Essay PreviewMore ↓
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. One's word represented a considerable commitment to be acted upon. Religion and ethics are prominently displayed in the characters throughout The Iliad due to their importance in Greek and Trojan society.
The characters' religious dedication is evident through their sacrifice, prayer, and rituals: "King Agamemnon sacrificed. . . a fat bull of five years" and prayed to Zeus for success in battle against the Trojans. Meanwhile, the Achian soldiers "pray[ed] to be spared [from] death in the maul of war." Later, when Patroclos', an Achian soldier, body is recovered, twelve noble sons of Troy are sacrificed in his funeral pyre. Sacrifices are performed to honor the gods or obtain their favor.
The Greek and Trojan societies believe that a soul remains restless and can not enter Hades until proper funeral rites are conferred. Funeral rites were paramount for those who had been killed in battle. An example of their determination to ensure a proper funeral can be found after the duel between the powerful Greek Aias and the Trojan commander Hector in Book VII. After Aias and Hector reach a stalemate in their battle, they agree to "make no battle" the next day so they can respectively "bring in our dead." Their cooperative neutrality to honor the dead demonstrated their respect for one another's fallen comrades.
Another instance of the conferral of funeral rites can be found with the death of the brave Greek combatant Patroclos. In Book XVII when Patroclos lies dead, Menelaus, the Greek king, chivalrously defends the body, "like a cow standing over her calf." When Euphorbus Panthoidês, a Trojan soldier, attempts to desecrate the body of Patroclos, Menelaus "with a prayer to Father Zeus lunge[s]" and kills Panthoidês. However, Menelaus wisely retreats when confronted by a massive Trojan Army. The Achian army commences to retrieve the body of Patroclos when Hippothoös, a Trojan soldier, starts to drag the corpse away, but the powerful Aias kills him.
How to Cite this Page
"Religion and Ethics in Homer’s Iliad." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Jul 2018
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 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)
- 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 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)
- Much of the criticism of Homer's Iliad is focused on the events of the story: the significance of the images, symbols, the role of the Greek Gods, the characters of the story. It seems that many of the critics have forgotten the very important role of Homer as the narrator of the events. His narration undermines the story. He is the medium through which the story is told. Perhaps the ambiguity of not knowing exactly who Homer is, and the fact that it was an oral story long before it was written in the form it is today, is the cause of oversight of the narrative qualities of Homer's Iliad by many critics.... [tags: Iliad essays]
1392 words (4 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)
- "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).... [tags: Iliad essays]
1545 words (4.4 pages)
- Achilles' Honor in Homer's Iliad The Greeks placed great importance on personal honor. Why is this. Is it because to them man I nothing without honor. Or is it that the honor is more important than the man. "Honor to the Greeks is something that is won by a man's prowess, his ability to fight and be victorious on the battle field"(Schein 62). This is just one example of how honor is obtained. A second method of gaining honor is to be a great orator, one must posses the ability to speak in the assembly and express his ideas eloquently, and persuasively to the gathered body.... [tags: Iliad essays]
1308 words (3.7 pages)
- Femininity in Homer’s Iliad In Homer’s Iliad, predominant feminine presence inspires the events of the poem and the destinies of the men involved. This feminine presence is not a product of the actions and decisions of the women in the poem, but rather a conceptual, creative feminine force without which the poem and even human life would not exist. Homer personifies this presence in nature and maintains it through the voice of the Muse, his inspiration. There is a deeper essence of a feminine presence in the poem, however, which lies in the characteristics of life itself.... [tags: Iliad essays]
1888 words (5.4 pages)
The characters in The Iliad are respectful of the gods until a god acts against them. The gods generally act fairly but often become partisan. When Aphrodite the goddess of wisdom and Ares, the god of war fight against the Greek soldier Diomedes in Book V, Diomedes retaliates and injures the two gods. When Achilles is fighting in the river Xanthos and the River attacks Achilles, he fights savagely, "darting like a black hunter-eagle, the strongest and the swiftest." Yet both Achilles and Diomedes remain respectful and dutiful to the other gods. The gods do not punish nor are responsible for mortals on moral grounds. Over the powers of the gods are the three Moirae (fates), who have supreme control over life and death of all mortals.
The most important goal of the Achian protagonist Achilles, the Trojan commander Hector, and all other warriors is to remain ethical while in battle, for fame in battle is the ultimate honorable achievement they can achieve. However, if they achieve glory unethically, they are a disgrace and are not respected. Achilles' bravery and glory are proven in his battle against Hector, but his thoughts are on Patroclos, his noble companion. Achilles is bound to beget revenge of Patroclos' death by moral obligation and does so with vengeance, stating, "not one [Trojan] shall escape death [for killing Patroclos]." Immediately after killing Hector, Achilles reminds the Achians that "Patroclos lies. . . unmourned, unburied!" and he proceeds to honor him. Achilles is unique in his adherence to ethics despite his frequent petulant actions. Achilles must revenge Patroclos and die in battle to be remembered as a hero. Although he regrets this decision by stating in The Odyssey, "I would rather be a plowman to a yeoman on a small holding [than be dead]." However, his sacrifice and honor to achieve fame is commended by his peers in The Iliad.
In The Iliad the Greeks and Trojans struggle to adhere to the codes of religion and ethics, of their society. The Iliad is an epic poem dedicated to the pursuit of honor and name immortality through fame by humans who are inevitably mortal. The characters make sacrifices and pray to the gods to obtain their assistance. Formal funeral rites are a necessity for dead warriors, and it is a ritual respected by both societies. Although the gods do not control the mortal's fate, they are recognized as an influential spiritual power. Even at the price of death, these codes are followed.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Adkins, A. W. H. Merit and Responsibility: A Study in Greek Values. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960.
Carpenter, Rhys. Religion in the Homeric Epics. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1946.