The Instigator
Phenenas
Pro (for)
The Contender
Aleoz
Con (against)

The Trojans were the "good guys" of the Iliad

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/25/2017 Category: Arts
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,540 times Debate No: 102763
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (0)

 

Phenenas

Pro

I'm looking for an opponent familiar with the story of The Iliad. Whether you've read it cover to cover, remember exposure to it from school, watched Troy, or even just read the Wikipedia summary is all fine by me. If you would like to accept, please say so in the comments, as I'm fed up with trolls and forfeiters.

As Pro, I will be arguing that in Homer's epic, the Trojans, who serve as the antagonists of the story, are the real "good guys", with more sympathetic characters and a more understandable cause to be fighting for. I will defend the actions of characters like Hector, Priam, Aeneas, and Paris. Con, naturally, is siding with the Greeks, or Achaeans as Homer calls them, and will defend the likes of Agamemnon, Odysseus, Ajax, and Achilles.

Rounds:
Round 1 - acceptance (no arguments)
Round 2 - opening arguments
Round 3 - defense and rebuttal
Round 4 - final defense and conclusion

Good luck to whoever accepts!
Aleoz

Con

As a valient defender of the Trojans in my high school history class, I unfortunately accept defending the Greeks for this debate. I accept on the basis of mere ethical consideration of the two sides. I firmly believe that there is on absolute right or wrong. Despite this underlying conviction, the traditional logic literature uses to diffrientiate the good guys from the bad guys will be used by me for this debate. My case will mostly consist of examples from other stories(where protagonists and antagonists are clearly defined) to prove the "goodness" of the Greek heroes, and the adversarial role the Trojans played in the story. The other portion of my case will explain how the traditional conception of morality in our world still justifies the role of the Greeks as the good guys.
Debate Round No. 1
Phenenas

Pro

Thank you, Con. While I agree that Homer’s war is no clear-cut conflict between good and evil, please keep in mind that in round 1, I defined goodness as having “more sympathetic characters and a more understandable cause to be fighting for”. I will be arguing that the Trojans better meet those qualifications than the Greeks.

1. The War

Scholars are still unsure about the historicity of the Trojan War. Citing, Schliemann’s findings [1], many historians have argued in favor of some kind of Bronze Age conflict in Troy upon which The Iliad was based. However, for the purposes of this debate, we will be looking solely at the mythical Trojan War written about by many a great poet, the best being the man that legends call Homer.

In this war, the Greeks are very clearly the aggressor. I won’t waste time recapping how it started in the poem, but the short version is that the war was caused by Paris stealing Helen, wife to a powerful Greek lord. Ignoring the fact that Helen accompanied Paris on her own free will and the gods themselves supported their union, King Agamemnon sent fleets of men across the Aegean to die.

As for the war itself, the Greeks freely committed what would today be called war crimes. Their generals boast about how many islands or towns they’ve conquered, and Odysseus takes “raider of cities” as a proud title in both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Inhabitants of conquered lands were either enslaved or killed. The Greeks lay siege to the capital city of Troy for ten years, and end it with the evil deception of the Trojan Horse. Following this underhanded tactic was a burning of the great city, coupled with a horrific massacre of most of its inhabitants except for women and children (who were enslaved), as described in The Aeneid of Virgil. Troy was fighting only in self-defense, and the spiteful Greeks were not content with merely taking back Helen, but destroyed their entire city, killed their king, and left the survivors scarred for life.

One could argue that the raping and pillaging of the common soldier happens in every war and don’t represent the side they’re fighting for. However, in the poem and perhaps the culture, atrocities were freely endorsed by the Greek higher-ups, including Agamemnon himself. Homer made the Achaeans the main characters, as he himself was a proud Greek, but you can tell that even he was full of sympathy for the Trojans.

2. Trojan Characters

I’ll talk now about the characters in The Iliad, arguing that the Trojan characters are all-around better people than the Greek ones. I will begin with Priam, the wise old king who loses many of his sons, and himself, to the war. The tragic story of his reaction to the death of his son Hector more incriminates Achilles than anything, so I will save it for later. I’ll remark about the death of Priam himself, though. The Aeneid relates how another of Priam’s sons, Polites, is murdered before his father’s eyes by Pyrrhus, one of Achilles’ progeny. The weak old man feebly attempts to fight back, but he is weekly impaled and killed right in front of what remains of his family.

Hector himself is one of The Iliad’s most honorable characters, and in my opinion, its true hero. He is a noble fighter who never disrespects his foes, even though he certainly has the power to do so. One of the most moving and human moments of the poem is when Hector returns to Troy to meet his wife and son. After Andromache begs her husband to stay so she won’t be alone should he fall in battle, Hector answers:

“Lady, these many things beset my mind no less than yours. But I should die of shame before our Trojan men and noblewomen if like a coward I avoided battle, nor am I moved to. Long ago I learned how to be brave, how to go forward always and to contend for honor, Father’s and mine ... Let me be hidden dark down in my grave before I hear your cry or know you captive!”

