The Greek-Trojan War in the Iliad

Topics: Iliad, Trojan War, Achilles Pages: 6 (1929 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Greek-Trojan War in The Iliad

The gods and goddesses that the Greek people believe in make up the Greek mythology studied today. These divine characters represent a family living on Mount Olympus who intervene frequently in the lives of the human characters in Greek plays. They are omnipresent, for they are always observing mans actions and working through human nature. The gods are a higher power, and provide explanations for otherwise unexplainable events. The gods help humans in trouble and give them guidance about the future. The Olympians influence men on earth both psychologically and physically. In Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, the intervention of such divine powers as Athena, Apollo, and Zeus play significant roles in the lives of the characters and the events of the Greek- Trojan War.

Athena plays a very influential role in the Greek-Trojan War. She is the most constant divine supporter of the Greeks and divine enemy of the Trojans. Athena's function is to be a goddess of pro-Greek warfare. She came to the aid of the Greeks many times throughout the war. For instance, Athena came down from the sky to stop Achilleus from attacking Agamemnon (Willcock). Andre Michalopoulous confirms this action by quoting what Athena says to Achilles :

I came from heaven to stay thine anger, if perchance though wilt
hearken to me, being sent forth of the white-armed goddess Hera, that loveth you twain alike and careth for you. Go to now, cense from strife, and let not thine hand draw the sword.(65)

Achilles listens to Athena's request, and therefore he returns his sword to its sheath, and withdraws from battle. Athena also assists Achilles in his battle with Hektor. Malcolm Willcock quotes, "After deceiving Hektor into fighting Achilles,she comes to his aid by returning his sword to him" (244). This intervention is the greatest assist of a divine power to a human being in The Iliad.

Athena also plays an influential role in the battles of Diomedes. Martin Mueller reveals, "Athena is closest to Diomedes. " She is with him at the beginning and end of his aristeia and she addresses him without disguise" (136). Athena also urges Diomedes to fight Aphrodite. With this command, she removes the cloud from his eyes which made him able to see the gods. Furthermore, as Robert Graves states, "She put fresh strength into his legs and arms," which allowed him to sustain in battle with Aphrodite (104). Athena instructs Diomedes not to attack any other gods; but, Diomedes does not take her advice, and fights against Apollo and other gods, which causes Diomedes to retreat until he is saved by being reunited with Athena. This powerful goddess assistsd Diomedes greatly as she does the other characters in The Iliad.

Another Greek warrior who is helped by Athena was Pandaros. Athena encourages him to break the truce with Menelaos , but, as Willcock states, " This does not lessen his own responsibility for his treachery - He is a fool to be persuaded" (46). Then, she switches to Menelaos' side, to prevent any serious harm from the arrow that was shot. Athena protects these warriors as she protects the other Greeks. She usually protects the characters who were natural winners. Athena supports those who have the potential to be successful and therefore she assists many of the Greek heroes (Willcock).

In Addition to Athena, Apollo also plays an influental role in the Greek-Trojan War. Apollo is the most important divine supporter of the Trojans. Willcock tells us, "He is the archer god who strikes from afar, the god of disease and healing" (4). Apollo's first intervention occurs after Agamemnon had taken Apollo's priest daughter as a war prize. Apollo sends a nine day pestilence upon the Greeks. "Pack animals were his first target, and dogs, / but soldiers, too, soon felt transfixing pain from his hard shots and pyres burned night and day" (Iliad I. 23-24). Apollo also...
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