Iliad

And Gods

With our view of God, comprehending the actions and thinking of the Greek
deities can sometimes be difficult. The Christian God does not take such an
active role in the affairs of people\'s lives, where, the Greeks regarded direct
involvement by the gods as a uncontrollable part of life. Naturally, divine
intervention was a major variable in the equation of Homer\'s Iliad. Zeus, as the
symbol of supreme authority and justice, made judgement calls as to the other
gods\' involvement in the war and remained impartial. Even when his own son,

Sarpedon, was about to die, he chose to let the outcome go unaltered. On the
other hand, his wife, Hera, displayed the more typical actions of a god. After

Paris judged Aphrodite the fairest over herself and after a young Trojan boy
replaced her daughter Hebe as cupbearer to the gods, she was resentful toward

Troy. So she sided with the Greeks and would stop at no length to express her
will. Scheming and manipulating, she even dared to trick Zeus. Along with

Athena, she is seen as the chief divine aid to the Greeks. Being the god of the
sea, Poseidon was another strong supporter of the ocean-faring Greeks. Whenever

Zeus turned his back, he tried to help the Greeks in the fight. He felt that he
was somewhat Zeus\'s equal as his brother, but recognizing Zeus\'s authority and
experience, he looked to Zeus as an elder. Some Gods favored the Trojan side of
the conflict. Both Apollo and Artemis gave aid to the city of Troy. Although

Artemis takes a minor role, Apollo, perhaps angered by Agamemnon\'s refusal to
ransom Khryseis, was constantly changing the course of the war in favor of the

Trojans. Responsible for sending plague to the Greeks, he was the first god to
make an appearance in the Iliad. Their mother, Leto, also helped the Trojans.

Aphrodite sided with the Trojans. Although she was insignificant on the
battlefield, she was successful in convincing Ares, the god of war, to help the

Trojans. One view of the gods\' constant intervention in the war was that they
were just setting fate back on the right course. For instance, when Patroklos
was killed outside Troy, Apollo felt no guilt for his doings. It had been
decided that Patroklos would not take Troy so he should never have disobeyed

Achilles in the first place. As a god, Apollo was just setting fate back in
line. Achilles laid blame on the Trojans. He never considered accusing Apollo,
although he was primarily responsible for the kill. Apollo\'s part in the matter
was merely accepted as a natural disaster would be today. The general acceptance
of a god\'s will is a recurring trend throughout the poem. A prime example of
this trend is in book XXIV. Achilles, angry over the death of Patroklos,
disgraced Hektor\'s body. Tethering the corpse, he dragged it around Patroklos\'s
tomb every day for twelve days. This barbaric treatment displeased the gods.

Zeus sent Achilles\' mother, Thetis, to tell him to ransom the body back to the

Trojans. One may think Achilles would be possessive of the body and attempt to
put up a fuss as he did before with Agamemnon. But Achilles showed humility and
respect for the gods and immediately agreed to ransom the body to the Trojans,
showing that all mortals, even godlike Achilles, were answerable to the gods.

Although they seemed to have unlimited freedom, the gods could not always do as
they pleased and eventually had to come before Zeus. Zeus acted as a balance of
sorts. He had to keep the gods in order and make sure that what fate decreed
would happen. For example, after Achilles re-enters the battle Zeus declared
that if Achilles were allowed to go on slaughtering the Trojans with nothing to
slow him, he would take Troy before fate said it would happen. To counter

Achilles\' massive retaliation against the Trojans, he allowed the gods to go
back to the battle field. In his own interests, Zeus preferred to deal with
issues more personal to the individual heros of the Iliad. He attempted to
increase the honor of certain individuals. He knew that Hektor was going to be
killed by Achilles, and, feeling sorry for Hektor he attempted to allow Hektor
to die an honorable death. For instance, when Hektor stripped Achilles armor off

Patroklos, he helped Hektor "fill out" the armor so he would not seem
like less of a man then Achilles. He also gave his word to Thetis that Achilles
would gain much glory showing his involvement on a personal