Modern Vs. Ancient Ideals Of Warfare Essay, Research Paper
Modern vs. Ancient Ideals of Warfare
Ever since the idea of civilization evolved, there has always been warfare. Men are always at each other s throats just waiting for a reason to unveil the abilities of their testosterone. It is rare nowadays to go to a public place like a bar or a club without some sort of dispute breaking out into a public catastrophe. This is how it is now and exactly how it was during the times of Hesiod, Archilochus, and Tyrtaeus.
During our times warfare has become a lot less personal and involving hand-to-hand combat. Even taking the movie Saving Private Ryan into account, one could see that hand-to-hand combat was not used as often. Although this movie is not taking place in the present, it still utilizes the use of tanks, planes, machine guns, and other non-ancient weapons. While watching the news on the Gulf War what I had attained about warfare was that it was a lot different from how people in Tyrtaeus and Archilochus times used to fight with just spears and arrows. Tyrtaeus states in his poem, performing mighty deeds let him learn the skills of warfare, and not stand with his shield beyond throwing range (line 27-30). This is completely different from today in which at times people engaging in wars do not even have to be in the same hemisphere. Nowadays there are missiles that can be shot across the world with satellite directing assistance. In the ancient times this would not be seen as courageous fighting but rather shameful. The range at which individuals fought demonstrated their ability and bravery in fighting. Tyrtaeus indicated that shameful is a body lying stretched in the dust, driven through the back from behind with the point of a spear (line 20-21). It was an utter shame when someone was killed who never had the ability to defend themselves. This is why the use of tanks and machine guns that could destroy the enemy at great distances would have been seen as cowardly in the ancient times. I have also observed this ideology of warfare in many Asian countries as well. For instance the Kamikaze pilots in World War Two would much rather sacrifice their bodies, by crashing their planes into U.S. bases, than surrender. Another key factor that Archilochus highlights is that of leadership. He states in his poem,
I have no love for a commander who s tall or stands astraddle, who s proud of his curling locks or wears his beard neatly trimmed. Instead, I ll take a man who s short and crooked to look at about the shanks, firmly planed on his feet, full of heart (lines 18-19).
In our day and age, the generals and commanders of our navy and army are not actual fighters. They simply strategize the attack and watch over the battles from their lofty bases. To the Greeks this was a very uncourageous act for the leaders. The leaders in the ancient times, for example Agamemnon in the Iliad, engaged in warfare with his troops. Archilochus also gives a good account of how the soldiers predicted the weather by looking up at the clouds and how the sky looked (line 17). During modern times, we posses the capability of satellite information and various other weather instruments to predict the weather conditions during the onset of war. Thus the surprise element of the weather is not a factor in the modern form of war. Another issue that is different from the ancient time is the interference of the gods. One could see from Herakles Shield, how the gods especially Ares and Athena were great inspirations during warfare. For example, in the Iliad when the great warriors such as Achilles engaged in attack they would always call upon a god in assisting them with their attack. Although nowadays many soldiers will pray before going into battle, it is much different than when the ancients completely relied on the gods for aid.
Although the differences in warring techniques and ability are numerous the one unifying concept of war has still lasted the test of time patriotism. Tyrtaeus describes this perfectly, unless he could endure to gaze upon bloody slaughter that man is mourned alike by young and old his good repute never perishes, nor his name, but, under earth though he be, he proves immortal (lines 11-31). Even now those who have fought for our country are always seen as being brave and as being heroes. There have been many changes to war as can been seen from the previous examples. As far as honor is concerned the Ancient Greeks seemed to think that putting oneself at great risk of death and overcoming death and winning was more impressive. To them, the means was more important than the end . But the bad part of that is how many individuals must die. The way war is engaged now, fewer individuals are dying. The preservation of life, especially those of our loved ones, is seen more important in our day and age and can be seen as the reason for this difference in war engagement. The inclination of warfare in men and in our day and age women can be seen as being the same as it was many centuries ago. In many aspects, this desire for bloodshed can be seen as never ending. Although the changes are many in combat the goal even centuries later can be seen as being the same.