The Iliad essay sample:
The Iliad by Homer is an epic poem that was set at the time of the Trojan War. The epic poem retells the events and the battles between Troy and Greek states during the attack of Troy. The epic focuses on the quarrels between Achilles and Agamemnon and Hera and Zeus. Achilles rage from the Iliad incorporates activities from the immortals as well as the gods. In the quarrel, Achilles through his anger, acted as a messenger from the gods to refute King Agamemnon’s greedy attribute that contributed to the defeat of Achaeans by taking captive the daughter of Chryses, Agamemnon had angered the gods through disobedience (Tvedtnes 147). The aim of this paper is to analyze and discuss the activities of the immortals and gods in the Iliad.
The account of Greek gods by Homer in Iliad points to the fact that gods interacted with Greeks from different perspectives that reveals the behavior, state and statute of ancient gods in managing community of men and gods of the ancient world. Hector kills Patroclus who is a swift warrior just like Achilles after god Apollo knocked Patroclus armor to the ground, Hector mistook Patroclus for Achilles since he was wearing Achilles’ armor and slays him instantly. The event reveals that gods intervene in deciding human activity. At the same time, the war of words between Achilles and Agamemnon is skillful overcome by the death of Patroclus. Achilles meets head-on with Hector at the walls of Troy where Achilles slays his archrival Hector and in order to avenge the dead of Patroclus, he drags the body of Hector in circles around the Patroclus bier. However, Zeus who is siding with Trojans orders Hermes to guide King Priam to Achilles camp to recover the body of Hector from the group of Greeks. There remains a cordially and sometimes ironical but consistent relationship between the gods and men fighting in the battlefront just before the walls of Troy.
God Apollo purposely approached the Patriarch Zeus to convince Achilles to stop dragging the dead body of Hector and return it for proper burial and accession to the next world. Furthermore, god Apollo specifically protected the corpse of Hector from decaying and rotting, besides staving off scavengers and dogs from touching the body of King Priam’s son. Eventually, Hector’s body was recovered after twelve days after King Priam carried treasure to Achilles under the protection of Hermes dressed and disguised as a Myrmidon soldier. King Priam close encounter with immortal Hermes is quite extraordinary since after paying the ransom to Achilles, overtaken by grief Achilles and King Priam wept until they slept. Hermes is responsible for waking up King Priam to walk out of the enemy camp without anyone noticing the event. Furthermore, Hermes warns King Priam against sleeping in the enemy’s tent.
Hermes is a trickster who helped King Priam to walk to Achilles camp without being noticed by the rest of the Greeks. Moreover, Hermes is dressed like one of the Myrmidon soldiers who are under the care of Achilles. Therefore, besides Achilles being a heroic character, Hermes is ultimately the greatest hero who overcome Achilles’ wrath when he revealed himself before Achilles to avoid another loss since Achilles would have killed King Priam to win over the Trojans so easily. Tracing back the roots of ancestors, Achilles is the son of Peleus and grandson of Zeus. King Priam invokes the power of Peleus in order to win the favour of Achilles to accept the ransom in exchange for the corpse of Hector. Generally, King Priam used the power of pathos to gain Achilles confidence in the matter before the transaction went through (Rabel 473).
Zeus is the King of all gods and husband to Hera who is his sister. Zeus is neutral to mortal beings activities and usually advises all gods to keep off mortal combat. Nevertheless, Zeus eventually supports Trojans. Nevertheless, Hera who is convinced that his husband is unfair throws her weight behind the Greeks together with goddess Athena to eliminate the Trojans. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, purposeful war and art; being Zeus’s daughter, she hates Trojans like Hera since Prince Paris of Troy judged in favor of Aphrodite as the most beautiful woman in reference to Here and Athena. The Achaeans gain supported from many immortals like Poseidon who hurled water at the city of Troy since they did not consider paying him sacrifices after he helped the Trojans built their city. Therefore, Poseidon’s position against Troy is merely a revenge mission just like Hera and Athena. Hephaestus who is a crippled god is a metal smith who helps design a new armor for Achilles at Thetis’ request.
