In the Iliad, it is important to recognize the unique personality traits and morals that the numerous characters encompass. While there is a wide variety in strengths, weaknesses, and values, the characters can clearly be divided into two starkly different groups. One being the mortals and the other being the immortals. This divide is caused by the mortals’ fear of death and loss of family, as opposed to the immortals’ disregard for those concerns due to their deathlessness.
The treatment of family members among the gods generally involves actions and conversations that are crass, vengeful, or selfish. There is no sense of protection or an undying, unconditional love between relatives. Instead, the gods view each other as obstacles and have little concern about how they impact one another (1. 594-600). These immortal characters also threaten and carry out physical harm to one another as if it were commonplace. The lack of respect is seen time and time again, emphasizing the absence of family values (8. 12-30). There is little sincerity shown between immortals because all of their interactions are a facade for an ulterior motive. The gods use their beguiling charm on one another, only to get ahead in superficial and egocentric ways. Power and control are far superior in the eyes of the gods, because they know that no matter what they say or do to their family, they will always be there.
Unlike those that dwell in Olympus, the mortals demonstrate the immense significance of their loved ones. The Trojans and Greeks would do anything to protect their families, including go to war and suffer innumerable losses. As aggressive and heartless as the warriors seem on the battlefield, their softer sides are revealed when their family is involved (6. 484-490). Family is a very inclusive word for the Achaeans and Trojans, also referring to caretakers and close friends (9. 498-508). These warriors would do anything to keep their loved ones safe, including give their own lives. Any time that was spent with family was considered precious by mortals and in the midst of fear and devastation caused by the war, those cherished moments were all the warriors and their kin had to hold on to. This is because they recognize how short and unpredictable life is, especially in the middle of wartime when there is a high risk of dying at any given moment. This is a clear representation of why gods and mortals are so different. The idea that one doesn’t know what they have until it is gone rings true to humans, still to this day. Immortals in the poem take advantage of their relatives because they never knew loss the way a human could.
Death and family have a strong correlation for the mortals, leaving them to struggle against Fate and time in order to return to their loved ones (1. 437-441). Unfortunately for the...