The Iliad

The Iliad

Outline &explain the qualities of a “Homeric Hero”. Who best fits the bill? Why?

The Homeric hero strives to be the best among his peers. His goal is to achieve

the greatest glory in order to earn the highest honor from his peers, his commander, and

finally from his warrior society. He strives for excellence in particular areas of human

behavior, such behaviors are strength, skill, and determination. These are necessary on

the both the athletic and battlefields, it is known as the idea of arete.

The Homeric hero judges his own arete by what his warrior society thinks of him.

How well the Homeric hero will be remembered and honored is determined upon how

well he fights, how his heroic adversity is, and how well he faces death. He feels that

society’s attitude towards him is more important than is own attitude. He chooses to act

in a way that will make him acquire public approval that he needs in order to have self-


The greatest insult to a Homeric hero is to with hold the honor that he has earned.

He is completely shattered when honor is denied him. The honor that he would not have

received would be from a battle, not receiving an appropriate impressive prize, or being

judged a loser in a competition he should have won. The highest and most honored prize

is called the prize of honor. In the Iliad this prize is the most attractive, intelligent,

and skilled female captive. The most absolute honor is everlasting fame. It is the only

for of immortality that a mortal can acquire. This places the Homeric hero lower than the

gods, but higher than the ordinary man.

Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, and Patroclus are considered Homeric heroes.

Achilles acted childish when he did not receive the appropriate prize. He said, “you

threaten to take away my prize of honor, which I earned and which the Greeks gave to

me. Whenever I sack a town, my prize is never as great as yours, even though I am the

greatest Greek fighter. Even so, my small prize is my own. So now I will return to my

homeland. I refuse to stay here, dishonored, in order to win greater wealth for you!” He

is upset that he did not receive a great prize as Agamemnon did. Achilles had worked so

hard to earn a prize and Agamemnon had taken the credit for it and gotten the better


Hector is considered a Homeric hero because he chooses between life and death.

He chooses even though an honorable death will bring the immortality of everlasting

fame. His death is in the hands of Achilles. This shows that Achilles is the greater

warrior and Hector is the greater man.

Discuss the functions of the gods in the Iliad. Name several occurrences that are a direct or indirect result of the god’s wishes.

The functions of the gods were to participate in giving advice to mortals. The

advice was both good and bad. It supplied thoughts and ideas, strength and skill, courage

and determination, and by causing weapons to hit or miss their marks. The Homeric gods

certainly had favorites among the mortals and made an effort to help them. A mortal,

earned divine esteem and goodwill by the way he treats both the gods and other mortals.

The gods were partial to heroes because they appreciated and enjoyed heroic deeds.

His or her own personality and ability concluded a mortal’s actions. The gods

could not change a mortal’s life or death situation. If one was going to die, they could

not change their fate. The Homeric gods were ageless and immortal. The gods

possessed a great knowledge of the future. The gods are influenced by the request of

another and mortal’s prayers.

Achilles’ mother, the sea goddess Thetis, did not want to accept the fact that her

son Achilles was going to die someday because he was half mortal. When Achilles was

an infant, Thetis tried to burn away his mortality by secretly placing him in a fire. Peleus,

Achilles’ father found out about this and was outraged. Thetis was very upset and angry

at this so she left her husband to go back and live at her home in the sea. She had left

Achilles with his