Homer against a materialistic approach of Life

In this post we present and analyze a very interesting excerpt from Homer’s Iliad.


Iliad, Rhapsody A, Verses 149-151:

(Achilles’ words to Agamemnon)

In ancient Greek: Ὤ μοι, ἀναιδείην ἐπιειμένε κερδαλεόφρον πῶς τίς τοι πρόφρων ἔπεσιν πείθηται Ἀχαιῶν ἢ ὁδὸν ἐλθέμεναι ἢ ἀνδράσιν ἶφι μάχεσθαι;

(Source: Ιλιάς/Α)

In English: Ah me, clothed in shamelessness, thinking of profit, how shall any man of the Achaeans obey your words with a ready heart either to go on a journey or to fight against men with force?


For a slightly better translation, we can replace “clothed in shamelessness, thinking of profit”  with “Armored in impudence, always shrewd with greed

With these words, Homer offers us an opinion on the characteristics that a leader should not have. Remember here that Agamemnon is “ἄναξ” (Anax = “tribal chief, lord, (military) leader”, or just “king”). To be more accurate, Agamemnon is the leader of a coalition of independent states. The leader of each independent state receives the title ‘βασιλεύς‘ ( = king) by Homer, while Agamemnon being ‘leader of leaders’ or ‘king of kings’ receives the title “ἄναξ“.

Let us now examine how a leader should not be and what he should not do, according to Homer, if he wants to inspire his people:

i) Be impudent

ii) Be greedy (always thinking of profit)

Leaders without Pudency, who think exclusively of profit, can not inspire their people to do anything, even more so, a battle, which is an act of the highest risk.

Let us now generalize and use the above in Modern World problematics.

When people are trained to see everything from a materialistic point of view – instead of giving priority to spirit and soul – , they lose the appetite for all the good and beneficial fighting aspects of life. This includes a possible ‘just war’ (e.g. to defend one’s country).

The only ‘struggle’ of people alike becomes the hunt for profit; the hunt for ‘gold’; the hunt for the means that will allow them to claim their desired pleasures and delights. Together with it comes the pursuit for personal ‘glorification’, the pursuit of ‘recognition’ by other people due to some financial position or/and specific acquirements.

A person without Pudency becomes able for the greatest ugliness. Both against himself and the others. Situation gets worse when Greediness is added to such a Man’s characteristics. We can recall many such examples, e.g. from History, where Men became Beasts following this rotten path.

Such a human type becomes eventually enslaved to Matter and Pleasures (i.e. to Passions). Being deprived now of his Freedom, the refusal to ‘fight a battle’ becomes a rather anticipated event; because Servility has become his ‘natural environment’. A slave with visible chains can indeed revolt at some point in order to acquire his Freedom. But a slave with invisible chains will never revolt because of ignorance of his real condition. And this happens because his Logic malfunctions due to lack of Prudency.

To avoid this, education provided to people should be geared to the teaching of Pudency*. A more spiritual and idealistic approach of life should also be taught, rather than a materialistic view of it. A Life with Matter should be promoted instead of a Life for Matter. Such a procedure would not only produce good citizens and, eventually, a better Society, but inspiring and capable leaders, too.

*[Pudency as a notion includes concepts such as self-esteem, dignity, respect for other people, respect for Nature, respect for God, etc.]

Utilitarianism, opportunism and greed must be prevented to grow among citizens. We all know how ugly, deceitful, even violent ways Men use to claim their own ‘benefits’. The only possible and safest cure for these is the infusion of the high ideal of Virtue*. The aim of the virtuous Man is the wider social good instead of his exclusively own benefit. In the absence of Virtue and Pudency, the various Passions such as voluptuousness, avarice and ambition always prevail. And mathematically lead Societies to their disintegration and death.

*[Virtue as a notion includes concepts such as continence, measure, goodness, godliness, etc.]

No wonder ‘why’ such a system is never adopted by any type of regime, by any type of government, by any type of organized polity around the World. As we have explained elsewhere:

“Powers of this World cultivate, with all possible means, everything that spreads Evilness, Will, Desire, Pleasures, Egoism. They know very well that Freedom is an internal state. Hence, they promote everything that can ‘take the castle from within’. Because then people are much easier to manipulate and control.”

So, the ‘revolution’ towards the direction of Good is really a personal task for each of us; as we wrote elsewhere:

“If we do nothing, then the present sickness will unavoidably ‘lead the patient to death’.

We must do something, starting from our own selves”


Achilles confronting Agamemnon

Research-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos

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