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Bai 1 Tina Bai Ancients 1000 Professor Matthew Rose 10/1/12 The Good Life

In Homer’s Iliad, Hector bids farewell to his wife by stating that “no man will hurl me down to Death, against my fate” (Homer 581). Hector’s words reveal that he accepts death as an absolute conclusion and that none are impervious to their fate, “Neither a good man nor coward,” and thus should not attempt to cheat death. In contrast, Abraham attempts to establish immortality as a “father to a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:6) as promised by God, in return for religious obedience. Though Abraham’s spiritual-centered worldview and the benefits he reaps seem to be a better model for human life, Hector’s selfless sacrifice, and acknowledgement of both the brevity of life and the futility of pursuing immortality reveals a deeper understanding of the timeless question: What constitutes a good life?

Mankind is inherently driven to pursue existence after death. In other words, human beings tend to strive towards leaving a unique imprint on future generations. Consequently, most human actions have underlying selfish motivations. Abraham’s decision to accept the terms of God’s covenant exemplifies the egocentric tendency of humanity- he accepts not for the benefit of his future offspring, but for the sake of his own gain. In return for mere obedience, God promises to make Abraham a “great nation,” continuing his family line for eternity through the means of giving Abraham a son in his, and his wife Sarah’s, old age. Abraham’s first spoken

Thus. . Isaac. Abraham naturally does not desire to see the city destroyed. lowering the number of innocent found in Sodom from God’s initial condition of fifty innocent to a measly ten uncorrupted individuals. Abraham does not dutifully accept the fate of the corrupted city. This extended waiting period reflects Abraham’s interior self-centered nature. resides in Sodom. but rather barters with his divine Lord. Lot. When God reveals his plans to destroy the city of Sodom. “what can You give me” (Genesis 15:2). as per God’s dictation. In return for boundless splendor. so he questions God’s ability to enact justice “Will not the Judge of all the earth do justice?” (Genesis 18:26). God only asks one thing of Abraham-absolute submission to the one true Lord. Abraham further questions God’s authority when he waits for three days before proceeding to prepare to sacrifice his son. Abraham then continues to bargain. Abraham’s obedient façade cracks when he challenges God on multiple occasions. Selfish human tendencies usually tend to override more noble motivations-what seems to be outward spiritual acceptance. merely masks his actual self-centric inclinations. further illuminating the avaricious nature of his acceptance of the covenant. Being human. As Abraham’s nephew. Abraham cannot refuse the best blessing possibleimmortalizing his legacy through founding a great nation. in Abraham’s case. and thus susceptible to offers of grandeur.Bai 2 words to God were to inquire about the terms of the covenant. Abraham’s seemingly spiritual approach to life does not epitomize the best life model. There is no such thing as absolute religious obedience. he would rather defend his own interests then acquiesce to God’s only demand of complete obedience in return for boundless benefits for Abraham’s future generations.

sincere love for his wife and son but also indulges his brother Paris with forgiveness despite his overwhelming lack of honor and duty-Paris would rather lie in bed with Helen than fight for his country. Even while raking his brother with insults. His refusal to turn tail and desert his fellow countrymen. Hector’s words are still underlain with brotherly affection. “But you hang back of your own accord. refuse to fight. Hector knowingly sacrifices his life. Although Hector places extreme importance on familial ties and personal relationships. However irksome Paris’ cowardice may be. even when he realizes the gods have abandoned him. but only chastises with words of criticism. Homer develops Hector’s character as a familyorientated man who holds responsibility and duty to one’s homeland above all else. Hector not only shows deep. but rather for the greater good. Hector never utilizes violence towards him. that’s why the heart inside me aches/when I hear our Trojans heap contempt on you”(Homer 623-625). he never forgets his ultimate responsibility to his country-Troy./And that. Instead of fruitlessly pursuing the concept of infinite life after .Bai 3 In contrast to Abraham’s egoistic worldview. Abraham is so desperate to prolong his namesake that he not only ties himself and his current household to the terms of God’s covenant. Though he runs from Achilles’ challenge at first and even briefly deliberates the unattainable idea of mediating his way out of a duel. some outstanding individuals are able to rise above the norm and pursue heroic deeds not for the sake of glory. Hector’s acceptance of predetermined death contrast sharply with Abraham’s frantic grasping at any inkling of the possible continuance of his legacy. Hector eventually accepts his fate and carries out his duty to his homeland. for the sake of his country. and throws away the chance of living in longevity with his family. shows his character as the epitome of an ideal human being. but also shackles his future offspring to the same terms.

He realizes that his fate calls for him to die in battle.Bai 4 death. In distancing himself from our self-centric approach to life. not now-/you’d sap my limbs. He refuses wine that his mother offers him “Don’t offer me mellow wine. Hector’s ability to put others before himself deviates his life model from . Despite Hector’s decision to abandon his family to defend his country whilst achieving eternal exaltation. Though he acknowledges. Although Hector’s motivations are largely honorable. he is still affected by selfish human symptoms that Abraham so aptly demonstrates. and accepts. Hector is also a gifted commander. and does not object to that benefit. In addition to being a noble warrior and a family man. mother. but rather confronts it in full armor. his act of valor is rooted in a noble life code not in self-centered human predispositions. and he willingly chooses that option as opposed to facing the possibility of having to watch his country fall. he does not concede to it. Hector’s sense of duty and leadership skills makes him able to hold his responsibilities to others above his own needs. and the lofty ideal of immortality. his fate. Hector responds to her plea that blazing though the tides of warfare is the only means of “winning my father great glory. I’d lose my nerve for war” (Homer 313-314) as he is tired and unclean and also fears that wine may cause him to forget his foremost duty to his troops.” (Homer 529) while simultaneously defending Troy. Hector also knows that he will obtain boundless glory by defending his homeland. Though Andromache pleads with Hector to avoid orphaning his son. Hector accepts the finite dimension of mortality and instead attempts to maximize the benefits of his allotted time on earth. Hector can better comprehend how to utilize his lifespan so that future generations can prosper.

and how best to live it. Hector’s decision not only earns him eternal gratitude from his fellow countryman. The major difference between Hector and Abraham is that while Hector obtains immortality as an unintended benefit. However. and in the more general sense. should deviate from placing extreme prominence on fostering relationship between both individuals. Hector places his duty to others before his own selfish desires. Hector’s model of living stresses the importance of community and communal ties-all humans are intrinsically connected as a species. Abraham’s constriction of freedom should not be idealized by any means. while Abraham only acts out of the potential benefits he might incur. Abraham’s rash acceptance of the covenant ultimately results in his future progeny to be bound into an agreement that they did not initially accept freely. The ability to place responsibility to one’s country. while Abraham accepts the terms of God’s covenant because of his own selfish desires. which places duty to one’s country and countrymen before all individual needs. should be held as a goal to reach in the pursuit of a truly meaningful life. the meaning of life. Hector lives by the honorable warrior code. and the international nation of civilization. as bargaining chips for his own gain.Bai 5 Abraham’s penchant towards using others. to society as a whole. but also gives him magnificence beyond comprehension as a by-product: Hector’s deeds are forever immortalized in song by Homer. Hence. Abraham allows his desire for longevity fuel his decisions. . even his own offspring and future descendants.

1996. Norton. . Robert Fagles.W. The Iliad. Genesis: Translation and Commentary.Bai 6 Works Cited Alter. New York: Penguin. and Bernard MacGregor Walker. Homer. New York: W. Robert. 1991. Print. Knox. Print.