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Concept of Heroism

The concept of heroism is a central theme in Greek mythology. Achilles, the main character in Homer's The Iliad, accurately depicts the concept of a tragic hero. Throughout his many experiences during the Trojan War, he reflects heroic qualities, and earns his name as the purest, the highest and "the best of the Achaians." Similar to Achilles, Socrates demonstrates several heroic characteristics, in Plato's work The Trial and Death of Socrates. Through his trial, apology and death, Socrates shows that his heroism and his commitment to his society are genuine.

The Iliad confirms that a warrior lives and dies in the pursuit of honor and glory. Achilles place as a hero depended upon the understanding of his place in society, and performing with the expectations society had for him. He freely accepted the natural pattern of a hero, consisting of a hero's suffering and a hero's death. In Greek mythology there is no concrete concept of afterlife, so winning and glory then becomes the way to a meaningful life. To Homeric Greeks, death symbolized the loss of all things that were good, but there was one thing that would have been worse for Achilles: dying without glory.

As a result, becoming a hero means to either kill or be killed in the pursuit for honor and glory. In order to conform to the ideals of society, Achilles becomes a tragic figure, and ultimately dies to uphold his heroic ideals. Achilles consistently reflects his overwhelming tragic flaw of pride, throughout The Iliad. His choice to not fight for the Achaians resulted in his and Patroklus' death. Achilles freely accepted this fate. Although, his decision to kill Hector and to mutilate his body drastically opposes heroic ideals. Socrates views are in complete opposition with those of Achilles. Socrates accepts the community's unjust actions. He believed that, "acting unjustly, returning injustice, and harming someone in self defense is never right." This b...

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