"So the immortals spun our lives that we, wretched men / live on to bear such torments...." (The Iliad bk.24, ln.613-614) This pessimistic explanation of the human condition was a tradition observed and preserved by the ancient Greeks through the composition of Homer's Iliad. This one statement, made by the godlike Achilles to King Priam in the last chapter of the work, provides the reader a contextual summary of what the Greeks believed was their role in the cosmos. Homer's Iliad, among many other themes contained in the poem, “is an anthropocentric epic exposing the ancient Greek's views about man and his relationships”(Clarke 129). Homer demonstrates both the pious and customary behaviors, as well as the impious and rebellious, to illustrate the amicable and adversarial relationships of man. Few relationships composed by Homer are exclusively one or the other. Through the composition, Homer muses the relationships between man and fate, man and the gods, and between man and his kind (dominate, subordinate and equal). All of these intricately woven relationships share one common thread; they bring to bear torment on man's life.
Man's bind with fate is not straight-forward according to Homer. Though destiny is never overridden in the poem, it is tempted many times, either by the gods wishing to intervene on behalf of their favorite mortals, or by man himself. Zeus contemplates tempting fate when the predestined death of his son Sarpedon arrives at the hands of Patroclus. Zeus mourns the "cruel fate" and laments, "My heart is torn in two....Shall I pluck him up, now, while he is still alive...? Or beat him down at Patroclus' hands at last?" (bk.16, ln.514-21). Because of the protestations of Hera, Zeus bows to the...
... middle of paper ...
...ods and their fellow man. And it was through these challenges that the torments bore on their lives. This was the fate of the human condition. "And fate? No man alive has ever escaped it" (bk.6, ln.582).
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bespaloff, Rachel. On the Iliad. Trans. Mary McCarthy. New York: Pantheon Books, 1947.
Clarke, Howard. Homer's Readers: A Historical Introduction to the Iliad and the Odyssey. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1981.
Goodrich, Norma. Myths of the hero. New York: Orion Press, 1962.
Homer: Iliad. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.
Richardson, Nicholas. The Iliad : A Commentary. Vol. VI: books 21-24. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1993.
Willcock, Malcolm M. A Companion to the Iliad: Based on the Translation by Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- There are different forms and examples of exemplary and classic literature which have been deemed as significant works that are highly esteemed worldwide. These examples of literature would awe the world with how much literary skill they entailed when they were composed and written: attention to details as to formation of characters, the most crafty of plots, the most eloquent speeches and lines, the most astounding of twists of scenes, and most of all, the most universal and meaningful of themes.... [tags: Honor, Homer, Iliad]
2018 words (5.8 pages)
- The Epic Education of Achilles in Homer's The Iliad Dr. Fly’s comments: This paper was well-organized and developed; the thesis was argued in a logical fashion; material from primary and secondary sources was well-documented and integrated smoothly into the text; the author’s style was clear, with varied and sophisticated sentence structures and concrete vocabulary; and the paper demonstrated excellent command of grammar and mechanics. Within the annals of epic literature, the celebrated role of "epic hero" has always been present, heralding the poem's themes through the actions of a single, extraordinary protagonist.... [tags: Iliad Essays]
2275 words (6.5 pages)
- The gods and goddesses that the Greek people believe in make up the Greek mythology studied today. These divine characters represent a family living on Mount Olympus who intervene frequently in the lives of the human characters in Greek plays. They are omnipresent, for they are always observing mans actions and working through human nature. The gods are a higher power, and provide explanations for otherwise unexplainable events. The gods help humans in trouble and give them guidance about the future. The Olympians influence men on earth both psychologically and physically. In Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, the intervention of such divine powers as Athena,... [tags: Iliad essays]
2014 words (5.8 pages)
- The Gods in Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey The stories told in the Iliad and Odyssey are based on stories handed down over several generations, for they preserve (as we have seen) memories of an already quiet far distant past. The two pomes show clear connection in their language and style, in the manner in which their incidents presented, and in the combination of agreement with level, which distinguish their creation. The work was written by one author but gave two diverse views on the nature of the Olympian Gods, their relationship to humankind, and the general lot of mortals throughout their all too brief lives.... [tags: Homer The Iliad The Odyssey]
1407 words (4 pages)
- The Mysterious Homer, Author of The Odyssey and The Iliad A sketchy figure by the name of Homer is given credit for the two great epic poems of ancient Greece. The Odyssey and The Iliad influenced Greek culture, education, and morality. Little is known about Homer and many scholars question whether he existed at all. (Encarta) Some say two different unknown authors wrote the two poems. (Britannica) Others say that many oral poets were responsible for the finished products. (Britannica) In this report I will discuss the theories that support the existence of an author named Homer.... [tags: Homer]
675 words (1.9 pages)
- The Role Of Zeus in Homer's Iliad In the era of Homer, divine intervention was thought to be typical, and one of his foremost works, The Iliad, reflects this. Nearly all of the Greek gods are involved in the outcome of the Trojan War, which happens to be the background story of this epic poem. The gods are used by Homer to add twists on an otherwise standard plot of war. I shall concentrate on Zeus, however, and reflect on his actions and their outcomes on the Trojan War, and more importantly, the story of The Iliad.... [tags: Iliad essays]
1952 words (5.6 pages)
- The Character Achilles in Homer's The Iliad "The first book of The Iliad, appropriately titled the "Rage of Achilles," sets the scene for the remainder of the epic" (selu.edu/Academics/Depts/WritingCenter/The_Growth_of_Achilles.htm). "This rage is invoked by pride, a theme of pivotal importance for the Greeks. Pride is the source of the conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in Book 1. The incident that provoked Achilles rage took place in the tenth and final year of the Achaean attack on Troy.... [tags: Iliad essays]
979 words (2.8 pages)
- Hector is the True Hero of Iliad In today's society, a man's mind is his most important tool. In the past, however, a man's courage and strength is all that he had to keep him alive. In Homer's Iliad, courage is valued over honesty and even faithfulness to one's wife. If a hero is the most courageous man in the bunch, then Hector is more heroic than Achilles and King of the Myrmidons. Hector is the true hero of Homer's Iliad. Although Achilles and Hector are both leaders of men, Hector leads with a mature sense that gives his men reason to respect him.... [tags: Homer’s Iliad Essays]
2380 words (6.8 pages)
- The Message of Homer's Iliad In Homer's Iliad, Homer shows his views on heroes, villains, and war. He shows that heroes have great qualities to them and that villains have evil qualities to them. He also shows that even heroes have villainous qualities. Homer also tries to convey that all warriors have a choice between a life of war and a life of peace. Homer's view of a hero displays bravery, martial skills, and even friendship. Hector is portrayed as the perfect hero in The Iliad.... [tags: Iliad essays]
786 words (2.2 pages)
- The Horrors of War Exposed in Homer’s Iliad "There- Harpalion charged Menelaus - King Pylaemenes' son Who'd followed his father into war at Troy But he never reached his fatherland again. He closed on Atrides, spear stabbing his shield Right on the boss but the bronze could not drive through, So back he drew to his ranks, dodging death, glancing Left and right, fearing a lance would graze his flesh. But Meriones caught him in full retreat, he let fly With a bronze-tipped arrow, hitting his right buttock Up under the pelvic bone so the lance pierced the bladder.... [tags: Iliad Essays]
1365 words (3.9 pages)