Homer's Epic

Essay by afelton1906University, Bachelor'sA, October 2007

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The Iliad began nine years after the Trojan War, and it took place in the city Troy (which is now northern day Turkey). The Iliad had many themes to its Epic style of poetry. These themes included the glory of war; military values over family life, and impermanence of human life and its creation. Throughout this poem, foreshadowing is prominent, as the poem constantly refers to the events that have yet to occur and to fate outcomes. Patroclus's return to battle foreshadows Achilles' return to battle, for example, and Hector's taunting of the dead Patroclus foreshadows the desecration of his own corpse by Achilles. The Iliad seemed to celebrate war. Characters seemed as worthy depending on their degree of competence and bravery in battle. Paris for example, does not like to fight, and correspondingly receives the scorn of both his family and his lover. Achilles on the other hand, wins eternal glory by explicitly rejecting the option of a long, comfortable, uneventful life at home.

The major conflict in this poem is that Agamemnon's demand for Achilles' war prize, the maiden Briseis, wounds Achilles' pride, and he consequently refuses to fight and causes the Achaeans to suffer greatly in the battle against the Trojans. Once Patroclus, Achilles cousin, dies during the battle; Achilles returns and ensures the fate fall of Troy.

In The Iliad, to fight is to prove one's honor and integrity, while to avoid warfare is to demonstrate laziness, ignoble fear, or misaligned priorities. To be sure, the Iliad doesn't ignore the realities of war. Men die gruesome deaths, and women become slaves and concubines. Homer never implies throughout the poem that the fighting was a waste of time, or human life. Rather, he portrays each side as having a justifiable reason to fight and depicts...