I miss the person I was when I had the opportunity to pursue my passion several hours a week.

My passion will always be there, and I do get to pursue dance on a smaller scale with some amazing dancers in college, but I am coping with the fact that I will never do another competition with my team again, I will never be able to dance with them again, and I will never be able to learn from my dance teachers again. It's a hard loss, one that I think about every day.

To anyone who still has the opportunities to pursue their passions to the fullest extent, you are lucky. Not everyone gets the chance to keep up with their sport, passion, or activity that they dedicated all of their time to in high school. Don't take a single second of it for granted, and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Take time to reflect on why you love it so much, how it makes you feel, and how you can express yourself during it. Whatever this passion or activity is, make every second count.

Related Content

Facebook Comments