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Mason KaneCAMS 1101Professor CoppolinoTerm PaperIn this paper I rank these texts in this order of importance for the study of Greekcivilization, first Homer’s Iliad, second Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War, and third Aeschylus’Oresteia. Homer’s Iliad is most important, as it shows not only strife among men, but amonggods as well, including their role in the conflicts of men. Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War isalmost as important as Homer’s Iliad, showing major strife between large powers, and thepractices among the Greek people. The least important of these three texts is Aeschylus’Oresteia, giving a powerful theme of internal strife, exemplifying the constant power struggleswhich existed in ancient Greece; and the concept of justice. As evidence in support of myranking, for Homer’s Iliad, I will discuss instances where there was strife between the humans,internally on the Greek side; as well as the main external strife between Greeks and Trojans. Therole of the gods will also be examined, as it is crucial in showing how they have influence. InThucydides’ Peloponnesian War, I will discuss not only the strife between the Spartans andAthenians, but the interactions among the people that tell us about Greek ways of life as well. Itwill also be important to talk about the societal conditions which were seen within this text aswell. Finally, for Aeschylus’ Oresteia I will discuss the killing of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra’sdeath, and the quest for justice on which the Furies embark.Homer’s Iliad is the most essential text for the study of Greek civilization not only due tothe fact it presents the earliest events between all three of the sources, but because of the themesit contains. The first theme which will be discussed is the internal strife which exists within theGreek forces. This particular issue is between Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior, andAgamemnon, the leader of the Greek army during this war. The internal strife among these twopowerful men is something that compromises the ability and integrity of the Greek army.Agamemnon disrespected Achilles in taking the girl that was supposed to be his prize forfighting, whom Achilles loves. This internal strife is a valuable component to us, as it shows thebad that it can produce. Achilles’ best friend and cousin, Patroclus is killed and he blameshimself for this, saying “My friend is dead, Patroclus, my dearest friend of all. I loved him, and Ikilled him.” (Il.18. 84-86). Ultimately this internal strife brings Achilles great grief, causing himto seek revenge. This was essential for the Greeks to win the battle against Troy as it now setAchilles on a path for revenge.The external strife between the Greeks and Trojans within Homer’s Iliad shows us howthis major historical war unfolded. Within this text we see the Greeks gain glory in one of themost famous wars in history. This tremendous war all started with Paris, a Trojan prince takingHelen, the wife of Greek king Menelaus back to Troy with him. While they may have been inlove, this was not how things were done and was a massive instance of disrespect. This war allstarted because of a woman and Trojan elders even said “Who could blame either the Trojans orGreeks for suffering so long for a woman like this.” (Il.3.164-165). While this shows Helen’sgreat beauty, it can still leave many to wonder if this was a worthy cause for the massive war. Ifeel as though the Greeks may have used this to their advantage in their quest for power overothers. In the Iliad there is also insight as to the god’s influence. As learned in lectures, Zeus isoften the guardian of “fate” and therefore has vast influence over everything that happens. Wesee his influence when he speaks with someone and his wife overhears, saying “And I’m prettysure that you agreed to honor Achilles and destroy Greeks by the thousands beside their ships.”(Il.1.591-592). I believe this presents how drastically Zeus can affect a situation between thehumans. The Iliad does a great job at showing Zeus power over all, as even the other gods needhis permission to be involved in the battle. In order to truly understand Greek civilization it iscrucial to know how highly they placed the gods and their powers, which the Iliad helps us tosee.Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War is the next most important text and shows not only strifebetween the best land and sea powers, but important customs too. The context given tounderstand the strength of the Spartans is very helpful for the study of Greek civilization. Notonly were they physically strong but their political strength “enabled them to intervene in theaffairs of other states.” (Thuc.B1.18). This gives understanding as to why they would be the onesto challenge the imperialistic moves of Athens. The presentation of customs in Greek life is avery valuable aspect of this text as well.Pericles’ funeral oration shows an important customary practice for the Athenian people.The practice of public funerals for many is not a norm today, so including this shows how oursocieties are different. Through this funeral oration it is clear the pride the Athenian people havein their city, and the honor they place on the dead. Pericles speaks of ancestors and fighting forAthens, and finally says “also I wanted my words of praise for the dead to be set in the brightlight of evidence” (Thuc.B2.42). He makes it a point to show the highest honor is to be placedupon those that die in battle. We similarly honor those who die serving in the military, praisingtheir bravery and sacrifice as the Athenians do. The conditions people faced back then were alsoexposed within this text. During this war the Athenians experienced a plague which killed anestimated 80,000 people. The lack of technology and ability to treat sickness is easy to see, as thetext says “As for a recognized method of treatment, it would be true to say that no such thingexisted” (Thuc.B2.51). This helps to show the extreme difference in technological capabilityconcerning medicine at this time. We now have extremely advanced technology and the ability totreat a diverse array of conditions.Aeschylus’ Oresteia helps to show internal strife and common power struggles amongfamilies in Greek civilization. Clytemnestra begins a cycle of internal strife when she conspiresto kill her husband with his cousin, Aegisthus. Her anger is understandable as Agamemnonsacrificed her beloved daughter and following

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