The ancient Greek spiritual beliefs, religion and tradition are all reflected through the myths and legends for the past two thousand years. The stories and myths consist of heroes and legends who are the protagonists. Each story has a different message, but overall, they all have the same roots. In other words, there are similarities between the Greek mythologies that overlap some ideas.
The aspect in which they differ greatly would be culture, yet there are similarities there too. One of the famous epic poems called “The Iliad,” recounts many events of the Trojan war while portraying what culture was like too. The basic themes present in the poem were honor, duty, bravery and the willingness to fight with one’s all or accept their own death. After careful analyzation, it can be inferred that “The Iliad” had a culture that emphasized a focus on war. It glorifies war and fails to mention the losses and tragedies. In addition, the spotlight was on men most of the time. The mentioning of females who played important roles was extremely rare in this epic. This shows the readers a lot about the culture back in the day. The funny part though is that the female gods seemed more powerful.
Society portrayed war as the ultimate goal of life. In other words, men had to sacrifice everything to go to war. In such a society, there is no greater dignity that a man can have than dying in war for a noble cause. This culture in particular can be classified or labeled as “a warrior culture. ” There was no such thing as being a coward or staying at home with the family. Rather the men had to have duty, honor and bravery. Women were expected to support the male, even if meant their husbands dying in war. ““My dearest, this reckless courage of yours will destroy you. Have pity now on your little boy and on me, your unfortunate wife, who before long will be your widow. Soon the Achaeans will kill you, and when you are gone, it will be far better for me to die and sink down under the earth, since once you have met your fate I will have no comfort—only unending sorrow (Homer, 6. 394-502. )”” This appears in the poem when Andromache, Hector’s wife, begs her husband not to go to war and he has to calm her down. He explains to her he must go to war, as it is his number one duty. It was tough and painful for the women to understand and to let go when their husbands did this. Unfortunately, this did not matter because that was not the type of society they were living in.
In Homer’s other poem, “The Odyssey,” culture portrays man in a powerful light. The wife had less authority, while the man was the head of the household. This is illustrated in the beginning of the poem, with Penelope and Telemachus. Another common aspect in this culture was wealth measured in livestock and land. Most of their wealth came from the results or the loot from the battles.
One example of this is when Odysseus is offered gifts, but instead takes the spoils of war. Another interesting tradition seen throughout the poem was the sprinkling of wine. There were also rituals for guests and for gods most of the time. Physical strength was valued greatly as well, when Odysseus proves he is the only man strong enough to string the bow. Aside from physical characteristics, the spiritual or mind-related characteristics were just as important. Many of the characters in the poem were clever with the plans they came up with. Examples include Penelope tricking the suitors, or Odysseus and Athena’s plan. Strength is a common theme in this poem, physically, intellectually, and in humanity. In the playwright “Prometheus Bound,” women are seen as evil rather an inferior, as seen in “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad. ” That is one major difference in the cultures that caught my eye. Specifically, the female character also known as the first woman, is represented as nasty and tricky.
Furthermore, she opens the jar that releases all kind of horror into the world. This too can be seen as the males being in control because women are depicted as evil and in a bad connotation. And as if that weren’t enough, she then opens a jar that releases horrifying terribleness onto the world. A major theme was sacrifice too, especially when Prometheus puts himself on the line for the sake of humans. “I am in this wretchedness, yoked in these constraining bonds, because I gave privileges to mortals: I hunted for, and stole, a source of fire, putting it into a fennel-stalk, and it has shown itself to be mortals’ great resource and their teacher in every skill. Such is the offence for which I am paying this penalty, pinned in these bonds under an open sky. (101-113)”” In some ways the society and culture of the Ancient Greeks seem strange; in other ways they are mainly similar.
To conclude, there are many ways the cultures within these Greek myths differ. Overall, there are common themes within their cultures such as man being in power and having most of authority. The focus of what’s important in each poem of every society varies as well. Meaning, “The Iliad” focused on war, “The Odyssey” focused on strength, and lastly the “Prometheus Bound,” focuses on women. Each poem told a different story which showed different perspectives and aspects of Greek culture.
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