Homer's Hero: Human Excellence in the Iliad and the Odyssey

Title

Homer's Hero: Human Excellence in the Iliad and the Odyssey

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Description

Draws on Plato to argue that Homer elevated private life as the locus of true friendship and the catalyst of the highest human excellence.

Offering a new, Plato-inspired reading of the Iliad and the Odyssey, this book traces the divergent consequences of love of honor and love of one’s own private life for human excellence, justice, and politics. Analyzing Homer’s intricate character portraits, Michelle M. Kundmeuller concludes that the poet shows that the excellence or virtue to which humans incline depends on what they love most. Ajax’s character demonstrates that human beings who seek honor strive, perhaps above all, to display their courage in battle, while Agamemnon’s shows that the love of honor ultimately undermines the potential for moderation, destabilizing political order. In contrast to these portraits, the excellence that Homer links to the love of one’s own, such as by Odysseus and his wife, Penelope, fosters moderation and employs speech to resolve conflict. It is Odysseus, rather than Achilles, who is the pinnacle of heroic excellence. Homer’s portrait of humanity reveals the value of love of one’s own as the better, albeit still incomplete, precursor to a just political order. Kundmueller brings her reading of Homer to bear on contemporary tensions between private life and the pursuit of public honor, arguing that individual desires continue to shape human excellence and our prospects for justice. [From the publisher]

ISBN

9781438476674

Publication Date

11-2019

Publisher

SUNY Press

City

Albany, New York

Disciplines

Ancient Philosophy | Classical Literature and Philology | Political Science

Homer's Hero: Human Excellence in the Iliad and the Odyssey


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