Essay on The Horrors of War Exposed in Homer's Iliad

Essay on The Horrors of War Exposed in Homer's Iliad

Length: 1365 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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.

He sank on the spot, hunched in his dear companion's arms,

Gasping his life out as he writhed along the ground

Like an earthworm stretched out in death, blood pooling,

Soaking the earth dark red.  Hardy Paphlagonians,

Working over him, hoisting him onto a chariot,

Bore him back to the sacred walls of Troy...

Deep in grief while his father, weeping freely,

Walked beside them now.  No blood-price came his way.

Not for his son who breathed his last in battle." -Homer, The Iliad;  book 13, page 362, lines 742-760



            Homer, perhaps one of the greatest epic writers of all time, was a master in the art of manipulating the emotions of his audience using only the written word.  This passage, however, seems somewhat atypical of his writing style.  Strangely enough, he does not even once laud the beauty of war or the concept of kleos, which is a Greek term meaning glory and renown.  This is highly out of the ordinary for Homer, who seems to admire the manly feats of arms and courage that he perceives stem from war-like pur...

... middle of paper ...

...r, he is telling a truly epic tale.  Many elements hold constant throughout the poem, so much so that Homer has been said to use his "stock" tactics to the extent that his story becomes almost formulaic in nature.  In some cases, Homer strays from his normal style in favor of tangents that at times contradict his views on warfare, as in this case of young Harpalion.  These rare passages are enough to give one pause, and are certainly worthy of note in that they not only enliven the story but also serve to maintain the attention of the audience through sheer force of contrast.  This sad tale of a young man cut down in his prime might have been only a passing, fleeting glimpse into the horrors of war, but nevertheless it is a good reminder that war is not glorious as it is in the old is ugly and brutal, stomach-turning and heart-breaking.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

War Photograph and War Photographer Essays

- “Feeling sorry for her”. Kate Daniels uses the iconic photo of the child, hurt in a napalm attack on a Vietnam village who is screaming in pain and fear, to show the extent of the suffering that innocent civilians have to go through in war time. She wants people to be aware of the pain and to show what the reality is like for them in the war, focusing on the horrors in particular. The poem uses this to instil emotions such as sympathy and compassion but also to make people feel appalled by the war....   [tags: Horrors of War]

Strong Essays
2260 words (6.5 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Homer 's ' The Iliad '

- In historical times, war was viewed as glorious, especially during the medieval era, as depicted in countless novels and narratives with which fighters were portrayed as heroic and brave. Contrary to this viewpoint, modern civilization sees war as an orgy of destruction that despite sometimes being necessary demolishes entire cultures and puts families into disarray and ruin. Within the Iliad, Homer incorporates these two conflicting viewpoints into a complex and deep attitude towards war. In the historical epic, Homer reveals the devastation that fighting inflicts on soldiers both physically and emotionally, and he depicts the grief and sorrows of the families of soldiers killed during the...   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Homer, Achilles]

Strong Essays
1498 words (4.3 pages)

The Iliad By Robert Fagles Essay

- The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles, is the bloody story of the clash between the Trojans and the Achaeans. The epic poem narrates the brutal war as a test of heroism and manliness. Pride and misunderstanding are woven into the battle like the threads of a macabre tapestry. In the story of the Iliad, it seems that human beings are cruelly slaughtered for the sake of gore and glory. Fagles describes the senseless slaughter after a long battle in book four, line 629, “That day ranks of Trojans, ranks of Achaeans fighters sprawled there side by side, facedown in the dust.” Both the Achaeans and the Trojans suffered immensely....   [tags: Homer, Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles]

Strong Essays
1138 words (3.3 pages)

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]

Strong Essays
1476 words (4.2 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]

Strong 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]

Strong 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]

Strong Essays
894 words (2.6 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]

Strong Essays
1039 words (3 pages)

Essay on Private Motivations for War in The Iliad

- Private Motivations for War in The Iliad       Wars are often complex in nature and are fought for diverse reasons. In the Iliad, powerful gods, great nations, and heroic people all fight for different reasons.  Each has private motivations to fight the war.  These private motivations are of special interest, because they help define the consequences and outcomes of the war.  The universal war of the gods, social war of the Greeks and Trojans, and the war for Achilles' honor are private motivations of the Trojan war.  These private motivations seem to influence and shape each other in many distinct ways....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Strong Essays
1082 words (3.1 pages)

Various Perspectives on War in Homer's Iliad Essay example

- Various Perspectives on War in Homer's Iliad         The Iliad is a story of rages of Achilles and the War of Troy. Thanks to the techniques of the author, Homer, The Iliad is very colorful, romantic, and it makes the readers imagine the ancient Greeks and their times of war. Homer is believed to be the author of epics other than the Iliad, although their authorship remains uncertain. Historian believes that Homer probably lived in the eighth century, B.C.1 (Discovering World History)....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Strong Essays
1880 words (5.4 pages)