The Identity in War: The Weapon, The Warrior, The Artifactualization

A warrior on the battlefield is simply a mindless drone without the very artifactualization of his glory and the wellspring of his courage: his identity. Countless heroes, such as Achilles and Hector themselves, fight for the Kleos, the honor to their name that will live on well past their inevitable death. Undoubtedly, the reasoning behind the importance of the warrior’s identity must be the effort they put towards their search for their glory: the key piece of society for our legendary Greek heroes in Homer’s Iliad. Even the weapon of the hero in question becomes a piece of the warrior’s identity on his quest for furthering his identity.

Weapons are, in fact, especially important to the identity of the hero as they slay the hordes of opponents before them. Many great weapons, such as the axes of the vikings, were named after the fury and the glory that they earned in the face of harsh combat. Weapons are essentially a key piece of the identity of a great hero because they are an extension of the hero in the midst of his quest for riches and glory. A weapon is essentially the artifactualization of the warrior’s sole agency allotted to them on the battlefield.(Celtic Warriors in the midst of offering up a weapon to a great leader.)

The agency of a warrior, in itself, comes into question with the relation of agency and weapon, particularly in that a warrior’s only agency is the weapon he holds. A weapon is an expression of a warrior and, by definition, a tool of battle meant to serve its master’s ends. The weapon a warrior brings into battle allows a warrior agency, in that he is the master of the weapon, keeping the power of commanding something in a hierarchy of chaos that is the battlefield.

2 comments

  1. Meghan · November 18, 2015

    I really like the idea posed in this post, that the warrior’s sole agency is placed into his weapon. War doesn’t very well lend itself to agency, especially for the lowly soldiers that are forced to follow orders, march in line, and fight on command. While their superiors may have agency, their own is very limited due to the well thought out and planned nature of many wars. However, there are other ways that a soldier may act as an agent. For example in Simplicius Simplicissimus by Grimmelshausen, although Simplicius eventually becomes a mercenary soldier, he still has agency within certain bounds. Due to the changing nature of the times, Simplicius must be sneaky and cunning to survive in the new world. He acts within the restraints of the time, becoming cautious and sneaky, and thus he is still an agent. In many cases, soldiers may not have agency except in the use of their weapon as was stated in this post, however, in a few instances, their agency may be expanded as long as they act within certain limits.

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  2. Daniel · November 19, 2015

    This post is very well written, and I agree completely with your statements. However, it makes me wonder if warriors are themselves artifacts of a bygone era. The era of modern warfare has entirely stripped individual weapons of their glamour, and we no longer have the equivalent of Mjölnir, Excalibur, or the shield of Achilles. Although there were some individuals in contemporary history that were known with their prowess with weaponry (such as renowned Russian sniper Vasily Zaytsev of WWII), these individuals are increasingly few and far between. Armies now typically have standardized armament, making these extraordinary weapons an increasing rarity in modern society. If the homogeneous body of soldiers lose the very thing that keeps them individualized, are they now completely devoid of agency? Without agency, it would appear that there are no longer any heroes of war, as you noted in your previous post, but it is unclear what has replaced them. Soldiers maintain a tenuous link to the sheer humanity and character embodied in the hero simply due to their human nature, but even this relationship is weakening as soldiers themselves are being replaced with a greater emphasis on on drone warfare as we continue through the twenty-first century. The Homeric ideals of the epic battle, its heroes, and its artifactualized weaponry are apparently antiquated, and I am unsure what has taken their place.

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