Out of all the Homeric Poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey remain to be the most well-discussed works of literature. He appears on the Bible Timeline with World History during the eighth century BC, which is during the times of the Kings of Israel. These works helped in establishing the epic genre in literature and had also been a topic of interest in the history of philosophy. To some extent, these works from Homer helped in giving shape to the age-old philosophies that sprung from Ancient Greece.
One of the most influential roles that Homer’s works had on Ancient Greece was its choice in how the gods were depicted an ultimately determined for all Greeks as to how their gods were envisioned. One unique feature that Homer’s gods had that was they possessed human like qualities and were very rational. They were not some overly mystified icons that could only be accessed and appeased through some magical means. These gods possessed powers over the overall human experience for the mortals and were also subjected to some form of hierarchy. Eventually, Homer and his works would become a moral and religious basis for Greek education. Naturally, many opposed the somewhat immoral nature that some gods portrayed in Homeric poems. Plato, in particular, wished to censor material that would be detrimental to the image of the gods.
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When compared to other philosophical theories that sprung after the Homeric period, the view of man in these Greek works showed a lot of disparities. In Homer’s view, man did not possess a unified soul. The human psyche, which was an integral part of the Pythagorean era held a minimal role in Homeric literature and had no real influence over the thoughts and actions of man.
While the psyche survived after death in Homeric literature, it was not given the complete personality that later philosophies preached. The different facets of the human personality were instead distributed to various entities. While the psyche was nothing more than a helpless entity, the thoughts and emotions went into the “phrenes” and the intuitive perception and understanding went to the”nuos”.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect to be considered in the study of philosophy is the depiction of human action in Homeric poems. In the Iliad and the Odyssey, the human action was mainly influenced by the gods. The somewhat divine intervention of deities was attributed to otherwise inexplicable feats done by the mortal characters. However, the hand of the gods was not only limited to the extraordinary actions in these poems, almost every form of unremarkable action in these pieces of literature were somehow associated with the Olympian intervention. Everything from a successful hit in a battle, a sudden outburst of rage, an undesirable transaction and many other things could somehow be traced back to the gods.
Because of this feature in Homer’s works, many philosophers even in modern times remark that Homer was a firm believer in the absence of free will. Some even claim that Homer may have had very little grasp of the facets of a human personality. However, the other side of the spectrum claims that Homer was no philosopher. And that any moral responsibility and relations among humans as a whole were only partly affected by divine intervention and part of that action could still be blamed on human volition. Homeric poems provided a strong background for philosophical study during that era and examined the relations between gods and men in a different perspective.
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