War Is Naturally Violent, And The Iliad Essay

1606 WordsNov 7, 20167 Pages
War is naturally violent, and the Iliad does not hesitate to describe the atrocities committed by men with spears and swords. They kill each other, descriptively, and although individual heroes may get glory or special recognition for prowess in battle, the detailed depictions of death do not glorify the actual acts of warfare. Even the gods and heroes are critical of taking too much pleasure in waging war, though the epic celebrates the men who are good at it. Several of the heroes, like Diomedes and Achilles, single-handedly hold off the enemy and in doing so, seem to rise above the limits of normal men. They even escape the ignobleness of death and are called “beautiful” after dying. In all, the Iliad acknowledges the realities of war and does not glorify its violent nature, but it does appoint extraordinary honors to the heroes who fight in the war. The Iliad shows the violence of war without obscuring the brutality of the bloodshed, demonstrating a willingness to show the inglorious side of war. The poem dedicates pages to chronicling the various ways men are killed, which includes being slaughtered in sleep and being “sliced through the neck, leaving only / A ribbon of skin from which the head dangled” (16.358-359). It is likely unsettling for an audience to contemplate a beheading violent enough to leave the head dangling by nothing but a strip of skin, but that is what happened and it appears to be reported without much apparent censorship. Although Homer does not

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