The Impact of Poetry The legend of Homer, considered by most the greatest epic poets of ancient Greece, stretches beyond classroom conversations and readings in classics classes at Connecticut College. His legend transforms Homer from being a man of words Into a man of impact. Words were just the way of delivering this impact to the masses. We see the importance of poetry to the people and culture of Ancient Greece in more places than Just the oral readings of The Iliad and The Odyssey. Festivals revolved round the viewing of these long poetic dramas and tragedies.
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They were one of the many ways in which Greeks would honor gods. Poetry and its rich culture in Ancient Greece Is so Important because it connected to people to their past. It was very Ancestral in nature. The transformation it makes over some two thousand years brings poetry to its lowest point in history. The impact that Homer made would never be associated with a poet In the 17th – 21st century. Poets such as Walt Whitman, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound are considered to be geniuses with their crafts, but geniuses they re only to a few.
This degradation of poets has not only destroyed a way to transmit knowledge and culture but has degraded the Importance of literature as a whole in the last four centuries. “Aristotle divided poetry into lyrics, elegiac, epic, and dramatic”. l All of these categories were equally Important In terms of Impact. Beyond the words and the emotions behind plays of Ancient Greece there was additional development of Greek culture and religion that was fueled by these poems and epics. Just as the Bible still has a profound effect on people now.
The Iliad and The Odyssey impacted people profoundly for several centuries and still has an important role today. This impact is known by the great Homer himself and in The Odyssey this description displays this effect poetry contained: “In came the herald now, leading along the faithful bard the Muse adored above all others, true, but her gifts were mixed with goodand evil both: she stripped him of sight but gave the man the power of stirring, rapturous song. “2 This great bard expressed his stories very similarly to Homer, without sight and with great effect on the people around him.
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The muse adoring him above all others also plays avery important part when looking at the poets of Ancient Greece. Muses were the goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. Here. poetry surpasses its cultural connection and links with religion (the gods) and further more the arts as well as science. Because the muses recognized a poet above all others, this puts poetry on a very high pedestal. A common reaction to this oration is also described in The Odyssey, and is a reaction coming from Odysseus himself. “… ut Odysseus, clutching his flaring sea- lue cape In both powerful hands, drew it over his head and buried his handsome face, ashamed his hosts might see him shedding tears. Whenever the rapt bard would pause in the song, he’d lift the cape from his head, wipe off his tears and hoisting his double handled cup, pour It out to the gods. “3 An Impact that brings Odysseus and his offering. It is limiting though, to only look at Odysseus as proof of this profound effect poetry had on people, because of his place in society.
Odysseus, being a nobleman and part of the upper class, was probably accompanied by people f the same social status as him when hearing the oration. This is a similarity shared by the poetry of Ancient Greece and modern poetry (modern meaning after the dominance of the Greeks and Romans). Poetry is looked at as a high art and therefore “has not been taken seriously since the Renaissance because it has been considered art. We consider it ornamentation, recreation, a higher amusement for leisure time and for the educated. 4 The Renaissance is an important landmark because Dante’s inferno (also an epic poem) was the last form of poetry that has had an impact as big s Homer’s epics had. The seven deadly sins were first written in Greek by Evagrius Ponticus in the 4th century but were infused heavily into Christian ethics because of Dante’s Inferno. 5 There are two levels of importance with this fact: Greek remained a language that carried its importance and relevancy to the development of Christianity well beyond the height of Ancient Greek power.
The other level reveals that epic poems continued to be a means of the communication of cultural importance for centuries after the production of these poems. Calling poetry art and a higher amusement for leisure time and for the educated” puts it into a very limiting category, a category that the people of Ancient Greece would not agree with. Poetry is now a thing that, according to many critics, cannot be enjoyed by the middle or lower class, and if this is the case, it will never impact people as a whole, as Homer’s epics did. Homer’s work reached more than a single entity in Greek life and therefore it affected more people.
This modern view of poetry now takes it, along with literature onto a path of self-destruction. The very influential Russian poet Boris Pasternak writes, “a book is written. It grows, it gathers experience, it knocks about the world, and now its grown- up and- this is what it is… a book is a living being. It is quite conscious and in its right mind: its pictures and scenes are what has brought out of the past and committed to memory, and is not prepared to forget. “6 This conscious mind that pieces of literature (including poetry) have is what allows it to connect to human beings, who also are conscious beings.
Bringing moments out of the past and fusing them with the memory of its readers is what literature should do. We see this with Homer’s poems, but lose this fundamental aspect as poetry becomes an entity of its own and not part of a people’s culture. This cultural separation that literature is experiencing leaves a void when thinking about the future of language. It seems that language is moving towards strictly being a way of colloquial communication. Other benefits that language once provided, the impact of Homer and his words, are now placed in items that isolate people as a whole such as the Internet.
This human evolution was summarized by Hugh MacDiarmid in 1955 with is poem In Memoriam to James Joyce: “Snakes have lost their limbs, And ostriches and penguins their power of flight. Man may Just as easily lose his intelligence. Genius is becoming rarer, Our bodies a little weaker, with each generation. Culture is slowly declining. And will finally become extinct. “7 This decay of intelligence is directly correlated with the decay of poetry and literature as crucial components of culture. The muses will be companions always, but our deafness has cut of a supply of direction, direction that will lead us to that impact of Homer and his words.See More on Odyssey