The work of Homer was very important to the Greek Civilization; it gave the Greek a structure of personality to follow. It is assure that The Iliad?s roots reach far back before Homer?s time. Homer focused several characteristics of how their ancestors behaved and such behavior was to be passed on to the new generations. In The Iliad, Homer emphasized the role of the gods in the daily events, and how every happening was based of the desires of the gods. Homer also focused on the warrior characteristics, not just of the Argives, but also of the Trojans and how they were ought to be brave, courageous and show fearlessness in the face of the enemy.
Homer lived during the Greek Iron Age, but The Iliad took place during the Bronze Age. Throughout The Iliad, Homer made many remarks about weapons being made out of bronze. “So the clash of Achaean and Trojan troops was on its own, the battle in all its fury veering back and forth, careering down the plain as they sent their bronze lances hurtling side-to-side between the Simois? banks and Xanthus? swirling rapids.”(Book 6, line 1-5). This indicated that the Trojan War took place in the Bronze Age, since the army would have been the first institution to adopt new technology. Also during the Bronze Age, the Elites were brave warriors. In Homer?s time, the Elites were not warriors but politicians. It differ greatly, in their civilization, the type of ruling each one had.
The key element in the development and story of The Iliad is the extraordinary role of the polytheistic beliefs of the ancient Greek Civilization. Many of the situations in Homer?s work were produced by the active involvement of the gods in the human life. The book starts out with the statement that disclosed the clash between Agamemnon and Achilles, and then the question was asked, “What god drove them to fight with such a fury?” (Book 1, line 9). Insinuating that they would have never fought if a god had not gotten involved. As the question is answered, “Apollo the son of Zeus and Leto. Incensed at the king he swept a fatal plague through the army-men were dying and all because Agamemnon spurned Apollo?s priest” (Book 1, line 10-12). Here the argument is that because of one king, Agamemnon (king of Mycenae, Achaeans) fault towards Apollo?s priest caused two civilizations to war against each other. That is in the very beginning of the poem, suggesting of more divine intervention expected through the text. Most of the people in the story seem to believe that the gods predetermined most of their actions. “But the will of Zeus will always overpower the will of men,”(Book 16, line 805). This is a small constant reference that Homer made throughout the text pertaining to the ability the gods having control over mortal lives, actions, and consequences.
The gods were believed to toy with human life, as it was for their pleasure- to see destruction or the complete opposite. In Book 4, Zeus angrily says to Hera “Whenever I am bent on tearing down some city filled with men you love-to please myself- never attempt to thwart my fury?”(Book 4, line 47-49). It is clear here that Zeus, supreme god and king of Olympus, states that for enjoyment he is willing to destroy cities and killed people. There is nothing anyone could do in such situation, because Zeus was the god of gods and human life was insignificant to him. This is the reason why it was important for the Greek Civilization to keep the gods happy with temples, monuments and sacrifices. Sacrifices were very important in having the gods help the people or when asking the gods for a favor. In The Iliad, sacrifices were offered to gods in order to help one side defeat the other. Helenus, one of King Priam?s son and also a seer, told hector about a sacrifice to the Goddess Athena that would have helped them against the Argives.
Hector you go back to the city, tell our mother to gather all the older noble women together on gray-eyed Athena?s shrine on the city?s crest,?Then promise to sacrifice twelve heifers in her shrine, yearlings never broken, if only she?ll pity Troy, the Trojan wives and all out helpless children, if only she?ll hold Diomedes back from the holy city?”(Book 6, line 102-113)
Here it is clearly demonstrated that the Greeks were willing to give what ever they thought the gods wanted, in hopes that the gods would help them. Many of these sacrifices took place inside the temple the god they were trying to satisfy.
The Greeks believed that the gods also deference in opinion, as in The Iliad, some of the gods were on the Trojan side while others were trying to bring defeat to Troy. Different gods were interpreted as being allies for different armies, Apollo for the Trojans, and Athena for the Achaeans. In Book 4, the gods are conferencing at Olympus; Zeus spoke of how Hera and Athena were on the Argives side. “So, those two goddesses there are Menelaus? best defense, Hera of Argos, Boeotian Athena, guard of armies.”(Book 4, line 6-8). The gods would also use human to fight against each other, as Athena gave Diomedes (Tydide) power and strength so he would be able to defeat the Trojans. Diomedes fought the Trojans, killing all that crossed his path, he encounter with Aeneas. Aeneas was the Trojan?s greatest warrior; also son of Aphrodite whom was the daughter of Zeus and goddess of love. Athena had warned Diomedes that Aphrodite was going to intervene, so he was to attack her. “If Aphrodite daughter of Zeus slips into battle, she?s the one to stab with your sharp bronze spear!” (Book 5, line 46-47). This showed the despite the gods had among each other, and their affection for certain people. Some communities had the believed that some gods were going to be their protector and other their destroyer. The polytheistic beliefs of ancient Greek Civilization was a main characteristic, which model their way of life. They would praise to all different gods, and different gods were praised in different situation, as each god had a distinct power of his or her own.
Homer also focused on and detailed the torment and horrors of war, which was constant and normal throughout The Iliad. Homer?s description of such battles makes The Iliad work more enjoyable. “His breastplate could not save him, the bronze he always wore, and the lance impaled his guts?he gasped, convulsed and out of his well-made car the Trojan pitched??”(Book 13, line 463-465). There are many points in the book where battles are described with horrific details. Also, Homer illustrated the characteristics of men during battle, as they are brave and corageous under pressure. All the main characters in this story are strong and brave warriors, who are willing to die for their cause. None of the characters ever retreat from to the enemy, even when the enemy had the advantage on them. Showing how warlike the Greek?s ancestors were and the new generations were to be warlike as well.
The Iliad also showed the respect The Greeks had for their ancestors. Diomedes and a Trojan fighter, Glaucus, meet one-on-one for battle. The two warriors talk and taunt each other with arrogance and also talk about each other’s ancestors. Glaucus whom is the son of Hippolochus, begins a lengthy discourse on his own family history. During the course of Glaucus talk of his father and his ancestry, Diomedes realizes that their past ancestors were friends and allies. After learning of this Diomedes suggests that they call a truce among themselves. They will honor the respect that their fore-fathers had for each other, and steer clear of each other in the ongoing battle. They also agree to trade armor with each other, so that all the men may know that these two great warriors, Diomedes and Glaucus have made peace with each other and that neither will harm the other in any way. “Always be the best, my boy, the bravest, and hold your head up high above the others. Never disgrace the generation of your fathers. They were the bravest champions born in Corinth, in Lycia far and wide.”(Book 6, line 247-251). This was what Hippolochus told Glaucus before his depart to Troy, and he followed with pride. This is a representation of how the Greek?s were to respect their ancestry, as if it was a commandment.
This work reflected on many of the Greek?s moral behavior. The Iliad is considered to be the Greek Bible. It traces everything in the Greek culture, from their polytheistic beliefs, to their respect for ancestry. It modeled the way they lived and behaved. Homer also showed the importance to value honor and bravery.