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How Does Homer Depict War in “The Iliad?”

Uploaded by deemitzy on Oct 19, 2004




How Does Homer Depict War in “The Iliad?”





In “The Iliad”, war is the honorable thing to do. It seems glorified but on the other hand Homer shows the brutality and injustice of it. From the beginning of “The Iliad” we are immersed in the middle of a war that began nine years ago between the Greeks and the Trojans. Many things have happened previous to the start of “The Iliad” for example Homer alludes to the fact that Agamemnon has had to sacrifice his daughter in order for he Greeks to reach Troy. The war has caused a lot of pain and suffering to both the Greeks and the Trojans. It is shown in its harsh reality, it is not glossed over we see families loosing their loved ones and we see men die gruesome deaths:

“Death cut him short.

The end closed in around him, swirling down his eyes,

choking off his breath. Patroclus planted a heel

against his chest, wrenched the spear from his wound

and the midriff came out with it—“(Book XVI 93-97)





According to Homer to fight in the war is the noble thing, the right thing to do. To sit on the side lines and do nothing about it is cowardly and shameful. Homer feels the war is justifiable and the correct way to settle the dispute. It is a valiant and commendable endeavor. When a man is dies in the poem it is the gallant way to die and be remembered, the winner of the duel is glorified and the loser dying with honor and pride is remembered throughout he poem. We especially see this after Patroclus is killed in battle by Hector. Achilles spends some time mourning his death and vows to avenge him:

“But now I’ll go and meet that murder head-on,

that Hector who destroyed the dearest life I know.”

(Book XVIII 135-136)



Homer does not let go of the harshness, the reality of death and war. The gruesome images of the dying men and the harsh language used to describe the corpses bring certain realism to the poem.

Homer shows that the war not only plays a role in everyone’s life but it also rules their life. Men are judged based on their bravery and their ability to fight and win battles. They need to bring honor to their families. Whenever Homer describes men his language usage is strong and vivid:

”…his helmet flashed

and the long dark hide...

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Uploaded by:   deemitzy

Date:   10/19/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,056 words)

Views:   7008

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