Prompt: What is the role of Sarpedon in The Iliad? Iliad by Homer

Essay by AzAzn264High School, 11th gradeA+, September 2004

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"So the immortals spun our lives that we, wretched men live on to bear such torment...." This one statement, made by the godlike Achilles to King Priam in the last chapter of the book, provides the reader a contextual summary of what the Greeks believed was their role in the universe. Robert Fitzgerald translated The Iliad, composed orally by Homer three thousand years ago. The Iliad, among many other themes contained in the poem, is an anthropocentric epic exposing the ancient Greek's views about man and his relationships. Homer demonstrates the pious and customary behaviors, as well as the impious and rebellious, to illustrate the amicable and adversarial relationships of man. Few relationships composed by Homer are exclusively one or the other. Through the composition, Homer envisions relationships between man and fate, man and the gods. These two intricately intertwined relationships share one common thread; they bring to bear torment on man's life.

Man's bind with fate is not straight forward according to Homer. Though destiny is never overridden in the poem, it is tempted many times, either by the gods wishing to intervene on behalf of their favorite mortals, or by man himself. Zeus contemplates tempting fate when the predestined death of his son Sarpedon arrives at the hands of Patroclus. Zeus mourns the "cruel fate" and laments, "My heart is torn in two....Shall I pluck him up, now, while he is still alive...? Or beat him down at Patroclus' hands at last?" Because of the protestations of Hera, Zeus bows to the will of fate and allows Sarpedon to meet his doom .Clearly, however, the gods have the power to intervene and undermine fate. Yet man too is demonstrated to have the power to tempt fate. Here the gods' intervention is necessary to protect destiny. Patroclus, in book...