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The Epic Elements of Homer’s “The Iliad” Coursework

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Updated: Sep 18th, 2022

The Iliad is the oldest surviving monument of ancient Greek literature, an epic poem ascribed to distinguished poet Homer, which describes the events and battles of the ten-year Trojan War. Although the plot mostly narrates several weeks in the last year of the war, The Iliad has various allusions to the many Greek legends about the siege and the astonishing exploits of ancient heroes. Moreover, the poem has a sublime, monumental character inherent to the heroic epic, and has many domestic, fabulous, and fantastic features.

It is written in hexameter (about 15,700 verses) and divided into 24 songs. The poet himself remains objective in all episodes of the story, glorifying the valor and courage of both the Trojans and the Greeks. Besides, he is omniscient because he describes actions related to events both on earth and in heaven, both in the Trojan palace and in the Achaean camp.

Most epics are usually opened by an invocation to some supernatural power. In this regard, The Iliad begins with reference to gods and goddesses when the poet appeal to the aid of a muse to narrate this story successfully. The reason for the Trojan War, according to The Iliad, was related to Aphrodite’s revenge and erotic passion for Paris, the Trojan prince, who rejected her sympathy. Thus, the action takes place in two planes, namely, human and divine.

Furthermore, the poem contains a considerable number of gods and goddesses, including Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Thetis, Deimos, among others, playing an active and chief role in human fates and the course of the war. For example, to decide the fortune of a hero or a duel, sometimes Zeus takes the scales and throws on them the lot of heroes, Hector and Achilles, and two troops, Trojan and Achaean. Finally, the story involves human descendants of gods and goddesses, the most prominent among which is Achilles, the son of the nymph Thetis.

Achilles is a central hero in the poem and possesses superhuman strength, agility, and courage, as well as an almost invulnerable body that can only be hurt in the heel. Achilles’s supernatural abilities reveal when burning with a vengeance for Patroclus’s murder, he rushed into battle and drove the entire Trojan troops to the city walls alone. Achilles even fights against the river god Scamander who has become annoyed that Achilles is dirtying his waters with the killed people.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "The Epic Elements of Homer’s “The Iliad”." September 18, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-epic-elements-of-homers-the-iliad/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'The Epic Elements of Homer’s “The Iliad”'. 18 September.

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