The True Nature Of Man And Gods In Homer's The Iliad

analytical Essay
1083 words
1083 words

Simran Srinivasan
Ms. Mallon
8 December 2014
The True Nature of Man and Gods
Throughout Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, gods are presented as remarkably human in almost every way. While it is assumed that gods are divine entities incapable of human transgression, they are portrayed with all the flaws of mortals in The Iliad. The gods are a manifestation of human emotions consequently helping to explain the behavior of the humans in The Iliad. The actions of the heroes are what determine their fate, not divine intervention. Ultimately, the humans in The Iliad have inherent characteristics that provide the driving force behind their actions: the gods simply act in concert with them, allowing the human beings to exercise free will of …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the gods in homer's epic poem, the iliad, are remarkably human in almost every way. the actions of the heroes determine their fate, not divine intervention.
  • Analyzes how the gods in power, like zeus, exhibit bias, dishonor, betrayal, deception, and many other human characteristics.
  • Analyzes how the existence of the gods explains the different facets of human nature — they represent personality traits inherent in each individual person.
  • Analyzes how agamemnon's cultural upbringing lays the foundation for achilles' future decisions. he could have controlled his temper despite athena; his awareness of the social hierarchy would prevent him from raising a sword.
  • Analyzes how the heroes' actions in the iliad are actions of free will, rather than decisions made because of divine intervention. paris and agamemnon stand out as excessively foolish and misguided because their actions can be attributed to character flaws.
  • Analyzes how the gods in the iliad argue, forgive, and reason like the mortals; they function to explain human behavior.

The gods in power, like Zeus, exhibit bias, dishonor, betrayal, deception, and many other humanly characteristics. One memorable scene is when Zeus and Poseidon are in conflict with each other over the Achaens versus the Trojans. Zeus controls the battle by “lifting the famous runner Achilles’ glory higher,” (Homer 13: 404). Zeus plays both sides in this scene, acting like a double agent which is dishonorable. Zeus’s bias is prevalent throughout the poem; specifically, he is “bent on wiping out the Argives, down to the last man,” (Homer 12: 81-82). Just like mortals such as Agamemnon and Achilles view each other with suspicion and intolerance, the gods experience identical emotions of wariness, anger, and irritation. This human-like behavior is not restricted to Zeus. Later in the text, Hera lies to Aphrodite to use her powers to manipulate her own husband Zeus. If one looks at Hera as a heavenly entity, her reaction may not make sense, but when it is viewed as a manifestation of human emotion, it become almost reasonable. Her scheming response to Zeus’s meddling with the war is spurred by her support for the Trojans. Hera’s manipulation and Aphrodite’s ego don’t stand alone as examples of this divine humanity. These instances suggest that the deities are being presented in this unique way to help explain behavior of the humans in The …show more content…

Throughout the text, major characters seem to be at constant battle with their different emotions. This inner conflict is mirrored by the everyday conflicts between the gods. Just as Zeus and Hera are constantly at odds with one another, so are the different sides of Achilles: his cultural responsibility, pride, honor, and revenge. No one is completely at peace with his or her conflicting emotions in The Iliad – and therefore, neither are the gods, who represent these emotions. Hector is a prime example of a human who finds himself torn between two forces: his love for his growing family, and his duty as a prince of Troy. He admits to Andromache that he worries about his own mortality, but emphasizes that “I would die of shame to face the men of Troy…if I would shrink from battle now, a coward.” (Homer 6: 523, 525). Hector’s deeply ingrained sense of honor and loyalty to home is clearly established in the beginning of the text. Therefore, when Zeus later grants Hector “power to kill and kill till you cut your way to the benched ships” (Homer 11: 241-242), it is not too much of a stretch to attribute Hector’s dodged perseverance to his upbringing and rigid sense of duty, rather than to the

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