Ideals of Conduct: An Exposition of Moral Attitudes

By John Dashiell Stoops | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
PRE-SOCRATIC GREEK SOLIDARITY

The Homeric Greek was rooted in the world about him; he loved life; he was at home with nature; his family relationships were necessary to his existence; and finally he was organically related to his clan and tribe. Nestor advises Agamemnon to arrange his warriors by clans and tribes on the ground that they will fight better in this way. The Cyclops seem strange to Odysseus and his companions because "they have neither gatherings for council nor oracles of law, but each one utters the law to his own children and his wives, and they reck not one of another." In like manner Polyphemus, the giant, "was not conversant with others, but dwelt apart in lawlessness of mind"; he acted not with regard to other men, save as his own spirit moved him. This is strange, because it is so thoroughly out of accord with the Greek spirit. Partaking of wine and fruit, the Greek listened to public discourse, and the minstrel with his lyre kept fresh the memory of famous men and events. Rejecting the omens of birds, the Trojan Hector exclaims: "One omen is best, to fight for our own country." Constant wars abroad and political assemblies at home kept awake in the Greek mind a lively consciousness of his fellows. The Greek did not think of himself as first

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