The roots of civil conlficts – Homer

In this article we analyze Homer’s verses from ‘Iliad’ with reference to the subject of our title. Unfortunately, it remains an all-time issue which receives particular dimensions in modern times.


Homer’s Iliad, Rhapsody I, Verses 63-64

Ancient Greek: “αφρήτωρ αθέμιστος ανέστιος εστιν εκείνος ός πολέμου έραται επιδημίου οκρυόεντος”

In English: “Without roots/generation, outlaw/living without institutions, and without a home is the man that falls in love with civil war the fierce”

First, we need to explain the words used in order to achieve a proper conclusion.

a) αφρήτωρ = (pronounced ‘aphreetor’) the man who does not have ‘φρήτρα’, meaning ‘root’ and ‘generation’. In other words, either someone whose line never did something special and prosperous for the nation, or generally of very humble origins. It could also have the meaning of the ‘mongrel’ or evenly, of the ‘bastard’.

b) αθέμιστος = (pronounced ‘athaemestos’) the man who does not live according to the institutions other people do, the one who does not accept the institutions the majority has agreed to live with, especially Justice (‘Θέμις’). We could call him ‘the outlaw’, too.

c) ανέστιος = (pronounced ‘anaesteos’) the one without ‘εστία’ meaning ‘home’, the one who does not own a stable property, the ‘poor and exhausted’ we could say.

d) επιδήμιος = (pronounced ‘epidemeos’) this word means ‘inside the same municipality’, inside the state itself. This definition covers both the conflict that can rise between people of the same nation/race (‘εμφύλιος’ in Greek) inside a state, and the conflict that can rise between people living in the same state independently of their racial/national origins.

For Homer, any war apart from the defensive one (or one that is ordered because of justice and dignity) is considered as ‘madness’. War among the same nation is considered as ‘sickness’. As we saw above, from the vocabulary, he who has love for civil war is either ‘αφρήτωρ’, ‘αθέμιστος’ or ‘ανέστιος’. It is hence revealed that whoever invites people  for civil war must either come from broken or problematic families, from a ‘humble blood line’, either being an outlaw (theoretically and practically denying the institutions of the State), either being poor and exhausted.

Using this data, we know where to search in order to find the possible dividers of every Society. For the Greeks specifically, one of their greatest defects has always been the tendency to kill each other and divide their society. Superficial ego has lead countless times in the past to the persecution of the Optimal among them and in civil conflicts of every kind. We believe that it is indeed a matter of ego. The most common questions of a divider sound like:

‘why the others have and I don’t?’

‘why the others are like this and I am not?’


Each of the possible dividers seems to take his personal pain and misjudgment of the situation he lives, transforms them into ‘ideologies’, always drifting/misleading noumerous minorities of alike substance. History teaches that these minorities (this is the rule) are defeated in the long run, but after having caused much injury in the body of the race/nation/state, preventing or delaying positive evolution (socially, economically, etc.)

Of course, it is not coincidental that Homer refers to the matter so deeply and almost dissuasively in the matter of civil conflicts; his own work, ‘Iliad’, as a matter of fact, is a civil war ‘squared’; Achaeans against Trojans and Achaeans against Achaeans – the conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon.

The only way for the civil conflicts to reduce, up to the point of elimination, is that every organized State works in the direction of eliminating the existence of the categories of people we previously mentioned. Obviously, we do not mean the biological elimination of people like this. We mean a State with better structures able to achieve this goal. In addition, just in case people like this still show up in our Idealistic and Optimal Future State, (and in any case really, as Education is the basis of any Society that aims to be better all the time) Paedea (Παιδεία)/Education of such shape and quality must be  provided so that everyone is persuaded to ‘kill’ self-willingly, self-motivated, any of their possible inner reactive tendencies for the prosperity of the whole body of Society.

Isidoros Aggelos


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