Fate In The Iliad Essay

The Iliad is an epic poem, recounting the events of The Trojan War between Greece and Troy. The story follows several key characters in The Iliad, such as Achilles and King Agamemnon, throughout The Battle of Trogyllium  and The Siege of Troy. Fate and Destiny play important roles in The Iliad, because The Gods manipulate the lives of The Greek and The Trojan leaders to fulfill The Fate of The Trojan War (Homer 731). The Greeks allude to the fact that their victory over Troy is The Will of Zeus (Homer 780), due to “destiny” or The Divine Will.

The Iliad is a poem that tells the story of The Trojan War. It was written by Homer, in Ancient Greece, in approximately 800 BC. The poet draws his readers in through The Iliad’s vivid characters and exciting events. The gods play an important role in this addictive tale; their often mysterious actions go on to affect the lives of mortals down on earth. The themes of Fate and Destiny become apparent when The Iliad begins to take shape alongside its unique history.

The epic starts with Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, demanding that Achilles (one of Greece’s finest fighters) hand over his slave-girl Briseis as part of his spoils from with The Trojans . The pride of The Myrmidons, Achilles refuses Agamemnon’s order, which causes tension between the men until Thetis (Achilles’ mother) tells her son to obey The King.

Thetis persuades Zeus to intervene, hoping he will protect Achilles from Agamemnon’s anger by hiding The Greek warrior at the court of The King who reigns over all Greece. Thetis asks that her son is allowed to remain in The Land of Fire until The War ends, but Zeus states that Fate has already decreed his death before The Battle begins, and nothing can change this.

Thetis harbours a grudge against Hera for stealing Arisbe away from her as a baby; she makes it clear she won’t be on The Queen of The Gods ‘s side , but Thetis’ argument with Zeus is in vain. Fate, Destiny and The Furies (the goddesses who punish crimes against blood-relatives) are responsible for Achilles’ death, and no one can change this. The King’s best friend Patroclus urges his leader to make peace with Achilles: maybe The Mighty Myrmidon will come back to fight The Trojans and earn Agamemnon the victory?

The authority of Destiny is emphasized throughout The Iliad. It has been around since the beginning of time; even when mortals think they’re in control, Destiny always wins in the end. Thetis makes it clear that nothing she says to Zeus will change The Fates’ decision, Thetis knows her son is going to die, but not how or when. The epic ends with Thetis warning Thetis that Zeus always gets what he wants in the end.

This article was created by Niamh McIntyre, a 2nd year Bachelor of Arts student from Ireland. For more detail see the University’s online catalog.

The Iliad portrays fate and destiny as supreme and ultimate forces. The Iliad presents the question of who or what is finally responsible for a man’s destiny, yet the answers to this question are not quite clear. In many instances, it seems that man has no control over his fate and destiny, but at other points, it seems as if a man’s fate lies in the consequences of his actions and decisions. Therefore, The Iliad reveals a man sometimes controls his destiny. The Iliad also reveals that fate and destiny are two different forces.

The Greek people in The Iliad believed in Fate or Destiny, an unchangeable, inexorable force of the universe that dictated every person’s life from birth to death. The Greeks saw themselves not as autonomous individuals with free will but as links in the chain of Fate leading back into eternity and forward into eternity. The gods controlled human fate not because they were cruel or vengeful but because there was nothing else they could do; their actions were propelled by Necessity’s inexorability just like everyone else’s actions were shaped by her rigidity.

The two forces of fate and destiny, the one blind and the other silent, are presented by The Iliad as the supreme forces in The Iliad. “ The gods themselves are driven by a force greater still, for they are slaves to Destiny, that woman from Sparta who spun the thread of life for each man on his day of birth and set down how much like a mere mortal he should enjoy his share of pleasure and endure his share of pain. ” ( The Iliad , Book 8).

The line quoted above establishes Fate or Destiny as higher than even the gods; this means the Greek people believed it was beyond their control. The use of destiny instead of fate further suggests there were different connotations between these two words. Some Greeks viewed fate or Destiny as fixed, unchangeable, and inevitable, but they viewed destiny as more of a goal, an aim toward which men might strive. The ancient Greek dramatist Sophocles wrote of this distinction between fate and destiny in The Theban Plays.

In The Theban Plays, the chorus states “It is precisely because we are mortal that we must always be looking for something better than what Fate assigns to us. If Zeus had not made Destiny a thing to be striven after rather than a mere condition to accept, no man would ever have thought himself unhappy or fortunate at all” ( The Theban Plays, sixth century BC). Although it seems as if the Greeks believed some control over their fate, fate was nonetheless seen as utterly unable.

Fate was a silent force that could not be escaped or denied. The Theban Plays further clarifies this idea of fate versus destiny by showing how while both Fate and Destiny control a person’s life, it is only Destiny which one should aim toward rather than accept passively. The Theban Plays concludes with the chorus stating “The future will take care of itself if we do our part in the present moment well” ( The Theban Plays, sixth century BC).

This shows that although Destiny can have no influence on what has already happened, she does determine what will happen in the future and makes clear that power over destiny lies within human hands. In The Iliad, there was little any man could do to avoid his preordained fate and destiny. The Theban Plays shows how the Greeks viewed Destiny as a goal toward which one might strive, but The Iliad reveals that man was not always able to control his own destiny and that Fate and Destiny were different forces.

The Theban Plays suggests there is something beyond Fate or Destiny, but The Iliad shows only men’s actions could change their fates, sometimes resulting in disaster and sometimes leading to happiness. The Theban Plays also implies humans play a role in controlling their destinies because it speaks of an ideal towards which one should aim, while The Iliad does not say this about humans because, throughout the epic, gods shape mortals’ fates without any input from them whatsoever.

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