The Importance of Gods in the Iliad

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The gods in the Iliad played important roles in the war and affected the actions of warriors in the war greatly. Since the war was fated, they could not affect the outcome of the war but they did manipulate many conflicts in the war. Gods such as Phoibos Apollo (god of prophecy, medicine, plague, music), Ares (god of war), Aphrodite (goddess of love) remained strong supporters of the Trojans during the war. While Hera (queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage), Athene (virgin goddess of wisdom), Poseidon (god of the sea), Thetis (a sea nymph), and Hermes ( messenger for the gods) fought hard for the Greeks. Zeus (king of all gods) was one of the only neutral gods in the Iliad, he tried as best as he could to remain unbiased and establish order. The gods used various tactics in order to communicate with the warriors of the war and only vouch for the men that they are fond of.

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All of the gods interacted with men differently, depending on which sides of the war they were supporting. For example, whenever Achilleus called his mother Thetis, she always comes to his rescue and hears his problems. When Achilleus asked her to ask Zeus to allow the Trojans to defeat the Greeks, she was willing to go to Zeus with the message, who in turn listened to her. The gods look out for their warriors in the war, they often provide help by entering the battle themselves. One example of that can be seen after both the Trojans and the Greeks decided to have a truce in book four, Hera did not like that idea since she wanted the Trojans to perish, so she sent Athene to attack Menelaus of the Trojans to break of the truce. Athene disguised herself as an archer to restart the violent war. Athene did not stop there; she continues to motivate and inspires warriors Diomedes of the Greeks to fight off and kill the Trojans. She also lured Ares to leave the war for a while. When Ares did come back Athene encourages Diomedes to fight and hurt Ares who then fled back to Mount Olympus, where all of the gods reside. The gods in the Iliad played important roles in the war and affected the actions of men tremendously.

They interacted with mostly the important figure of both sides of the wars. The gods communicated to the warriors by using a series of tactics such as sending omens, dreams, and taking the form of mortal warriors. The gods often utilize the way that they can impersonate as human beings, similarly to how Athene did for the most of the war. The omens that are sent by the gods, help warns the Greeks and Trojans of what is to come during the battle. One example of that can be seen in book two when Zeus sends Agamemnon a false dream that indicates that it was a good time for the Greeks to attack the Trojans. Agamemnon did not get his troop ready to attack Troy like the dream suggested, instead, he tried to test his troops’ loyalty by telling them that he has decided to return back to Greece. One other way that the gods communicate with men is by sending prophecies; one example is from chapter nine where Thetis tells Achilles his two possible fated future. Achilles can either choose to go home and live a peaceful life or he can choose to fight in the war and live a short but glorious life; he chose to remain in the war. One other example of ways that god communicate with men is with an omen that was sent to the Trojans. It was of an eagle carrying a snake. The eagle was bitten by the snake so the eagle dropped it and flew away. Poulydamas (who is an advisor and warrior) interpreted the omen for Hektor and told him to not pursue the Greeks but Hektor did not listen and chose to do the opposite. Both side of the battle, including the gods, knew how the war is supposed to end. Throughout the game, Zeus who cannot interfere with fate must try his best not to be biased and communicate to each side with many omens and dreams to foretell the ultimate outcome of the war.

The Gods’ actions are not believable in the twenty-first century due to many factors. Many people do not attach supreme beings to the features of nature anymore due to the advances in science and technology. People in the Homeric period used to label every natural feature (such as the night, sun, rain, pain, death, wedding, wind and many others) as having a sort of affiliation with a god as we can see in the Iliad. The gods were appointed to explain the things in nature that human being could not comprehend and understand. As a result, the gods played a major role in their everyday life. Those were people who also wanted to have a connection with nature with a hope of lessening the impact that nature had in their life. One of the reasons why people do not associate gods with nature and other things is because people in the twenty-first century have more religious freedom. New sciences and technology answer some of the questions that people have about Nature and its forces. People see no point in believing in having many many gods in their life. People in the twenty-first century can look at science to answer any mysteries that they may have about nature and do not feel the need to appoint a god for everything. They also use philosophical ideas to answer their mysteries about other things that they may be curious about such as war, feelings, and other things. People now do not see the gods as having power over their life no more so they do not believe that gods have anything to do with war and can not control the outcomes as a result.

The gods in the Iliad are very complex; more complex than our mind can comprehend. They appeared to be imperishable and acted in ways that were incomprehensible and beyond nature. The gods interacted with men in ways that are unthinkable now in the twenty-first century. Their roles of the battle between the Trojans and Greeks was very noticeable throughout the Iliad. The gods interacted with human beings through dreams, omens and by impersonating human figures. They alter the course of the action of the warriors of the war but they could not change the outcome because they do not control fate. Their actions are not believable in the twenty-first century for many reasons; two reason is that of advances in technology and science.

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