Ate Society Of Violence And Extravagance Essay

Ate: Society Of Violence And Extravagance Essay, Research Paper


We live in a society of violence and extravagance. One can pick up a newspaper and see a headline reading “Bride Killed On Wedding Day By Crazed Ex-Boy Friend”. We live in an age of people who drive hundred thousand dollar cars. These are on opposite sides of the spectrum. We see people causing great pain and people who are trying to lose themselves in material goods, to avoid the suffering in life. This is the society we live in, which can be seen in all civilizations in the history of man. It was evident in the time of Greek heroism and the days of Hebrew culture. Life seems to be a journey to control ones happiness by avoiding craziness in oneself and others. This craziness or blind rage is called Ate. Ate is something that has no controller or master, but has existed since the origin of time. One can see how Ate affects all of life’s functions including: the mind, body, and souls of people. It is interesting to see how each culture reacts to this great power that reigns above all. In Genies and in Homer’s Iliad we see such action. The Iliad and Genesis are epic stories of harnessing the great power of Ate.

The time and culture one lives in effects peoples’ thoughts, actions and writing. Writing affects the society it dwells in, this is Vico. These two writings are different, but can be contrasted to see great truths.


The concept of anger and consequence are themes that play themselves out in both Genesis and the Iliad. In the Iliad we see the strongest anger and emotion is Ate. Where does this blind rage or delusion come from? When Agamemnon loses his woman and take Briseis from Achilles his actions, he admits, are wrong. But he said, “I was mad, I myself will not deny it.”(9; 116) This shows us that this madness “Ate” came upon him, that it came from a great outside power. We see this reference to madness or evil repeating itself.

The book of Genesis deals with the concept of Ate and anger as it almost does not exist, but refers to it instead as the act of sinning. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they had sinned. In the text it said, the fruit “was pleasing to the eye and desirable for the knowledge” (3; 6) Both Adam and Eve where told not to do that, but they did. This occurrence is temptation and evil. This action of evil and temptation is the Hebrews “Ate”. This action of evil is Ate for the Hebrews.

The delusion that is Ate is illustrated in these two different cultures. In the Greek text we see Ate as anger that comes from an outside force. The Greeks of Homer’s times believe that anger fuels the lives of the people. In the Hebrew text Ate is shown as temptation and evil. Genesis is a religious text, so ate is the idea of an outside force called original sin. Ate in both these cases are the driven forces that are trying to be controlled. Due to different purposes, their style caters to that.

We now see that the presence of Ate exists in both the culture and style of the texts. But how does it affect the people of the time? A concrete way was to see this was to see the way it affected their bodies.

The conflict and wrath of the god rears its awful head throughout Genesis and the Iliad. We see the effect of this in actual physical form in these epics. In the Iliad Agamemnon has taken Briseis from Achilles’ because his woman was lost. Achilles’ is very much angered by this and withdraws from fighting. Achilles’ great skill is needed in the battle against the Trojans. In a passage from book nine Nestor reminds Agamemnon of this mistake. We see the description of the madness he underwent. “But since I was mad, in the persuasion of my heart’s evil…”(9; 119). The madness he was taken over by affected his heart. In this Greek text there is mention of a specific body part. Earlier it is written, “…fighting men followed griping in their hands the long spear”. (9; 86) The man is seen in parts. The unity of a full human is not there.

The book of Genesis deals with the concept of anger and conflict by downplaying it. It is understood that it exists, but it is left to the imagination. The wrath of consequence still exists. In the book of Genesis we see this and in the story of Adam and Eve this becomes quite obvious. God gives Adam and Eve all they could desire, but this seems not to be enough. Adam and Eve can through everything in the garden, but the fruit of the forbidden tree. The serpent and Eve convince Adam to eat from the tree. God then makes them aware of their nakedness and other consequences of their sin, “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked;”(3;8) The consequence was of a whole body experience. They were naked; the text does not say their feet or their breasts were naked. In this Hebrew text we see the concept of unity of the body.

In these two texts we see a difference in the idea of the human body. The Greek text style shows the body as separate parts, not much unity. The Hebrew text makes talk about separate parts of the body, but its to give us a better description of the body as a whole. In each text the description of the body can tell us about the written styles of the text. The Greek text description of the body illustrates the style of foregrounding. Foregrounding is the style of being detailed and showing great clarity. This clarity is shown in the description of each body part as separate. The Hebrew text of Genesis illustrates the style of backgrounding. The backgrounding style is that of less detail with more of a mystical tendency. This is evident in Adam and Eve’s nakedness, we know they are naked and we are left to visualize it. The difference in style is due to the different goals of the works.

We see the presence of Ate in each story. The presence affects the human body. But why does this Ate arise in these situations? The Iliad is text that is ruled by a code of honor. When this honor is defaced the madness that is Ate takes over the character. The book of Genesis is that of a religious one. When the characters chose to do evil or sin this is the act of Ate. The reason why Ate is accursed is that of an outside power which seem to be above all deity. The writer’s style in where to place the phenomena of Ate is essential to the moral and purpose of the text.

The Iliad and Genesis are epic stories of harnessing the great power of Ate. We see in both texts the idea of an outside power, greater than humanly possible. Ate appears in the rage and poor choice making of Agamemnon in the Greek text of the Iliad. Ate appears in the Hebrew religious text of genesis when Adam and Eve learn of temptation or original sin. The actual wrath of Ate appears physical in both texts. In the Greek text Agamemnon “evil heart” is mentioned. Genesis shows the repercussions of Ate as naked bodies. The Greek text shows the body with little or no unity, while the Hebrew text depicts the body as, a whole. The presence of Ate in each text is for different reasons. The Iliad show the importance of honor and Genesis shows the importance of faith. The great power of Ate arises in different situations in the two texts due to the purpose of the text and the culture in which it was written. In both we see that this force is to be harnessed. This lesson of controlling anger, blind rage, and delusion is relevant in all cultures. The presence of religion and government in today’s culture attempts to harness this Ate.



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