On the contrary, Apollo, who is the son of Zeus and twin brother to goddess of hunt Artemis support the Trojans together with Zeus their father. Hector addresses the Achaeans asking, “If Apollo grants me that triumph, I’ll strip his armour, take it to sacred Ilion and hang it in the temple of Apollo, the far shooter.” (Homer VII 92-95); the assertion by Hector proves that Apollo remained a sincere deity to the Trojans. Equally, the god of war Ares steps in to help Trojans. Equally, Hera sent a fog to confuse escaping Trojan soldiers for the advancing Achilles to devour them in the swirling river, which was borne out of immortal Zeus.
Goddess Hera, the witty Queen of immortals deceives the all-seeing Zeus into sleeping with him in the mountains away from the war in order to help the Achaeans gain advantage over the Trojans who were sponsored by Zeus. Sweet Sleep who is also an immortal entity that beckoned on Poseidon to call on the Achaeans to wake up, organize and fight. Kings of Achaeans, Agamemnon, Diomedes and Odysseus moved their warriors into action with Poseidon leading the army with a sword to execute the worst battle scene in which Ajax hit Hector with a stone that made him reel and drop down until he was picked and put on his horse behind the battle line to avoid death. During the combat, Ajax struck Satnuis son of Enops whom was conceived by a Naiad Nymph. Further, Ajax threw his spear and killed Archelochus, Antenor’s son-“the gods had planned his death” (Homer XIV 542). Precisely the gods lots fell on Ajax as the appropriate hero to kill most of the heroic Trojan warriors, thus immortals meddled in human affairs according to the progress of the war (Snider 368). The Earthshaker Poseidon changed the tide of the war against the Trojans while Zeus slept being held by Aphrodite charms that Queen Hera was wearing. The power of Ajax to slay, spear and run after people is compared to the Zeus force that made many flee.
Hera egged his son Hephaestus to fashion blazing fires to help Achilles out of the river; the fires burned the dead corpses and cleaned the fields besides attacking the river to help Achilles. The river in a blaze spoke to Hera promising never to help the Trojans if her son stopped the fire from killing all river life like fish. Then Hera spoke to her son, “Hold off, Hephaestus, splendid child. It is not right to hurt a deathless god like this, just for the sake of mortal men” (Homer XXI.456-458). The conflict spilled to Olympus where Ares attached Athena with his bronze spear, which destroyed Athena,’s tasseled aegis provoking her to hit Ares by a stone that he fell headlong covering seven hundred feet with dust and dirty covering his head at which Athena laughed. Aphrodite who helped Ares to walk away from the battle was attacked and hit by Athena’s powerful fist after Hera’s complaint that Aphrodite was interfering like a dog fly. King Laomedon seemingly robbed Poseidon and Apollo wages, besides threats that disgusted the gods, but Apollo being the god worshipped by Trojans avoided the desire to avenge instead worked towards protecting Troy from wrath of other immortals led by Hera, assisted by Poseidon and Athena. Hera calls Artemis a shameless bitch once she tried to persuade Apollo to fight Poseidon in vain; instead, Hera challenges Artemis to duel, instead, Artemis is afraid and sobs after Hera beats her, she runs to Zeus silver-floored house to report the matter to the patriarch father (Bell 115).
The anger of Achilles likened to Hera’s anger at Zeus drives the activities of the war. When the Trojans overpowered the Greeks, Agamemnon noticed that he made a mistake by not listening to Achilles and letting him go. Agamemnon sends Achilles an embassy to convince Achilles to return to war. Agamemnon sends the embassy with gifts. Achilles welcomes the embassy but refuses to accept Agamemnon’s offer. Achilles does this with the help of the gods when he requires that Agamemnon pay back for Achilles heart-rending injury (Schein 109)
The revenge of Achilles after the death of Patroclus on the hands of Hector is an activity involving both the gods and the immortals. Achilles anger towards Agamemnon turns to the anger towards Hector and Trojans (Alter 1). After the death of Patroclus, Achilles cries to the gods by tearing his hair and dirtying his face in honor. Achilles then vows to returns to fight. Achilles even accepts the prospective death from the revenge when confronted by the mother. Achilles acknowledges that Zeus had the power to take his life. During this battle, the gods intervene for both the Trojans and the Greeks as Zeus lifts the ban preventing the interference from the gods (Tvedtnes 147).
After the revenge mission, Achilles gets a visitation from Patroclus’ ghost asking for a decent burial. The Greeks reserve a day for the game burials where Achilles gives out prizes. The dream urging Achilles is an activity between the gods and the immortals. The gods are angry if war warriors do not receive an honorary burial after death. The gods, through the dream, urges Achilles to bury the body of his friend.
