In this paper I intend to argue against the quote "The Iliad is the poem of beautiful death, while the Odyssey is the poem of timeworn, embraceable life". The story of the Iliad essentially revolves around the Trojan War and multiple battle scenes are included, which would suggest that it does paint a beautiful picture of death. The attitude, however, of many of the characters is not one that glorifies death and war but rather one that laments this inescapable fate of all mortals. While the plot of the Odyssey is about one man's return home to his family, there is hardly any mention of intimate family relationships. Instead, Odysseus' sole ambition to return home seems to be to earn his 'kleos' or honor rather than to reunite with his dear family.
In the Iliad, Homer masterfully shows the negativities of war despite the ongoing violent saga.
Although it may seem that the major characters, such as Achilles and Hector, glorify death through battle, this is only because they will all have to face death eventually. Since immortality cannot be achieved among humans, the next closest thing is to gain honor or 'kleos'. In ancient times, one way to gain kleos was to die for a worthy cause - on the battlefield - while dying of old age would grant no kleos. It is only due to this desire for kleos that many characters make this decision to sacrifice a long and enjoyable life - at home with family - for a short, violent one on the fields of war.
The inevitability of death for humans is clearly shown in Achilles' quote "It doesn't matter if you stay in camp or fight - In the end, everybody comes out the same. Coward and hero...