The Analysis of Depiction of Violence and War in Ancient and Modern Texts

Comparative Literature Essay 1
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   Seungmin Lim Comparative Literature 201: The Epic The Analysis of Depiction of Violence and War in Ancient and Modern Texts If there were one thing in the world that came purely as a product of man’s imagination, it would be stories. That is not to say that man should not be accredited with any other forms of innovation such as technology but simply that stories are the only form of idea, which can be traced back to man. For example let us say that a man has the idea to make a box. This idea cannot be realized without the necessary materials, whether it is made of wood or stone. Simply put, the idea of a box can never be manifested into reality without external influences. The idea of the box will never be as man willed it, but it will be dependent upon the composition of the materials with which it is made of. If the box is made of wood, it may rot and if made of stone, it may be too heavy. However stories are different. A story can come to life without being confined by the limitations of the  physical world because it exists within the mind. The story retains the srcinal  purpose with which it was made, because it is a dynamic entity, constantly changing to fit the needs of the owner. The story is dependent solely on the rhetoric with which the speaker recites it and on the understanding of the audience. That is the deciding difference between a book and a story. The book is a story which has taken  physical form through ink and paper. Through this process it is now preserved but has lost its fluidity. Unlike the story, the book is static and unchanging. This essay will analyze the depiction of violence and war from the viewpoint of two different   Seungmin Lim Comparative Literature 201: The Epic  people, Homer and Filkins. By scrutinizing the depths of these two distinct works that portray war, the defining relationship between a story and book, myth and history, storyteller and writer can be constructed. The overarching theme in the  Iliad is the portrayal of conflict. This conflict is not confined to a s ingular realm but indicates the presence of depth in Homer’s oratory. Conflict exists both on the physical planes upon which gods and men kill and in the spiritual plane where gods and heroes struggle against themselves. To analyze the rhetoric that Homer employs it is important to look at both dimensions of his poems. Homer illustrates this dualistic nature of his poems through a scene  between Agamemnon, Thersites and Odysseus ( Wills: 68-76).  Hold his fists high, as: “Home…    Home…    Home…”  We answered him,  All standing now, beneath: “Home…    Home…”     Seungmin Lim Comparative Literature 201: The Epic War Music: 70 Thersites is not just a man. He is the embodiment of the nameless soldiers that have been following the Greek heroes without qualm. His voice is the first to make the entrance, as a “catchy whine”.  With this introduction Thersites shows the disbelief of the soldiers, which clash, against Agamemnon’s belief.   Then he “wades through our knees down to the front” so that he may be seen and heard.  Secondly he is now at the figurehead of his compatriots, making him both physically and metaphorically the figurehead of the “host” . Homer does not deny this because shortly after Odysseus says,  Because of you they see themselves  As worthy of respect. To have a voice. War Music: 74 Odysseus is the anti-thesis of Thersites symbolizing the heroes on the other side of this battlefield. This is where Homer’s intent and manipulation of rhetoric  begins to show. Unlike Homer’ s other characters Thersites has no physical description. He is simply a voice with a name. Odysseus, on the other hand, is described in full.  And then, With his big, attractive belly rounded out   Seungmin Lim Comparative Literature 201: The Epic  And just a trace of dark grey hair  Ascending and descending to his cloth Odysseus (small but big) War Music: 73 Homer enchants Odysseus to be superior to Thersites in every aspect. When Ther  sites spoke his voice was a “whine”. The words of Odysseus are charming, wise, firm, practical and hard. Whereas Thersites acted as the avatar of the soldiers alone, Odysseus is blessed by the presence of Athena whom “divided lord Odysseus’ voice into as many parts as there were heads.” But the dilemma in this conflict lies on the fact that Homer is speaking these words. Homer, when referring to the soldiers apart from Ther  sites, refers to them as “we”. Homer is identifying himself as part of the group which Thersites represents. By taking on this role of a soldier, Homer escapes the boundaries of a storyteller. To the audience Homer is one of the soldiers that had  been present during the Iliad. The storyteller, by imposing himself within the story,  blurs the line between fiction and reality. The flip side offers clues to the identity of his intended audience. In addition to the flattering oratory that Odysseus has already received, his victory is ensured, leaving no doubt in the listener’s mind. W ith the appearance of Odysseus Thersites is left speechless and is beat with a broomstick.  And raised the cane and gave Thersites’ neck,   Nape, sides, back, butt, stroke after slow, accurate stroke,
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