The Discovery of Ancient Greek Civilization Ideals Through Greek Literature Essay Example
The Discovery of Ancient Greek Civilization Ideals Through Greek Literature Essay Example

The Discovery of Ancient Greek Civilization Ideals Through Greek Literature Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 3 (610 words)
  • Published: October 29, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
View Entire Sample
Text preview

To gain insight into a culture, it's crucial to comprehend their diverse art forms such as music, visual arts, theatre, and others. Literature is an essential medium that aids in comprehending a culture.

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, literature is composed of written works in prose or verse that convey ideas with lasting significance and possess exceptional form or expression. These works can provide insight into the values of a particular culture or civilization, as seen in classic Greek pieces like Homer's epic tale, The Iliad, and Sophocles' play Antigone. The former recounts the tale of Achilles, an Achaean warrior who refuses to fight following an act of disrespect.

Following the death of his dear friend Patroclus, who bravely fought in Achilles' stead and was subsequently slain by Hector, the Trojan leader, Achilles is consumed with fury and joins


the fight. Ultimately emerging victorious over Hector, Achilles adds insult to injury by leaving his body for birds to consume rather than providing a dignified burial.

Ultimately, King Priam persuades Achilles to grant his request and return the body to Troy, displaying a sense of sympathy. This epic poem showcases the many ideals of ancient Greek culture, such as their reverence for strength, as evidenced by their self-praise as "the bronze-armed Achaeans." However, even amidst their belief in the importance of justice, there was room for emotional depth and empathy, as demonstrated by Achilles' response to King Priam's plea: "the words stirred within Achilles a deep desire to grieve for his own father." This humanistic approach to life is a defining characteristic of ancient Greek society.

Greek society held certain values in high regard, including the human

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

will to pursue justice, regardless of the circumstances. This is exemplified in Achilles' determination to avenge Patroclus' death, as depicted in the Iliad. Additionally, Sophocles' play "Antigone" also showcases traits that were admired by Greeks, beginning with the death of Thebes' king, Oedipus.

The tragic events continue when Oedipus' two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, engage in a fight over the throne, resulting in both their deaths. Subsequently, Creon, Oedipus' brother-in-law, assumes the crown and issues a decree forbidding the burial of Polynices. According to Creon, Eteocles was the rightful heir. Antigone, Oedipus' daughter, chooses to defy the decree and bury her brother, leading to her own tragic death.

Once again, the play highlights the principles ingrained within olden Greek culture. The Greeks upheld individual rights to a higher degree over laws established by monarchs, as they favored direct democracy over authoritarian rule or elitist oligarchies. Despite being predominantly male-dominant, the Greeks still held great reverence for strong women, such as Antigone. Antigone herself chose to disobey the king's edict in burying her brother, opting instead to follow divine law instead of human law. Compliant with the customs of the era, this would have been esteemed by society, as the people would have valued serving the gods above adhering to laws shaped by humans.

Regarding the powerful ideals cherished by the ancient Greeks, the play "Antigone" serves as a notable example. Greek literature serves as a clear avenue to uncover the values held dear by this civilization. From respecting the "gods' laws" to celebrating the strong will of women and pride in physical strength, works like Sophocles' "Antigone" and Homer's "Iliad" provide vivid illustrations of

these ideals. These values continue to endure beyond the Golden Age of Greece.

Today's society, particularly western culture, is still heavily influenced by the art, philosophy, and science of Ancient Greece. Therefore, we can find these ideals even now. This idea is expressed by nineteenth-century poet Percy Shelley who said "We are all Greeks."

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds