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Athena in the Iliad

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Kristina Zamrowski

on 17 March 2014

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Transcript of Athena in the Iliad

In Homer's Iliad, the goddess Athena is present primarily in her human form, wherein she symbolizes the embodiment of war, and the interdependency of gods and men.
Athena's role in the Iliad as a warrior goddess marks a transition to the idea of war itself as a female.
Throughout the Iliad, gods are present spontaneously, encouraging the mortals to act. At the same time, the gods seem to be vitalized by men. Gods and men are interdependent to a large degree.
Athena cries, "Let Hector die a thousand deaths!" (Iliad 243)
Hector is described in death as "slain by grey-eyed Athena, who guided Achilles arm" (Homer). She is spoke of with resentment for the death she has wrought, but there is honor within that capability of killing. War, too, brings men both pain and honor.
It could be that Homer means to depict the humanity of war. War is not divine, it is flawed, as are mortals.
Athena in the Iliad
"If Athena allow me ever to storm and pillage Troy" (Homer 8.327). They will not win without her aid. They believe this, and that is enough to make it true.
In Homer's other works, as well as in general mythos, Athena is often hidden or disguised. In the Iliad, she is present in a physical sense at many times.
When Achilles saw her, "He knew her upon the instant to be Athena: terribly her grey eyes blazed at him" (Homer 1.233-35)
Athena's birth depicts her as an idea of Zeus, as the conception of war at the time viewed it as a predominantly male endeavor.
Pope writes, "She was sprung directly from the head of Zeus; her office is war and she delights in it" (113).
She "delights" in the war, consequently she has become it, with all of its harshness and ferocity and passion. Additionally, "The people she supported in warfare always won their battles" (Martell, et al 53). So perhaps, to the mortals, she embodies more than just the battle, but in fact the victory.
When the Trojans begged for help, "Athena turned her head away" (Homer 6.361)
They lost.
Pinsent writes, "Athena's birth reflects the resentment felt in a patriarchal society for woman's one indispensible function, actually bearing the legitimate children of the father" (25).
"The Iliad knows her mainly as a warrior goddess" (Pope 113).Through the goddess Athena, war becomes personified by a female. The female archetype is often used to show chaos, fervor, compassion, and a respect for the surrounding warriors and environment. All of these themes are present in the Trojan war, and so aspects of Athena's personality bleed into every fight.
Achilles Mourning Patroclus,
aka Ancient Greek Burrito of Mourning
I know it has nothing to do with my topic but it is likely my favorite piece of art from this whole shebang because it's like "I WILL WRAP MYSELF IN THIS BLANKET AND I WILL STAY HERE but not really because then I'll realise I'll feel better if I murder loads of guys but y'know, one thing at a time."
Full transcript