The Greeks and The Illiad Essay

This essay has a total of 1896 words and 8 pages.


The Greeks and The Illiad





The Iliad was a masterpiece of a work, which entertained and gave a description of how the
Greeks lived out their lives in battle and at peace. The Iliad, by Homer, is an epic
classic set in Ancient Greece. The story ,in its own, contained the use of epic
characteristics, which reveal further characteristics of the Greeks. A large influence on
the book, was the Greek’s religious and mythological stance along with their
strengths and weaknesses that were also displayed. The Greeks, with both their strengths
and weaknesses, reveal the overall character in Homer’s tale..


The story of the Iliad takes place in ancient Greece, Troy to be precise. Where a small
scuffle has escalated into a war, over the Trojan capture of Helan, a Greek princess, from
her home in Sparta. The Greeks retaliate and soon set sail to attack Illion,or Troy, to
get Helan back. Much to their dismay Zeus, the ruler of the gods, has taken sides with
the Trojans, along with Phoebus Apollo(god of music and wisdom), Aphrodites(goddess of
beauty), Mars(god of war) and many other lesser gods. However, the Greek receive help
from Hera(wife to Zeus), Athene(goddess of war), Poseiden(god of sea), Volcan(blacksmith
god), and Thetis(nymph god). Each side wars heavily upon one another and kills many of
each. The Achaians(Greeks) warrior Achilles, is the strongest among all others among him
in his army and in the Trojans. His mother was Thetis and guards him relentlessly for he
is her only son and is destined to die far from his home. Hektor, second only to Achilles
is the Trojans most valiant fighter. Most of the story involves detailed battles with the
imminent death of Hector by Achilles, and the storming of Troy.


The Greeks contain epic traits and qualities in their way of life and living. An epic is
a long narrative poem depiction against the background of the past the heroic or
supernatural deeds of a hero who represents his race or his religion. Many Greeks have
such matter in them, as like Achilles in the description, who was no mere mortal among his
people. Zeus once predicted, “Achilles is a man of great power and thought, he will
slay the brave Hektor and bring honor to his people....”(236) Achilles was a Greek,
so forth he was to bring honor to his people.

There was much use of epic characteristics in the Iliad. The Iliad had enormous battles
that were fought constantly between the two opponents. Homer writes in description to
Hektor’s fighting, “Hektor in the huge pride of his strength rages
irresistibly, reliant on Zeus, and gives way to no one neither god nor man...”(204).
The characters fighting for the Greeks or Trojans all were eventually given some kind of
supernatural ability to fight such incredible battles. The hero of the story, Achilles,
contained superhuman strength beyond that of any other man. In description of his
strength, “...and the door barred to his room took three men to open it, but
Achilles himself alone could close it.”(488) The mother of Achilles was Thetis
making him half god, half man. That enabled him to have such powers beyond mortal man.


Another epic characteristic was that of the sacking of Ilion. In the beginning of the
adventure the Danaans set sail to attack the Trojans, but Troy was surrounded by a great
wall. Although the book does not describe the ending of Troy, it foretells the fall of it
to the Greeks. After all of the struggle against a powerful opposing force they still
overcame, and were victorious in the end. When Achilles killed Hektor, that was another
sign of epic, because he fulfilled his deed as representing his race and his religion. He
fulfilled his race as showing that Greek’s conquer all, and he represented his
religion in that he was predicted to defeat Hektor. Zeus declares,“I have weighed
Achilles life along with Hektors, and unfortunately Hektors death is heavier, it is just
the way of things.”(236)


Homer’s account revealed much from history, religion and mythology in one, which is
connected to the epic. The history portion is the battle between Greece and Troy over
Helan. Religion has to do with all the praying and constant surroundings by gods and the
servants of gods. The mythology part would mostly include the gods and how they came to
be. Many times Homer refers to Zeus as “the son of Kronos”, revealing the
mythology of Zeus’s victory over his father to become king of the gods in the
beginning.


Supernatural elements are key to a good epic. There are many recallings of supernatural
beings and gods that seem to have had a part in the tale. One such example was the river
beside Troy which struck out against Achilles. It seemingly took on a personification and
lashed out against men fighting in the field. Another time one such god set a blaze to
the land so fierce that the water in the river boiled. Homer explains, “And
Hephaistos turned his flame in its shining into the river.”, Homer continues,
“The river spoke out with voice, blazing with fire, and his lovely waters were
seething as its strength was burning away.” One can see that a river with voice,
and a god with flame are unnatural, even supernatural. Only such an epic could contain
such qualities, and the epic thus refers to the portrayal of the Greeks in the story.


The religious beliefs of the Greeks effected the things they did and said in the Iliad.
Most of the sway of the Greeks came from the gods themselves. Whenever a god told a
Danaan(Greek) to do something they obeyed. For instance, Achilles had hold over
Hektor’s body and was not going to relinquish it. However Zeus, whom being a god,
sends him a message to give it way. Achilles response to this was, “So be it. He
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