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Material World

            In today's society people use possessions and material wealth to determine their social standing. This is also true in Homer's world where possessions play a crucial role because of what they represent. In Homer's two epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, these possessions provide views on characters which could otherwise be overlooked. They are seen not only as a source of identity for each character, but also a source of honor. Although both epics present a general theme about possessions, each epic puts an emphasis on possessions in different ways. Even though the Iliad presents possessions both as a way to identify characters as well as a source of glory, it is a war poem that makes it easier to see possessions as a source of honor; whereas, in the Odyssey it is simpler to view the possessions as a source of identity.
             Although some material goods are valued for their own sake, more often than not they are granted as forms of honor, such as spoils of war. When men enter battle they meet their own deaths face to face, but there are ways to overcome it. One way to beat that death is by gaining the honor, distinction, and fame that outlives them. This is why after someone is killed in battle in the Iliad there is a mad rush to acquire his armor, just as there is after Patroclus kills Hector's chariot driver, Cebriones, in Book 16, line 859. The two sides battle furiously to acquire his armor, the Trojans to protect Cebriones' honor, the Achaens to gain their own. .
             Although armor is the major way to gain honor in the war oriented society, it is not the only way. Men can also gain honor through other spoils of war such as women. This can be easily seen in the beginning of the Iliad in Achilles' and Agamemnon's argument over who should receive Briseis. After sacking a Trojan-allied town, Achilles selects Briseis, while Agamemnon, the commander-in-chief, selects Chryseis. After Agamemnon rejects all of the pleas of Chryseis' father, Chryses, to let her go, Chryses prays to Apollo.

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