The Immortal Heroes of Homer’s Iliad Essay

The Immortal Heroes of Homer’s Iliad Essay

Length: 1412 words (4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Immortal Heroes of Homer’s Iliad

In Homer’s Iliad, a warrior can only attain heroism and immortality by embracing an early death. Jean-Pierre Vernant describes this paradox in his essay, “A ‘Beautiful Death’ and the Disfigured Corpse in Homeric Epic.” According to Vernant, heroes accept the fact that life is short and “devote themselves completely and single-mindedly to war, adventure, glory, and death” (53). 1 Curiously, this is because heroes overcome death only when they embrace it (57). The importance of death stems from the fact that the individual is defined by his reputation and esteem among others, as Vernant points out when he argues that

. . . real death lies in amnesia, silence, demeaning obscurity, the absence of fame. By contrast, real existence—for the living or the dead—comes from being recognized, valued, and honored. Above all, it comes from being glorified as the central figure in a song of praise, a story that endlessly tells and retells a destiny admired by all. (57)

He made on it a great vineyard heavy with clusters,
lovely and in gold, but the grapes upon it were darkened
and the vines themselves stood out through poles of silver. About them
he made a field-ditch of dark metal, and drove all around this
a fence of tin; and there was only one path to the vineyard,
and along it ran the grape-bearers for the vineyard’s stripping.
Young girls and young men, in all their light-hearted innocence,
carried the kind, sweet fruit away in
their woven baskets,
and in their midst a youth with a singing lyre played charmingly
upon it for them, and sang the beautiful song for Linos
in a light voice, and they followed him, and with singing and whistling
and light dance-steps of their f...

... middle of paper ...

...g death —and this is what makes a hero. Perhaps the final proof of this heroic immortality lies in the fact that the exploits of Achilleus and the other heroes of the Trojan War remain to this day the subject of passion and controversy. In this way, they have purchased a measure of fame and glory beyond anything they could have imagined. Truly, these heroes are immortal.


1 Jean-Pierre Vernant, “A ‘Beautiful Death’ and the Disfigured Corpse in Homeric Epic,” in Mortals
and Immortals: Collected Essays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991).
2 Homer, Iliad, trans. Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951), .
3 Homer, Odyssey, trans. Richard Lattimore (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1965).
4 Homer, Iliad.
5 Edith Hamilton, Mythology (New York: Mentor, 1969), 294.
6 Homer, Iliad.
7 Vernant, 60.
8 Homer, Iliad.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Femininity in Homer’s Iliad Essay

- Femininity in Homer’s Iliad In Homer’s Iliad, predominant feminine presence inspires the events of the poem and the destinies of the men involved. This feminine presence is not a product of the actions and decisions of the women in the poem, but rather a conceptual, creative feminine force without which the poem and even human life would not exist. Homer personifies this presence in nature and maintains it through the voice of the Muse, his inspiration. There is a deeper essence of a feminine presence in the poem, however, which lies in the characteristics of life itself....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Powerful Essays
1888 words (5.4 pages)

Essay on Diomedes, the True Hero of Homer’s Iliad

- Diomedes, the True Hero of The Iliad In The Iliad, written in a 3rd person omniscient point of view, Homer gives a very serious account of the tenth and last year of the Trojan War.  It was in Homer's account that the very idea of becoming a legendary hero reached its pinnacle; the choice of the better hero was not decided on the events they participated in, but rather by their characteristics.  The ancient Greeks had strict criteria for individuals to follow if they were to be seen as heroes....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Powerful Essays
1549 words (4.4 pages)

Virigil's Influence on Dante's Divine Comedy Essay

- There are many heroes in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad. Most are mortal, some immortal and some are demigods. The classic hero that may come to mind when someone has read this story might be Achilles or Odysseus. However, the greatest hero within the play is Hector. Hector is loyal to his family, the bravest Trojan warrior, and a martyr to his people. Loyalty to one’s family is not always easy, especially when ones brother brings home a wife that creates a war for two countries for several years....   [tags: Homer's The Iliad, The Eneid, Hector]

Powerful Essays
648 words (1.9 pages)

The Iliad of Homer Essay

- The Iliad Outline &explain the qualities of a “Homeric Hero”. Who best fits the bill. Why. The Homeric hero strives to be the best among his peers. His goal is to achieve the greatest glory in order to earn the highest honor from his peers, his commander, and finally from his warrior society. He strives for excellence in particular areas of human behavior, such behaviors are strength, skill, and determination. These are necessary on the both the athletic and battlefields, it is known as the idea of arete....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1430 words (4.1 pages)

Iliad Overview Essay

- An epic poem outlined by the Oxford English Dictionary says that it's a “lengthy poem, usually one derived from ancient oral custom, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the historic previous of a rustic” The aim of the poems is to know the time of antiquity during which an epic poem depicts many things and readers can derive many causes from the poems. The Iliad of Homer, throughout which several things are, derived from the compilation of twenty-4 books, models the conventional of writing an epic; Homer units the usual through compiling two of basically essentially the most nicely-identified epics of the world....   [tags: Homer, Poem Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1308 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Heoes of the Iliad and the Odyssey

- “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.” ― Sophocles, Antigone Honor is a major component of ancient Greek culture, which weaves its way through out the great epics of the time. It is perhaps the single most important entity to some of the most renowned heroes. However, the desire for honor seems to have the power to lead such famous men into the clutches of “excessive pride”, or hubris (Oxford   [tags: pride, Homer, ancient greek epic poems]

Powerful Essays
1619 words (4.6 pages)

Deus and Kleos: The Paradox of Glory in Homer's The Iliad Essay

- ... Agamemnon attempts to tempt Achilles to return to the battlefield with great treasures, land, and even the hand of one of his daughters. However, Achilles refuses to return to the battle field even “if he gave [him] ten times as much, twenty times over, all he possesses now, and all that could pour in from the world’s end” ( Book IX, line 464). Achilles values glory and honor above everything else. Agamemnon insulted his honor, and took his glory, and nothing to Achilles can replace that. When Achilles withdraws from the battlefield he pleads with his immortal mother, Thetis, to plead with Zeus to “grant the Trojans victory after victory till the Achaean armies pay my dear son back.” (Bo...   [tags: honor, battle, gods]

Powerful Essays
1108 words (3.2 pages)

Essay about Comparing the Hero in Epic of Gilgamesh and Homer's Iliad

- The Hero in Epic of Gilgamesh and the Iliad   'One and the same lot for the man who hangs back and the man who battles hard. The same honor waits for the coward and the brave. They both go down to Death, the fighter who shirks, the one who works to exhaustion.' (IX,385-88) Thus muses Achilles, one of epic poetry's greatest heroes. Epic poetry, one of the earliest forms of literature, began as an oral narration describing a series of mythical or historic events. Eventually, these stories were written down and read aloud to an audience....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
744 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about The Iliad

- 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....   [tags: World Literature]

Powerful Essays
3589 words (10.3 pages)

Essay on Main Characters in Homer's The Iliad, Achilles and Hector

- Two of the main characters in Homer’s The Iliad, Achilles and Hector, compare very differently in many ways. Although they were both war heroes, they came from different sides of the battle and fought each other under different beliefs. These two brave warriors fought to the death in Book 22, where Hector eventually lost to Achilles. Even though Hector lost the fight, the war still raged on, even less merciful than before. These two warriors were similar in a few ways, but mostly very different....   [tags: essays research papers]

Powerful Essays
604 words (1.7 pages)