In contrast, the whole point of modern good-vs-evil is that you should choose sides based on principle rather than loyalty. The new stories celebrate populist virtue — compassion, altruism, protecting Democracy.
Missionaries would come to the tribe of Hrothvalg The Bloody, they would politely ask him to ditch the War God and the Death God and so on in favor of Jesus and meekness, and as often as not he would just say yes. Achilles fought for Greece not because he believed in the Greek cause, but because that was his side and he was sticking to it.
This was so compelling a vision that it shaped culture from then on: Maybe they actually did the same thing that St.
The Trojans lose some points for kidnapping a woman, but the Greeks lose some points for killing and enslaving an entire city. This is a super-anti-nationalist way of thinking.
Faced with the idea of a God who was actually good, and could promise them eternity in Heaven, and who was against bad things, and never raped anybody and turned them into animals, everyone just agreed this was a better deal. The good guys are usually scrappy amateurs; the bad guys usually well-organized professionals with typical fascist precision.
And maybe this would make them fight harder than if they were just doing the old fight-for-your-own-side thing? We are expected to celebrate Darth Vader or Severus Snape virtuously betraying their dark overlords to help the good guys. Old stories celebrated warrior virtues — strength, loyalty, bravery.
Neither the Greeks nor Trojans are especially good nor villainous. A Global History of Concentration Campsabout the rise of the idea that people on opposite sides of conflicts have different moral qualities, she told me: The article concludes this is because of nationalism.
Hector fought for Troy not because Troy was in the right, but because he was a Trojan. But once you invent it, it spreads everywhere, and people throw out whatever they were doing before.
In short, we are rehearsing the idea that moral qualities belong to categories of people rather than individuals.
Neither side is scrappier or more professional than the other. Traditional folktales never were. Also do we really want to claim that concentration camps worked because the Nazis believed you should take principled positions based on moral values, instead of unquestioningly supporting your in-group?
Once we got that, through whatever process of moral progress we got it fromhaving heroes who shared it started seeming more compelling.
The past stories seem much more conducive to blind nationalism than our own. What are we to think of this? The good guys win. And just eyeballing it, modern stories seem to use this plot a lot more, and to have less deviation from the formula.
Maybe modern stories seem more likely to have two clear sides eg made up of multiple different people separated by moral character.
The Mayan Hero Twins? Paul or whoever did and created a totally new memetic species capable of overwhelming everything that came before. In Avatar, the main character decides his entire species is wrong and joins weird aliens to try to kill them, and this is good. And there seems to be a deep connection between Greek paganism and the narrative structure of the Iliad, and a deep connection between Christianity and the narrative structure of eg Harry Potter.
Compare to ancient myths, where Hector defecting to Greece because the abduction of Helen was morally wrong is just totally unthinkable. There are some good guys. I suppose nationalists could make the very dangerous bargain of telling their soldiers to always fight for the good guys, then get really good propaganda to make sure they look like the good guys.
The article gets this exactly right in pointing out the literary motif of virtuous betrayal. Neither seems to treat civilians better or demonstrate more loyalty. This is pretty astonishing even if you use colonialism as an excuse to dismiss the Christianization of the Americas, half of Africa, and a good bit of East Asia.
Is this whole convoluted process really easier than just telling people from the start to fight for their own side and not betray it? Are there any differences between the way ancients and moderns looked at this?
The amorality of the warriors in the Iliad manifested as total loyalty: Villains as opposed to monsters, or beings that are evil by their very nature seem more modern.ClassZone Book Finder.
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I picked this poem for the introduction for a number of reasons: it features in one of my favorite books so far this year, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son and An Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn; it's by a favorite poet of mine, Cavafy, a Greek who lived in Alexandria; and I've been reading a lot about Odysseus, one way or another -- in Madeline Miller's.
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