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EnragedWhy Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths$
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Emily Katz Anhalt

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300217377

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300217377.001.0001

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Passions and Priorities (Iliad 1)

Passions and Priorities (Iliad 1)

(p.13) 1 Passions and Priorities (Iliad 1)

Emily Katz Anhalt

Yale University Press

This chapter offers a narrative retelling of the Iliad, followed by a discussion of the story's themes and emphases, and their importance for modern societies confronting the same issues. The Iliad cultivates the audience's capacity for critical reflection and rational judgment. It emphasizes the role of human choices from the outset, thus exposing the problem that rage poses for the community. The confrontation between Agamemnon and Achilles, their obsession with honor, their short fuses and willingness to indulge their own anger will have adverse effects for the community that has chosen to honor them. Homer's narrative reveals the inadequacy of vengeance and hints that empathy better serves an individual's self-interest. Above all, the Iliad calls into question the characters' narrow definition of great achievement as success in warfare.

Keywords:   human choices, rage, honor, anger, empathy, Iliad, warfare, vengeance, Agamemnon, Achilles

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