An Essay Sample on Consequences of Hubris

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The word Hubris means arrogance, over self-confidence and self-pride. This word describes emotions during Greek tragic heroes, which made them ignorant of gods’ warnings and hence invite catastrophe.  The word is believed to be a tragic flaw form or hamartia that comes from lack of faithfulness and overbearing pride. It originates from the Greek hubris that means pride or insolence. The concept has been used in various works by different authors including “Odyssesy” by Homer, “Electra and Other Plays” by Euripides, and “The Oresteia” by Aeschylus”. This paper gives a comparative analysis of texts presented by five different authors regarding the consequences of hubris.

In “Odyssesy” by Homer, Odyssesy demonstrates hubris in many of his actions. The most outstanding incident when he together with his men tries to run away from the Cyclops Polyphemus.  All of them are involved in drugging the monster to death, then stabbing him using timber in his single eye. After being blinded, Polyphemus takes away the huge shoulder blocking the escape of Odysseus and awaits the movement of the men in order to kill them. The men manage to escape into the boat from the cave using flocks of rams. After beating the giant, Odysseus is filled with pride, and instead of escaping silently, he begins to yell at Polypemus. Despite efforts by his men to stop him from doing this undesirable act, he refuses to listen to them (Homer 436). Odysseus displays hubris by he would take Polypemus’ life and hurl him down to hell (Homer 462; 463). This makes Polypemus extremely angry with Odysseus to the extent of praying to his father, Poseidon, to cause Odysseus never to see his home again. After making the prayer, he throws a mountain towards the direction of Odysseus’ voice (Homer 470). In his book, Homer clearly displays the consequences of hubris when Odysseus finally fails to return home for about 20 years at the cost of all his men’s lives.

The book “Electra and Other Plays” by Euripides describes Oedipus as having an innate character of hubris. Even prior to getting the power and glory of becoming the King of Thebes, his judgments were already clouded and actions ruled by his conceit. Without knowing, Oedipus accomplishes the oracle of Apollo during the encounter with a group of men.  While at a crossroad, Oedipus becomes angry when offended by the driver and this makes him very angry. Even though the intrusion was slight, Oedipus was furious that someone could trouble him causing him to kill all of them (Euripides 76). His recounting of the act to Jocasta clearly depicts him as an unremorseful person for taking people’s lives. Jacosta commits suicide bringing a tragedy to Oedipus. Furthermore, he unknowingly kills his father while at the crossroads out of pride and later marries his mother. Oedipus turns into a lunatic when he tries to imagine how things would have been if he had only listened to the admonitions given to him earlier (Euripides 89). The provoking thoughts cause him to lacerate his eyes, which mark the lengths he goes to banish himself. Through this character, the author manages to bring out the consequences of hubris in his book as portrayed by Oedipus downfall.

In his book “The Oresteia”, Aeschylus brings out the concept of hubris through a character called Agamemnon. Agamemnon demonstrates his arrogance by appearing briefly on stage. However, the chorus describes him as having an honourable and virtuous picture, it does not take him long before he gets flawed again (Aeschylus 45). When he victoriously returns from Troy, Agamemnon in his pride reveals his mistress Cassandra in the presence of his wife as well as before the chorus. Aeschylus represents Agamemnon as being disrespectful and arrogant to his wife.   He speaks to his wife with contempt, in addition to his infidelity. Due to his hubris, he greets his wife with little delight even after being away from her for a long time. Instead, he chooses to embarrass her before his mistress and the chorus.  On another instance, Agamemnon’s hubris occurs in the dialogue between him and his wife (Aeschylus 93). Clytemnestra prepares a carpet for him to step on, but he refuses. Nevertheless, Clytemnestra tricks him into doing so, and this makes him to compromise his principles (99). This whole incident makes him not only an ignorant but also a king full of hubris leading to his abandonment by the gods. This behavior shows his lack of strong will and determination because he risks the god’s wrath in place of calming his wife and this contributes to his terrible fate.

According to Herbert I. London, there is a greater price for boasting, and further says that it has a great impact the world of today. Businesses have closed down due to the pride of their presidents and the treatment they gave to their servants. After the vice president of Delta Airlines bragged that, his company was the best in business, but their profit dropped immensely by 31 percent. It is by nature that hubris leads to being indomitable that one cannot be subdued, and it brings about carelessness, cruelty, and failure. A company decides to buy the naming of stadia after themselves to show their supremacy, but they plunged into bankruptcy and financial hardship immediately thereafter. Often do sportsmen injure themselves after a granted win or success; a goal kicker leapt and injured him when he leapt on self-congratulation after getting a score, over excitement over spot performance can lead to accidents and self-injury. Hubris has brought defeat, and fall from a comfortable and boastful position to a humiliating position, prominent leaders and rulers have fallen their thrones of power due to pride and self-appreciation (London).

According to wise Greek website, hubris causes tragic scenes where some people can even murder others to ascent to power; Mcbeth in Shakespeare’s tragic drama is lead by pride to kill Duncan to take up the throne in Scotland. Mcbeth in Shakespeare’s tragic drama is lead by pride to kill Duncan to take up the throne in Scotland. It leads to violation of moral ethics and self-destruction. It leads to death; a king due to hubris ignores warnings of the prophet that he would die if he did not cease persecution. He had no regard for divine and moral ethics. The website features characters in literature that based their prided on idealism and religion that ultimately lead to his downfall. Hubris always flourishes when a person has the courage or jealousy and causes error in judgment and downfall (Shakespeare 56).


Works Cited

Aeschylus, Robert Lowell. The Oresteia of Aeschylus. Taylor & Francis. New York: 2003. Print

Euripides, E. P. Coleridge. Electra and Other Plays. Lightning Source Inc. New York: 2009. Print

Herbert, I. London. The Dangers of Hubris. American Outlook, April, 2002. Web. 18 March 2012.

Homer, Rouse. The Odyssey. Wilder Publications. Atlantic: 2007. Print

Shakespeare, William. “Macbeth (re-told)” Live Journal 2.3 (1999). 45-47. Print.


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