Themes in the Iliad

This is the main themes in the Iliad with examples and other rubbish. Hope it helps you. Good luck

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Themes in the Iliad
Gods:
- Ego driven, much like the heroes, except Achilles (in the end)
- Take sides in human conflict (Apollo = Trojan) (Athene = Greek)
- Vindictive E.G. Zeus and Hera destroying city or Pandarus restarting battle
- Incite ware: Background to the Iliad was that Eris (Strife) placed a golden apple on the table at
Peleus and Thetis' wedding that was inscribe "for the fairest" which caused mayhem at the
wedding between Hera, Aphrodite and Athene who all claimed the apple for themselves. They
then asked Paris son of Priam, to judge who was the prettiest. As they were gods, they tried to
cheat to win so Hera offered him power over Asia Minor and Europe, Athene offered him
Military prowess and fame and Aphrodite offered him Helen of troy. When Paris chose
Aphrodite (stupidly) he sailed off to Greece and took Helen alongside loads of Menelaus' gold
and treasure. This sparked the Trojan War.
- Untouched by suffering ­ This is why mortals are actually better than immortals. Because the
Gods cannot suffer, they cannot learn. The death of Sarpedon sees Zeus upset but it is only
momentary and unlike mortals, he doesn't mourn he just moves on. Achilles on the other hand
mourns Patroclus and by doing so he learn true lessons that life is more important than glory and
the main lesson that everyone suffers
Universal suffering
- Achilles learns in book 24 that everyone suffers through Priam. This is the most important
message in the Iliad
- Although it is the most important message, only Achilles actually learns
- Book 9 ­ Achilles' speech about Agamemnon and how the war is between a few people it shows
that Homer is aware that the poor fight the battles of the few who are in power and they all
suffer for it
- Achilles' actions in book 24 show that he understand universal suffering as an inevitability and
even in peace time it is bound to happen even to the rich, just less for them
- The cross gender-divide is made by one character in the Iliad, Achilles. As women (a later topic)
are seen as the voice of reason who think before they act, Achilles is the only male who does this
in the Iliad which allows him clarity of his actions. After Patroclus dies, Achilles understands that
although he will die, he must avenge Patroclus' death and that he no longer fights for
Agamemnon but for himself
- Homers message about this is that the reader should learn before it's too late unlike Achilles.
Achilles learnt through the death of Patroclus which ultimately led to his death after killing Hector
N.B Symbolism in the fact that Hector is wearing Achilles' armour when Achilles kills him.
This is symbolising Achilles killing himself by killing Hector
War
- Homer understands there is great glory in going to war but this doesn't mean he glorifies war.
Examples of this are in the arming scenes where Homer includes them to show the courage of
the men who fight. He doesn't forget that strife, pain and panic are there and often quotes them
as being present

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Homer understands that war is a waste of potential and shows this through such examples as
Simoisius where he is killed before he can repay his parents in book 4. When Homer uses these
scenes he usually relates it nature symbolise purity and innocence e.g.…read more

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