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The characters of the Iliad often appear psychologically two dimensional. They are compelled by such abstract forces as “shame” and “honor”, and they speak of themselves as being objects of fate. They conduct internal dialogues, but these usually resolve quickly and happily. They seem to lack inwardness: they have no private, unsounded depths, but are transparent––utterly knowable by their speech and action. This apparent superficiality might be explained in terms of two differences, one philosophical, the other literary, between Homeric and modern Western society: the first concerns ancient Greek notions of the social constitution of identity, the second, the tendency in Homeric poetry of character to be subordinated to plot. Through a comparative reading of the Iliad and a modern adaptation, War Music, I will suggest that Homeric characters do, in fact, have "inwardness", though it is difficult to recognize because of the differences just described, and as well an absence, among the Homeric characters, of an imagined "transcendent" self.
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Duff, Robert Owen, "Violence and Privacy: Inwardness in the Iliad and War Music" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 202.
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