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The Role Of The Gods In Homer's The Iliad

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Along with politics, religion is something that everyone associates as a pillar of ancient Greek culture. The gods played an enormous role in the everyday lives of the Greeks. Although the fantastical gods of ancient Greece do not exist, the impact the gods had on the greeks was real. One of the best ways to see how the Greeks understood the role of the gods is to read stories or plays from Greek culture. Reading this popular culture of the Greeks makes it clear that the role of the gods was not always the same for everyone. Homer’s version of, The Iliad, portrays gods who have human characteristics, enormous moral influence, and take physical actions to change the course of events of the tale. In, The Iliad, the god Apollo literally flicks…show more content…
But when he came back a fourth time, like a spirit from beyond, Apollo’s voice split the daylight in two: ‘Get back, Patroclus, back where you belong. Troy is fated to fall, but not to you, more even to Achilles, a better man by far.’” (Iliad pg. 96) The passage displays how real the gods were to some Greeks. The gods were powerful, forceful, and able to take action for or against any mere mortal. The flip side of the gods is the view that they are a moral influence. A constant watcher and reminder to the Greeks: be upright and moral. This pathway of belief played an integral role in shaping the plot of Sophocles’, Antigone. The character of Antigone bases many of her actions on her beliefs that the ancient laws of the gods are more important than the laws of man. Antigone makes this bold statement whilst arguing with Creon: she says, “These laws weren’t made now or yesterday. They live for all time, and now one knows when they came into the light. No man could frighten me into taking on the god’s penalty for breaking such a law.” (Antigone pg. 21). Almost every Greek believed that religion was important, but this common belief manifested itself in different…show more content…
From the arrogance of Achilles and Agamemnon in The Iliad, to the blatant example of arrogance set by Xerxes in Herodotus’ account of the Persian War. The word the Greeks used for arrogance was hubris. Hubris embodied much more than just arrogance. Time and again, characters who had become infected with hubris took actions in defiance to the gods. To the Greeks, hubris was becoming so full of pride and arrogance that you thought of yourself as your own god. Any hubris infected person fell…and they fell hard. Hubris is something that all Greeks hated in a person, and it was often portrayed in characters through plays or stories. Herodotus made it very clear in, The Histories, that the Persian king, Xerxes, was infected with hubris. Following is a particularly outlandish display of hubris by King Xerxes after the decimation of his bridge. “Xerxes was mightily angry, and he gave orders that the Hellespont should receive three hundred lashes and that a pair of fetter should be cast into the water.” (Xerxes’ Invasion of Greece pg. 129). Herodotus made it very clear from the actions of Xerxes that hubris had infected his thinking. Not only did hubris cause him to give irrational commands, the Persian’s also lost the war. The Persian loss to Greece fulfilled the words of Artabanus to Xerxes, “Do you see how the god hurls his lightning at the outsized beast and stops their
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