The Role of Zeus in the Iliad
Submitted to: T. Faridah Sadaya
Submitted by: Vijay Vasandani II
As an introduction, I would like to give you some background on my subject, which happens to be Zeus. Zeus is also known as the supreme god of the Olympians. Zeus was the youngest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. When he was born, his father Cronus intended to swallow him as he had all of Zeus's siblings: Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter and Hera. But Rhea hid the newborn in a cave on Mount Dicte in Crete. (To this day, the guides at the "cave of Zeus" use their flashlights to cast shadow puppets in the cave, creating images of baby Zeus from the myth.) When he had grown up, Zeus caused Cronus to vomit up his sisters and brothers, and these gods joined him in fighting to wrest control of the universe from the Titans and Cronus, their king. Having vanquished his father and the other Titans, Zeus imprisoned most of them in the underworld of Tartarus. Then he and his brothers Poseidon and Hades divided up creation. Poseidon received the sea as his domain, Hades got the Underworld and Zeus took the sky. Zeus also was accorded supreme authority on earth and on Mount Olympus. Zeus was also known for having many relations with mortal and immortal alike. His offspring include Ares god of war, Eris goddess of discord, Apollo god of light, Aphrodite goddess of beauty, Hermes god of thieves and commerce, Artemis huntsman of the gods, Hephaestus god of the forge, Persephone wife of Hades, Hebe goddess of youth, Dionysus god of the vine, Epaphus, Minos King of Create, Rhadamanthus, the Muses namely, Clio (History), Urania (Astronomy), Melpomene (Tragedy), Thalia (Comedy), Terpsichore (Dance), Calliope (Epic Poetry), Erato (Love Poetry), Polyhymnia (Songs to the Gods), Euterpe (Lyric Poetry), and his favourite Athena. Other stories in Greek mythology include the creation of the world, the overthrowing of Cronos, creation of man by Prometheus, the lovers of Zeus who all have stories of their own, the birth of Athena, the wanderings of Dionysus and the labours of Hercules. The story of the Iliad is focusing on the Trojan War. This war is between the Trojans and the Achaeans. There are several themes in the story, one of them being the wrath of Achilles and the will of Zeus. With this I will end my introduction. Chapter 2
Merit and Responsibility: A Study in Greek Values by Adkins, A. W. H. Religion in the Homeric Epics by Carpenter, Rhys.
The Greeks and Their Gods by Guthrie, W. K. C.
The Homeric Gods by Otto, Walter F. Translated by Moses Hadas The Iliad - Modern Critical Interpretations by Harold Bloom
The Iliad by Homer Translated by Robert Fitzgerald
The Iliad - Classics in Translation. Vol. I by Paul Mackendrick Understanding the Iliad by Leon Golden
The Iliad: Structure, Myth and Meaning by Bruce Louden
Here are some excerpts from which I got my information:
The Role of the Gods in Homer's Iliad
If one holds the contemporary view of the Christian God then it may be difficult to comprehend the actions and motivation of the Greek deities. The Christian God does not tend to take such an active role in the affairs of people's lives, where, on the other hand, "the Greeks regarded direct involvement by the gods as a daily, uncontrollable part of life"(Guthrie 17). Needless to say, divine intervention was a major variable in the equation of Homer's Iliad. The gods picked who they would favor for different reasons, except Zeus. As the symbol of supreme authority and justice, he makes judgment calls as to the other gods' involvement in the war, remains impartial, and doesn't seem to get caught up in picking favorites. Even when his own son, Sarpedon, was about to die, Zeus chose to let the outcome go unaltered. On the other hand, Zeus's wife, Hera, displayed the more typical actions of a god. After Paris, a Trojan, judged...