While reading Terence Irwin’s article, titled “Homer”, I was struck by how different my perception of an ideal man is from Homer’s view. I was shocked by Homer’s opinion on what the relationship between the hero and others should be like. This difference made this passage especially intriguing for me, as I compared and contrasted the two views.
Irwin’s article states that Homer, and many of Homer’s followers, believed that the most important interests of an ideal man were his own. He wanted what was best for himself, what would bring him honor, and everything else was secondary. Irwin goes on to state that the hero does have some concern for the interests of others, but it is never the priority. Furthermore, this concern is generally formed because the high opinion of others is essential to the heroes honor. In other words, the ideal man does not complete tasks that aid others to simply help others but, instead, only to gain something for himself. This concept is developed in both the Iliad and the Odyssey and was agreed upon for many generations.
This passage was very shocking for me because this explanation differs completely from my definition of the ideal man. In my opinion, the ideal man is one who helps others because it is the right thing to do, regardless of whether it benefits him or not. He is not very concerned with his own status or image, for as long as he knows he is doing the right thing nothing else matters. I believe that my definition of the ideal man is more common today than the definition that Homer presents, which may be why his was so intriguing and perplexing to me. Moreover, even though I had read the Odyssey I never imagined that Odysseus’s characteristics could have had such a major impact on the culture at the time, as they did.