The ethical structure of homeric society

Kazuhiko Yamamoto

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Abstract

According to Plato, the society as reflected in Homer's epics is one without state power. In a society without state power, the act of revenge which the offended party prosecutes on the offender is the only disciplinary force, which should be endorsed by the ethical concepts of the society. Though the ethics of Homeric society has been analyzed before there has been no theory on the ethical structure of Homeric society analyzed from the viewpoint of a society without state power. This study attempts to address this issue. Six concepts, »oath«, »honor«, »guest«, »blood«, »food« and »revenge« have been extracted from Homeric epics in comparison with the ethical structure of the Albanian Kanun. The ethical structure of Homeric society appears to belong to the category of the ethics of a society without state power, as represented by the ethical structure of the Kanun. Plato explicitly criticizes the ethical value system of Homeric society, which he thinks is alienated from the idea of Good.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-709
Number of pages15
JournalCollegium Antropologicum
Volume26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2002

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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