The Iliad is an epic poem written by Homer. The story follows the Trojan prince, Paris as he abducts Helen, wife of Menelaus. The Greeks eventually mobilize to retrieve her and a great war begins between the two sides with all their allies. The Iliad also features Diomedes or Ulysses as main character in the final book. The story is set during the tenth and final year of the war between the Trojans and Achaeans (Greeks).
The beginning contains a speech by Achilles to his men as they make their way to Troy, stating many reasons why he believes they should not go, but also addressing common complaints against him such as arrogance and short temper. The poem begins: “Pallas Athena now uproused that fierce man, and urged him to cross boune and gloom; for since thereon was love-sport to be seen among all gods.
The background information provides insight into how Achilles’ anger can be an asset at times. He does what needs to be done because it needed to be done, even if he doesn’t like it. The poem is replete with examples of how, even though Achilles does not trust Agamemnon, he still acts as a leader for his men and follows orders because it’s what his king says to do. The Iliad contains many other battles besides the main one between the Greeks and Trojans over Helen.
The battle scenes are well developed, featuring Achilles as the most skilled warrior on either side. The article then discusses different aspects of The Iliad that led scholars to deduce that The Iliad was meant to be performed orally rather than read silently. To read without understanding everything you’re reading first causes your mind to make up stories which aren’t always accurate or true, but the author can’t fault you for your interpretation of The Iliad.
The article goes on to talk about the religious aspects of The Iliad, and how they play a role in different characters’ motivations and actions throughout the story. The last two sentences say: “… God’s interventions were probably viewed as reflecting their innermost thoughts, hopes, and fears that might not have been apparent otherwise” which refers back to what was previously discussed about how The Iliad is meant to be performed orally because it makes sense with what happens throughout The Iliad.
The story of The Iliad centers around the wrath of Achilles and his withdrawal from battle because Agamemnon took Briseis, a girl he had taken as a war prize and given to his best friend. The gods constantly intervene throughout The Iliad, which results in the death of many men that would otherwise have survived if it were not for the gods. The God’s intervention in The Iliad is made apparent through their direct involvement in battles, or advice given to certain characters that guide them into battle and results in their victory.
The influence of the Gods on The Iliad can be seen by supernatural events such as; Aphrodite’s son Aineias who is able to escape death because his mother and Apollo protect him, Zeus even sends Ares out of the battlefield due to Aphrodite’s pleading so he does not have to fight against his son Sarpedon. The author of The Iliad wants readers to believe that all occurrences happen because a God had intervened which is why they often repeat phrases such as ‘and then one of the Gods gave him (a hero) great strength’ as if the author himself does not believe what he is saying.
The reader can even question whether or not The Iliad would have been written at all had the God’s not influenced so many events throughout the story, because The Iliad can be seen as a glorification of war by portraying battles and deaths as acts of God and results of fate. The role of The Iliad’s God’s was to serve as a reason why things happen, which gives The Iliad a sense of realism and explains the actions that might otherwise seem senseless.
The story runs like this: Paris, a prince from Troy (the city-state whose soldiers fought against Menelaus and his Greeks), took Helen, the queen of Sparta, to his home. The Greeks attacked The Trojans, The Trojans lost The Battle, and The Sack of Troy ensued. The Iliad is set during The Trojan War, but the characters are often devoted to their gods; it is because of the divine that things happen.
The epic poem does not contain any dialogue between mortals (Hector and Achilles for example) without some reference to the gods in the background. These divine references include three main types: signs from deities before a battle, interventions by deities during a battle, and epiphanies after a battle. In Book II of The Iliad, Agamemnon hears from Zeus that he should “take courage…for today at least your stay here safe beside the ships will be” (Lines 64-65) and this follows with Thetis asking Zeus if The Trojans might overpower The Greeks before The Day of The Return.
Thus, the divine references in The Iliad help to explain The Trojan War’s background and give meaning to important events throughout the epic poem. The repetition of these themes creates a connection between humans and their gods. At The End of Book IX , Hera promises “to stir against [The Trojans] the awesome might of the god of war, furious Ares” (Lines 378-379), making it seem as though she is an active participant in The Battle who may be either helping or hindering what happens on the battlefield.
This emphasizes that Humans are not fighting alone, but have an entire pantheon of gods on their side. The Iliad shows us that the might of The Trojans would not be as great if it were not for the help of these powerful deities whom inspire The Greeks and The Trojans to fight. And, The Iliad suggests, had The Greeks been abandoned by Zeus and had The Trojans never met any setbacks, then they would have won easily. The repetition of divine references also serves to show how much power is held by the gods in ancient Greek society.
The fact that Zeus has control over everything – even life and death – shows just how important he was at this time. On a smaller scale, Apollo’s will is carried out as well as people’s: he tells Patroclus to “harm Hector” (Line 99) which he does, but The Trojans retaliate and The Battle is fought again. Divine references also show how important The Night was – The Day of The Return will be a fearful thing for The Greeks because the sun has abandoned them and they are now at the mercy of The Night.
In The Iliad, gods have complete power over mortals but there are times when humans take matters into their own hands too – Zeus cannot predict everything that happens as Hera reminds him in Book II. In an epic as long as this one there must be internal consistency so Homer shows things from both perspectives to let us know that even though The Gods have influence over the outcome, it is ultimately up to Humans to determine how The Battle of The Iliad (and The Trojan War) will end.