Essay about How Ethical Are The Gods In The Iliad?

Essay about How Ethical Are The Gods In The Iliad?

Length: 1737 words (5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Ethics and morality are synonymous terms, both meaning customs in their original languages, Greek and Latin respectively. However, the Greek term “ethics” also implies character as opposed to its Latin counterpart referring to social customs. Ethike is descended from ethikos which, in turn from ethos which means character or nature. Ethos is the fundamental and distinctive characteristic of a group within its social context or period of time, typically expressed in its attitudes, habits or beliefs. Thus the ethical nature of the gods can be explored in two ways, from an Ancient Greek perspective, and from a modern perspective.

However, this exploration from two perspectives violates the term ethical as it should be “a universal system of moral principles and values “ applicable through actions perpetrated by humans. However, absolute standards are unobtainable and conditional upon the society and time in which they are conceived. Another definition suggests that to be ethical is “to conform to accepted standards consistent with the agreed principles of correct moral conduct”. Conversely, until Aristotle, there were no “agreed principles for moral conduct” thus the term ethical cannot be used within the context of Homers society. We can, however examine the role the gods have to play in the Iliad and examine the relationship between the immortal and mortal to ascertain an “ethical” framework of the poem.

Where does our ethical view come from? If it is within us, as part of our “soul” our precondition of being human then it should be universal regardless of the elapsing centuries and societies, especially if a belief in an ultimate creator is entertained. Indeed, if we believe that this creator is eternal and that he/she bestows our souls, then the idea of eternal souls immediately becomes more viable as they are made of the essence of this creator. By soul I mean the spiritual awareness, the essence of an individual. Indeed the idea of karma-a Sanskrit term meaning action in terms of cause and effect has consequences for the idea of an eternal soul as it has to live with the consequences forever. This in turn creates responsibility upon the individual in the form of freewill. This metaphysical principle is essential to the idea of ethics as we are presented with the awareness of alternatives thus, choice. The gods in the Iliad, however, are not concerned ...


... middle of paper ...


...belief in his literary creations.

By the ethical standards proposed in the modern day society (Hume and Schopenhaeur believe that it is a fundamental mistake to conceive ethics and morality as forms of law) through human rights groups and even, idealistically, human nature, the treatment of mortals by the immortal gods and goddesses in the Iliad is unethical and wrong despite the “helping” of Achilles by Athene or Hector by Apollo. The gods are perpetrators in the waging of war against their male/female counterpart deities- their mortal counterparts merely fighting for them by proxy. The behaviour of the gods cannot be condoned as ethical even in context of the Homeric ages- their behaviour is depicted by Homer as amoral and uncaring. Plato developed religion in the true sense of the word, as a consequence of behaviour not in accordance with the human soul. As mentioned, the gods do not perform a perfunctory role of “gods” with religious hindsight. However, religion is “morality touched by emotion” (Matthew Arnold) and with no standards set for behaviour by the immortal beings the characters within the Iliad, mortal or immortal cannot be expected to indulge in ethical behaviour.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Religion and Ethics in Homer’s Iliad Essay

- The Importance of Religion and Ethics in The Iliad     Homer clearly and precisely depicts the religion and the ethics of the Achian and Trojan societies in The Iliad. During the time of the Trojan war, religion played an important role in the societies. Sacrifice, prayer, and rituals were all equally significant, and the superiority of the gods and the fates above humans was a standard of society. The gods were sacred deities to whom one had to bestow honor and respect. Within the society, honor, glory, and fame were desperately sought by warriors striving to achieve enduring notoriety....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Free Essays
931 words (2.7 pages)

Iliad by Homer Essay

- What is a hero, and what is a true hero. In the Greek society, as perceived in Homer’s Iliad, to be a hero is to be “publicly recognized for one's valour on the battlefield” and to have a prize with it (Sale). In other words, a hero is someone who fights for his own fame and glory. However, the modern perception of a hero is quite different. A hero is someone who do not endeavor to become a hero, but someone who act in admirable ways, often for the better of everyone else. The modern concept of heroism is what defines a true hero....   [tags: greek, hero, true hero]

Strong Essays
1229 words (3.5 pages)

