My essay is about masculinity in the Iliad and how gender roles in turn cause a "war versus oneself" (the title)

Essay by honey9532College, UndergraduateA+, February 2004

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The War Versus Oneself

During the time period in which the Iliad took place there was a great emphasis put on masculinity. Five specific qualities were required to obtain the venerable title of a hero. Firstly, one must be born unto noble birth. For instance, a man born from the social status of a servant would cause the man to be immediately looked down on for his rankings among his higher status social counterparts. Secondly, the hero must attain strength. Without strength, the man cannot prove himself victorious throughout battles causing him either death or the unthinkable characteristic of humiliation which in turn causes the man more pain than death itself. Thirdly, a man must encompass courage. If a soldier was frightened going into battle it is certain he would be ridiculed by his counterparts. For the fourth quality, one must be able and willing to kill worthy opponents. During this time period warriors often used the notoriety that opponents possessed to mark their status as a soldier.

Thus, the more worthy of an opponent one has killed the greater hero one is. Lastly, it is essential for a man to go through a quest for immortality through glory. In the Iliad one can see that the entire purpose of the epic is to bring the opposing enemy down. If one should fail this mission they embarrass their whole kingdom let alone themselves. These ideas of masculinity are influential in Achilles' decision to turn down Agamemnon's offers, yet it also happens to be these same influences that will eventually induce Achilles back to the glory of war.

Furthermore, one can see the drive for these masculine qualities in Achilles and Agamemnon. Achilles and Agamemnon possess many of the same qualities yet, they also vary in several ways. Achilles and Agamemnon...