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The Warrior Culture in “The Iliad” by Homer

In The Iliad, a culture that portrays bravery, honor and masculinity is highly honored. Men were expected to participate in warfare fully. Therefore, any man that shuns this responsibility or did not take part in the war was later faced with criticism. Individuals who failed to engage in the battles went against their masculine duties as portrayed in the society.

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Warfare determined the characters as well as statuses of people especially men in the society. The essay will concentrate on Paris as one of the major character whose role was to portray the level in which the society valued the warrior culture. The main argument is that the contrast in the Paris’ attributes is applied to present the duties in warrior culture, which affects the role he plays in the whole episode.

Paris’ character is clearly indicated when Diomendes claimed that warriors were not supposed to behave like cowards and depart from battle (Homer 432). Diomendes claim defined the general duties expected of a man in the warrior culture. The first duty of a man is to be brave. Paris lacked the trait. As such, he was not respected by the fellow worriers. In fact, being a coward especially by a man was formidable. Moreover, bravery was a very important trait in the society and was hailed greatly especially when portrayed in the battle field (Homer 31).

Paris characteristics of cowardice contrasted with what the society believed particularly where the warriors were advised and encouraged to engage in the battles no matter what the outcome (Homer 49). The contrast greatly affected the role Paris play in the whole episode since it create a belief that he is not acting according to the prescribed duties. The idea of how men will eventually meet death, bravery and masculinity moulds several events in the book and defined characters of the warriors as either weak or heroic.

However, Paris is known to be a masculine character in the Iliad. In addition, Paris is presented as having the cultural traits that are exalted in that society. In order safeguard reputation, individuals had to engage in battles. Even though Paris did not participate in battles, his manliness was confirmed by bravely breaking in Menelaus and going away with Helen.

However, he eventually feared to fight as his attackers approached. The fear was demonstrated through his retreat from the clash with the enemies (Homer 31). Paris did not recoil due to the fact that he did not want to be injured but because he disagreed with fighting. The fear of dying stops Paris from fighting his attackers although it is respectable to die in a battle as it is obvious all through the book.

However, the denial to engage in the manly warrior custom provoked a reaction from Hector who claimed that Paris is a coward (Homer 31). Hector’s response addressed the fact that Paris would be disgraced and disrespected in the society for not being prepared to die in combat. In addition, Hector attacked Paris’ manhood signifying that he is not valuable to bear children. In the book, Hector is being sarcastic through his comments on Paris’ status as a “great lover” and a “gallant sight”. Hector speaks of this trait as a soft trait in a man and comparing it with being weak and a coward. The Paris contrasting traits with the societal expectations simply confirms a lot about the expected duties in the culture described by The Iliad. The feminine character traits portrayed in Paris affected his role in given the fact that such traits were subjected to mockery and disrespect.

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Works Cited

Homer. The Iliad of Homer. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.

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