Iliad Essay

Themes :
The glory of war.
The Iliad celebrates war. Competence in battle and willingness to fight determine worth. For example, Paris doesn't like to fight, a shortcoming that earns him the scorn of his family and his lover. Achilles wins eternal glory by explicitly rejecting a long, comfortable life at home. Homer holds up warlike deities such as Athena for the reader's admiration. The Iliad doesn't ignore the realities of war. Men die gruesome deaths; women become slaves and concubines; a plague decimates the Achean army. Homer tells us that both armies regret that the war ever began. But despite his objective examination of war, Homer never questions the legitimacy of the ongoing struggle. In his portrayal, each side has a justifiable reason to fight, and warfare is a respectable and even glorious way to settle the dispute.

Military Glory over family life
Homer admires the bonds of deference and obligation that bind families together, but he reserves his highest esteem for the pursuit of kleos , the glory people win by performing great deeds. He constantly forces his characters to choose between their loved ones and the quest for kleos . The most heroic characters invariably choose kleos . Andromache pleads with Hector not to risk orphaning his son, but Hector knows that fighting among the front ranks is the only means of "winning [his] father great glory. Achilles debates returning home to live in ease with his aging father, but he remains at Troy to win glory. Paris, on the other hand, spends time with Helen rather than fighting. The noblest characters prize honor, bravery, and glory, willingly choosing them over a long life with those they love.

The brief span of human life and its creation
Although the Iliad chronicles a brief period in a long war, it is acutely conscious of the specific ends awaiting its characters. Priam and all of his children will die. Achilles will meet an early end. Homer makes it clear that even great men cannot escape death. Indeed, the very greatest may yield to death sooner than their peers . Similarly, the Iliad repeatedly reminds us that the creations of mortals have a mortality of their own. The glory of men does not live on in their constructions, institutions, or cities. Troy will fall. The Greek fortifications will crumble. The impermanence of human life and creation makes it even more important to achieve glory. Only by living honorably can people find immortality after death, living on in memories of those who survive them. Even if physical bodies and material creations cannot survive, reputations can.

The primacy of fate
Aeneas' fate is preordained. His various sufferings and glories over the course of the epic merely postpone his unchangeable destiny. Often, fate is equated with the will of Jupiter (Zeus) the most powerful of the g- ds . The development of characters in the epic has to do with how eagerly or reluctantly they submit to fate. Juno and Turnus first fight fate and eventually resign themselves to it, which allows the epic to arrive at its destined end.

This emotional response is present in both the Iliad and the Aeneid and is an intricate part of the character of Achilles, Agamemnon, and Aeneid . It seems to be a necessary response in battle. Achilles in particular allows his anger to result in the loss of life especially to behavior that doesn't honor himself or the g- ds . Aeneid's response to the battle in the city of Troy overwhelms the rational response he needed to fulfill the prophecy for his own life.

Flames / Fire
Fire symbolizes both destruction and erotic desire or love. Virgil suggests that destruction and love are connected. For example, Paris' desire for Helen eventually leads to the fires of the siege of Troy. It is a "tongue of flame" that encourages Aeneas 's father, Anchises , to agree to leave his beloved city. A chain of imagery in the Iliad reference fire equating it with anger. Agamemnon is accused of a "burning in his belly" to illustrate his vengeful nature and "his eyes shone out like licking fire" when responding to Calchas Thestorides