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the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer

The earliest surviving literature in Greece and thus Europe are the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer: perhaps put together in something like their present form around the 9th century BC, from even earlier sets of such poems narrated only from memory. It is probably the Iliad that had the greater abiding influence on Greek thought. (Still taught today in Greek school)
 
The hero-warriors though display a morality and motivation which is different to modern notions of morality of today’s world. Or at least what is today accepted as a more nuanced or superior set of principles: there are plenty of humans who still rush to the allure of Fame and Celebrity, pure and simple.
 
The battlefield is a public space where the hero’s performance and ability can be witnessed by all.   As a result, the warriors strive to gain glory from winning in front of others. 
Avoidance of fighting is regarded as cowardly and very bad!!
 
A pre-eminent hero (and son of an immortal), Achilles is one of dominant figures of the Iliad. Achilles had the choice of living a safe and a quiet, contented long life – without much glory – or the exact opposite. Achilles goes for a glorious life in battle, despite all the dangers.
(As did Cuchullain in the Irish Ulster Cycle .. they are very similar characters).
 
So one sees in the oldest Greek literature the age-old human questions:
Who am I?  What do I wish to accomplish? What will I be remembered for?
 
What is the cost?  Is however a question that seems oftimes passed over: the world is a little Black and White for such people.
 
(Today one notices in the new arena of the younger generation and social media that one is constantly asked after almost everything, even the most banal:  Like/Dislike.  The scores are then prominently displayed – and one’s worth/coolness or whatever judged by one’s peers. Some people are admired at school for the achievements as champion athletes, others for other skills and virtues: all enjoy sharing their achievements and goals on Instagram or other social media hoping to garner fame as trend-setters or influencers. Does that make them happy? Or merely vulnerable?).

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