In the epoch of Homer, the interference of gods in every action was considered to be usual, and it is perfectly demonstrated in one of his most important creations, The Iliad. In this work we see almost all of the Greek gods engaged in the Trojan War. On almost every page of the writing we can meet a name of a god, playing some role or just mentioned. The main peculiarity of Greek gods is that they are very close to humans in their behavior and habits. They are often showed in a very comical way reflecting people’s weaknesses and drawbacks.
Speaking about the Iliad and Trojan War, Zeus, the main Greek god, is untypically passive during the war. Sitting at the head of Olympus, Zeus prevents the operations of the war from becoming disordered. With Zeus’s grand supremacy above other Greek gods together with his knowledge, he plays a very important role in the poem of Iliad. The given paper will discuss Zeus and his role in the Iliad as a force who balanced and equalized the both sides of the Trojan War. The power of Zeus In Iliad Zeus plays a role of mediator and the manager of all the actions that take place in the story.
He does not take anybody’s side and has a role of a “father” who is fair to the both: Surely again there will be evil war and terrible Fighting, or else now friendship is being set between both sides by Zeus, who is appointed lord of the wars of mortals. ‘ Thus would murmur any man, Achaian or Trojan (The Iliad, Book IV). In comparison to other God’s, who tried to create different plans of actions for the side they decided to take, he remained neutral throughout the poem, but his superiority and influence is acknowledged by all gods.
His power is showed by every line where he is mentioned: …and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians, hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished since that time when first there stood in division of conflict Atreus’ son the lord of men and brilliant Achilleus Tthe Iliad, Book I). For instance, Hera, the wife of Zeus, who seems to be very independent and self-willed, acknowledges Zeus’s superiority.
In the war she chooses the side of Greeks because of the Paris’ decision to give the apple not to her but to Aphrodite. Zeus prevents Hera from her actions and she tries to weaken his control by deceit, making him fall asleep while she, together with Poseidon, implements actions in order to help Greeks to win the battle. (The Iliad, Book XIV). But when her husband is awakened, his reappearance efficiently removes the other gods from the stage and does not let them interfere the war. (The Iliad, Book XV). The Trojan side is supported by Apollo who really loved Zeus and respected him and his actions.
A perfect instance of this is the scene where Patroclus makes an attempt to lead the battle against Troy. Patroclus could wear Achilles’ body armor to get drive the Trojan warriors away from the vessel but not to take part in the battle. Apollo saved him three times but Patrocles was too impatient that led to his demise in the battle. (The Iliad, Book XVI) Zeus as a hand of fate Zeus’ arrangement in Iliad is to make certain that everything is happening as the fate willed. It seems that without Zeus, the Trojan War could turn into a playing field for gods, not people.
In the scene of Patrocle’s death Zeus is showed as an executor of fate. Zeus seems really merciless to humans in The Iliad. His son Sarpedon died because he didn’t want to violate the will of fate. However, here Zeus was partly influenced by Hera who told him not to help his son and not to show a bad example to other gods who could also start saving warriors from death in the battle even if it was fated. (The Iliad, Book XVI). Zeus didn’t help his son, though he was sorry of that. However, he asked Apollo to take the body of Sarpedon from the field and bury him with honor.
(The Iliad, Book XVI). Zeus interferes the war actions only in case if laws of destiny were violated in order to change the situation and make the inevitable occur. At the end of the poem, when Achilles is back to fight, Greeks start winning the war with so great speed that Zeus lets the other gods interfere the conflict, but only after the Trojan were sacked. Zeus enters the conflict where the destiny does not play any role, such as fame and respect. Zeus assists Hector in his achievement of respect when he gets the protective covering of Achilles off the corpse of his brother.
Achilles was the one able to wear this armor, however with Zeus’ help, Hector could also wear it (The Iliad, Book XVII). Zeus was aware of the destiny of Hector and decided that this was essential. He wanted respectable demise for Hector and was enraged having got to know that Achilles was going to profane his body. The body was returned to Troy and buried with honor. Conclusion The will of Zeus in the poem Iliad influenced every step made by mortals or other gods. He represents the idea of God as a one power that controls everything in the world.
Without Zeus, the Trojan War could turn into a playing field for gods, not people and this fact represents his main role in the Iliad. His ruling human destinies by supervising the other gods’ actions proves that he sees and knows everything and his power is almost unlimited. Almost, because there is something stronger than his power and this is the will of fate that must be kept must until the end of time. Bibliography Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951. 20. 300-4.
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