Essay about The Iliad

Essay about The Iliad

Length: 3589 words (10.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Iliad is not about the Trojan War; that war lasted ten years and the central actions of the poem occupy only a few weeks. War brutalizes men and women, wounds their bodies and minds, enslaves and kills them. This is Homer's message as he focuses on one hero, Achilleus, to demonstrate wrath's destruction of self and others. Achilleus' moral journey in the Iliad brings him face to face with his own humanity, leading him to a startling and essentially unheroic act of generosity toward his enemy. When he gives Priam the dead and mutilated body of Hektor, Achilleus stands for a few moments on the threshold of a different civilization, as Homer shows wrath dissolved through compassion, and human feeling overcoming the stringent heroic code of conformity.

A hero is one who willingly and eagerly confronts death, and three Greek words embody the heroic code: aristos, arete, and aristeia. Aristos is being the best at whatever is called for by the situation: in wartime, killing; in peacetime, husbandry; in seamanship, steering. To be known as the best requires aristeia--exploits which gain for the warrior the prestige of having comrades consider him possessed of arete, merit. Arete can only be bestowed by others, not by self. In the world of the Iliad what the world thinks of you is far more important than what you think of yourself. Indeed, it is what you think of yourself. Fame and glroy, kleos, can only be achieved through action. This is why the withdrawal of Achilleus from the battle is such a devastating decision: without exploits he has no identity and can only sit in his shelter singing about fame and glory instead of achieving it. Achilleus is no longer aristos, the best of the Achaians, when Agamemnon succeeds in depriving ...


... middle of paper ...


...symbolic King of Hades.

Priam enters alone, falls to the ground, clasps the knees and kisses the hands of Achilleus. Moved by the tears of the groaning father, the hero of the Iliad weeps at the thought of his own father's devastation had the body of Achilleus lain on a battlefield to be ravaged by wild dogs and vultures. As Priam and Achilleus shed tears of sadness and loss in recognition of their common human condition, Achilleus, in a heroic thrust through the heroic code, agrees to return the body of Hektor, slayer of his dear friend and companion Patroklos. The days of wrath thus end with a compassionate human rather than heroic gesture.

Source Citation: Gray, Wallace, "Homer: `Iliad'," in his Homer to Joyce, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985, pp. 1-16. DISCovering Authors. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Thomson Gale. 24 October 2005

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Epic Of The Iliad Essay

- The Iliad, one of Homer’s Epics, was written about a ten year war between the city of Troy and the Greek city-states. This great poem, still somewhat prevalent today in modern society, is the tale of the Trojan War. Recently the epic was recreated into a two hour film loaded with historical inaccuracies, although in some instances, does follow the Iliad fairly well. Some of the mistakes made by Hollywood are minor details, such as when the Trojans brought the gigantic wooden horse into the city of Troy....   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles, Odyssey]

Powerful Essays
1476 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about Review Of ' The Iliad '

- Hon·or [/ˈänər/], noun: good quality or character as judged by other people; a high regard or respect; personal integrity; reputation or privilege. The notion of honor is prevalent in the epic poem The Iliad. In The Iliad, Homer (a famous Greek author) expresses the quintessence honor brings to the Greek and Trojan soldiers. He shows how honor is a requirement for one who wants to be a hero and describes the extent to which honor plays a role in the lives of the Greeks and the Trojans. The warriors ' goal of honor influences how they behave in the story and shows the impact honor has on each of their decisions....   [tags: Iliad, Trojan War, Achilles, Homer]

Powerful Essays
1184 words (3.4 pages)

The Iliad And The Inferno Essay

- The times are in constant motion, and as a result the times always changing. Not only do life styles change over time, but peoples worldviews change from generation to generation. Looking back to the past, as scholars of history, we can see these worldview changes. The Iliad and the Inferno represent both radically different and strikingly similar concepts of the world with different aspects, such as society and religion, at their respective times. By investigating these works, one can begin to gain deeper knowledge of the history of mankind....   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles, Homer]

