Homer's Iliad as a Critique of War

Essay by geerrCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2009

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Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, relays the story of the Trojan War, fought before the fabled city of Ilion. Overall, Homer depicts war in an unenthusiastic light rather than glorifying it, showing the widespread adverse effects that the Trojan War brings upon the members of the nations of Troy and Greece. He uses the story of The Iliad to portray his negative view of war by analyzing in detail the physical slaughter and the emotional pain that war involves. Not only does the battle influence individual soldiers, but it also affects the lives of countless other characters who do not take part in the actual fighting. This bleak outlook on war is portrayed in various ways throughout the poem through his diction, characterization, and epic devices such as similes and metaphors.

The epic poem begins ten years after the commencement of the Trojan War, with the Achaians and the soldiers of Ilion locked in heated combat.

This conflict arose over the abduction of the Helen, wife of Menelaos and daughter of Zeus and Leda. Paris, prince of Troy, fell in love with Helen on a visit to Greece, and surreptitiously took her back to his homeland to be his wife. Upon hearing this, Menelaos and his brother Agamemnon launched a full-scale attack on Priam's city of Ilion. As it is portrayed, starting the war solely for the sake of one woman is hardly a valid cause. Thousands of soldiers, who had no connection to Helen whatsoever, are killed in her honor, fighting a revengeful war for ambitious leaders. At one point, even Hektor rebukes Paris' selfish motives and actions on the battlefield: "Evil Paris,1beautiful, woman-crazy, cajoling, better had you never been born, or killed unwedded. Truly I could have wished it so; it would be far better than...