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The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad is Homer’s ancient Greek poet, an impressive poem that typically narrates momentous occurrences in the Trojan Combat’s final weeks, not forgetting the Greek siege of Troy town. The period of the poem’s writing was the mid-8th Century BCE, and as such, this poem is regarded as the latest work in the entire Western literary custom, making it the most famous and treasured story (Pulleyn 1). The poem is presented in 24 books, each comprising outstanding themes that have helped build the story. One of the books is Book 1, and it is used to showcase the themes of gods, honor, and rage through characters such as Achilles and Agamemnon.

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The theme of gods tends to be dominant in Book 1. Several gods are mentioned in the story, including Hera, Apollo, Thetis, Zeus, and Hephaestus. Typically, Homer’s statement to the Muse commences the concept that the gods have inspired the poem. Once Agamemnon objects to giving up Chryse’s daughter, Apollo presents an initial divine intercession example. This is an instance of how gods can rapidly transform men’s fortunes. After Agamemnon objects to giving up Chryses’ daughter, Chryses leaves, which makes him pray to Apollo to send down plague arrows to the Achaeans, and his prayer is heard.

Consequently, the Achaeans’ deaths commence due to illness, and after ten days, Achilles gathers the troops, declaring that until Apollo is appeased, they will have to leave the battle against Troy. As such, Calchas interprets Apollo’s plague, stating that returning Chryse’s daughter and giving a sacrifice would appease Apollo. However, Agamemnon disapproves of the interpretation. For the first time in the narration, a god talks directly to a human, which is evident in Athena’s appearance to curb Achilles’ anger.

The next theme is honor. The argument between Achilles and Agamemnon is a query about honor. After Agamemnon objects to the explanation that Calchas gives regarding Apollo’s plague, stating that his preference was the girl rather than his wife, he has to give in for the good of all individuals. Nevertheless, he claims that he ought to be compensated for his loss; if not, this would be dishonorable. However, Achilles says he will be repaid later since all the treasure has already been divided. Agamemnon objects to this idea, stating that he would take the reward of any captain he wished to, even if this means Achilles himself. Typically, Agamemnon tends to be the most influential king, and as such, he is convinced that he has an entitlement to the most significant portion of the combat’s spoils. Even though Achilles’s empire is not as influential, he is recognized as the most formidable fighter; thus, his leaving means a lot. Even so, Agamemnon says he is not concerned about Achilles’s leaving and threatens to take the girl Briseis and Achilles’ spoil of battle using force. In response to Achilles, lord Agamemnon said, “Do not thus, mighty though you are, godlike Achilles, seek to deceive me with your wit (Lattimore, The Iliad, Book I, Line 130). The problem is that Achilles seized Briseis and began caring intensely for this girl. As such, Achilles perceives Agamemnon’s threat as a lack of honor since the Briseis capture took place through Achilles’s abilities in war, and considering that he is the strongest fighter, this was a dishonor to his skills.

The entire poem’s initial term is rage, which has helped set the theme intended to control the actions in the narration. This tends to be Achilles’ wrath: Sing, Goddess, Achilles’ rage, Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks incalculable pain (Lattimore, The Iliad, Book I, Line1). Typically, Homer starts by requesting the Muse to assist him in singing Achilles’ anger (Schein 13). The result of Achilles’ wrath tends to be Zeus’ will, but it also causes the death of numerous Achaean warriors. After Agamemnon objects to being repaid later and when Achilles expresses that all the treasure has already been divided, Achilles is irritated. The outrage makes him critique Agamemnon’s governance, threatening to sail home. When Agamemnon threatens to take the girl Briseis and Achilles spoil the battle using force, wrath seizes Achilles and contemplates murdering Agamemnon instantly. However, Athena, the goddess, comes to his side, checks his rage, and promises to compensate him for his control.

In conclusion, three dominant themes are used to develop the narration: gods, honor, and rage. Essentially, the theme of gods is prevalent in the books, and numerous gods, including Hera, Apollo, Thetis, Hera, Zeus, and Hephaestus, are mentioned. Regarding the theme of honor, the argument between Achilles and Agamemnon tends to be a query about honor. As far as the theme of rage is concerned, Achilles is the propeller through his evident wrath. Even more notable is the fact that the entire poem’s initial term is rage, which has helped set the theme intended to control the actions in the account.

Works Cited

Lattimore, Richmond, ed. The Iliad of Homer. CUP Archive, 1962.

Pulleyn, Simon, ed. Iliad book one. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2000.

Schein, Seth L., ed. Homer: Iliad Book I. Cambridge University Press, 2022.


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Craft a 2-3 page critical response to Homer’s The Iliad in which you respond to at least three themes you see in books 1, 18, 22, or 24. You may ONLY react to these books. Though there is no specific prompt for your response, you want to ensure you have a central idea.

The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad by Homer

For example, Homer’s use of Achilles’ character reveals the themes _____, ___, and ____ to show the reader_______.

Remember: This is a reading response to gauge your understanding of the material. Do NOT summarize the epic. I already know what happened in each book. I am interested in what you think about a specific occurrence or theme. You MUST refer to particular passages/lines from the epic. Please reach out to the University Writing Center for extra assistance.

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