The Iliad

The Iliad The competition for power and ultimate victory is continuous throughout the Iliad. Several characters including gods and men, attempt to assume authority and rule in order to fulfill personal endeavors and obtain self-gratification. However, it is often that by themselves, these strong figures cannot carry out the tasks that they wish to accomplish. Instead, they are quick to manipulate and beg in order to have the job completed by someone else. On both the human and immortal level, individuals constantly need the help of others in their struggle for supremacy. At first, discord arises due to the greed of Agamemnon, yet Achilleus prolongs the problem by holding on to his anger. He acts such as a tantrum-throwing child does when Pallus Athene disallows him from continuing his argument.

To prove his point, he has to ask his mother to go to Zeus, and plead for him to help the Trojans so that Atreus son wide-ruling Agamemnon may recognize his madness, that he did no honor to the best of the Achaians (I, 411-412) Achilleus puts himself above the rest of the Achaians, but does not act 1 accordingly to the position he claims for himself. He forgets that as leader, the consequences of his actions, also affects those whom he holds in his charge, and close to his heart. Furthermore, instead of assuming full responsibility for his situation, Achilleus places part of the load on his mother Thetis, as well as Zeus. In drawing gods into the conflict, Achilleus further complicates the matter. Without the intervention of immortals, the victor of any contest is simply the stronger, more skilled, or perhaps luckier opponent.

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Once the gods are brought into the field of play, anything can be expected since they are even capable of changing the destinies of men. Hera is one of the first of the gods to exhibit her meddling ways and the capacity to turn the tables. When she plans to seduce Zeus into bed to occupy him so that Poseidon may help the Achaians, Hera enlists the help of Aphrodite and Sleep. Though the concept of helping mortals is good and selfless, there is also much evil in her actions. There are no bounds to how low Hera will stoop to acquire the services she needs to triumph over her husband.

In order to gain their help, Hera tells lies to Aphrodite, and bribes Sleep with gifts; a lovely throne, imperishable forever, of gold (XIV, 238-239). Without the help of the other two immortals, Hera would not be able to beguile Zeus though she is the highest of all goddesses. Yet, the daughter of Kronos still puts her unknowing accomplices in danger of Zeus wrath. Similarly to Achilleus, Hera disregards the well being of those whom she finds herself dependent upon at times. 2 When the Achaians hold their games in honor of Patroklos death, several of the greatest warriors receive help or unwanted attention from gods watching on. There are times where the best man does not always win such as when Eumelos comes in last in the chariot race. Diomedes wins the race though Phoibos Apollo [dashes] the shining whip from his hands (XXIII, 384), only because Athene reciprocates by smashing the chariot yoke of Eumelos.

Though neither Achaian prays to the gods, the two deities choose to interfere by assisting the man they favor. Therefore, the mortals do not always have a choice, since the gods are free to influence whomever they fancy. Some are granted help whether they realize they need it or not. In the case of Odysseus, he knowingly asks Athene to be kind; and come with strength for [his] footsteps (XXIII, 770). Despite his status as one of the most noble and glorious Achaians, Odysseus relies on the aid of a goddess to procure dominance and victory.

He is not confident enough to count only on his true abilities. Furthermore, Aias remarks that the goddess who makes him fall in the cow manure is the one who has always [stands] over Odysseus like a mother, and [takes] good care of him (XXIII, 782-783). After supporting Odysseus through many of his struggles, Athene has become somewhat of a maternal figure. A bond thus forms between the mortal who fights for splendor and control, and the immortal that helps him to achieve his power. Whether it be humans seeking the assistance of the gods, or the immortals cajoling one another for favors, there is a complex network of interdependence involving the figures of the Iliad.

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