Presence of Gods in "The Iliad"

Essay by mnkymn267High School, 10th grade April 2007

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In the novel “The Iliad” as well as many other literatures of Greek mythology all include the presence of gods. It was once said that mythology and gods are the explanations and sciences of the historical times. The gods’ presence enhances the story of the Iliad because they act as explanations for some things that occur as well as acting as imagery for the events that take place. There are many examples in this Homeric novel “The Iliad,” but to prove that the Gods’ presence explains certain procedures that come to pass, that it allows the reader to envision the story’s actions, and that it improves the story, only three examples will be mentioned.

An example of how the gods explain a phenomenon occurs in Book Three when Aléxandros is fighting Menelaus for the prize of Helen and her Spartan gold. When Menelaus was dragging Aléxandros by his helmet, the novel states that “Menelaus now would in fact have pulled him all the way, had Aphrodite with her clear eye not perceived him – and she snapped that band of oxhide.”

Most likely to occur was that the helmet’s band just snapped and Aléxandros did not understand how it happened. So, when Homer wrote the story, he used the explanation that Aphrodite had come down from Mount Olympus to help him. Just imagine a godly, beautiful figure swooping down to rescue Aléxandros.

A second example that shows how the gods’ presence allows the audience to visualize the story’s events happens in Book Twelve where Poseidon, Apollo, and Zeus work together to destroy the wall that was built by the Akhaians to guard the ships. Because the Akhaians did not make a hecatomb to the gods when the moat was built, Homer depicts in this chapter how the gods destroyed it.