The Iliad: The Masterpiece of the Ancient Greek Literature
Pieces of great literature are hard to come by, especially those written before Christ. Homer was a poet, who lived in Ancient Greek. He wrote a very well-known epic poem, called The Iliad. This poem is set during the Trojan War, in Troy. The poem covers ten days during the entire war. The Paris, the Trojan Prince, captured Menelaus’ wife, Helen of Troy. Not only do the Greeks fight against each other, but the gods intervene, multiple times throughout the poem. This epic poem takes you on a trip from love, tragedy, satyr and much more. In The Iliad, Homer displays the gods as similar to mortals by illustrating that the gods possess similar qualities.
Homer presents the gods as comparable to mortals by recording how gods and mortals acquire advantages, as well as disadvantages. Firstly, as it may be well known, humans contain many weaknesses. In the Iliad, Hector, appeared to act disgracefully, in a dishonorable way. The text states, ‘…he fled in fear” (Homer 22.164). In the text, Hector decided to give in to his fears and instead of gathering the strength he decided to flee. This shows that humans also have flaws because Hector decided to act cowardly other mortals can too. However, gods also bear weaknesses, like Athena, that are not very well known. In the text, Homer stated, ‘Athena luring him on with all her immortal cunning and now, at last, as the two came closing for the kill.” (Homer 22.293) Athena deceived Hector, who had put his trust in her. This can be seen as a weakness because gods are seen as flawless yet, in the text, we can clearly see one of her flaws. This confirms the case that mortals and gods are really not so individual.
In most human minds, we place gods above us when really we’re not so different since both, mortals and gods, obtain squabbles. For example, Homer states, “Achilles,… you order me to explain Apollo’s anger.” (Homer 1.87) Apollo was furious and as a result of his frustration he had set a plague amongst the camp. Apollo let his emotions get the best of him. In a similar way, King Priam let his inner thoughts and sentiments over power himself and pronounced, ”Make haste, wicked children, my disgraces. I wish all you had been killed beside the running ships in the place of Hektor.” (Homer 24.253-262) Priam has declared this to his children, all those except for Hector. Hector is a brave soldier, and therefore, Priam’s favorite. Priam was easily disappointed with his other children which led to him being resentful towards them. Priam allowed his true annoyance to be revealed once he had declared that he wished his other children were dead. King Priam, a mortal, and Apollo, a god, both experienced severe emotions and allowed themselves to give in into the emotions thus causing squabbles amongst others.
Gods had the same amount of control over the events that played out, as the humans did over fate. In the Iliad, it was stated that, “In the time before Patroclus came to the day of his destiny… there is not one who can escape death,” Achilles had claimed. (21.99-113) Achilles was talking about how Patroclus’ death was inevitable. Patroclus wanted to fight and gain his honor but as a sacrifice he had to give up his own life. Patroclus, a mortal, could not change his fate, nor could any god change it, because it was unavoidable. In an indistinguishable way, Homer also pronounced, “Hector… was distraught to the point of death.” (6.473) Hector was coming to the understanding that the time would come when he would die and could no longer fight. His fate did not include gods, only his decision of whether or not he would choose to continue to fight. Later on, there were gods upon the time of his death, however, they had the same amount of control against his fate as every other mortal that was present. This decision was to either to help weaken Hector or not to. In both cases, they had an equal amount of authority in both positions.
In conclusion, Homer displays the gods as comparable to mortals by demonstrating that the gods occupy related qualities to the mortals, including their strengths and weaknesses, disputes against one another and limited control on fate.
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