The Created and Existent Gods in Homer’s Iliad Essay

- The ancient Greeks used the gods to explain the extraordinary and unusual events of the world around them. The ancient Greek world accepted these gods as anthropomorphic representations of natural forces and phenomena. Moreover, some gods were seen as actual people whose supernatural abilities gave them control over these natural forces. Homer’s Iliad is a prime example of these two different interpretations of the gods. In this epic, Homer anthropomorphizes some phenomena, thus creating deities in order to explain some of the events of the Trojan War....   [tags: Greek, Classics, Olympian Gods]

Strong Essays
2319 words (6.6 pages)

The Dual Role of Gods in The Iliad Essay

- The Dual Role of Gods in The Iliad      With even a cursory exposure to ancient Greek texts, it is obvious that the gods and goddesses are very important in traditional Greek culture. As literary figures in mythos and specific poetry and drama, the gods dabble in the life of man, predict his fate, and routinely thwart any attempt for him to entirely forge his own future. But for those of us who are not extensively schooled in antiquities, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the gods are to the ancient Greeks, and what they are to us as readers of literature who live outside the culture....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Strong Essays
1147 words (3.3 pages)

The Role of the Gods in Homer's The Iliad Essay

- The Role of the Gods in Homer's The Iliad "We everlasting gods....Ah what chilling blows we suffer-thanks to our own conflicting wills-whenever we show these mortal men some kindness." This exert clearly states what kind of authority Homer has bestowed on his Gods. John Porter said," their constant interference in the lives of the mortals, which seems to cast them in the role of malicious puppeteers, while reducing Homer's heroes to mere pawns in a selfish and often rather petty divine game of one-upmanship." I found it to be quite disturbing imagining these characters fighting in such a mercilous war, giving every ounce of strength they had, and in an instance, all of their efforts could...   [tags: Iliad essays]

Strong Essays
536 words (1.5 pages)

The Gods in Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey Essay

- 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]

Strong Essays
1407 words (4 pages)

Essay on Intervention Of Gods And Gods

- ... Zeus is the only exception to this; he makes judgement calls as to the other gods’ involvement in the war. Even when his own son Sarpedon, was about to die, Zeus chose to let the event go on unaltered (although he is mainly persuaded by Hera to allow this to happen). On the other hand, Hera displayed some of the more typical actions of the gods. After Paris judged Aphrodite the fairest over Hera, she was angry at and resentful towards the Trojan people, and sought revenge through her actions during the war....   [tags: Iliad, Trojan War, Achilles, Greek mythology]

Strong Essays
798 words (2.3 pages)

The Iliad, by Homer Essay

- In Homer's epic Iliad, the poet emphasizes the control of the gods in the war he describes. He creates literary devices around these well-known deities to illustrate their role in the action, conveying to his audience that this war was not just a petty conflict between two men over a woman, but a turbulent, fiery altercation amongst the gods. To an audience which had likely lost their fathers, brothers, or husbands to the Trojan War, it would be a welcome relief to hear that the whole affair was orchestrated by the gods, and that the deaths of their loved ones were inevitable and honorable....   [tags: Role of Gods, Control]

Strong Essays
841 words (2.4 pages)

The Relationships of Fate, the Gods, and Man in "The Iliad" Essay

- One of the most compelling topics The Iliad raises is that of the intricate affiliations between fate, man and the gods. Many events related by Homer in his epic poem exhibit how these three connections interweave and eventually determine the very lives of the men and women involved in the war. Homer leaves these complex relationships slightly unclear throughout the epic, never spelling out the exact bonds connecting men's fate to the gods and what can be considered the power of fate. The motivation for the ambiguousness present in The Iliad is not easily understood, but it is a question that enriches and helps weave an even greater significance of the results into Homer's masterpiece....   [tags: World Literature]

Strong Essays
1440 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about Iliad

- The Iliad and The Odyssey are two epic poems with both similar and different styles to the structure of the poems, as well as each poem having the same gods incorporated into the stories intervening with the day to day lives of the mortals. Greek poetry before Homer was all composed orally; therefore it is assumed that Homer’s works are the first written works of art (Joachim Latacz, page 15). Scholars who have spent extensive time researching the origin of Homer’s work cannot verify a specific time the Iliad and the Odyssey were written (Latacz, 24)....   [tags: Greek, Odyssey, Gods]

Strong Essays
1250 words (3.6 pages)