The Iliad “Achilles Rage” incorporates the activities of both the immortals and the gods. The Iliad tells the activities of the immortals such as Achilles and Hector but also incorporates the activities of the gods. Activities such as the revenge of Achilles on the Trojans, the burial of both Hector and Potraclus, and the message by Agamemnon to Achilles incorporates both the activities of the immortals and the gods. The war remains won because of revenge tactics employed by Hera, Poseidon and Athena to bring victory to the Achaeans.
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Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
The Glory of War
One can make a strong argument that The Iliad seems to celebrate war. Characters emerge as worthy or despicable based on their degree of competence and bravery in battle. Paris, for example, doesn’t like to fight, and correspondingly receives the scorn of both his family and his lover. Achilles, on the other hand, wins eternal glory by explicitly rejecting the option of a long, comfortable, uneventful life at home. The text itself seems to support this means of judging character and extends it even to the gods. The epic holds up warlike deities such as Athena for the reader’s admiration while it makes fun of gods who run from aggression, using the timidity of Aphrodite and Artemis to create a scene of comic relief. To fight is to prove one’s honor and integrity, while to avoid warfare is to demonstrate laziness, ignoble fear, or misaligned priorities.
To be sure, The Iliad doesn’t ignore the realities of war. Men die gruesome deaths; women become slaves and concubines, estranged from their tearful fathers and mothers; a plague breaks out in the Achaean camp and decimates the army. In the face of these horrors, even the mightiest warriors occasionally experience fear, and the poet tells us that both armies regret that the war ever began. Though Achilles points out that all men, whether brave or cowardly, meet the same death in the end, the poem never asks the reader to question the legitimacy of the ongoing struggle. Homer never implies that the fight constitutes a waste of time or human life. Rather, he portrays each side as having a justifiable reason to fight and depicts warfare as a respectable and even glorious manner of settling the dispute.
Military Glory over Family Life
A theme in The Iliad closely related to the glory of war is the predominance of military glory over family. The text clearly admires the reciprocal bonds of deference and obligation that bind Homeric families together, but it respects much more highly the pursuit of kleos, the “glory” or “renown” that one wins in the eyes of others by performing great deeds. Homer constantly forces his characters to choose between their loved ones and the quest for kleos, and the most heroic characters invariably choose the latter. Andromache pleads with Hector not to risk orphaning his son, but Hector knows that fighting among the front ranks represents the only means of “winning my father great glory.” Paris, on the other hand, chooses to spend time with Helen rather than fight in the war; accordingly, both the text and the other characters treat him with derision. Achilles debates returning home to live in ease with his aging father, but he remains at Troy to win glory by killing Hector and avenging Patroclus. The gravity of the decisions that Hector and Achilles make is emphasized by the fact that each knows his fate ahead of time. The characters prize so highly the martial values of honor, noble bravery, and glory that they willingly sacrifice the chance to live a long life with those they love.
The Impermanence of Human Life and Its Creations
Although The Iliad chronicles a very brief period in a very long war, it remains acutely conscious of the specific ends awaiting each of the people involved. Troy is destined to fall, as Hector explains to his wife in Book 6. The text announces that Priam and all of his children will die—Hector dies even before the close of the poem. Achilles will meet an early end as well, although not within the pages of The Iliad. Homer constantly alludes to this event, especially toward the end of the epic, making clear that even the greatest of men cannot escape death. Indeed, he suggests that the very greatest—the noblest and bravest—may yield to death sooner than others.
Similarly, The Iliad recognizes, and repeatedly reminds its readers, that the creations of mortals have a mortality of their own. The glory of men does not live on in their constructions, institutions, or cities. The prophecy of Calchas, as well as Hector’s tender words with Andromache and the debates of the gods, constantly remind the reader that Troy’s lofty ramparts will fall. But the Greek fortifications will not last much longer. Though the Greeks erect their bulwarks only partway into the epic, Apollo and Poseidon plan their destruction as early as Book 12. The poem thus emphasizes the ephemeral nature of human beings and their world, suggesting that mortals should try to live their lives as honorably as possible, so that they will be remembered well. For if mortals’ physical bodies and material creations cannot survive them, perhaps their words and deeds can. Certainly the existence of Homer’s poem would attest to this notion.
More main ideas from The Iliad