The Created and Existent Gods in Homer’s Iliad Essay

The Created and Existent Gods in Homer’s Iliad Essay

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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. These created gods are abstract and represent only the single phenomenon that Homer attributes to them. The Olympian gods, on the other hand, are existent deities whose actions go beyond the phenomena attributed to them by the Greeks. Homer, therefore, uses the Olympians to explain numerous phenomena.
In Homer’s Iliad, the goddess Strife appears only at times of war. In book 11, Homer says, “Strife took her stand, raising her high-pitched cry,/ great and terrible, lashing the fighting-fury/ in each Achaean's heart-no stopping them now” (Homer 11.11-13). Strife appears here as a motivator for the Achaean army to continue fighting. Again we see her “[hurl] down the leveler Hate amidst both sides,/ wading into the onslaught, flooding men with pain” during the battle (Homer, 4.515-516). There are moments, however, when Homer does not anthropomorphize Strife, and plainly uses the word strife, such as when Zeus reprimands Ares: “Always dear to your heart,/ strife, yes, and battles, the bloody grind of war” (Homer 5.1031-1032). In this instance, Homer does not attribute any human characteristics to Strife, indicating that she is a created deity and not an existent one like the Olympians. ...


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...ey were immortal beings in human form with human emotions that affect their actions.
It is clear that Homer divides the gods into the created abstract gods, and the existent Olympian gods. The function of one group of gods differs from that of the other. Whereas the abstract gods are present in the Iliad in order to explain the natural forces that are attributed to them, the Olympian gods are characters that represent and explain a whole lot more. Rather than explain only the natural forces attributed to them, these gods also explain the unnatural and more magical occurrences of the war. The Olympian gods are not anthropomorphized concepts that the other gods and warriors can take advantage of. Instead, the Olympians are anthropomorphized beings who are capable of doing much more than the forces attributed to them and whose emotions often affect these actions.


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