Friday, September 27, 2013

Satan and Achilles, True Heroism

What makes a character a hero? Is it great accomplishments, firm morals, courage to fight through any situation? Talking about Satan as a hero figure in class on Wednesday made me realize that he is not much worse of an individual than many of the great heroes of the Greek epics. Think about Achilles, the great "hero" of the Iliad, was he really any better of an individual than Satan? He didn't rise from the depths of defeat, he groveled in it, quit when he was offended, and channeled his rage into nothing more but blind revenge. Achilles might have been the devil who would start a war with heaven anew. I never liked Achilles nor did I even seen any heroism in him at all, at least in his depiction in the Iliad.  It's an interesting comparison to think about. Satan's journey to earth also contains a lot of parallels to Odysseus's journey home. Both are portrayed as masters of trickery, deceit, and disguise. One was considered a great hero, while the other the reason for all unhappiness in the world. But are they really that different in character? I feel a little better sympathizing with Satan considering
Achilleus and Odysseus weren't the most heroic of figures. Oh and they were both favored by certain gods as well. Satan had nothing. Perhaps that may be the root of our sympathy for the devil in Milton's great tale. Satan has all odds stacked against him (like GOD) and yet still he finds the strength within to fight a losing battle. Thankfully none of us have to fight such a fight, nor do I think we would ever want to. If the devil can use revenge, hatred, and his suffering to push towards a hopeless goal, can't we fight on even stronger terms against him to do what is right and survive this mortal experience? Unlike Satan or Sisyphus, the rock we roll up the mountain of our life will reach the top, and we aren't the only ones pushing it.

4 comments:

  1. I never really liked Achilles or Odysseus at all either. I couldn't sympathize with them when I read the Illiad or the Odyssey. It is interesting how it's so much easier to sympathize a character that's supposed to represent the being who brought evil and suffering into the world. I like your insight to Satan and what he had to go through in Paradise Lost and what he did in reaction to it. It is a bit admirable, which just adds another layer of complexity to this story.

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  2. I think one reason it's easier to sympathize with Satan's character in Paradise Lost is because he goes through so much character development. From the beginning you watch his coming to terms with his nature- there isn't a sudden "Oh, I'm evil now! Muahahaha!" moment, it's more of a gradual, logical process, at least from my point of view.

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  3. I think one reason it's easier to sympathize with Satan's character in Paradise Lost is because he goes through so much character development. From the beginning you watch his coming to terms with his nature- there isn't a sudden "Oh, I'm evil now! Muahahaha!" moment, it's more of a gradual, logical process, at least from my point of view.

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  4. I think you've got a great point: these heroes like Achilles and Odysseus have some major character flaws. So does Satan (duh...)
    In my mythology class in high school, we learned that Greek heroes have to fit certain guidelines for them to be truly considered a Greek hero. There are some weird ones, like they must be born from unusual circumstances, but then there is one one that says they are mortal, like us. They can sin, and they can endure suffering and react to that suffering the way any other human would--they can develop negative characteristics. Our definition for hero has changed quite a bit over time, and also differs greatly throughout other cultures.

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