Gods over Humans

Topics: Iliad, Greek mythology, Priam Pages: 5 (2182 words) Published: October 30, 2011
There is no doubt that it was the gods way in the Iliad, there was not even a proverbial highway as a second option. They knew how people were going to live, how they were going to dies, and what they were going to do, and the gods could choose when to make it all happen. Everything was predetermined; everyone’s lifeline was drawn with his or her first breath, at the moment of birth. “There are two great jars that stand on the floor of Zeus’s halls and hold his gifts, [peoples’] miseries one, the other blessings. When Zeus who loves the lightning mixes gifts for a man, now he meets with misfortune, now good times in turn,” (Il.24.615). Zeus’ gifts were typically accepted without question, though theoretically, one could try to break the laws of Zeus, but this was feared so much that it is only mentioned in the story, and never actually done. This only reinforces the fact that the gods had complete rule over the people. Sure, there were kings who ruled their cities, but they were fated just like the rest of the mortals, so by default the gods reigned over all. People could make choices, yes, but no matter what that choice was, the gods would work things out so that the end result was the same. Ultimately, the deathless gods administered the mortal humans, and fate unequivocally exceeded choice in Homer’s Iliad. In a rather long scene where Achilles fights a man named Aeneas, the Gods are extremely active when intervening with fate. Firstly, Achilles had already fought Aeneas once before, but Aeneas had escaped. “Zeus saved you then and other gods joined in. But he won’t save you now,” Achilles tells him (Il.20.227). This alludes to a time before when Achilles probably almost killed him, but the gods interfered and saved Aeneas’ life, therefore showing the power of the gods and their will to carry out one’s fate. The two continue to fight and Achilles nearly won; “[Achilles] would have slashed his life away with a well-honed blade – if the god of earthquakes had not marked it quickly and called the gods at once who grouped around him,” (Il.20.334). The god of earthquakes then gives a long speech to the rest of the gods about why Aeneas should survive this encounter. This is a much more detailed showing of the gods at work following through with a person’s fate. Then Hera the Queen of the gods tells him: “Decide in your own mind, god of the earthquake, whether to save Aeneas now or let him die,” (Il.20.358). The gods don’t all contribute at once in this case, but it shows that they are all powerful enough to decide the fate of someone. He then made his decision: “Quickly he poured a mist across Achilles’ eyes, wrenched the spear from stalwart Aeneas’ shield… and hoisting Aeneas off the earth he slung him far,” (Il.20.369). So, even when it looked like certain death for Aeneas, the gods intervened and prevented him from dying. Achilles then comments on this happening and says: “Ah, so the deathless gods must love Aeneas too,” (Il.20.396). This obviously shows that the mortals in the story have absolutely no control over fate with their choices. Aeneas is then informed of his fate, which is to hold back from fighting until Achilles’ fate is final. “Once Achilles has met his death, his certain doom, take courage then, go fight on the front lines then – no other Achaean can bring you down in war,” (Il.20.384). Aeneas would then go on to be one of the few Trojan warriors to survive the war, and do bigger and better things later on outside of the story of the Iliad. Thus, the gods control one’s destiny, and can work miracles to make it happen. In the main conflict of the story, the fight between Achilles and Hector, the gods play a major role. In their first encounter after Patroclus’ death, Achilles was headed straight for Hector, who was leading the Trojan lines. Hector was prepared to him on, but just then, Apollo appears next to Hector and shouts: “Don’t for a moment duel Achilles, Hector, out in front...
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