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To what extent does the Iliad glorify war?

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Grace Whelan

on 21 March 2014

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Transcript of To what extent does the Iliad glorify war?

Linguistic techniques
Epithets alter our perception of the characters
Homeric similes - constant theme of Kleos and the glory of war
Evidence of language enhancing the glory of war:
-the idolisation of war heroes in the 'Iliad' through the ages
-e.g Alexander the Great (Plutarch 'Alexander', 15.8 - 9.)

A hero is given the choice of a long life or fame ('Kleos')

West argues "traditionally he opts for fame"

Achilles discusses the prophecy of his mother, Thetis:

"My divine mother, silver-footed thetis, says that destiny has left two courses open to me on my journey to the grave. If I stay here and fight it out round Ilium, there is no home-coming for me, but there will be eternal glory instead. If I go back to the land of my fathers, my heroic glory will be forfeit, but my life will be long and I shall be spared an early death."
Does glorify war...
Achilles presents war as a glorious feat through his rejection of a long, uneventful life in favour of a short, honorable life
Importance of fighting is presented through Hektor and Helen's reaction to his timid nature

Doesn't glorify war...
Paris does not show military prowess through his cowardice in battle.
"At one glance Hektor raked his brother with insults, stinging taunts."
(Homer 'Iliad', 3.42 - 43)
Achilles portrayed as quite animalistic at times
To what extent does the Iliad glorify war?
Throughout his epic, the 'Iliad', Homer glorifies war through his use of linguistic technique, his display of techniques in warfare and his depiction of characters, amongst other things. This essay/presentation will explore his methods in doing this through looking at:
"the fame or renown which a hero wins when he accomplishes some great deed"
Sienkewicz, 2014.
Intervention of the Gods
Greek religious ideology - the Gods are the epitome of glory
Associating the Gods with the Iliad - glorification
"Have you the daring to wing an arrow at Menelaus? Just think what thanks, what fame you'd win in the eyes of all the Trojans" (Homer 'Iliad', 4.108 - 118)
Athena - goddess of restrained warfare
Worshiping the embodiment of war - glorification
An analysis of the portrayal of the Gods in the Iliad can show how Homer glorifies war in the 'Iliad'
Realism of Warfare
Oral composition affects techniques described
"that warfare Homer portrays appears to suit best the late Dark Ages and his own period" (Sage 2002: 1)
Heroic Code
Glaukos "always to be the best and to hold my head above other men [...] not to shame my ancestors" (Homer 'Iliad', 6. 207 - 209)
Nature of narrative stops realism of warfare from being fully effective
Manipulation of realistic techniques to create interesting narrative

Book 18 - 'Shield of Achilles'.
Ekphrasis - Literary description or commentary on a work of art.
The Shield in context of the epic.
'Hectors battered down by my spear...the blood price for Patroclus.' ('Iliad', 18.107-108)

'There the God of Fire...had laid out the story of Italy and the triumph of the Romans.' ('Aeneid', 8.626-628)

'Full of the god's great fire!' ('Iliad', 18.169)
'Immortal set of Arms' ('Iliad', 18.172)
"The son of Peleus sprang out to face him like a lion...he gathers himself in a crouch, open jawed, foam gushes over his teeth and his brave heart snarls with him: he lashes his ribs and both flanks with his tail, spurring himself on to range for the fight, and then springs straight for them in glaring fury, to kill one of the men or perish himself in the first attack."
Sienkewicz 2014.
Homer 'Iliad', 8.410-415.
To Conclude:
War brings 'Kleos' which in turn glorifies the war itself in the poem
Use of Ekphrasis in the context of the 'Iliad' highlights the glorfication of Achilles through his decision to return to war
The language which Homer uses alters our opinions of characters and their roles in war to be able to glorify it
The association of gods with war within the 'Iliad' brings gravitas and glory to the warfare Homer portrays
The relationship created between Achilles and Hektor presents to the audience opposing versions of glorified actions and non glorified actions
Homer's inclusion of realistic warfare techniques in the 'Iliad' demonstrates how he believed that war realised glory for the warriors and in turn was glorified itself

Homer, 'Iliad' 20.148 - 187
Josh Smith, Joe Breckenridge, Beth Whitehouse, Vicky Wilson, Chrissie Waites, Grace Whelan
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