Essay on Iliad

Essay on Iliad- Assignment Assistance

The Iliad is about war and those who wage it. It includes the man-killing Hector and Agamemnon’s lord of the men Agamemnon as well as Achilles, whose fury is mentioned in the poem’s famous opening line. The same invocation mentions “numerous losses” as a result the Trojan War (1.2). The Iliad is filled with praise for military victories, but the poem also depicts war’s costs, which severely undermines the notion that war is a glorious endeavor.

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Discover some of the main themes in Homer’s epic poem, “The Iliad.” Explore the themes of friendship and love as they guide the plot. Also, consider the question of fate versus freewill and learn the importance of honor for the main characters of the ancient Greek poem. Updated: 12/22/2021

Many battle scenes have sections that focus on the horrific destruction of the human body. The first battle scene shows the Achaean Antilochus killing a man with his bronze spear (4.533). Homer does not simply say that the spear kills the victim. He also emphasizes that the spear literally smashes through the skull of the victim, forcing the reader confront the horrifying and disturbing ways in which human bodies can be mutilated during war. As the fighting goes on, the descriptions get more horrific. Damasus’s brains are “splattered all within his casque”, a spear piercing the bowels of a man and another spear slicing his liver (12.214). These other equally destructive effects of war are also represented by the specific body parts that are being damaged. For example, the brain represents the human capacity for rational thought. This capacity is damaged by war. Violation of the liver and bowels, which are organs that process body waste, releases filth into dying bodies, further degrading them.

Homer also points out the ways war dehumanizes and destroys the Achaean soldiers and Trojan soldiers, bringing out the animalistic, base natures of these soldiers. Homer describes the men as a group of animals that rush into battle. Soldiers are a group of wild boars, geese and hounds that hunt other men. Although the victorious soldier will be a hero and a great men, he achieves his goal by being brutal and inhuman.

Although the men act like animals on the battlefield they still experience human emotions as they have to make difficult decisions and deal with the losses. Hector is forced to go back to war soon after he has returned to his wife, Andromache and his son, Astyanax. This is despite his love for his family, his wife and the prophecy that he will soon lose his life in the conflict. Hector, though he is heavy-hearted, insists that he will go back. He claims that he must win “great victory” for his father (6.527-529). Homer shows us a culture in which the pursuit of military glory conflicts with devotion to the family. Hector must give up the former. The soldiers also have to deal with the loss of their family members. Achilles is devastated when he learns about Patroclus’s death. He yells at Gods and tears at his hair, as well as clawing at the ground. Homer describes how Achilles’ grief quickly turns to anger, and Homer tells us that he loses the will to live, to make [his] stand in this world of men until he defeats Hector (18.105-106). Hector is killed by Achilles in one of the most violent sections of the poem. Achilles’ notion of the world order is upset by Patroclus’s passing. He no longer fights for glory or envy but because he cannot live without his foe. Achilles has come to see that rage and grief are inextricably connected. War is no longer an noble or glorious endeavor, but a symptom of uncomprehensible loss.


The tension between war’s glory and its costs is what fuels The Iliad. Characters must make difficult, hard choices based on their culture. It is similar to another central theme of The Iliad: The uneasy relationship between human actions and divine intervention. This theme is also set forth in the poem’s opening stanza. Homer claims that Achilles’ anger is the main cause of the fighting. . . Moving toward its end” (1.7). Homer does not make a clear decision on which side to take. The Iliad depicts a highly dualistic world where glory must be balanced against agony, individual action with no ultimate control, and where there is a need for absolute control. Because it explores the fundamental conflicts of human nature without giving easy answers, The Iliad remains a keystone of Western culture. We’ve remained captivated by its beauty and raw power nearly three millennia after it was published.

Friendship and love

The Iliad explores the power of friendship and love, which is a major source of conflict. The most common forms for friendship and love in the poem are romantic love, parental love, friendship between warriors, and romance.


As Achilles and Patroclus saw, the kinship between warriors can be incredibly strong. As Patroclus tells Achilles, the brotherly love between Achilles (and Patroclus) is stronger than any other warrior relationship.


“But, one more. Last request: Please grant it.


Achilles, never bury me bones except for yours.


Let them be together


Just as we grew together in your home.


They are so close, Patroclus would like to be buried with Achilles the same way that family would be buried together. It is important to have a friendship between war veterans in order to keep morale high during wartime. However, it extends far beyond the battlefield. This brotherly friendship is what drives Achilles to kill Hector in retaliation for Patroclus’s death. Achilles is convinced that Priam will have his son’s corps after he has killed Hector. It is this understanding of love, friendship, and the fact that Achilles allowed Priam to have his body.


Fate and free will

The theme of fate and free choice is a central theme in mythology and Greek literature. Homer’s The Iliad, for example, is not an exception. Through the poem, Achilles’ and Hector’s fates are discussed. The poem also seems to be based on the idea that man has no control over how his life will end. It has been decided for him. In Book 1, Thetis, Achilles’ mother, laments her son’s birth, referring to his death in the Trojan War. Thetis acts as if fate has already decided her fate.


Hector also refers to fate and free will in the following quote from Book 9.


“Why is there so much grief?


I will not be hurled to death by any man.


What about fate? It has never been escaped by anyone alive.


I say that neither coward nor brave man is my definition of a “coward”.


It’s with us from the moment we’re born.


Andromache is made aware by Hector that there is nothing anyone can do to stop his death if it happens. This perspective states that men do not have any control over the course of their lives, as fate has already determined the outcome.

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