As most individuals would attest to, the fear of death is very real. Indeed, it would be difficult to find an individual who eagerly awaits, or anticipates, death, across any culture.
Perhaps this notion should not be shunned. Perhaps it is even worth commenting and analyzing this phenomenon, both as a way to bring peace to ourselves, as well as pave a proverbial rampart, in an effort to bridge that all so prominent cultural divide that we are so frequently reminded of.
As it goes, there are certain beliefs and core tenants of thought that are so deeply ingrained into the human psyche, it would be impossible, or at the very least irresponsible, to neglect or shun these beliefs in an era where diversity is often championed as a merit in its own right, as well as an alternative to unity and the collective struggle for justice. While these tenants, such as an idea of the divine, the love for a brother or spouse, the futile struggle to attain relevance, notoriety, or ‘immortality’, in an all too impermanent and mortal earthly plane, or even the attainment of wealth, can be noticed in contemporary culture, so to could they be picked out and remarked upon in the surviving evidence that we have regarding ancient cultures, such as the Greeks or the Romans. As it goes once again, our ancient predecessors served to mold the viewpoints that we still value and uphold in the present.
Yet again, The Iliad of Homer seemed to exemplify, and even anthropomorphize, some of these cases of cultural connective tissue. Likely, the most prominent example can be found in the character of Achilles, and his ultimate goal of notoriety and ‘immortality’, the kind which can only ever hope to be attained by sacrificing something for ‘the greater good’, in his case, his courage, strength, and unmatched battlefield prowess. As Homer informs us, Achilles is given the choice to live a long and ultimately fulfilling life as a farmer, with a happy and healthy family, or wade out into the battlefields of Ilium as a semi-literal god among men. As the story of The Iliad is ultimately known as the story of Achilles, and the rage that he made manifest, it should be obvious to you which choice he made.
Yet, is it any wonder that this would be the choice made by such an able-bodied figure? It seems obvious now that Achilles, if he did indeed exist as the figure depicted by Homer, made the correct choice, and I would argue that, in most cases, the young men and women of today, as well as previous generations, ultimately strive for cultural relevance, or ‘fame’, in the same manner that Achilles achieved. Perhaps, ultimately, we all are seeking our own permanence, to leave our own indelible mark on this world. The question that is inevitably raised, however, is just how far are we willing to go to attain this ‘immortality’?