The Struggle Amongst The Gods In The Homer’s Iliad

1407 words - 6 pages

Throughout the Iliad there are several repeating themes, the most prominent of which are conflict, and divine intervention. In Homer’s Iliad there is rarely any action taken by any character that isn’t driven to achieve an immortal’s interest, and there is rarely another immortal that isn’t trying to achieve the exact opposite. This forms an amorphous ever changing environment full of disorder and disarray and divine intervention, pitting the god’s in an enduring struggle against one another. While this may make the Iliad’s environment highly chaotic it is this chaos that makes the Iliad so entertaining to read. In fact the chaos caused by conflict between characters is the main mechanism ...view middle of the document...

The introduction of demi gods into the Iliad made it extremely easy for the immortals to become entwined in the affairs of men. This occurs because the bastard children of theses gods are living among men, therefore whatever conflict the demi gods may find themselves in their parents soon find themselves in too. The two most well known cases of this happening in the Iliad are the cases of Zeus and his Daughter Helen and Thetis and her warrior son Achillies. These demi gods will act as a mechanism to further the depth of conflict amongst the gods. Introducing such a potent force as a demi god to the world of mortal men couldn’t help but disturb the natural order of things. To give example Helen of Troy, Helen is the daughter of Zeus and was born with god like beauty, in fact Helen is so beautiful that tens of thousands of mortal men will fight and kill each other over her. If Zeus had never conceived Helen the Trojans and Achaeans never would have met in battle on the shores of troy.
Throughout the Iliad when the Gods quarrel there is the constant presence of divine intervention, but ancient Greeks thought of divine intervention in a slightly different state of mind than modern western societies. In western societies modern readers tend to separate actions that are of divine cause and actions that are performed by the free will of a mortal. Modern western readers tend to believe god/gods divinely ordain an action causing an event to occur, or an individual mortal chooses to take action without immortal influence; there is no middle ground, it is simply one or the other. However for ancient Greeks such as Homer, there was a middle ground, defined by an action being the joint effort of an immortal and a mortal. So where the modern author would use "either ... or" as in, either the gods cause something to happen or a mortal chooses to do it, Homer would use "both ... and." This is to say that the Greeks tended to feel that when an event of defined importance occurs a divine force was involved but at the same time at the same time the actions of mortals influenced the event. (cite)
Because of this one will find Greek authors often provided two parallel explanations for the cause of an event, one explanation dealing with the gods, and the other dealing on the mortal level. To give an example the death of Hector has two parallel explanations. One explanation was that Hector’s fate to die in battle, this is the explanation that deals on the mortal level. And the other explanation is that it was the will of Zeus for hector to die at the hands of Achilles, this is the explanation that deals of the level of the gods. Homer gives his audience an explanation at the mortal level and at the immortal level, both parallel one another and lead to the same conclusion. These explanations rather than contradicting one another bolster the other by providing further support to why the event occurred.
The state of mind common among ancient Greek authors that tended...

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