Violence in the Ancient World
Despite an unknown number of studies and untold billions spent on research, the jury is still out on whether violent behavior is instinctual or learned. Society today is quick to blame violent representations on movies and television and video games with igniting violently deviant behavior in the spectators. Perhaps those who make that connection have a point. After all, since earliest days of recorded narratives, history has been nothing but a continuous bloodbath punctuated by the very occasional and short-lived cease-fire. Aggression has been the rule; peace the exception. However, where does one draw the line between pernicious representations of violent conduct and dramatizations meant to educate, uplift and enlighten? Violence, often cruel and bloody, permeates the pages of the Old Testament and The Odyssey, and while it is generally lacking in Antigone the effects of violence, nonetheless, is a subtext of practically every line. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any of these great hallmarks of literature without thinking of the often extreme violence contained within.