Violence in the Ancient World

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Despite an unknown number of studies and untold billions spent on research, the jury is still out on whether violent behavior is instinctual or learned. Society today is quick to blame violent representations on movies and television and video games with igniting violently deviant behavior in the spectators.


However, where does one draw the line between pernicious representations of violent conduct and dramatizations meant to educate, uplift and enlighten Violence, often cruel and bloody, permeates the pages of the Old Testament and The Odyssey, and while it is generally lacking in Antigone the effects of violence, nonetheless, is a subtext of practically every line. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any of these great hallmarks of literature without thinking of the often extreme violence contained within. Whether that violence is directed toward others, God or oneself, however, a reader is almost certain to recognize that these acts are not meant to titillate or provoke further violence, but rather to present an imitation of reality from which a valuable moral lesson can be gained, and it exactly this "old-fashioned" manner of belief that a work of literature can touch the soul that separates the classics from their modern counterparts.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato in his book The Republic, famously railed against poetry precisely because of its imitative quality and the danger that audiences not knowing the difference between reality and illusion would take illusion as their guide to life. In many ways Plato's fear seems to have infected modern writers. The rise of postmodernism has coincided with a seeming fear of authors expressing a genuine care about something. ...
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