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Iliad and Meno

An Iliad and Meno research paper compares and contrasts the systems of values and ideas reflected in Homer’s Iliad and Plato’s dialogue Meno. Both of these works are “typical” products of Greek culture and yet they vary greatly.  There are similarities between Homer’s and Plato’s value systems, but there are also differences.  The differences may be accounted for by two facts: 1] the two works are different in kind—the one being an epic, the other a presentation of a formal philosophical argument; and, 2] the two works were composed at different times, Homer’s epic having been written at an earlier point in the evolution of Greek culture.  Iliad and MenoThis Iliad and Meno term paper will discuss these two points.

Before discussing differences, however, mention should be made of the fact that these two works do resemble one another in important ways.  One of the resemblances has to do with the value of wisdom. In the Iliad there are two characters that are not only great warriors, but also wise men.  Nestor, although somewhat given to pomposity, has the wisdom of age.  When, in Book IX, he admonishes Agamemnon for having been arrogant in taking Briseis from Achilles, he is listened to not only by the whole Achaean camp, but also by Agamemnon himself who acknowledges the truth of the accusation.  In the same chapter a deputation is sent to Achilles in the hopes of healing the breach that has grown up between Achilles and Agamemnon.  While he is preceded by Phoenix and accompanied by Telamonian Aias, Odysseus, he “of the nimble wits,” is the delegate that matters for it is he who does most of the urging for reconciliation.  Clearly, while the poem greatly admires the warrior virtues of courage and martial skill, it also admires wisdom and quick-wittedness, and it places great emphasis not only upon bravery, but also upon the virtue of temperance.  No one who reads any dialogue of Plato’s can be unaware of the value that Plato placed upon wisdom; for Plato, as for Homer, wisdom is of cardinal value.

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