Essay on The Iliad's Ending

Essay on The Iliad's Ending

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Homer's Iliad is commonly understood as an epic about the Trojan War, but its meaning goes deeper than that. The Iliad is not only a story of the evolution of Achilleus' persona, but at times it is an anti-war epic as well. The final book proposes many questions to the reader. Why not end with the killing of Hektor? Most stories of war conclude with the triumphant victory of good over evil, but in the Iliad, the final thoughts are inclined to the mourning of the defeated Hektor, which accentuates the fact that good has not triumphed over evil, but simply Achilleus triumphed over Hektor. Ending with the mourning of Hektor also brings to center stage for the first time the human side of war and the harsh aftermath of it. We see that war not only brings great glory, but also much suffering and anguish. Homer puts his anti-war views on display.
Homer drives home the bleakness and hopelessness of war with his final book. When thinking of a war, the first thought to pop into one's head is most likely death and suffering, not great triumph and glory. For a great majority of the Iliad, however, Homer writes about the winning of glory, and the pride taken in killing a foe. This gives war an entertainment value, and makes it seem that it is a good opportunity to be fighting in a war. This is not the case whatsoever. With the mourning over the prestigious Hektor, it makes the reader realize that no matter how much glory is attained through battle, the fact remains that you are fighting a war and your life expectancy sub sequentially drops dramatically. The sadness that war creates is neglected for much of the Iliad, but in book twenty-four, the point is emphasized thoroughly. Beginning with the speech of Kassandra to the Trojan people,...

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...den tone, and despite all the fame and greatness Hektor has acquired, all is lost in Troy, as a result of his death. Homer must be portraying an anti-war attitude here, otherwise he would surely end the play with the triumph of Achilleus, or the victory of the Argives over Troy. If he had positive or even neutral thoughts about war, he would end with and upbeat triumph, but he does not. The final book makes the Iliad out to be a tragedy, which is exactly what Homer thought war was, an unnecessary tragedy. The point that Homer wants to get across with his final book is that all the action and all the fighting that went on for all those years is not something to be proud of, for it ruined multitudes of lives. The extreme agony and woe only help to show that Homer believes that the positives of war could never encompass all the sorrow and negative consequences of war.

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