It’s All Greek To Me (Iliad Series Part I)

IliadEver wonder how your personality assessment results compare to well-known figures in history? What about ancient Greek heroes? In their article “Homer and Big 5,” Rastislav Duriš, an HR consultant, and Matus Porubjak, a philosophy professor, explore the socio-psychological aspects of Homer’s famous war epic, the Iliad, by putting the head-butting heroes, Achilles and Agamemnon, to the Hogan test.

Hellenic thinkers and orators, like Homer, dealt with subjects of the human condition and broached many topics which subsequently manifested as modern-day psychology. Ancient Greece is the cradle of one of the earliest personality typologies – Hippocrates’ division of people into sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic types. Although personality research has advanced since then, it is illuminating (not to mention fun) to retrospectively apply it to ancient Greek history. By applying current psychological models of personality to a close reading of the first song of the Iliad, uriš and Porubjak were able to make assumptions based on content analysis about the Greek heroes’ inner motivators and derailers.

When analyzed using the Hogan Development Survey (HDS) scales, Achilles, the Achaean warrior who flew off the handle and dragged his Trojan opponent’s lifeless body around for days after his best friend was killed in battle, is (not surprisingly) high on the Excitable scale. His moodiness and irritability are coupled with a low Adjustment score on the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) to make one pretty emotionally volatile and unpredictable Greek guy. High scores in Ambition (HPI) and Tradition also explain his competitive nature and intense loyalty to his friend’s memory.

Agamemnon, the Achaean king who stole the Trojan king’s daughter only to give her back and then steal Achilles’ girlfriend, has scores similar to those of Achilles. Add in low Prudence (HPI) and high Bold (HDS) scores and you’ve got a stubborn king who thinks he’s the bee’s knees. His values? Power and Recognition. All this coupled with high Skeptical and Mischievous scores (HDS) creates the potential for a power hungry, mistrusting ruler who would quickly kick his army to the curb and flee the scene as soon as the going got tough – which he almost did (a couple of times).