Aretê: Homer's Political Objective in the Iliad (Paperback)
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In The Making of the Iliad, M. L. West entertains a sentiment with which, I expect, few would disagree, that the author of the Iliad "must have been a dedicated and determined man, a driven man, as creative artists often are" (West, 2011, 14). But, one may ask, to what end? Dedicated, determined, and driven to achieve what? This inquiry, by examining how Homer uses the word aret , which he never attributes to a Trojan warrior, will suggest an answer. In the pursuit of that goal, I seek first to establish the meaning of the word aret , concluding that it represents a concept for which we have no word in English, viz., "that which makes someone or something best in its kind." Such being the case, it comes as something of a shock to realize that the term is never applied to a Trojan hero; yet one looks in vain for a corresponding term in Homer's representation of Hector, Priam, Andromache, and the other Trojans.