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A story as grand as the Iliad, should make any person have the ability to start relating war with the sense of glorification. From the reader's perspective, we read about a society greatly glorified by the act of war. Soldiers were thought of as fearless and courageous, indulging in the spoils from their victories. There are two opposing sides, the Greeks and the Trojans, involved in this epic tale. Both sides are portrayed as having legitimate reasons for going to war; however; the Trojans started the war for love and stayed to defend their home; whereas, the Greeks fought for timê (honour) and for power (quote notes). Achilles and Hector are the two main heroes in the story and consequently, foils (opposites) as well. The depictions of their personal stories within the book are what allow other characters and scenes to evolve. In the narration of the Iliad, the readers gain an image of war, a narrative that shows war as an opportunity to gain kleos (glory) (quote notes).. During 750-650 BCE, war was the only significant way a man could become heroic. The problem with this idea was that the most likely outcome for a man, who was so keen on being heroic, was death. Living was only significant if you could be of some importance to society. The Iliad does more to glorify war because it shows a romanticized version of what can only be described as gory and dire. Romance within is another prevalent theme and is evident through the portrayal of ongoing themes such as: victory in battles, funeral games/athletic competitions and wealth. The premise that centres around the entire play is the idea of being remembered after death. The idea that your glory will live on through the ages, that your name and all you have acquired will mean something and benefit you in the afterlife.
Achilles who fought for the Greeks were born to Thetis a demigod, born a half god gave him advantages (Grant, 2). He was known for being unstoppable as a fighter and legend states he could only be killed through his Achilles tendon (Grant, 3). He gained glory for the Greeks by winning many battles. For Agamemnon the Greek king, conquering land allowed him to gain power. The Greek laos (people) thought this glorious, because the battles showed them the strength to believe in their own country's bravery and loyalty. Hector, the son of King Priam, heir to the throne of Troy was considered a hero. He guided his soldiers with the idea that they were all there to fight for the protection of Troy and to keep the city and its symbols. In other words, "in the hands of a son of Troy, the Trojans will survive (Troy, 2004... Movie reference?)". The final and most significant battle between Achilles and Hector comes at the end of the Iliad. Hector is awaiting Achilles, knowing that the end is near and ultimately must make the choice to run and hide or face his death. Hector chose death, and thus a momentous climax in the story, for it changes the fate of troy. The description of Andromache's reaction tells exactly what has happened to her husband. "Blackness of night covered her eyes; she fell backward swooning, sighing out her life, and let her shining headdress fall, her hood and diadem, her plaited band and veil that Aphrodite once had given her, on that day when, from Eetion's house, for a thousand bridal gifts, Lord Hector led her (Fitzgerald, 394)." This scene within the book signifies a deep sorrow, a description of great love between Hector and Andromache. Her heartache is portrayed in a way that, allows the reader to get a better understanding of the depth of the situation. The narrator tells us that she is wearing the veil she wore on her wedding day. It gives a feeling that she already knows the outcome of the battle before it has started and has begun mourning by remembering happier times spent with her husband. Andromache's reaction after hearing loud cries from within the city, knowing her husband has been killed is incredibly moving. The description almost makes it feel like you are in the scene with her experiencing her pain, consequently, making Hectors death incredibly memorable.
It is not widely recognized in modern times to have gods around all the time influencing your actions. Gods seem to be a normal part of everyday life in 750-650 BCE. When reading the concept of the gods persuading people, it is hard separating what is just a belief system and what is factual. After the intense death scene of Hector, his body is dragged to the Greek camp by Achilles. The body is magically unharmed, according to the story, Aphrodite and Apollo protected him with there godly powers (Fitzgerald, 401). While the body of Hector is being damaged, Achilles decides to throw funeral games in Patroclus's honour (Fitzgerald, 403- 420). According to Greek history, when a hero passes away the best way to honour him and acknowledge his death to the gods was through the traditional athletic competitions of the time period (Reference/ how to imbed website citation?). The game consisted of chariot races, boxing, wrestling, running, spear fighting, discus, archery and spear throwing. These games came at a very strange time in the story, a time when mourning and regrouping should have been taking place. Having this scene at this particular time in the story, the reader has the chance to focus on comparing the characters with the characters of the gods. In the sense, that throughout the story we see the god's strength and the ability to talk through their problems, we don't see this ability among the mortals. Achilles rewards the winners with grand prizes and at the end of the games mediates a truce between Menelaus, Eumelus and Antilochus, showing that even mortals can have a positive outcome without bloodshed. The knowledge given to the reader through Homer's interpretation is one of great grandeur. We feel the intense sense of competition between all the characters involved in the games. Odysseus is portrayed as all muscle while wrestling Aias, "At this he heaved him up. But Odysseus had his bag of tricks: he kicked behind the knee, knocking his legs from under him, and down went Aias backward, as Odysseus dropped on his chest (Fitzgerald, 415)." His intense need to win is a look of amazement. It is only through Homers words can this scene seem so over the top. In modern times, we watch the score on television and listen to the announcers who made great shots, but we don't see the passion behind the player. Without this scene and the act of the games itself, the book could not connect the battle scenes with the upcoming invasion scene. War is encompassed as a whole and not just in the battles itself.
