Zeus the Human or Priam the God, Homer's Iliad

Essay by skimba2College, UndergraduateA-, March 2004

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In Homer's Iliad, Priam, the human King of Troy, and Zeus, the divine King of the gods, are only separated by the gift of immortality. Homer compares and contrasts these great kings to show the results of this gift. Zeus is less invincible and imperturbable than he should be for his divine status. Both the divine King of the gods and the human King of Troy have a weakness for their children, which brings the mighty immortal god to the down to level of the lowly human. Homer draws these similarities between the divinity and the human in order to heighten the crucial difference in their lives and the lives of all other immortals and mortals like them. Throughout his life, Priam suffers; then he dies. Zeus on the other hand has never felt an ounce of true regret or pain because his life never ends; it is simply a game with no winner.

Through Priam's suffering, Homer shows the nobility of a tortured life as opposed to a life lived as a game.

Zeus, King of the gods, has a weakness with regards to his children. When Sarpedon, Zeus' son, is in the war path of Patroclus, Zeus ponders "whether [he] should snatch [Sarpedon] out of the sorrowful battle" to save him from certain death and "set him down alive" somewhere safe (Iliad, 16.436-437). "If [he] bring[s] Sarpedon back to his home, still living" the other gods will all want to save their favorites (Iliad, 16.445). Zeus follows the advice of his wife; he makes a decision that is best for the gods. It is best because the half-god children would all want to be saved by their respective divine parents. As a result of Zeus allowing his beloved son to die, Zeus shows that he can make...