Review of the Book Iliad

Published: 2017-11-23 09:27:04
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The author’s purpose in writing Iliad

The Iliad is a great and epic poem having its basis in the mythology of the people in Greece. It accounts for the significant events of the Trojan War, a mythical conflict in the 1100 BC (Litcharts). The Iliad is the earliest work in the Greek oral and literary tradition to which it refers to the real events. Homer looked to describe his occupation and not the story of the whole war. He probably wanted his audience to realize the basic story of Trojan War considering his first words on Achilles anger and its effects. Through this, he managed to construct a unified and a well-drawn story. Other reasons may be that Homer wanted to make a point as he conveys Hector as a true hero or as a more sympathetic and understanding character than Achilles making it clear that his real sympathies were on the Trojans (Asta 167). Homer may have also written the poem to symbolize life as a journey and that in life the journey is more essential than the destination. Thus, Iliad shows a set of historical events and realities from the dark ages and late Bronze Age that are consistent with the archaeological accounts. 

Homer achieved his goal as the Iliad remain the most widely read and celebrated story ever told. Iliad is hailed for its greatest epic of Greece and its influence on some writers and poets. His work has owed a tremendous debt to oral poetry, literary traditions and oral traditions. Iliad has therefore remained one of the most loved and known stories of all time. 

The theme of Honor and Glory

In Iliad, one of the major themes is honor and glory, which soldiers earn in war. In ancient Greece, to perform in battle is one of the greatest sources of worth. Since heroes are important in Greek community, their way of life is based on honor and glory. The glory earned in war allow soldiers to live on as legends who may be remembered for years after the war. Fame is the goal of the Greeks that resounds after death. Thus, honor and glory is the foundation of everything happening in Iliad and define heroes in Iliad. The characters in Iliad made reference to their legends like Theseus and Hercules. Odysseus, a fighter claims that “it is disgraceful to wait long and at the end go home empty handed (Homer 297).” 

The poem Iliad focuses on the rage of Achilles and the fulfillment of his glory during the Trojan War. Honor and glory is seen during the success in the battle. Hector and Achilles are considered great fighters and their presence in battlefield motivates their fighters. In the battlefield, Achilles proves that he is the best among the Achaeans by killing Hector and giving the best military performance (Homer 143). Thus, Achilles in the ancient Greece perspectives is more honorable and heroic because he was the greatest warrior during the Trojan War. Hector was also one of the best fighters during the Trojan War. He also showed extreme battle prowess and courage by having the desire to return to war. Paris, an instigator of the Trojan War however had to be dragged out to fight. Comparing Paris to Hector and Achilles, Paris is a scorn, and he is seen as a ridiculous character in the poem since he hangs back in the battlefield (Nicolson 330).

Having pretty women and material goods is considered an indicator of honor and glory among the Greeks. To possess a women is an honor to men. Paris abducted Helen causing a huge blow to Menelaus honor leading to war between the Trojans and Greeks. Agamemnon gathered Geek soldiers to try and force Paris to reinstate respect for the king by returning Helen (Homer 278). Thus, Achilles and Greeks enter into a war to recapture Helen, the honor of Menelaus. The war was mainly to regain honor despite the loss of the lives of Menelaus men. Achilles and Agamemnon had to join the fight to retain their honor too. Thus, among the Greeks, women are a sign of honor and status.

Family honor adds more intricacy that maintains a balance between the community and individual honor. In Iliad, family honor is evident when Menelaus call his brother the moment his honor is taken by the theft of his wife Helen. Agamemnon respond to the needs of his family by supporting his brother Menelaus. Achilles and Patroclus are like family because they grew up together. Patroclus considers Achilles advice to remain out of the battlefield but still he instills fear to the Trojans to gain his honor (Homer 321). Paris and Hector also show family honor through the contrast in their abilities and character. Hector is honorable and brave winning his self-glory. Paris remain behind in the battle leading to her dishonorable actions. By stealing Helen, Paris defied the host guest relationship, making it a dishonorable act. Honor and glory were life in the poem Iliad.

Relating the Work with my Life Today

The growing and enduring popularity of the poem Iliad gives a persuasive testimony of my life that reach deeply into my imagination. My social and personal life is organized around an antithetical vision. Based on my underlying life choices there is the consensus of the relationship between God, nature and me. My belief has little room for the conduct of my ancestors or gods, and this is one thing that I have moved beyond. Homer vision of life radically contradicts my cherished beliefs. His vision is unacceptable and incompatible with my belief in divinities of uploading the moral standards. Iliad is a tale with no straightforward moral since there is no much nobility in war, which in other terms is impure and barbaric. I cannot, however, weigh the conflicting demands today and in the past in interpreting ancient texts. The challenges observed in Iliad about our modern sensibilities and feelings about war is evil and should be considered corrigible. Any idea of war as a coherent ritual that makes it unbearable should be eliminated and instead repeated attempts of ending such wars should be put in place. I cannot, for instance, acknowledge the presence of Athena in the battle lines, to show that life brings creative, joyous and powerful potentialities in one’s spirit. 

Iliad however, encourages me to see its power, beauty, terror and a vibrant vision of the nature of human beings that may be able to reacquaint me, with the joy of striving to face destiny. Though the poem cannot grab my imagination, its aspects are adventurers still significant in our civilization.

Works cited

Asta, Jean. Quicklet on Homer's The Iliad (CliffNotes-like Summary, Analysis, and Review). San Francisco: Hyperink, 2012.

Homer. The Iliad of Homer. South Carolina: BiblioBazaar, 2009.

Litcharts. The Iliad Summary. 2016. <http://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-iliad/summary>.

Nicolson, Adam. Why Homer Matters. New York City: Henry Holt and Company, 2014.

sheldon

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