That Old-Time Violence
Violence is as human as thumbs and it's been with us a long, long time. Here's Herodotus (about 445 B.C.) talking in his "History" about King Gyges of Lydia: "As soon as Gyges was king he made an inroad on Miletus and Smyrna, and took the city of Colophon.Afterwards, however, though he reigned eight and thirty years, he did not perform a single noble exploit. I shall therefore make no further mention of him—"
Herodotus was certainly not going to waste time on an ignoble thing like a prosperous and peaceful 38-year reign.It was war and violence that drew the audience.
Or read Homer (about 800 B.C.), and in his Iliad you will have careful descriptions of exactly where the spear went in and where it came out.The great Achilles was given a choice between a long life spent ignobly (that is, as a hardworking farmer or herdsman, helping to feed humanity) or a short life full of immortal glory (as a wholesale slaughterer of those weaker than himself). Achilles chose the glory, and those who tell the tale expect us to admire Achilles and apparently we all do.
There's nothing new about violence; we've just used other words for it. We read about "glory," "gallantry," "derring-do," "knightly deeds," "noble exploits," "patriotic bravery," and it all comes down to violence whatever combination of glittering sounds you use.
And why? There may be many psychological reasons for it, but we can skip those. The fact is that the tales of violence served a practical, and even an essential, purpose.
Mankind lived by violence for uncounted thousands of years before history began. There were long ages in which human beings had to (if they could) kill animals for food, sometimes large animals who resented the attempt and resisted.