The Iliad as Politics


Book Details

Author  Dean Hammer
Publisher  University of Oklahoma Press
Publication Date   March 15, 2002
ISBN  080613366X
Pages  304

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Wily Odysseus. Bold Achilles. Brave Hektor. Beautiful Helen of Troy. For centuries, people around the world have been fascinated by these figures and their tragic war as recounted in Homer's Iliad, long admired and studied as one of the foremost epic poems of the ancient world. In The Iliad as Politics, Dean Hammer revisits this epic with a new perspective.

In this first full-length treatment of the Iliad as a work of political thought, Hammer demonstrates how Homer's epic is also an ancient Greek discussion on political ethics. Hammer redefines political thought as the activity of addressing issues of collective identity and organization. Using this understanding of politics, he discusses how the characters in the Iliad, through their larger-than-life actions and interactions, embody community issues of authority, conflict, judgment, and the interrelationship between personal and collective identity. The characters' many quarrels, laments, reconciliations, and vows of loyalty and friendship all critically model the principles and controversies of underlying Greek political ethics of communal responsibility and relationship.

Much of modern Western political thought focuses on classical Greek discussions of political philosophy. Hammer demonstrates that the Iliad constitutes another such ancient Greek political discussion.

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