The Iliad, by Homer

855 Words4 Pages
In Homer's epic Iliad, the poet emphasizes the control of the gods in the war he describes. He creates literary devices around these well-known deities to illustrate their role in the action, conveying to his audience that this war was not just a petty conflict between two men over a woman, but a turbulent, fiery altercation amongst the gods. To an audience which had likely lost their fathers, brothers, or husbands to the Trojan War, it would be a welcome relief to hear that the whole affair was orchestrated by the gods, and that the deaths of their loved ones were inevitable and honorable.
Part of trying to understand such a tragic war is justifying how rational human beings could behave so savagely. The poet does not want to say that
…show more content…
Likewise, the affair that started the whole war is explained away by divine intrusion, for the sake of the listeners. No audience wants to imagine an epic, ten-year war fought solely for the sake of one woman’s infidelity, and no family wants to think of their men dying for the sake of one man’s pride. Rather than tell the story from that perspective, the poet looks at the situation through a supernatural lens, taking the responsibility off the shoulders of the human beings involved and placing it on those of a meddling deity. Rather than claiming that Helen ran away with Alexandros purely of her own volition, the poet implies that she is being swayed by lust forced on her by Aphrodite. When the goddess of love—and sexuality—commands Helen to go to her husband, she resists, calling it “shameful” (3.410), and refuses to go. She obeys in the end, however, only after Aphrodite threatens her. It is even implied that Alexandros is being manipulated himself by the attractiveness that Aphrodite bestowed on Helen, when, coming straight from a painful confrontation on the battlefield, he finds that he has “passion enmeshed in [his] senses” (3.442), as never before. The audience, picking up on this incongruity, would be moved for these helpless lovers, under the control not of their own lusts, but the will of a fickle goddess. Whereas in other stories, Helen might be portrayed as an unfaithful villain, Homer paints her as a victim of the cruel

More about The Iliad, by Homer

Get Access