Woven into the distress of Homeric epic, which often laments the terrors of war, the violence of passion, and the desperation of life, are records of ancient customs that hint at a deep respect for culture and human worth. To take but one example, recall Hector's refusal to take wine from his mother when he is bloody from battle. This moment is apt to strike modern readers as trivial. In fact, it reifies important ancient distinctions between war and peace, home and battlefield, and the equally ancient sentiment that to everything, there is a season.

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