I war not with the dead.

I war not with the dead.Homer (from the Iliad,  Book VII, Line 485, as translated by Alexander Pope, spoken by King Agamemnon)

Don’t wage war with the dead. Give them their funeral, then bury them, and go on with your life.

What does that mean?
This quote is spoken by King Agamemnon in agreeing to a truce to bury the dead on the battlefields of Troy. In this case, he was being literal, stating that he didn’t mind the claiming of the dead and the ensuing funerary rites. After all, he wasn’t fighting the dead.

Today, unless you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse, you probably aren’t going to actually fight the dead either. Unless you keep bring up things that are already in the past. Over and over again. Just refusing to let go of whatever happened in the past.

The modern interpretation, in my opinion, would be re-fighting old battles, wasting time wondering “what if?” and otherwise being unproductive. Yes, we should review what happened and learn from the experience. But then we should let it go and move on with our lives.

Why is moving on important?  
Obsessing over something that is done and over isn’t a very good way to spend what little time we have, in my opinion. Yes, take some time and look at what went right, what went wrong, and develop a new approach to try to do it a little better next time. Then drop it.

Otherwise, what will happen? What will you be able to get done? What new activities can you try? The obsession with the ‘dead’ issue will continue to fill your thoughts, and make it hard to get much of anything else done. That doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

By moving on, you can allow your life to be free of the ghosts that haunt your past, free of the baggage of the endless repeating of the old battles. There is space and freedom to live and grow and move beyond the last great war in which you were involved.

Where can I apply this in my life?
Are you still fighting the dead? What battles still rage, again and again, in your head? What do you still cling to, long after it is gone and over? These things, if they exist, are the things this quote are about. These are the things I believe you should look at, and change.

Let go of those old things that hold you back. Let go of the things that turn your focus from moving forward because you are looking to the past. Let go of the things that are sapping your strength and dividing your attention. Release the dead, and get on with your life.

It’s one thing to fondly remember an old lover, it’s quite another to have a shrine to them, and to spend evenings remembering conversations and retracing the steps you used to take, visiting the same old restaurants, movie theaters, or hangouts, right?

The one is sweet, the other is creepy. More importantly, one leaves you feeling good, and ready to move forward with your life. The other is an anchor, preventing you from moving forward and locking you firmly in the past.

Which do you think is the healthier way to live your life? Which is the path forward? Which leads to a brighter future? I think it’s an easy decision, given the example in the paragraphs above. However, in real life, few people are such obvious examples.

So, none of us have full scale wars with the dead going on, but perhaps there’s a skirmish or two, from time to time? What things do you tend to obsess over? What really gets you focused on a past event? Is it a song, a scent or smell? Is it a location, a color, a ‘look’ (in the fashion sense)?

Whatever it is, if it really sets you off, try to avoid it for a while. In the meantime, try to let go. Any time you detect the feeling starting to rise to the top of your consciousness, dismiss it. Bury your dead, don’t battle them. Give them proper funeral rites, then be done with them.

What that means, exactly, will differ for every person and every situation. Try things until you find something that works for you. Sometimes what it takes is time. But if you continue to obsess, the passage of time won’t help much. Find ways of letting go, even if just a little, until the dead no longer haunt you.

Leave the dead be, and live your life. Let them go and let yourself be free.

From: suggested by my son, from the game Doodle Devil, displayed for making a zombie.
confirmed at : http://www.quotesstar.com/quotes/i/i-war-not-with-the-239373.html
Photo by styeb


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in common sense, courage, focus, humor, question, struggle and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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