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Religion and Ethics in Homer’s Iliad

The Importance of Religion and Ethics in The Iliad

Homer clearly and precisely depicts the religion and the ethics of the Achian and Trojan societies in The Iliad. During the time of the Trojan war, religion played an important role in the societies. Sacrifice, prayer, and rituals were all equally significant, and the superiority of the gods and the fates above humans was a standard of society. The gods were sacred deities to whom one had to bestow honor and respect. Within the society, honor, glory, and fame were desperately sought by warriors striving to achieve enduring notoriety. One’s word represented a considerable commitment to be acted upon. Religion and ethics are prominently displayed in the characters throughout The Iliad due to their importance in Greek and Trojan society.

The characters’ religious dedication is evident through their sacrifice, prayer, and rituals: “King Agamemnon sacrificed. . . a fat bull of five years” and prayed to Zeus for success in battle against the Trojans. Meanwhile, the Achian soldiers “pray[ed] to be spared [from] death in the maul of war.” Later, when Patroclos’, an Achian soldier, body is recovered, twelve noble sons of Troy are sacrificed in his funeral pyre. Sacrifices are performed to honor the gods or obtain their favor.

The Greek and Trojan societies believe that a soul remains restless and can not enter Hades until proper funeral rites are conferred. Funeral rites were paramount for those who had been killed in battle. An example of their determination to ensure a proper funeral can be found after the duel between the powerful Greek Aias and the Trojan commander Hector in Book VII. After Aias and Hector reach a stalemate in their battle, they agree to “make no battle” the next day so they can respectively “bring in our dead.” Their cooperative neutrality to honor the dead demonstrated their respect for one another’s fallen comrades.

Another instance of the conferral of funeral rites can be found with the death of the brave Greek combatant Patroclos. In Book XVII when Patroclos lies dead, Menelaus, the Greek king, chivalrously defends the body, “like a cow standing over her calf.” When Euphorbus Panthoidês, a Trojan soldier, attempts to desecrate the body of Patroclos, Menelaus “with a prayer to Father Zeus lunge[s]” and kills Panthoidês. However, Menelaus wisely retreats when confronted by a massive Trojan Army. The Achian army commences to retrieve the body of Patroclos when Hippothoös, a Trojan soldier, starts to drag the corpse away, but the powerful Aias kills him.

Essay on Stage Directions in The Glass Menagerie

Importance of Stage Directions in The Glass Menagerie

In Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, stage directions are as important to the theme of the play as the dialogue itself. Detailed stage directions intensify the unrealistic setting, foreshadow and emphasize events, and develop the characters.

Dim colored lighting and symbolic melodies create the unrealistic setting for the memory play. In his opening narration Tom says, “Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic. In memory everything seems to happen to music. That explains the fiddle in the wings” (699). Throughout the play the stage directions call for “a turgid smokey red glow,” “gloomy gray” lighting and “deep blue dusk” which create the hazy images of a memory. For a short while, as Jim enters, there is a “delicate lemony light” (688), and a soft light from the new lamp brings out Laura’s “unearthly prettiness” (695). Yet, at the end of the play, and throughout its majority, the set is grim, characteristic of Tom’s sad memory. Music in the play can be symbolic or simply add to the emotion of a scene. In scene four, “Ave Maria” plays softly in the background, symbolizing Amanda’s duties as a mother. Throughout the play, music swells and recedes with the rising and falling of the characters’ emotions. For example, as Tom is confronting his mother with the reality of his sister’s handicap, “the music changes to a tango that has a minor and somewhat ominous tone” (687).

Describing characters’ appearances and presenting messages upon the screen, the stage directions foreshadow and emphasize events. The description of Tom standing on the fire escape looking “like a voyager” (692) foreshadows his escape to th…

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… actions of Amanda and Laura, an audience might believe that Laura has come out of her shell for good or that Amanda is simply an overprotective mother who cannot face reality. Yet, with the elaborate stage directions, Tennessee Williams creates a distinctive memory play with each character tragically failing to reach his or her goals.

Works Cited

Jolemore, Nancy. “Lecture Notes and Study Guide Questions for Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie.” Old Dominion University. 18 January 2000.

Accessed: 29 June 2002. .

Reser, Rob. “A Touch of Glass.” 29 June 2002. .

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. Literature and The Writing Process. 5th ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X. Day, and Robert Funk. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice, 1999. 693-734.

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