What Is The Iliad About?
Start writing a post
Student Life

What Is The Iliad About?

A story about revenge, honor, and the horrors of war.

5924
What Is The Iliad About?
Pinterest

The Iliad is an epic poem written by the ancient Greek poet Homer. Many people assume they know what The Iliad is about. They assume that The Iliad is about how Paris, the son of King Priam, kidnapped Helen and took her to the city of Troy only to have the Achaean Greeks use a wooden horse to sneak into Troy to burn the city and in the end Achilles is killed by Paris, just like that one Brad Pitt movie. However, that is not what the The Iliad is about. So what is The Iliad really about? The Iliad is about revenge, forgiveness and the horrors of war.

Revenge in The Iliad begins when Achilles quits fighting to get revenge on Agamemnon for taking away Briseus. Revenge is also most significant when Achilles vows to get revenge for the death of Patroclus, his best friend and brother in arms. Later on in the book, Achilles fights and kills Patroclus’ killer, Hector. Homer tells us that “as Hector charged at him, glorious Achilles drove his spear, and the point passed clean through his soft neck” (Homer book 22, line 326). Themes of revenge occurs many times throughout the book and even in other ancient Greek poems and stories. A great example can be found in The Theogony, a poem written by Hesiod that tells the story of how Cronos got revenge on his father Ouranos and how Zeus got revenge on his father Cronos.

With revenge comes forgiveness, and forgiveness is the final theme that can be found within The Iliad. After Achilles gets his revenge by killing Hector for killing Patroclus, it does not bring him peace. Achilles tries to make sacrifices to the gods and even drags Hectors dead body on a chariot, but it still does not bring him peace or take his pain away. In the final book of The Iliad, King Priam of Troy goes to Achilles hut at night and cries for his son’s body so he can bury him. In the book, King Priam says to Achilles, “have pity on me, remembering your own father; yet I am more worthy of your pity, for I have endured to do what no other mortal on earth has done: to raise to my mouth the hand of the man who killed my son” (Homer book 24, lines 503-506). Achilles pity’s King Priam since his is a father who lost his son because of him. Eventually, Achilles gives King Priam twelve days of peace so he can bury Hector’s body. When Achilles does this, it finally brings him peace. Achilles spent most of the book trying to get revenge against his enemy, he killed everyone who came into his sight, he did not show any mercy to anyone, and in the end, he finds forgiveness from his enemy.

The last thing The Iliad is about is the horrors of war. Homer’s book, The Iliad, can be seen as history’s first piece of antiwar propaganda because of the way it looks at war. Antiwar propaganda has been around for many years, but what makes The Iliad special is that it is arguably the oldest piece of antiwar propaganda. In the book, there are many moments were Homer tells the reader about the horrors and tragedy of the Trojan War. For example, there moments in The Iliad were a character will beg for their life and then is killed off during battle. One example from the book would be, “Tros, Alastor’s son- he had come up to grasp his knees, hoping that Achilles would take him prisoner and let him go alive, sparing him from death…he struck him in the liver with his sword,” (Homer book 20, lines 463-469). Homer shows the reader the darker side of human nature in war. Tros was begging for his life to Achilles, and instead of showing mercy, Achilles kills him. Bellow are more quotes from The Iliad that show how awful war is:

“He was standing on the stern of his deep-bellied ship, watching the grim toil of war and the miserable rout.” (Homer book 11, lines 600-601).

“Daughter of Zeus the aegis-wearer, look at this! Shall we two give up caring about the Danaans as they die?” (Homer book 8, lines 352-353).

“They piled their dead on to a pyre in silence, grieving in their hearts…In the same way, the well-greaved Achaeans on their side piled their dead on to a pyre, grieving in their hearts” (Homer book 7, lines 427-431).

The Iliad has become very historically significant. So significant that Alexander the Great would always sleep with a copy of The Iliad every night when he went to bed. The Iliad is also one of the oldest pieces of literature next to The Epic of Gilgamesh, and is taught in classrooms to this very day. Homer’s book is historically significant because it is also one of the oldest pieces of antiwar literature and propaganda. However, what makes The Iliad truly important is that many lessons can be learned from the book because in the end, The Iliad is its story of a man who is the greatest warrior that is driven by anger to get revenge, and in the end he finds peace when he learns forgiveness.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

5 Cool Gadgets To Make Your Car Smart

Don't let this stop you from making your car smart. You can change the one you have using smart gadgets that transform your car into a smart car.

74759

Cars are no longer just a mode of transport, where you only worry about the engine and how beautiful its interior is. These days, everyone wants to make their cars smarter, those with advanced technology systems. It makes sense for several reasons. It can make your vehicle more efficient and safer when you need to drive.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Inevitable Truth of Loss

You're going to be okay.

106341

As we humans face loss and grief on a daily basis, it's challenging to see the good in all the change. Here's a better perspective on how we can deal with this inevitable feeling and why it could help us grow.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' Film Review

Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson lead a tigher, more fun sequel to 2018's 'Venom'

92003
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FmWuCgJmxo

When Sony announced that Venom would be getting a stand-alone movie, outside of the Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man films, and intended to start its own separate shared universe of films, the reactions were generally not that kind. Even if Tom Hardy was going to take on the role, why would you take Venom, so intrinsically connected to Spider-Man's comic book roots, and remove all of that for cheap action spectacle?

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

'The Addams Family 2' Film Review

The sequel to the 2019 reboot is an enjoyable, but unremarkable start to the Halloween movie season

61193
Photo Credit: MGM – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd82bSBDE84

There's a reason why the Addams Family have become icons of the American cartoon pantheon (although having one of the catchiest theme songs in television history doesn't hinder them).

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Latest Trends in the Music World

The music world is a fast evolving and ever changing landscape of influence. Over the last 20 years, we've seen the influx of home recording technology paired with the rise of streaming, making way for new independent artists and communities to flourish.

96303

The music world is a fast evolving and ever changing landscape of influence. Over the last 20 years, we've seen the influx of home recording technology paired with the rise of streaming, making way for new independent artists and communities to flourish. This is the positive side of the streaming coin, different kinds of music can exist in the same spaces in much more fluid ways. Aesthetic and musical styles are merging and taking on new life in the 21st century. Trends in the music industry can be most easily followed by exploring instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms to see what people are wearing and listening to. Let's take a look at a few style and artistic trends influencing the world of music.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments