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The Illiad: Thematic Essay

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Thematic Analysis Essay: The Iliad

As quoted in www.novelguide.com, “In Homer's The Iliad, war is depicted as horrible, bloody, and fruitless. There are no clear winners. Many mortal people die in vain because of arrogant and emotional decisions made by men.” The violence of war is a major theme. The Iliad is an epic poem about the war between the Trojans and the Greeks. The violence of war is shown with three examples: the battlefield being completely covered with corpses, Achilles dragging Hectors’ dead body around the city three times, and Paris and Menelaus’ dual. The violence of war greatly affects mortality.
When you have war, many people die; and when people die, they are left on the battlefield. A consequence of the violence of war is a battlefield littered with corpses. Since there are so many corpses, the war is postponed until each side can collect their dead. Consequently, because of the constant deaths, remaining soldiers trip over the dead.
In respect for the dead, the war is delayed for the chance to remove the bodies. However after Hector dies, the Greek people continue to mock him, stab him and strip him bare. Achilles further disrespects Hector’s demise by dragging Hector’s body around the city three times, mortifying the people. This show how violent the Greek warriors are and how they have no respect for the Trojans. Achilles had an aversion towards Hector, so that is why he treated the body so badly.

In most wars, the fighting occurs between armies. In some cases the violence is in the form of a dual; Paris, from the Trojan army, and Menelaus from the Greek army, dual for Helen. During the dual, Paris throws his spear first, but no damage is caused from it. Next, Menelaus aggressively throws his spear and pierces Paris’ shield and armor, and slightly wounds him. While Paris is distracted, Menelaus apprehends him by his helmet, dragging and choking him. Duals can be just as violent as wars, but on a smaller scale.
Thus, the violence of war can be a dual between two people or a war between two armies. When war is between two armies, many people die and the remaining soldiers trip over the dead on the battlefield. Some warriors do not have respect for the dead. In Achilles’ case, he was perverse in how he treated Hectors’ body. During wartime, anything goes; this means win by any means necessary. The theme of violence of war can be shown through these three examples: the battlefield being completely covered with corpses, Achilles dragging Hector’s dead body around the city three times, and Paris and Menelaus’ dual. If war was not violent, then people would not die.

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