Glory In The Iliad Essay

929 words - 4 pages

“Then the screaming and shouts of triumph rose up together, of men killing and men killed, and the ground ran blood.” From first examination the Iliad seems to be an epic founded on an idealized form of glory, the kind that young boys think about when they want to join the army. A place full of heroism and manliness where glory can be achieved with a few strokes of a sword and then you go home and everything is just lovely. Many people view the Iliad this way, based on it’s many vivid battle descriptions and apparent lack of remorse for the deaths that occur. This, however, is not how war is presented in the Iliad. Homer presents a very practical outlook on war countering the attainment of the glory with the reality of its price and the destruction it causes. He successfully does this by showing the value of the lives of each person that dies and, in a sense, mourning their passing, describing the terror and ugliness of war, and, through the characters of Achilleus and Hector, displaying the high price of glory.

The Iliad is full to the brim of epithets describing the many major and minor characters. These short descriptive titles contain themes that range from a person’s strengths to his family history. Many of the characters who receive these are only mentioned once, when they die. It lends a sense of sadness to these passings, which would have been insignificant if nothing had been known about them. In Book 4 this can be seen in the killing of a Trojan, the son of Anthemonian Simoeisios, by Aias. The scene of his death is described quite vividly as incredibly grotesque, but not until after Homer describes his family and how “he could not again render again the care of his dear parents, for he was shortlived.” Even though it is very brief, this bio tells a lot about this man who seems to have cared for his parents who would most likely miss him deeply and would definitely be hurt by his loss. In one short sentence he is transformed from a random Trojan soldier into a real person that has a real dignity. This dignity is further expressed in his death, he is described to have fallen as strong tree felled to make a “fine wrought” chariot. As chariots were not exactly a dime a dozen and with the technology of the time took lots of energy and time to make, it can be assumed that this would not be any old tree, but a strong dignified tree. This is significant because Homer takes the time to describe him as a significant person, even though in reality one soldier seems rather insignificant compared to...

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