In order to have a well-functioning society as well as effective leadership, we must step back and look at how both work together in order to make society work as a whole. The study of Greek mythology can be viewed as difficult but it also is never uneventful. The way the Ancient Greeks viewed myths and valued them is not the same way we American’s view myths. Mythology in terms of the demigods is something that we Americans have passed down from generation to generation in our society but our myths we believe in today are not related to gods as they were to the Greeks. It was also believed in ancient Greece, that you must be able to live your life with satisfaction and peace but to also treat the gods with respect. A true leader will have goals in mind and put them into play. They will do whatever it takes to achieve these goals and also lead their followers along a positive path that allows them to see the determination set forth by the leader so they can have the same mindset to follow.
Qualities of good citizenship and leadership were vital to the heroes and gods possessed in ancient Greece. These qualities were described as perseverance, physical strength, bravery and the most important one we read a lot about, is to also be able to conduct oneself no matter what the situation may be. Each of the following characters mentioned below give a well thought out and a detailed explanation as to how this character demonstrated effectiveness as a good citizen or a good leader within each text. Learning about these individuals also allows us to also learn about the ancient Greek ideas between their personal character and social order that allows us to clearly understand the state of our society. In Homer’s Illad, the hero character in this poem is Achilles. Within this text the themes discussed most was that of friendship, love, fate and free will. Achilles has two choices of fate, he either lives a long and insignificance life or he lives a short life ending with everlasting honor. Choosing the short life has left Achilles story still being utilized over 4000 years later. The importance of this masterpiece is that it is not just a masterpiece in Greece but it is an important masterpiece for the entire world to be aware of this story. Themes of revenge occur numerous times throughout the book but with revenge also came forgiveness. Within the text, Achilles gets his revenge by killing Hector who is the one responsible for the death of his friend Patroclus. Though Achilles believes that killing Hector will bring him peace, it in fact does not and that is why he turns to the gods and goddesses to help him see his fate. Hector’s father, King Priam begs of Achilles to return his body so that he himself can find peace and personally cries out to Achilles himself, “have pity on me, remembering your own father; yet I am more worthy of your pity, for I have endured to do what no other mortal on earth has done: to raise to my mouth the hand of the man who killed my son”. Achilles ends up finding peace for himself once he allows King Priam to lay his son’s body to rest and this is where with revenge forgiveness comes because Achilles himself finally finds forgiveness and true peace from his enemy.
In Hesiod’s Works and Days, the themes in this poem were about hard work and morality. It dealt with men and how they used their survival tactics as well as explaining all the reasons for all their suffering. The storyline behind this piece is explained throughout an argument between Hesiod and his brother over their father’s will. Hesiod’s brother Perses has tricked him into his inheritance. Hesiod begins to teach Perses the values of being an honest man with the help of Zeus. One significant act that was used within this text was with the creation of Pandora. Pandora’s existence was said to be formed out of clay by the gods making her the first mortal woman. “So said the father of men and gods, and laughed aloud. And he bade famous Hephaestus make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athene to teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web; and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he charged Hermes the guide, the Slayer of Argus, to put in her a shameless mind and a deceitful nature”. It was said that creation of Pandora and Pandora’s box was sent to Epimetheus by Zeus as punishment for Prometheus when he had brought fire to the people and rebelled against Zeus. The opening of Pandora’s box was forbidden but Pandora herself ended up opening it, releasing all evils and misfortunes of mankind leaving hope still to remain inside the box. The moral of this story was that even though Pandora was sent as a revenge gift, her greed and all the negatives traits that came with her is what caused her to open up this mystery box which changed the lives of all the people around her. All humans are subject to all sorts of evil but it is up to them to work hard in order to live but to also observe moral code.
In Oedipus the King, the main themes taught within this text is fate, knowledge, the past and power. Creon had returned from the oracle at Delphi, where he gained information that the plague will be lifted if Thebes banishes the man who is responsible for Laius’s death. Jocasta was another character mentioned within this text who explains to Oedipus his true past. She urges him not to look for more information in regards to all this information, “O woe is thee, poor wretch! With that last word I leave thee, henceforth silent evermore”. Not only does Oedipus find out the he is the one responsible for this plague but he also finds out that he was abandoned as an infant and adopted by a new family. He also finds out that he is responsible for the death of his father and the he has slept with his own mother. After Jocasta ends up spilling the truth to Oedipus of his past she immediately realizes that Oedipus is her son and they have committed incest. She takes her life soon after and the story ends with Oedipus pleading to Creon to watch over his daughters and shortly after he gouges his eyes out and he is exiled from Thebes.
In Medea by Euripides, Medea is the protagonist character that is highlighted most. Medea’s characteristics are that she is highly intelligent, aggressive, determined and she more importantly is very jealous. She comes up with these vindictive schemes in order to get revenge on her husband Jason who has left her to be with his new wife whom is the daughter of Creon, the Kind of Corinth. Jason being the husband to Medea and the father of their children is the antagonist in this story. He has several characteristics that explain him. Jason is ambitious, mundane, uses women to get ahead like Medea and Glauce. Jason is also considered to be charming and diplomatic. Jason is considered to be a villain. His evilness all stems from weakness and that he lacks strength and really portray him to be an unsympathetic character. Within this reading, Medea ends up convincing Aegeus, the King of Athens to take her in and shelter her. After speaking to the house nurse about her cruel plan she had in mind, she ends up trying to cover that up by trying to convince Jason that she is cool with the new marriage and wanted to be a better person. She began to give these gifts as some sort of apology which ended the lives of Creon and his daughter. After the death of both of those characters, Medea ends up killing her two son’s next because she believes this is the only way she will have total revenge on Jason. The very end of this story leaves Jason begging to have the bodies of his sons, both of them cursing each other and Medea flies away triumphant.
Furthermore, learning about the link between personal character and social order of each character allows the basic understanding of why ancient Greeks ideas were so important and still are important. Mythology was used as a form of entertainment back then and it is still something that is practiced to this day but with a completely different outlook and definition. The stories we have read about have taught us societal social norms and what the expectations were but also what would be the consequences of actions that took place would be, good or bad. We have learned culturally why the Greeks did certain things the way they did, how the learned where they came from and what they thought would happen when they faced death. Myth serves more than one function in a society and it overall explains why humans are the way they are.