Powerful Essays
1012 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The Iliad And The Odyssey

- Can two things ever truly be exactly the same. When it comes to epic heroes, I’m not sure. In both the Iliad and the Odyssey, written by Homer and translated by Robert Fagles, the journey of two epic heroes are depicted for us. Achilles, hero of the book The Iliad, is fighting in the Trojan War. Odysseus, hero of the book The Odyssey, is simply fighting to get home. Although both the epic heroes are put through some of the same very tough and difficult situations, it doesn’t mean they are quite the same person....   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles, Odyssey]

Powerful Essays
1901 words (5.4 pages)

The Iliad And The Odyssey Essay

- The Iliad and The Odyssey are epic poems written by Homer, telling the stories of the heroes: Akhilleus, the strongest man in the Akhaian army, fighting in the Trojan War, and Odysseus, the cleverest man in the army, who is trying to get home after that war. The gods often intervene, shaping the lives of the characters. Divine intervention in The Iliad and The Odyssey exists to characterize the statuses of the mortals and the gods. The gods remind the mortals of their power over them through divine intervention, elevating the statuses of the gods and reinforcing their superiority....   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Odyssey, Poseidon]

Powerful Essays
894 words (2.6 pages)

The Iliad And The Odyssey Essay

- Writers of history often have the habit of pulling out one’s rose-tinted glasses to fondly write of times long past. Homer was the Greek leading man of this. Homer most famous works are The Iliad and The Odyssey, both epics of famous mythological Greek heroes. Homer first wrote The Iliad some time in the eighth century BC about the Trojan War. The real Trojan War was in the thirteen century. The time gap between the actual event and books only proves the level of nostalgia Homer applies to his writings....   [tags: Trojan War, Achilles, Iliad, Apollo]

Powerful Essays
763 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on The Iliad, By Homer

- Throughout Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, the gods resemble and take on human characteristics. 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 certain attributes that provide reason for their behavior, while the gods flow with this, allowing humans freely make their own choices....   [tags: Iliad, Trojan War, Hera, Zeus]

Powerful Essays
1039 words (3 pages)

Essay The Iliad, By Homer

- The communist government in China has many of the Chinese citizens convinced that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is not controlling them. Some citizens believe that the CCP are honorable leaders, and the people who revolt against the government are foolish. In reality, the people who revolt are the heroes trying to save their country, and the leaders are corrupt, power-hungry, cruel people. The real hero does not always get the acknowledgement he deserves; sometimes the nemesis is mistakenly believed to be the hero....   [tags: Iliad, Achilles, Greek mythology, Apollo]

Powerful Essays
1849 words (5.3 pages)

Essay on Women of the Iliad

- Women of the Iliad In the Iliad we saw women as items of exchange and as markers of status for the men who possessed them (Chryseis and Briseis, whom Agame mnon and Achilles argue over in Book I). We saw them in their normal social roles as mothers and wives (Hecuba, Andromache in Book VI). We saw stereotypical characterizations of them as fickle (Helen in Book VI), seductive, and deceitful (Hera in Book XIV). We see them as an obstacle that the male hero has to overcome or resist to fulfill his heroic destiny (Andromache's entreaties to Hector in Book VI)....   [tags: Homer Women Iliad]

Free Essays
1237 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on The Iliad's Ending

- Homer's Iliad is commonly understood as an epic about the Trojan War, but its meaning goes deeper than that. The Iliad is not only a story of the evolution of Achilleus' persona, but at times it is an anti-war epic as well. The final book proposes many questions to the reader. Why not end with the killing of Hektor. Most stories of war conclude with the triumphant victory of good over evil, but in the Iliad, the final thoughts are inclined to the mourning of the defeated Hektor, which accentuates the fact that good has not triumphed over evil, but simply Achilleus triumphed over Hektor....   [tags: Homer Iliad Analysis]

Powerful Essays
908 words (2.6 pages)