As previously stated in the first paragraph, wealth is a prevalent theme throughout the Iliad. The ownership of prestige goods, possession of persons, cultural wealth and subsistence goods are all types of wealth throughout Homeric society (Quote notes). Armour, attractive females, battle skills and basic necessities were considered to be great forms of declaring ones honour. Certain scenes in the Iliad start by giving a detailed description of a soldier's armour before entering into a major battle. It is described in a way that demonstrates a deeper significance not just a layer of protection. The intensity of the description gives an insight into the level of tragedy that will occur. The more detailed the description the worse off the character will be in the battle and vice-versa. When a man is killed in battle his armour is taken off of his body and the armour as well as honour is declared. In book 3, Paris is arming himself and Homer, delivers a detailed description; "Buckled on his armour: first the greaves well moulded to his shins, with silver ankle circlets; then around his chest the cuirass of his brother Lycaon, a good fit for him. He slung a sword of bronze with silver-studded hilt by a baldric on his shoulder, over his a shield strap and the many-layered shield; then drew a helmet with a horse-tail crest upon his head, upon his gallant brow (Fitzgerald, 52)." This elaborate description of Paris's armour signifies that upon his death his armour would be very valuable and glorious. With such beautiful sounding descriptions of armour it is hard not to see why the idea of war could sound so wonderful and beneficial to a soldier. Paris is also considered to be wealthy within his society because he possesses Helen, whom he stole from her husband Menelaus. Within Greek society he is considered not honourable for stealing another man's possession but in modern times his characters life is described as exciting and dramatic.
The most important thing to a person of that time period was the burial rights of their body after dying. The more honourable the death the more honourable his funeral will be, this is called an Aristeia which means "A heroes finest hour, a warrior's finest hour in battle (quote notes)." The perception the viewer gets is an intense understanding of how much of a necessity it is to have the soul enter heaven peacefully. The Iliad mentions deaths in the thousands, but does not allow us to mourn for them, however when the main characters pass way we feel so greatly for the losses because we know exactly who the characters truly were. Caring deeply for them because we have come to know and love them through the stories we have read. The king of Troy Priam goes to Achilles to beg for his son's body back in a scene displayed as an intense bond between father and son. Priam sneaks into the Greeks camp and into Achilles tent, bends down on one knee and takes Achilles hand in his own and says with great passion: "Think me more pitiful by far, since I have brought myself to do what no man has done before- to lift to my lips the hand of one who killed my son (Fitzgerald, 435)." This kind of passionate sacrifice is not seen often in modern times. Parents and children take for granted what is important, but living in a culture that believes so greatly in the afterlife would make a great person like Priam, go to great lengths, to do what was necessary for his son's soul. War in the Iliad brings doom for most of its important heroic characters and with this comes a grand afterlife.
The Iliad is recognized as one of the most famous writings of all time, with many different narrators. Originally, the story of the Iliad was turned into a poem, then a play and now into a book. There are a great many parts that portray itself in a way that glorifies war on a greater scale. Time and again dedicating written words to the magnificence of war and everything that makes war come to life. Homer's intense explanations of victories, funeral games/ athletic competitions and wealth are parts of what captivates the reader to the book and the audience to the play. A mix between the charming personalities of Hector and Achilles, epic romances, intense feuds and family love are emphasizing a way that reflects the positive aspects of the Iliad. Scholars from all over the world have taken a great interest in gaining knowledge on the subject. According to one great scholar "The Iliad ' is glorification of the war. There is an idea that the novel even celebrates war, because all the characters are judged by their competence, bravery and courage in the battles. It seems that the poem supports the war, because such judging extends even to the gods (Minchin, 1986)." With scholars dedicating their lives to the study, there is an understanding of the poem that leaves you feeling in awe and is consequently difficult to separate this intense exaggeration created by Homer to what life was really like back then.