Homer’s epic poem, “The Iliad,” is probably one of the best stories that tell us about war. In this poem, we see humans fighting with humans, gods fighting with humans, and even gods fighting with gods. Even though it was made some time around the 7th century BC, we can associate with our modern warfare. In Homer’s “Iliad,” we see how the gods manipulated the people in fighting their own wars, just like how political leaders of different countries manipulate their army to fight another country.
We can also see that modern wars, just like the Trojan war in “the Iliad,” can be caused by small matters which were just blown up to huge proportions by those who manipulate these wars. The book can be seen as Homer’s perspective of war. It is somewhat an anti-war literature because it showed how wars usually end. Both sides lost great lives, including some of their respected heroes. In the Greeks’ side, they lost Achilles’ best friend, Patroclus (23.
1-7). On the Trojans’ side, they lost their prince, Hector (24. 21-23).
Achilles eventually died some time after, when he was shot by Paris, Hector’s brother in the heel of his foot which was his weakness. It showed that no one really reigns victorious, even after winning the war. This is because both sides suffer great losses, not only in properties, but also the lives of those who are involved in the war, both armies and civilians. Some attitudes towards war that Homer depicted in Iliad were the possible motives of engaging in wars. The most evident motive in the Trojan War was to retrieve the wife of Menelaus, the brother of the Greek King Agamemnon.
They decided to launch an all out war, deploying a fleet of more than a thousand ships in order to retrieve Helen (of Troy) who was abducted by a Trojan prince, Paris (3. 29-31). Another attitude towards war shown in this epic poem was the intervention by higher powers. With the intervention of the Olympian gods and goddesses, the war to regain Helen of Troy was blown up to greater proportions. It became a personal war for these gods and goddesses, especially when they chose to take sides between the Trojans and the Greeks.
The gods and goddesses who took the side of the Greeks include Hera, Athena, Poseidon, and Hermes (4. 37-49). On the other hand, the gods who took the side of the Trojans include Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, and Leto (1. 10-15). They backed up the soldiers whenever they fight and are usually the ones who decide on how the fight would end. Only Zeus remained in the middle, wherein he forbade the intervention of these gods in the war. Homer was able to depict a war which is similar to our modern day warfare.
His depiction of gods was like the political leaders of various nations who would encourage their people to engage in wars against other nations. These are the leaders who are not physically in battle, but are the ones who actually dictate how the wars would go. Also, the wars that they often start would usually mean great losses for both warring sides. The reasons for these wars were very much the same like that of Homer’s “the Iliad. ” These are usually small things which could be solved by negotiations, but the pride of the leaders is usually the ones that fuel the war.
Leaders like Menelaus and Agamemnon are the same as the political leaders that we have today, who prefers violent negotiations rather than peaceful means to solve conflicts. This usually leaves the country with great problems, like loses of lives and property and a bad economy.
Works Cited: Homer. “The Iliad”. 2006. Spark Notes. October 15 2007. <http://pd. sparknotes. com/lit/iliad/section2. html>. Sienkewicz, Tom. “The Gods in the Iliad”. 2002. October 15 2007. <http://department. monm. edu/classics/Courses/CLAS210/CourseDocuments/Epic/gods_in_the_iliad. htm>.