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Anish Agrawal November 6, 2011 DWC I Dr.

Reid Community builds Character

True reality lies behind the material world in the spiritual realm, and knowledge is obtained only through experience. Every individual has his own way of perceiving things that differs from one another but community is the place where everyone learns the same thing; which enables them to bond together. For overall development, one has to go beyond the materialistic world in order to able to discern knowledge that is gain by interpersonal relationships within the community. A community also influences individuals who have their own specialties: examples of this are Aeneas in Virgil’s Aeneid, Oedipus in Sophocles’ Theban Plays and Socrates in Plato’s Five Dialogues. Each of them suffered and yet, knew that they had their responsibilities towards their community. When an individual lacks support from his community, he should not grovel by whining and whimpering because ultimately it is the community that provides him the identity and the necessary tools that build his character. And it is his responsibility to preserve his community’s glory and make it stronger. Community provides us with an outlet to recognize ourselves because where we stand within a community is an indicator of our worth and this teaches us to preserve its glory. Aeneas, son of Venus, goes on to establish his identity as a soldier of Troy and steps up to the expectation of preserving Troy’s glory. He grows up in an environment where soldiers place their life at stake so that when they emerge victorious, they can earn a prize for themselves.

When Troy faces its downfall and Aeneas and his family have to leave his country, he feels like a dead man. He does not want to leave, however he realizes that his community is in need of his help, his dedication and love for his people gives him the courage to move on. The Trojans face great difficulties during their journey and, even during these situations, Aeneas eases his men’s hearts: saying, “Trojans! This is not our first taste of Trouble./ Through all sorts of perils, through countless dangers,/ We are headed for Latium, where the Fates promise us/ A peaceful home, and where Troy will rise again./ Endure, and save yourselves for happier times.”(Aeneid Book 1: 234-244). Aeneas acquires the values needed for being a true warrior from his community. When he sees pictures of the Trojan War on the walls of a temple in Dido’s city; tears well up in his eyes because he is taken out of his community. Feeding his soul on empty pictures, he weeps saying, “Is there any place on earth, Achates,/ Not filled with our sorrows? Look,/ There is Priam! Here, too, honor matters;/ Here are the tears of the ages, and minds touched/ By human suffering. Breathe easy, my friend./ Troy’s renown will yet be your salvation.”(Aeneid Book 1: 564-569). This incident demonstrates the misery of Aeneas who is no longer able to be in his community which provided him his identity. When Aeneas was in Libya, an infatuation grows between him and Dido and he forgets his duty for a while. But when Jupiter, the ruler of the gods, sends Mercury to remind him about his own glory and community, he immediately burns with the desire to leave the sweet land of Dido. And thus, he suppresses his love for Dido and tells her, “If the fates would allow me to lead my own life/And to order my priorities as I see fit,/The welfare of the Troy would be my first concern,/And the remnants of my own beloved people. ”(Aeneid Book 4:388-391) Even being deeply in love with Dido, which is proved by the way he breaks into tears when he meets

Dido in the underworld, “It was not my choice to leave your land, my Queen./ The gods commanded me to go./I could not believe that I cause you/Such grief by leaving.”(Aeneid Book 6:553-558), he desires to be in his own country and feel its glory. And so he sets up to find his identity back and preserve his community’s glory. Oedipus has a similar experience to Aeneas when he craves his own identity after being exiled from his city. Oedipus accepts the exile to protect his countrymen who are engulfed by a murderous seething tide. Only a person with great humility can put his life at stake to serve his people. Beaten by fate, Oedipus suffers throughout his life. ‘Why me?’ his senses screams. He even tries to defend his actions by stating, “Just tell me this: if a man approached/You right now and threatened your life,/What’s the first thing you would do?/Would you defend yourself from harm/Or stop to ask if he might be your father?”(Oedipus At Colonus: 991-995) But no response greets him. Even his own sons do not support him when he needs them the most. He feels like a dead old man turned into a tattered old tramp. However, he shows the humbleness to face the miseries with great self-control. When his hopes and dreams are dashed, he searches among the wreckage, and finds a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins. He gets the Lord’s blessings and dies in an astonishing way helping Theseus inherit a mysterious power far stronger than any kind of might. “Bless you, Theseus, bless you all,/And bless this land and its people./You’ll have my good grace forever. I only ask that you always remember/ Oedipus.” (Oedipus At Colonus: 1553-1556) There was no pain and no suffering. For a mere mortal, his death was truly wondrous. This was possible only because the community, in which he grew, gave him the tools to be a humble person. However, sometimes people lack the support of

their community but this also provokes a sense of responsibility in the people who are virtuous to uplift their community’s status. Socrates’s countrymen continuously charge him as a pestilential fellow who corrupts the young and does not believe in the gods. Nevertheless, he struggles to inspire virtue within his countrymen. People of Athens enjoy spending considerable time in his company because they enjoy hearing those being questioned who think they are wise, but are not. In the process of trials, many people become his enemy and blame him for being corrupt. To justify his actions, he tells the jury, “To do this has, as I say, been enjoined upon me by the god, by means of oracles and dreams. If I corrupt some young men and have corrupted others, then surely some of them who have grown older and realized that I gave them bad advice when they were young should now themselves come up here to accuse me and avenge themselves.”(Apology: 33c33d) He proves that he is blameless. He actually tries to educate people of their short comings and tried to make them virtuous. But, unfortunately it earns him many enemies. Even when he proves that he is not guilty, he lacks the support. The community in which he is raised treats him unfairly. The jury votes and sentences him to death. However, there is no sense of contempt and hatred in him towards his community. When he is in the prison, his friend Crito offers him to escape. But, he tells Crito, “Is your wisdom such as not to realize that your country is to be honored more than your mother, your father, and all your ancestors, that it is more to be revered and more sacred, and that it counts for more among the gods and sensible men, that you must worship it, yield to it, and placate its anger more than your father’s? You must either persuade it or obey its order. It is impious to bring violence to bear against you mother or father; it is much more so to use it against your country.” (Crito: 51a-51b)

He disagrees with Crito’s suggestion and emerges as a virtuous person because he respects the laws of his country. He believes that it is the most important duty of every individual living in a community to respect and obey its laws. He tries in every single way to be beneficial for his community. Even when he is treated unfairly, he is not willingly to go against the laws of his community. His community instills him with pride that allows him to feel a part of something worth fighting for. When faced with death he is willing to accept those consequences because he is willing to die for his community which provided him his identity. One can convincingly state that character may determine your potential but it is the community that builds and molds that character by instilling in moral and ethical values. Problems are the cutting edges that distinguish between success and failure and, community gives you the strength to deal with the problem for being successful. It teaches you not to dissect your failure for causes and effects, and teaches you to deal with them gaining experience to master them and thereby avoid their recurrence. Aeneas and Oedipus have to leave their community and face desolation and the possibility of losing their identity yet they knew their community’s importance and try to preserve its glory. This is because their communities teach them not to worry about how difficult a task may turn out to be, the decision to accept defeat ultimately lies in their hands. And Socrates, even facing criticism from his community, tries to uplift its status. He willingly gives away his life to preserve the identity that he gets from his community. We should also revere our community in the same way and try to preserve it because it teaches us to explore and understand an event in a more profound manner. It gives us the ability to maneuver and navigate our failures and success.