Love is integral to both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Love presented in these works is not the romantic love we recognize today, but more familial ties–a type of love that was essential for survival. To Homer, Love gives meaning to everything without Love there would be no hardships which is why Love is how many of the characters seek their glory. In both epics Love comes in different shapes and sizes which is what makes Love so significant in Homer’s portrayal of heroic action.
In The Iliad , Love begins at a young age when Paris falls in love with Helen while Menelaus doesn’t have the same interest in Helen as Paris does because he can see past her beauty and look at who she really is. This sets up the Love triangle and is the cause of the Trojan War because Paris steals Helen and elopes with her. Love plays a significant role in this story because without Love then there would be no reason for Menelaus to want to take back what was his, nor would Paris risk everything he has fought for to take Helen as his own.
The whole point of Helen’s life seems like it revolves around Love; Love brought upon the Trojan War which shapes much of her adult life and Love motivates Paris to fight for something greater than himself. Love also play a significant role throughout Achilles’ rage as he wishes death upon Agamemnon and Menelaus after they steal Briseis from him (which is basically like Love theft), but when Patroclus gets killed Love for his friend and Love for revenge becomes stronger than Love of himself. Love is so integral to The Iliad because without Love then there is no reason for anyone to fight except if their lives were at stake such as Hector’s.
In The Odyssey, Love comes in the form of Penelope who willingly decides to stay faithful to Odysseus even though he has been away from them for twenty years and has many suitors trying to take her as their wife. Love was instilled into Penelope when she and Odysseus married and Love was used as a bargaining tool (we will see later with Circe) because her parents said they would arrange a marriage between her and bidders of high stature, but if she chooses someone herself then Love will be the dowry.
Love is what keeps Penelope patient throughout Odysseus’s journey because Love is what created their family which makes it her duty to make sure their Love lasts until Odysseus returns (which he eventually does). Love also plays an integral role for Nausicaa as she falls in love with Odysseus after washing his clothes and develops feelings for him, even going so far as to wish he would have taken her with him on his travels.
Love drives Nausicaa to do what’s right – help the poor stranger who washed up on shore – so that Penelope can see Odysseus for who he really is and hopefully reunite with him. Love is what makes Odysseus choose to stay on Calypso’s island because Love is what kept him alive all those years and Love also plays a role in the suitors’ death as they attempt to murder Telemachus. Love because quite clear here as Love motivates Odysseus to want revenge for his family, Love brings about Penelope and Odysseus’s reunion, and Love motivates Nausicaa to help those who are less fortunate (Odysseus).
In The Odyssey, Circe decides against killing Odysseus even though he hasn’t made it easy for her throughout his journey. Love comes into play when Circe realizes that just like own brothers she has fallen in Love with Odysseus. Love keeps Circe patient against Odysseus’s wishes to leave and Love also comes into play because Love was what made her turn humans back into their original form, but Love does not prevent her from turning his crew into pigs.
Love is quite significant in The Odyssey because without Love then Circe would have killed Odysseus when he first arrived, In both epics Love plays a large role for the characters’ motivation towards action whether it be revenge or finding each other again after being apart. In The Iliad Love motivates Paris to go for Helen for all the wrong reasons which causes him to lose sight of who she truly was until she is gone and Love motivates Menelaus to want to get her back even though it wouldn’t be Love if he took her by force.
Love also plays a role in The Odyssey as Love motivates Penelope to stay faithful even though she is being courted by so many others, Love makes Odysseus not regret staying on Calypso’s island because of Love which keeps him alive for another ten years, Love plays a key role for Circe as Love brings about her change of heart towards Odysseus when she transforms his crew into pigs instead of killing them, and Love is what made Nausicaa help the poor stranger who washed up on shore without asking questions.
Love plays an integral role both epics because without Love then there would be no reason for anyone to fight or if they did Love would not have been present at all, Love is what keeps the characters going even during times of hardship because Love makes them stronger. Love is Love and Love conquers all in The Odyssey and The Iliad.
Love plays a key role in both epics because without Love then The Iliad would have ended differently and there would have been much more less conflict throughout The Odyssey, but with Love these characters were able to persevere when things got hard. The Iliad – Helen’s love for Paris brings about the Trojan War fought when Menelaus challenges him to return Helen back to Sparta which was her Love for Paris that made her stay with him in the first place.
Love is also what motivates Helen to lie about how she got back into Sparta which causes Menelaus to kill Alexandros (Paris) but Love is not present when Menelaus kills Deiphobus for sleeping with his wife. The Odyssey – Love comes into play many times throughout The Odyssey including Odysseus’s Love for Penelope, Telemachus’s Love for Odysseus, Calypso’s Love for Odysseus, Circe’s Love for Odysseus, Nausicaa’s Love for Penelope, and Alcinous’s Love of Penelope.