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Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

Pity and Glory in "Gilgamesh" and the "Iliad"

The methods by epic poets, specifically the ancient Babylonian Gilgamesh author and Homer, allow their heroes to receive glory relying on a correlation between pity and honor. Dying heroes gain grandeur in direct proportion to a perpetratorís loss of respect. For example, Achillesí wrathful disrespect of Hectorís burial rights diminishes his own glory while simultaneously enhancing Hectorís. Also, a distinction must be drawn between pity and the pitiful. Often the line between a dead warriorís honor and disgrace lies in the authorís decision to narrate his bodyís preservation (pitiable) or desecration (pitiful) according to traditional burial customs; even a glorified hero loses honor as worms crawl out of his nose. Through such means the author controls the readerís perception of warriors and their relative glory, presenting them as either pitiable or pitiful.

Presenter: Maria Bink (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: English
Location: 215 Hartwell
Time: 1:15 pm (Session III)

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