Lessons from Homer's "The Iliad"

Essay by defacto301High School, 10th gradeA+, March 2006

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Understanding the theme: The Great War, Foreshadowed

Although most today refer to the great battles between 1914 and 1917 as "World War One" (WWI), those who lived through the turmoil referred to it as "The Great War." "The Great War" stands as a great warning to how one can basically stumble into war. WWI began with a small, local feud in the Balkans, which exploded into a global catastrophe. In the exact same manner, the Trojan War, as explained by Homer, blew into a huge event from a small feud between Menelaus and Paris. Menelaus drags all of Greece against Paris who drags the great city of Troy into the ordeal. This war became well known all throughout history as a magnificent conflict that had escalated from basically a triviality when viewed as a piece of a greater picture. In this way, the mighty Trojan War shook the entire known world thus foreshadowing "The Great War" which actually involved the entire globe.

Lessons from The Iliad

1. Although Homer does not explicitly state that men should be weary of the gods and their interference in the life of man, he clearly attests to this lesson via powerful examples in The Iliad. Olympus is the original cause of the entire epic because it is here that Paris is summoned and subsequently promised the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, queen of Sparta. Once the war commences, the gods treat the Trojan War as a sporting event where each pulls for his favorite team and the gods go into pre-arranged alliances. Some gods team up (Hera and Athena; Apollo and Artemis) and other gods actually go down to the battlefield to help (Ares and Aphrodite). Aphrodite, in a deus ex machina, swoops down from Mt. Olympus in order...