The Iliad is a heroic epic poem, which depicts the events of the Trojan war. As discussed in class it was written by Homer, a significant ancient Greek poet sometime in the 8th century BC. The story appears to take place in the 13th century BC, yet mirrors the standard of living of the Dark Age (Early Iron Age).1 There are assumptions made in Book 9 of The Essential Iliad about proper human behavior, specifically about proper behavior during time of war; pertaining to warriors. It was assumed that warriors would conduct themselves in a particular manner, according to what was proper. Assumptions about proper behavior were made about the following: glory, honor, gifts, friends, the gods, women, and the public.
Obtaining glory during war was to be one of the main objectives for a warrior. Glory was important to a warrior, if they had obtained it was expected they acted accordingly to keep it. On page 56, line 193 Achilles “sang the glories of heroes in war.” Achilles himself was a hero, he was singing praise to those who had obtain glory. When cities were successfully raided heroes could loot them and and return with heirlooms, a way to demonstrate the glory they had earned.2 Achilles declares to his friends “my glory will be undying forever,” if he chooses to fight.3 He declared he would nevertheless set sail the following day, his friends were bewildered he would do so; since he would be forgoing the glory they considered so important as warriors.
The honor of a warrior was to be held in high regard. Honor was important, which was why Achilles friends: Odysseus, Phoenix, and Ajax partially understood Achilles ire, and refusal to return to battle. They do insist though that he “control [his] proud spirit,” in order to have the Greeks honor him.4 Being honored by the people was a goal the warriors had set out to complete. Achilles goes on to complain that Agamemnon was offering “everything except the prize of honor.”5 His friend counter by explaining to him that if he would forgo the gifts being offered, should he chose to enter battle later the honor would be less; whether he succeeded or not. The Achaeans honored Achilles as if he were a god, by refusing the gifts his honor was diminishing.6 They were attempting to make him see reason, he was behaving in ways that were not proper for a warrior.
If a warrior was insulted gifts were to be used to appease them. Agamemnon offered Achilles gifts,7 but to Achilles they were nothing which was contrary to proper behavior.8 Phoenix tells him he would not ask Achilles to forget his anger if Agamemnon had not offered gifts, but because he does Achilles should not scorn his friends; he is explaining what is considered to be proper during such circumstances.9 Agamemnon fulfilled his duty by offering Achilles the gifts, in return he was to accept them and fight; yet he chose to not do so which was seen as incorrect.
Friends were expected to be important in a warriors life, and it was to be shown. When...