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The Role Of The Gods In The Iliad

3223 words - 13 pages

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. Evidently, the gods will be a powerful source of divine intervention and their actions certainly have significant outcomes on the Trojan War, and more importantly, the story of The Iliad. Zeus, very untypical of a Greek god in his lack of involvement in the Trojan War for selfish reasons, was portrayed as the father figure, being impartial and fair to both ...view middle of the document...

This theme of divine intervention is inferior to the major theme that fate is inescapable for all beings of the universe.
Homer looks to find a getaway from the harsh reality called war and the umbrage of fate by using comedy to balance them out. Homers sense of humor varies directly with his treatments of gods, men and war. Whenever Homer introduces a humorous scene he introduces it to reflect reality. Many of the times he introduces humors to point out the faults and weaknesses of gods and men and his humor becomes vicious. The most noticeable thing about his humor is that he portrays two distinct worlds- the world of gods and the world of men. Homer does not introduce the two at the same time but always presents these two worlds separately. When he makes the gods laughable, the humans are not concerned and when the humors are related with men, the gods are not concerned. The humorous elements are introduced solely when gods are shown together in sympathetic or in hostile action, but when dealing with mankind they are far from being amusing. Homer's sense of humor is seen in his treatment of Olympus in the Book I. He introduces the Olympian gods. There is a patriarchal family, which consists of Zeus, Hera and their daughters and sons. Thetis comes to Zeus and implores him to help her son Achilles by giving a victory to the Trojans. At first he does not answer and she appeals again. The pathetic appeals move Zeus but he is afraid of his wife Hera. “This is a sorry business; you will make me fall foul of here. Leave me now, or she may notice us. (Book I, Line 340)” It is humorous that Zeus- the father of men and gods is constantly bothered by the thought of his prying and nagging wife here. Soon we see that the husband and wife are quarrelling with each other and Zeus- the authoritative husband threatens to beat his wife. Not too soon, Hephaestus, their lame son comes between them and tries to console his mother Hera. Homer's sense of humor is also seen in his portrayal of Hephaestus- the great artificer. He limps but he is active on his slender legs. He serves in the banquet of the gods with nectar which he drew from the mixing bowl, and a fit of helpless laughter seizes the happy gods as they watch him bustling up and down the hall. That the gods laugh at the deformity of another god is humorous, though it becomes vicious soon after. Homer also introduces humor as seen in his portrayal of war. In Book II, Therisites the ugliest man that had come to Ilium becomes the source of comedic relief. Through him Homer ridicules men's attitude to war. Therisites begins to insult Agamemnon, and is stopped savagely by Odysseus. It is concluded here that Therisites is half witted but it is seen that his words contain the very truth. When he is struck by Odysseus on the back and shoulders everybody laughs at him. This kind of humor may be distressing, as Therisites is laughed by all for his physical deformity, but this kind of physical deformity has...

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