Greek Gods Involvement in the Iliad Essay

This essay has a total of 1136 words and 6 pages.


Greek Gods Involvement in the Iliad





With our view of God, it can sometimes be difficult to comprehend the actions and thinking
of the Greek gods. The Christian God does not tend to take such an active role in the
affairs of people's lives, where, on the other hand, the Greeks regarded direct
involvement by the gods as a daily, uncontrollable part of life. Needless to say, divine
intervention was a major variable in the equation of Homer's Iliad.

The gods picked whom they would favor for different reasons, with the exception of Zeus.
As the symbol of “supreme authority and justice” (Griffin 21), he makes
judgment calls as to the other gods' involvement in the war, remains impartial, and does
not seem to get caught up in picking favorites. Even when his own son, Sarpedon, was
about to die, Zeus chose to let the outcome go unaltered (Avery 102).

On the other hand, Zeus's wife, Hera, displayed the more typical actions of a Greek god.
After Paris, a Trojan, judged Aphrodite the fairest over Hera, and, after her daughter
Hebe was replaced as "cupbearer" (Beye 51) to the gods by a young Trojan boy, she was
quite resentful towards Troy and its people. Obviously she sided with the Greeks and
would stop at no length to express her will of Greek victory (Avery 159). Scheming and
manipulating she even dared to trick her husband, Zeus, King of the Gods. Hera, along
with Athena, who was also passed over by Paris, is seen as the chief divine aid to the
Greeks.

Being the god of the sea, Poseidon was another strong supporter of the
“ocean-faring” (A.D.A.M.) Greeks. Whenever Zeus turned his back, Poseidon
tried to help the Greeks in the fight. Poseidon felt that he was somewhat Zeus's equal as
his brother, but recognizing Zeus's authority and experience, he looked to Zeus as an
elder.

There were also Gods who favored the Trojan side of the conflict. Apollo and Artemis,
twin brother and sister, gave aid to the city of Troy. Although Artemis takes a rather

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minor role, Apollo perhaps angered by Agamemnon’s refusal to ransom Khryseis, the
daughter of one of his priests and was constantly changing the course of the war in favor
of the Trojans (Griffin 114). Responsible for sending plague and disease to the Greeks,
Apollo was the first god to make an appearance in the Iliad (Avery 69). Also, mainly
because Apollo and Artemis were on the Trojan side, their mother, Leto, also helped the
Trojans.

Aphrodite, obviously supporting Paris's judgment, sided with the Trojans. Although she
was insignificant on the battlefield, Aphrodite was successful in convincing Ares, her
lover and the god of war, to help the Trojans.

One view of the gods' seemingly constant intervention in the war was that they were just
setting fate back on the right course. For instance, when Patroklos was killed outside of
Troy, Apollo felt no guilt for his doings (Peterson 172). It had already been decided
that Patroklos would not take Troy, and he should never have disobeyed Achilles in the
first place. As a god, he was just setting fate on a straight line (Griffin 89).
Achilles laid blame on Hector and the Trojans. He did not even consider accusing Apollo,
who never came into question, although he was primarily responsible for the kill.
Apollo's part in the matter was merely accepted as a natural disaster or as illness would
be today (A.D.A.M.).

This general acceptance of a god's will is a recurring trend throughout the poem. A prime
example of this trend is in book twenty-four. Achilles, angry over the death of Patroklos
brutally disgraced Hector's body. Tethering Hector's corpse through the ankles, Achilles
dragged him around Patroklos's tomb every day for twelve days (Griffin 135). This
barbaric treatment was not called for and displeased the gods a great deal. Achilles
mother, Thetis, was sent by

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