Hector displays both manly valor and a true selfless love for his wife, while the Greek characters objectify women so much that their economy practically runs on the industry of adding pretty girls to one’s harem. In one of The Iliad’s few humorous moments, Hector’s son is terrified by his giant helmet and starts crying, forcing him to remove it. He then takes the baby up in his arms and prays:

“O Zeus and all immortals, may this child, my son, become like me a prince among the Trojans. Let him be strong and brave and ruler in power at Ilion; then someday men will say ‘This fellow is far better than his father!’”

The child was thrown off the wall and killed during the sack of Troy.

There are some remaining characters that serve a rather minor role in The Iliad. Aeneas is upright and honorable, but doesn’t do much, until he got an entire epic poem of his own in the days of Rome. Paris, I will admit, is a morally ambiguous adulterer, but his zest for life and the beauty of women is hard not to sympathize with, and he at least isn’t cruel to his enemies. The same praise cannot be given to the Greeks.

3. Greek Characters

Without exception, all villainous mortal characters in The Iliad are not Trojan, but Greek. The Trojan Horse was the idea of the sneaky Odysseus, who retains his dishonorable guile throughout The Odyssey. Before setting sail for Troy, King Agamemnon killed his daughter as a sacrifice to appease the gods. While this seems like nothing next to that despicable act, he oozes pride and arrogance throughout The Iliad, which ends up getting his soldiers in trouble more than once. For example, he refuses to return a captive girl to her father, a priest of Apollo, who prays to the god and consequently starts a plague among the troops. The effects are even worse when he dares to insult Achilles.

If one single character is the “bad guy” of this story, it’s Achilles. Oddly enough, the poem’s most famous name doesn’t do anything until the last fifth of the poem. After a falling-out with his King, he refuses to fight, and sits around grumbling and pouting for many chapters. When the King apologizes and offers lavish gifts and land to get his best warrior back on the battlefield, the stubborn Achilles refuses. He values his petty grudges above human life, and he only gets pettier later.

Achilles is weirdly obsessed with his dead friend Patroclus to the point where one questions his sexuality. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it leads him to commit a vile act. When he kills Hector, he refuses to return the body back to his family, instead defiling it out of spite and monstrous cruelty. During the battle, it’s clear that Hector treats Achilles with respect, while Achilles bears nothing but hatred. Hector did kill his friend, but in such a world as Homer’s, death is a satisfactory payback for death; there was no reason to steal his enemy’s body except pure malevolence.

The poem abruptly ends on Hector’s funeral. Either the rest is lost to history or this was a deliberate choice by Homer, attempting to end this tale of barbarity with a noble hero’s death. The Trojan Waris a tragedy, and while neither side is perfect, the Greeks were the cause of all its misery. I will now allow my opponent their rebuttal.

SOURCES:
1. https://www.britannica.com...
2. The Iliad (Quoted lines translated by Robert Fitzgerald)
3. The Odyssey
4. The Aeneid

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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Phenenas 1 year ago
Phenenas
Well, my opponent, didn't respond and thanks to the glitch, this debate will be suspended in limbo for eternity. This is the ninth time this has happened to me. Guess I'm gonna go kill myself now.
Posted by reubencpiplupyay 1 year ago
reubencpiplupyay
Sorry for the double-up.
Posted by reubencpiplupyay 1 year ago
reubencpiplupyay
Wouldn't this debate be inherently biased towards the Greeks, seeing as Homer wrote from a Greek perspective?
Posted by reubencpiplupyay 1 year ago
reubencpiplupyay
Wouldn't this debate be inherently biased towards the Greeks, seeing as Homer wrote from a Greek perspective?
Posted by Phenenas 1 year ago
Phenenas
@Aleoz Perfect, I've added you to the debate. Good luck!
Posted by Aleoz 1 year ago
Aleoz
I have had many opportunities to read the Iliad at school. Your premise is one that I believe many people subconsciously would subscribe to, especially after watching Troy. I am new to debate.org which is why I am unable to accept this debate challenge. If you were to directly challenge me with this debate topic, than I believe that this debate would gratify both of us. My case will consist of defining what purpose the "good guy" ought to serve. I will than draw upon facts from the book and history to prove that the invasion of Troy was justifiable, and would be deemed a normal event considering the time period's set of circumstances.
Posted by Aleoz 1 year ago
Aleoz
I have had many opportunities to read the Iliad at school. Your premise is one that I believe many people subconsciously would subscribe to, especially after watching Troy. I am new to debate.org which is why I am unable to accept this debate challenge. If you were to directly challenge me with this debate topic, than I believe that this debate would gratify both of us. My case will consist of defining what purpose the "good guy" ought to serve. I will than draw upon facts from the book and history to prove that the invasion of Troy was justifiable, and would be deemed a normal event considering the time period's set of circumstances.
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