The Role of Zeus in Homer's Iliad

Topics: Apollo, Achilles, Greek mythology Pages: 5 (1960 words) Published: March 15, 2011
The Role Of Zeus in Homer's Iliad

  In the era of Homer, divine intervention was thought to be typical, and one of his foremost works, The Iliad, reflects this. Nearly all of the Greek gods are involved in the outcome of the Trojan War, which happens to be the background story of this epic poem. The gods are used by Homer to add twists on an otherwise standard plot of war. I shall concentrate on Zeus, however, and reflect on his actions and their outcomes on the Trojan War, and more importantly, the story of The Iliad. Zeus, very untypical of a Greek god in his lack of involvem7ent in the Trojan War for selfish reasons, was portrayed as the father figure, being impartial and fair to both sides of the war. He remains this way to serve as a check for each god's involvement in the war. Without his presence at the head of the inner circle of Olympus, it is likely that the activity of the Trojan War would become chaotic, possibly even becoming a playground of war for the gods. With Zeus's majestic power, above all of the other gods combined, along with his experience, he is quite befitting to his role in the storyline of The Iliad. The Iliad was thought to be written by a Greek minstrel named Homer. The Iliad was the first of the major epics credited to him, the second being The Odyssey. Discussion about Homer among scholars inevitably leads to controversy on nearly every conceivable issue, ranging from his birthplace to his actual composition of either of these epics. Because of our lack of reliable information, we have but a small fragment of knowledge agreed on by scholars about the writer of the first great piece of literature of Western civilization. Homer in ancient Greece was conceived as a "blind, old man, singing or reciting his own compositions"  (History of Horticulture), and at least seven ancient Greek cities claimed to be his birthplace. His work has been questioned as to two separate ways: if one minstrel, possibly named Homer, composed these works alone, and if so, if this minstrel wrote both of these epics. It has been argued that Homer is, in fact, the collective progression of minstrels that have passed this ever-evolving tale down until it was inscribed into the epic that we have today.

                     The opposite has been argued also, however. Concerning the second question, that of if Homer wrote both The Iliad and The Odyssey, several points have been brought up. One point brought up is the fact that they have been thought to be written over a generation apart, which, if true, makes it   very unlikely for one man to have composed both of these classic epics. The other point brought up is the amount of variances in the writing of these epics, especially in writing style and word choice and phrasing. It has been proposed by several scholars that the authors of The Iliad and The Odyssey be named Homer I and Homer II, respectively. However the origin of these epics, they are classics and served as cornerstones for the early Western literature, and possibly even modern as well. The Iliad has been ascribed to Homer in approximately 750 BC. This would put his writing several centuries after the completion of the Trojan War, currently thought to have occurred in 1185 BC. Homer is writing in what historians call the Dark Ages of Greek history, in which the Greek population saw a virtual elimination of literacy. By the time his epics were composed, literacy had begun to return, which is one of the reasons his works became so popular. Homer reflects on a different time, almost a half millenium earlier, reflecting on an era known as the Heroic Age.

  This contrasts directly with the contemporary society of Homer, in which the quality of life dropped tremendously. The Iliad, in essence, recounts the story of part of the tenth year of the Trojan War. It recounts of the anger of Achilles, the greatest warrior present at Troy, and of the background battle that is ensuing. The background story of the...

Bibliography: MacKendrick, Paul. The Iliad. Classics In Translation. Vol. I. Pp. 11-48.
University of Wisconsin Press. 1980.
Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Fitzgerald, Robert. Dell Publishing. 1974.
Bloom, Harold. The Iliad - Modern Critical Interpretations. Chelsea House Publishing. 1987. History of Horticulture - Homer
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